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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Tomase: Overreliance on WAR may have hurt J.D. Martinez in AL MVP vote that’s going to be won by Mookie Betts | WEEI

Take this year’s AL MVP race. Betts led the league in WAR, will win the award, and deserves it. Hard to argue with Trout or Ramirez, either, based on performance, though I’m certainly open to the idea of an MVP coming from a winning team, and not Trout’s sub-.500 Angels.

But there are other deserving candidates whose WAR won’t give them a sniff. Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez is one of them. For five months, he flirted with the Triple Crown. Because he’s mostly a DH and no better than an average fielder when he does don a glove, he never had a chance, though his 5.9 fWAR is roughly in range of Ramirez.

Some advanced stats make a case for Martinez, such as his weighted runs created (170, 3rd), base-out runs added (73.36, 1st), win probability added (5.4, 3rd) and . . . there’s no need to lose ourselves any further in those weeds.

“There’s no need to lose ourselves any further in those weeds”? The **stats** he uses ignore defense and baserunning.

WAR isn’t perfect. While I agree people shouldn’t simply use WAR to rank players for award voting, Tomase’s case is extremely weak and unconvincing.

Wins Above Replacement—all
1. Betts • BOS 10.9
2. Trout • LAA 10.2
3. Chapman • OAK 8.2
4. Ramirez • CLE 7.9
  Lindor • CLE 7.9
6. Snell • TBR 7.5
7. Bregman • HOU 6.9
8. Sale • BOS 6.9
9. Martinez • BOS 6.4
10. Verlander • HOU 6.3

Jim Furtado Posted: November 08, 2018 at 08:54 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics, j.d. martinez, war

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   1. TomH Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:15 AM (#5784128)
If win shares are available for 2018, can someone post these please? I doubt JD does well there either. Because he has great O and nothing else. Which makes him one of the 15 best players in the league!
   2. JJ1986 Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5784134)
How can cranky old sportswriters both hate launch angle and love JD Martinez?
   3. PreservedFish Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5784136)
I'm sure Tomase's long been a fan of "base-out runs added."
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5784154)
I suspect Martinez will finish just about where he should, probably a little higher because of his dalliance with the second-half Triple Crown.

   5. BDC Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5784161)
Ah, this is what we used to call a "piñata post" :)

Anyway, to add my own bash: MVP voters very often went to defensive standouts over less-glovey sluggers long before anyone had heard of WAR. I think of Roberto Clemente in 1966: he didn't lead the league in any Triple Crown category, was well behind Richie Allen and Hank Aaron in HR, and trailed Aaron in RBI … but he was Clemente in RF and that more than made up the gap. (Among position players, at least; Sandy Koufax ran Clemente a close second on the ballot.)
   6. PreservedFish Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5784165)
The RBI obsession peaked in the 80s, for whatever reason. Previous generations seemed to have a more accurate and holistic appreciation of baseball value.
   7. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5784171)
Some advanced stats make a case for Martinez, such as his weighted runs created (170, 3rd), base-out runs added (73.36, 1st), win probability added (5.4, 3rd) and . . . there’s no need to lose ourselves any further in those weeds.


How does pointing out that a guy is third in some rankings argue for him as the most valuable player?

As Dan Szymborski pointed out on Twitter, Martinez wasn't even a better hitter than Trout in 2018, and hitting is all Martinez brings to the table. Their slugging percentages were virtually identical, but Trout had nearly 60 points of OBP on Martinez, and that's before you account for the parks.
   8. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: November 08, 2018 at 09:57 AM (#5784177)
The RBI obsession peaked in the 80s, for whatever reason


GWRBI was the one true stat. :-)
   9. GGC Posted: November 08, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5784252)
Tomase's not that old, is he?
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 08, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5784256)
All that list says to me is that the AL is loaded with mind boggling talent. It's not that hard to imagine any one of those position players being next year's MVP.
   11. base ball chick Posted: November 08, 2018 at 12:51 PM (#5784325)
so trout had more OBP and OPS

it is uniumportant because all those numbers didn't make his team Win the WS and therefore, someone else's RBI are more important
   12. Rally Posted: November 08, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5784372)
Even if you completely ignore defense and base running there is no way he's a viable MVP award winner, simply because of Mookie.

Betts had a better OBP (36 points) and slugging (11 points). Mookie edges JD in rBat (65-59), it's only close because Mookie missed a few games, JD played 14 more.

WAR also says Mookie is 30 runs better on defense (fielding + pos) and 10 better on the bases, but he doesn't even need that.
   13. base ball chick Posted: November 08, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5784394)
i don't think this author is arguing about mookie being better

i think he wants JD on there instead of trout because RBI on Winning Team
   14. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 08, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5784400)
Take this year’s AL MVP race. Betts led the league in WAR, will win the award, and deserves it. Hard to argue with Trout or Ramirez, either, based on performance, though I’m certainly open to the idea of an MVP coming from a winning team, and not Trout’s sub-.500 Angels.

But there are other deserving candidates whose WAR won’t give them a sniff.


