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Saturday, November 17, 2018

The View is Always Better When You’re the Lead Dog

Mike Trout, the best player in baseball, was not named American League MVP yesterday.

He does, however, join a pretty exclusive club.

gehrig97 Posted: November 17, 2018 at 08:26 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: albert pujols, mike trout, mookie betts, mvp, red sox, stan musial, ted williams

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   1. The Duke Posted: November 17, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5788751)
He will have to live with the knowledge that he may be the best baseball player ever but probably more fittingly, the second best after Ruth.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 17, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5788752)
Trout is already 11th all-time in MVP award shares
   3. Mefisto Posted: November 17, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5788762)
I think we're seeing a bit of a change in the ways the voters approach the MVP. They seem to me to be focusing more on "best players" rather than some more nebulous standard such as "who should get credit for being surprisingly good on a successful team" (e.g., Jim Konstanty or Maury Wills). They also, of course, have a better sense of who the best players are, now that WAR provides a better measure than the triple crown numbers. I think we'll see more high finishes by top players than we've seen in previous eras.
   4. Zach Posted: November 20, 2018 at 06:50 PM (#5789851)
I'm not sure that just voting for WAR leaders is any progress, though.

If everyone's going to go by the same stat, why not cut out the middle man and skip the election?
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2018 at 06:58 PM (#5789853)
I'm not sure that just voting for WAR leaders is any progress, though.


In terms of its value for the sport, it's worse. To baseball, the awards function best as a source of conversation during the offseason. No one really talks about the batting title, for instance, because there's almost never anything to talk about (though Melky, God bless his cheatin' heart, was an exception).
   6. gehrig97 Posted: November 20, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5789856)
@5: Yup. Among several reasons the Hank Aaron Award never caught on was the fact that it was, at least in its first few years, based on a convoluted formula to determine the "Best Hitter" in baseball. It left nothing to the imagination, nothing for discussion/debate.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: November 20, 2018 at 07:52 PM (#5789864)
In terms of its value for the sport, it's worse. To baseball, the awards function best as a source of conversation during the offseason. No one really talks about the batting title, for instance, because there's almost never anything to talk about (though Melky, God bless his cheatin' heart, was an exception).


Agree and disagree with that. I agree it's best for the sport to have a conversation about the awards, but at the same time think that conversation should legitimately be narrowed down to the best candidates and war helps that. I get that MVP might have some room to talk about the quality of the team or clutchiness etc... but those discussions should be somewhat quantifiable and arguable.


Kemp vs Braun is a good discussion... (Halladay, Lee and Kershaw are also in that discussion) and sometimes the discussion can turn about the values that war assigns to particular parts... whether it's park factors, positional adjustments or replacement, a knowledgeable electorate can say "I don't agree with these particular numbers, here is my system and here is what I see...replacing rbat with wpa...using a three year average for rField instead of one year, adjusting park effects that don't seem "right" etc.... but at least you are starting from a point of objective research, and then applying your knowledge to make adjustments.

Howard vs Pujols... not such a good discussion.
   8. Sweatpants Posted: November 20, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5789878)
Kemp vs Braun is a good discussion... (Halladay, Lee and Kershaw are also in that discussion) and sometimes the discussion can turn about the values that war assigns to particular parts... whether it's park factors, positional adjustments or replacement, a knowledgeable electorate can say "I don't agree with these particular numbers, here is my system and here is what I see...replacing rbat with wpa...using a three year average for rField instead of one year, adjusting park effects that don't seem "right" etc.... but at least you are starting from a point of objective research, and then applying your knowledge to make adjustments.
An interesting part of that particular discussion, with regard to WAR, is that in 2011 WAR had it as a pretty bad decision. At the time of the debate Kemp's 2011 was a 10-WAR season. In 2018 it's an 8-WAR year (Braun's season is a 7.7 in both versions).

That said, it didn't provoke a whole lot of outrage in the "MVP: Ryan Braun" thread.
   9. bbmck Posted: November 21, 2018 at 01:55 AM (#5789914)
With a 190 OPS+, Cabrera was roughly twice as productive as a league average player. 45% is roughly twice?

Baseball's Most Baffling MVP Ballots written by someone who thinks 1.078 OPS is roughly twice as productive as league average .725 OPS. The purpose of the numbers is so that people like Jeremy Lehrman can put food on the table by claiming to be an expert in something when they lack even the simplest level of understanding of the numbers they are citing.

2018 NL offensive WAR which adjusts for position but does not adjust for the quality of play at that position. oWAR, (close to) making the playoffs, and whether you are considered the best player on the team are the things which appear to factor into almost every MVP vote 30 HR and 100 RBI which used to be a strong basis for down ballot appearances is the main thing that has been largely eliminated by the prevalence of modern stats.

7.3 MVP-1 Christian Yelich: top position player on every ballot
5.6 MVP-8 Trevor Story: 3x 3rd, 4x 5th, 6x 6th, 13th in NL OPS+ (127) qualified for the batting title and 5 voters don't even list him on the ballot, writers "know" Coors
5.3 MVP-2 Javier Baez: 24 voters have him as 2nd position player on their ballot
5.2 MVP-3 Nolan Arenado: 297/374/561, 38 HR, 110 RBI, 2 for 4 in SB vs 291/348/567, 37 HR, 108 RBI, 27 for 33 in SB, it's apparently been decided that Arenado's hitting and/or defensive value is legit, not (yet) for Story
5.1 no votes Brandon Nimmo: 140 games can certainly be a major factor but reputation like Arenado doing much better than Story is likely the primary factor in Carpenter 257/374/523 on 26 ballots vs Nimmo 263/404/483

