Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Primate Studies > Discussion
Primate Studies
— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Baseball Primer’s 2002 AL MVP Award

Our picks.

Well, who won?

 

Any Baseball Primer reader could tell you whom a group of 16 Baseball Primer writers would pick as the American League Most Valuable Player.  That man is Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodríguez.  The Primer writers gave Rodríguez 15 of 16 votes; Gary Santerre listed him second to Miguel Tejada.

 

It is more fun to talk about the folks who did not win.  Indian first baseman Jim Thome ranked second, with 11 second place votes.  Jim Thome led the AL with a 1.122 OPS and a .677 SLG.  His poor defensive skills and Cleveland?s 74-88 year after many great years dropped him a bit, at least to me.

 

Thome led Jason Giambi, New York Yankee first baseman, 131 points to 125 points.  A few more writers liked Thome?s .304/.445/.677 more than Giambi?s .314/.435/.598 year, though Giambi?s Yankees went 103-58 and Giambi had more plate appearances, 689-613.  I ranked Giambi higher myself.

 

A?s shortstop Miguel Tejada ranked fourth in the Primer poll, though he will likely win the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) poll, which Major League Baseball deems "official."  While Tejada is the beloved of the writers, many Primer writers saw Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra as having much the same numbers:

 

Avg.

Slug.

OBP

R

RBI

2B

3B

HR

BB

SB

CS

Tejada

.309

.354

.508

108

131

30

0

34

38

7

2

Garciaparra

.312

.354

.530

101

120

56

5

24

41

5

2

 

When you look at Oakland?s great year (103-59) and the parks in which these men played, you could say Tejada was better than Garciaparra, but not enough to make his year stand out, as Rodriguez?s does.  Thanks to Don Malcolm to putting this pair?s data, among others, on his website.

 

All 16 Primer writers put Rodriguez, Thome, Giambi and Tejada on their ballots.  One writer, Mike Emeigh, did not put Boston Red Sox designated hitter/left fielder Manny Ramirez on his ballot.  Ramirez did lead the league in OBP with .450, which the writers liked, though he played but 120 games.

	

Ramirez ranked fifth.  He edged New York Yankees? second baseman Alfonso Soriano 80 points to 74 points.  As with Ramirez, a single voter (Voros McCracken) left Soriano off his ballot.  A late fade, few walks (23 walks in 741 plate appearances), a better teammate in Jason Giambi and poor fielding kept Soriano from a better rank.  However, Soriano is 24, so this will likely not be his last showing on this list.

	

Soriano?s teammate, center fielder Bernie Williams, ranked seventh.  Eleven writers listed Williams, who ranked ninth in OPS.

 

Eleven writers also listed Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, who ranked eighth. Martínez?s teammate, pitcher Derek Lowe, ranked ninth.  I am sure Dan Werr has more to say about these two men in his AL Cy Young Award story, but for me, picking Martínez over Lowe for Cy Young was the toughest pick of year:

 

ERA

W

L

GS

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

Martínez

2.26

20

4

30

199.1

144

13

40

239

Lowe

2.58

21

8

32

219.2

166

12

48

127

Martínez pitched 20.1 innings less, gave up more runs with unearned runs, and gave up more home runs and walks.  However, he struck out many more men, and thus had better pitcher-only numbers.  It was a tough call.

 

Chicago White Sox right fielder Magglio Ordóñez ranked tenth in the Primer polling.  He had a .320/.381/.597 year for a White Sox team that went 81-81 in a weak division.  Garciaparra, whom I noted above, ranked eleventh.  Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito, who ranked third in the AL Cy Young Award polling with three first place votes, ranked twelfth, but earned two sixth place votes.  No other player earned more than ten points.

 

AL MVP Voting:

Player

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Blts

Total

Alex Rodriguez

15

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16

219

Jim Thome

0

11

2

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

16

131

Jason Giambi

0

3

9

3

0

1

0

0

0

0

16

125

Miguel Tejada

1

0

3

3

1

1

2

1

2

2

16

87

Manny Ramirez

0

0

0

1

7

5

1

0

1

0

15

80

Alfonso Soriano

0

1

1

1

4

0

2

6

0

0

15

74

Bernie Williams

0

0

1

2

2

2

2

0

0

2

11

50

Pedro Martinez

0

0

0

1

0

3

1

0

6

0

11

38

Derek Lowe

0

0

0

2

2

0

1

0

1

1

7

33

Magglio Ordoñez

0

0

0

1

0

2

1

2

0

2

8

29

Nomar Garciaparra

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

1

4

9

20

Barry Zito

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

3

14

Eric Chavez

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

2

7

Garret Anderson

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

4

6

Mike Sweeney

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

3

6

John Olerud

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

4

Jorge Posada

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

4

Roy Halladay

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

3

Torii Hunter

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

3

Derek Jeter

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

3

Rafael Palmeiro

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

2

Carlos Beltrán

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

Carlos Delgado

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

 