All we know is that Martinez won't finish in the top three. And the excerpt starts by acknowledging that it's "[h]ard to argue with" the guys who will finish in the top three. Does he not understand how the MVP finalist thing works? They name exactly three players. If there was universal agreement that J.D. Martinez was the fourth-best player in the American League, behind Betts, Trout, and Ramirez, he wouldn't be an MVP finalist and he would finish exactly fourth in MVP voting when the final votes are revealed. So what the hell is the point here?
   15. Lars6788 Posted: November 08, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5784407)
Im going full ignoramus here but where is one game or even 10 games in the regular season has Martinez cost his game with the glove? The defense aside etc is great but it’s more participation points or extra credit, considering all the [ducks] counting numbers Martinez has provided all season long.

He sustained production more than Ramirez at least who seemed to fall a cliff through much of the second half.

Put Martinez at two or three - but it’s like he put up actual numbers that helped his team win.
   16. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 08, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5784426)
The defense aside etc is great but it’s more participation points or extra credit, considering all the [ducks] counting numbers Martinez has provided all season long.


This argument would be stronger if we were comparing Martinez to a below-average fielder who was getting bonus points for playing the field, but doing so kind of poorly. But Betts, Ramirez, and Trout are all above-average fielders (per all of the fielding metrics I looked at, and it's not like any of them have a lousy fielding rep). So, even if you want to say Martinez's fielding contribution is zero, that's still less than the contributions of Betts, Trout, and Ramirez.
   17. Lyford Posted: November 08, 2018 at 04:16 PM (#5784472)
Tomase’s case is extremely weak and unconvincing

If you ever run across something from Tomase that isn't weak and unconvincing, that would be a story...
   18. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: November 08, 2018 at 04:19 PM (#5784474)


After moving to right field three years ago I believe Betts has the most Rfield of any player in MLB. He's not just above-average, he is the best defensive right fielder in the game, and it's not even close.
   19. The Run Fairy Posted: November 08, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5784538)
If win shares are available for 2018, can someone post these please? I doubt JD does well there either


Win Shares (at least, baseball gauge's win shares, I'm totally ignorant about whether or not there's different versions floating around) actually liked Martinez more than WAR.

Martinez had 31.9 win shares, or 21.9 over bench, which put him 3rd or 4th in the AL, depending on which one you use.

Betts had 38.8 win shares, 28.1 over bench

Trout had 38.2/26.8.

Bergman had 35.5/21.9

Lindor had 31.6/16.1

You can look at the AL leaderboard here.
   20. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: November 08, 2018 at 06:40 PM (#5784580)
I remember Repoz, wheverever he's got to now, used to specialize in digging up articles like this and posting them with obscure cultural references in the intro.

Anyway. It strikes me how much, though the instruments have changed, the song remains the same for a lot of people. Onceago we heard a lot of moaning about how nobody valued defense anymore. This one appears to be moaning about how we value it too much. In the end, somewhere in the middle turned out to be right, of course.

Betts is a better player than Martinez, and he had a better year. In part because, you know, he actually played defense, and played it well. Trout is actually a better hitter than Martinez, in addition to being a decent CF, so the only argument for JDM over Mike Trout is the "his teammates were better" argument, which has never held much water with me.
   21. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 08, 2018 at 07:04 PM (#5784591)
I don’t think this is Guy With big RBI Total on Winning Team bias, I think this is Local Guy Who Had Great Year bias.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: November 08, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5784602)
I'll guess JDM finishes 3rd or 4th.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 08, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5784608)
I'll guess JDM finishes 3rd or 4th.


He can't finish higher than fourth - which is exactly where I predict he'll finish. They announced the top 3 vote-getters as "finalists" last week (or was it earlier this week) and those were Betts, Trout, and Jose Ramirez - I'd guess they'll finish in that order.
   24. DanG Posted: November 08, 2018 at 11:00 PM (#5784698)
If win shares are available for 2018, can someone post these please?
From The Bill James Handbook 2019.

AL Leaders
39 Trout
36 Betts
36 Bregman
33 Martinez
30 Lindor
29 Ramirez
29 Lowrie
28 Haniger
27 Bogaerts
26 Castellanos
AL Pitchers
22 Snell
20 Kluber
20 Verlander
20 Ohtani
19 Treinen

NL
34 Yelich
28 Arenado
28 Carpenter
27 Anderson
26 Freeman
26 Story
NL Pitchers
22 Nola
22 Scherzer
21 Freeland
20 deGrom
   25. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 09, 2018 at 01:36 AM (#5784736)
Betts is a better player than Martinez, and he had a better year. In part because, you know, he actually played defense, and played it well. Trout is actually a better hitter than Martinez, in addition to being a decent CF, so the only argument for JDM over Mike Trout is the "his teammates were better" argument, which has never held much water with me.

The other somewhat-valid argument for JD over Trout (and Mookie, I suppose) is playing time, but his advantage simply isn't that great. JD played in 150 games, Trout in 140, Mookie in 136.

However, I do think people underrate the value of playing time (starts/innings for pitchers). You can't contribute to winning games you're not playing in, and no matter how great a game you have, you can only win it once. A pair of 5 HR/14 RBI games would give your season WAR a big boost, I'm sure, but the real-life applicability is very much capped at 2 team wins (assuming no contribution from any other teammates).

If Trout played 125 games this year and JD played 160, with the same rate stats, I could see placing JD over Trout even if Trout's WAR was higher. But that's not the case.

The weird thing about this whole controversy is that JD's WAR is actually pretty good. In some years/leagues (even 2018 NL) he would be a very legitimate MVP contender. It's just that this year there are a couple of guys who were quite obviously better.
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: November 09, 2018 at 02:10 AM (#5784739)
wrong thread

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