5.0 MVP-11 Anthony Rendon: 41 ballot slots for all players outside the Top 10, Rendon with 10 of those ballot slots is the start of essentially "also receiving votes"
4.9 MVP-7 Lorenzo Cain: Cain is 2nd in the NL in position player WAR, 38 RBI is the likely major factor if any given voter was using posWAR as a starting point for their ballot
4.9 MVP-4 Freddie Freeman: Freeman a little under 6 points per ballot which would be 5th place vote, Cain a little under 4 or a 7th place vote
4.9 MVP-6 Paul Goldschmidt: a single ballot could have flipped the order of Goldschmidt, Cain, Story and Carpenter
4.9 no votes JT Realmuto: Derek Jeter is probably the main reason not even Clark Spencer tossed him a 10th place vote, Scott Boras filled out the other Miami ballot, admittedly 125 games doesn't help

4.8 MVP-15 Max Muncy: 3 ballot spots COL, PHI and ARI, a different small sample might have him on 20% of the ballots or none
4.6 MVP-9 Matt Carpenter: it's hard to come up with any plausible explanation for why he appears on 87% of the ballots, so many options and a solid case to only have 7 position players
4.5 MVP-14 Justin Turner: 6 ballot spots for 103 games, since oWAR is fundamentally a counting stat pulling it off in fewer games also has positive attributes
4.4 no votes Scooter Gennett: voting for Reds C. Trent Rosecrans goes with 7 position players, while John Fay with 10 presumably considered him before deciding on Suarez for his last slot
4.2 no votes Bryce Harper: 300/434/538 (.378 BABIP) in the 2nd half probably gets him on some ballots if it was paired with a playoff push after his 214/365/468 (.226 BABIP) start

4.2 MVP-T18 Eugenio Suarez: 2 votes, picks up his other vote from Chris Haft in SF who also goes with 10 position players, probably an old school down ballot vote for 34 HR and 104 RBI
(19th) 3.8 MVP-12 Ronald Acuna: 6 votes, young and on a playoff team, Juan Soto with 3.6 oWAR doesn't appear on a ballot
(38th) 2.7 MVP-16 Jesus Aguilar: Tom Haudricourt and Rick Hummel consider him more valuable than every pitcher, Matt Breen does give deGrom a 4th place vote over 35 HR and 108 RBI on a playoff team
(39th) 2.6 MVP-T18 Nick Markakis: Charles Odum goes with 3 Braves and deGrom, Andrew Baggarly with no pitchers is the other vote for 162 games or 185 hits or name recognition
(48th) 2.4 MVP-17 Anthony Rizzo: Hummel again, Bob Nightengale and Tracy Ringolsby also consider 25 HR and 101 RBI more valuable than every pitcher

(125th) 0.8 MVP-10 Max Scherzer: five Top 5 votes and left off 17 ballots, just over half the voting points of Carpenter and only trails him in BA .243 to .257, should have stayed in AL and DH'ed on his off-days
(149th) 0.5 MVP-5 Jacob deGrom: Top 2 on 8 ballots, left off 8 ballots, I wonder if there is a way to provide value that doesn't contribute to oWAR
(706th) -0.5 MVP-13 Aaron Nola: 6 ballot appearances for the highest pitching WAR season in MLB since Randy Johnson MVP-7 in 2002

Why someone won the award is generally the simple part, they played baseball well and as a result they score well in stats that seek to measure how well someone played baseball. Why someone doesn't is the part that could use some clarity. 1972 Steve Carlton MVP-5 is fine, it would just be nice if bbwaa.com would update it's site to indicate that pitchers have their own award and should only be considered for MVP in case of emergency. How early are ballots submitted so that Carpenter appears on so many ballots when he hits 170/313/245 in Sept as his team goes from 76-59 the 2nd best record in the NL to 88-74 and out of the playoffs? I realize that a knock against the trio of pitchers is that none of them made the playoffs but playing terrible while your team collapses seems worse to me. In theory the voters even write about baseball, do any of them write about their own ballot?
   10. gehrig97 Posted: November 21, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5789953)
   11. gehrig97 Posted: November 21, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5789960)
@9: How does a 190 OPS+ translate to 45% more productive (relative to league OPS)? Isn't the league OPS always 100?
   12. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 21, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5790083)

@9: How does a 190 OPS+ translate to 45% more productive (relative to league OPS)? Isn't the league OPS always 100?

The formula for OPS+ is (OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1)*100

If you are twice as good as league average in both stats, your OPS+ will be 300.

If you are 50% better than league average in both stats, your OPS+ will be 200.
   13. bbmck Posted: November 21, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5790094)
Ignoring the park effect adjustment:

100 * ( OBP/lgOBP + SLG/lgSLG - 1)
100 * (.442/.320 + .636/.404 - 1)
100 * (1.381 + 1.574 - 1)
100 * 1.955
195.5 OPS+ from 38% better OBP and 57% better SLG

It's a common perception problem because the 100 base misleads people, read anything on Omar's HoF vote and you'll probably see the comment his career OPS+ is 18% below league average and it's 9%. Operating on the premise that OBP and SLG are equal since OPS and OPS+ essentially require that assumption someone with 10% better SLG than league average and league average OBP is 5% better and 110 OPS+ (ignoring park effects). There are theoretical arguments especially with OBP were you're more valuable both because of the extra bases and fewer outs but rather than pursuing that logic you would instead use a statistic like wOBA.

100 * (.352/.320 + .404/.404 - 1) or
100 * (.320/.320 + .444/.404 - 1) or
100 * (.336/.320 + .424/.404 - 1)
= 110 OPS+

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