 

Charles Saeger Posted: October 10, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Dan Szymborski Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606650)
</B>I believe that A-Rod's a marvelous defensive player, both by appearances and by stats and may very well have been the best defensive shortstop in the AL in addition to being the clear best offensive shortstop. Jeter's not in A-Rod's time zone in any facet of the game. Year in and year out, there's rarely a player more valuable than A-Rod and this year is no exception.

This is the first I've heard of Bernie Williams' "magical comeback season." He really didn't have any better a season than last year offensively and his defense has continued its long slide.

As for Thome, he was an easy 2nd for me; he was pretty much the entire Indians team this year. You practically can't understate the value of an OBP of .445 and a SLG of .677.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606651)
</B>I had Anderson ninth on my final ballot. I didn't see how he could have ranked any higher than fifth (behind ARod, Thome, Jason G, and Tejada). Fifth to ninth for me was a crapshoot between Soriano, Pedro, Lowe, Chavez, and Anderson - that was the order in which I ranked them, although I probably should have dropped Chavez to ninth and pushed Anderson up a peg or two. The kicker on Chavez is his defense; he's not particularly good going to his left, and Tejada ends up with a lot of plays in the hole in back of him as a result.

I didn't put Manny Ramirez on my ballot because I considered both Pedro and Lowe to be more valuable to the team than Manny was, because Manny did miss a large chunk of time, and because he didn't really play all that well when he returned, and the Sox had numerous chances to make up ground on the Yankees but struggled to play .500 ball. Manny didn't really get hot again until the end of August, about the same time that the Yankees accelarated and pulled away.

-- MWE
   3. Charles Saeger Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606652)
</center><center>I left Garret Anderson completely off my ballot. He had a good year, but he's a left fielder with a .339 OBP.</center>

I think M_dude is trolling, considering his bold, centered text and his absolutely ludicrous comments.
   4. Shredder Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606656)
I find it funny that everyone who makes the "value to team" argument immediately defines that as value in the standings. If you want to make the argument that most valuable and best are two different things, you can't just assume that everyone should have the same definition for "value." Whay can't it be value to the bottom line? Why not public relations value? Why not value to the franchise, as opposed to value to the team? Its simply too vague a word to base one's opinion of the award on, in my opinion. That's why I would choose the best player, and that was clearly ARod.

As for Anderson, I'm not surprised he was so far down the list, and I probably had him no higher than 6th in the IBA voting. Quite frankly simply due to OBP, and being familiar with the general opinion of people on the site with regards to its importance, I'm surprised he was named on four ballots.
   5. Marc Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606658)
I agree that this "most valuable to his team" stuff has become a nightmare. Sure, that's what it says in the rules, but prominent BBWAA members, primarily those at USA Today at least as far as I have seen it, have over the past decade made absolute hash out of the logic of the MVP. Remember when Albert Belle couldn't possibly be the MVP because his team was TOO GOOD, would have won without him. Well, how could you EVER vote for a Yankee, then? And then there was that joke of a vote between Mac and Sammy. If you really dig this kind of logic and apply it to the AL this year, then the MVP HAS TO COME from the A's, Angels or Twins, everybody else is either too good or too bad.

I don't buy it. The guy who has the most value is the best player. Put ARod on the A's and they don't have to squeak it out in the last week and maybe they can set up a decent rotation meant to defeat the Minnesota Twins. Oh, maybe that was just a brain f*** by Art Howe. Or put ARod on the Yankees and just ship them the trophy, forget about playoffs.

Having said all of that...MANNY RAMIREZ? How the h*** can a guy be that valuable to his team in 120 games. The utter and complete fixation on percentages (OPS, etc. etc.) is really inappropriate when it fails to take account for how many times the guy swung a bat. Does anybody really think in the long sweep of 162 games he did more for the Red Sox this year than Nomar did? Yikes!

Being a Twins fan, I am shocked (SHOCKED!) at Torii Hunter's poor showing. That's not to say it is wrong, BTW, just that the hypesters have given him so much play. Unfortunately, I have to agree that you got it right.

I was glad to see also that pitchers and relief pitchers are not totally persona non grata here. Baseball Weekly had a poll ongoing throughout the whole year and it was back around Sept. 1 I think, not their final, but at that time Randy Johnson had zero votes. That is almost as bad as Manny 5th.

   6. Marc Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606659)
Phil wrote:

>However, the
award is called the Most VALUABLE Player, not the Most Statistically Superior Player. The key question
that must be asked is, how would the team have fared in the season without INSERT PLAYER NAME?

Not to beat a dead horse, but neither is it called Most Valuable Player on a Team That Made the Playoffs.
   7. Rob Wood Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606660)
My approach to MVP voting is to ask myself the following question. Suppose I knew exactly how each player was going to play during the season in question (including injury time), if all the players were sent back in time to the beginning of the season, and if a draft were held (abstracting from teams) who would I take first? I think this approach is quite defensible and the world would be a better place if everyone followed this approach, in my humble opinion. :-)
   8. Shaun Payne Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606662)
Webster says something is valuable if it is of great worth. From this we can say the most valuable player should be the player of the greatest worth. The greatest worth, in baseball and in any other sport, means the player who does the most to help his team win. If a player does more to help his team win than any other player, and his team doesn?t win, he is still the most valuable player. We know how much a player helps his team by looking at his statistics. If a player has better statistics than any player in baseball, assuming he?s not causing turmoil in the clubhouse and he's a good defensive player, that player deserves the MVP award.

Alex Rodriguez is an MVP candidate. His offensive numbers are better than anyone's at his position, there's no reason to believe his defense isn't as good as anyone?s (at the toughest position in the game), and, as far as we know, he doesn?t cause turmoil in the clubhouse. Rodriguez does more to help his team win than any player in the American League, but there's a chance he won?t win the award because his teammates aren?t as good as Miguel Tejada?s or Alfonso Soriano's.
   9. Toby Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606664)
My question to the Primer Lords is simply this: Were the voters given any guidance in how to interpret the term 'Most Valuable Player'? That is, were they instructed to follow the same guidelines as the BBWAA, or were they given different guidelines, or were they given no guidelines at all (and permitted to interpret 'Most Valuable Player' as they saw fit)?
   10. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606666)
Uh, Phil? Phil? Anybody home?

You wrote: "The key question that must be asked is, how would the team have fared in the season without INSERT PLAYER NAME? By voting for Alex you are saying that the Rangers would have been much worse off without him. So instead of 20+ games back, they would have finished 30+ games back?"

Soooooo.. the question begs.. Tejada was BETTER than the 10 games you attribute to A-Rod?
   11. Charles Saeger Posted: October 10, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606667)
Speaking for myself, I always think of the meaning of MVP as "Player who has the most value."

What is "value"? Well, in baseball, the point is to win the game. Therefore, the Most Valuable Player does the most to help his team win the game.

To help me think, I sometimes ask myself, "What player would help me win a game, all other things being the same?" I think that adding Alex Rodriguez, 2002, to my team would help me win more games than adding Miguel Tejada, 2002.

Phil's argument is flawed. He made it to show how Miguel Tejada was the MVP. If I use Phil's argument, I conclude Jason Giambi, not Miguel Tejada, is the MVP, and it is not close. Without Giambi, the Yankees would be as likely to make the playoffs as the Athletics would be without Tejada, maybe less so. Looking at statistics only, Giambi had the better year, and Phil's argument works to him too, so Phil should, under his rules, pick Jason Giambi for MVP.

FWIW, I was one of the two writers who listed Tejada 10th.
   12. Charles Saeger Posted: October 11, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606682)
Mike Sweeney should rank higher than many players on playoff teams.

* Do you think Luis Rivas was more valuable than Mike Sweeney?

* Do you think Robin Ventura was more valuable than Mike Sweeney?

Of course not.

Sweeney does have negatives, of course. The Royals were not a good team. Sweeney is a poor fielder. Hell, I did not vote for the man due to this stuff. But Sweeney was a better player -- added more wins, was *more valuable* -- than many players still playing today.

A note about lack of reader ballots: yeah, I can see the point ... but there is already the Internet Baseball Awards, so I cannot see making a second ballot. The same people will cast ballots in both awards anyway.
   13. Marc Posted: October 11, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606685)
I'm sticking with Nomah as the Sox' best position player, and as for the KC Royals, I would want Carlos Beltran for my team ahead of Mike Sweeney. How could a team with those two guys be soooo bad?
   14. Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: October 11, 2002 at 12:54 AM (#606688)
Toby, there were no criteria specified.

Tim, I didn't vote for Sweeney, but I also don't consider team success at all. I just don't think it shows anything about individual player value considering the massive amounts of noise. Feel free to disagree.
   15. Old Matt Posted: October 13, 2002 at 12:55 AM (#606710)
The argument that team XYZ finished last, and would've still finished last with player ABC is irrelevant. In this line of reasoning, it is a team's win total that determine the worth of the player. This is exactly opposite what the award meant to mean: what player's accomplishments had the most positiv impact on his team's win total.

In 1972, the Phillies finished dead last with a 59-97 record. Steve Carlton, however, finished with a 27-10 record. In the mind of many, Carlton's accomplishment was worthless. But in my mind, this accomplishment is astonishing, and Carlton was so head and shoulders the most valuable player to his team, he needs to be considered for the league award.

There IS one valid argument that can be used when discounting a player who played for a poor team, although its impact can be significantly over-estimated: as the frequently losing team, the MVP candidate in question may have more opportunities to showcase his abilities.

When considering players across eras, analytical thinkers will consider the quality of competition, with the prevailing argument being whether or not quality of play has increased throughout the years. It is therefore reasonable to theorize that the environment of competition for a last place team is of somewhat lower quality then that for a playoff contender.

If the gap is close, the environment the work is done in can be a factor. In the case cited, Bench deserves the 1972 award for his work in a high-quality environment.

In 2002, there is no one close to A-Rod.
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 14, 2002 at 12:55 AM (#606718)
You wrote: "The key question that must be asked is, how would the team have fared in the season without INSERT PLAYER NAME? By voting for Alex you are saying that the Rangers would have been much worse off without him. So instead of 20+ games back, they would have finished 30+ games back?"

Soooooo.. the question begs.. Tejada was BETTER than the 10 games you attribute to A-Rod?


Nathan, that is definitely the question to ask. If you don't think Tejada was better than 10 games (like A-Rod), then he's not the MVP. If you want to throw in intangibles, fine with me (as long as you can make a cogent explanation for an increase or decrease in the amount of games won for a team).
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 15, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606754)
I also do not belive that A-Rod is worth 10 games in the standings. If that were the case, then a A-Rodless Rangers would have only won 62 games, leaving them with a winning percentage of .383.

That's only if you are assuming that A-Rod's replacement(s) is below replacement level. If Tejada was the replacement, he might help the team win 6-8 games, so we are only talking about a difference of between two and four wins.

   18. Marc Posted: October 15, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606760)
I think the bottom line is that the wins and losses recorded in the standings are a really great way to evaluate teams. Funny how they figured that out about 150 years ago.

But here we are 150 years later still trying to figure out how to evaluate players. Well, there are lots of better ways than the standings to do that. To penalize a player because his teammates suck is silly. If ARod played for the A's, he'd still be playing (that is to say that the A's and Angels would be 3-2 one way or the other, and headed back to Oakland for game 6).

Don't get me wrong, I have Miggie Tejada on my first-string AL all-star team for 2002. At DH. ARod is my SS. And if you're even going to talk about how many more games somebody would have won with or without some player, then just figure out their WSs. I haven't seen that analysis, but I'm pretty sure ARod is gonna have three or four more.
   19. Marc Posted: October 15, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606766)
>a last place team without their best
player would still be a last place team. A first place team without their best player might not be a first place
team.

I think the general consensus toward this logic is it might be right or it might be wrong, but either way, SO WHAT? The A's with Miguel Tejada, the A's without Chavez, the A's without Billy Koch, the A's without (fill in the blank). The A's without about every single of their players above replacement might not have been a first place team. That's no way to determine value. That's just another what if. MVP shouldn't be based on what if, it should be based on what.
   20. MattB Posted: October 15, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606770)
Final 2002 Win Shares are available.

Conclusions here:

A-Rod wins with 35. Miguel Tejada is a close fourth with 32 (Giambi and Thome tie for 2nd with 34).

Once again, Bill James suggest that the AL MVP vote was not as ridiculous as everyone initially thought. (See, Ichiro, 2001).
   21. MattB Posted: October 16, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606783)
Jeff,

Personally, I don't put any stock in Win Shares. I was just providing the data. You are right that last year Ichiro was within one win (3 Win Shares) of Giambi, just as this year Tejada is within one win of A-Rod under the Win Shares system. The system also boosts Oakland's pitchers over Boston's in 2002.

The difference, in part, is that Seattle in 2001 and Oakland in 2002 exceeded their Pyth W/L. Boston was an extreme underperformer this year. As a result, there are more wins than there "should be" to go around, because the formula begins with Runs Scored and Runs Allowed, and assumes they will match up well with Pythagoras.

Do I think that if A-Rod and Tejada were switched, that Texas would only have won one fewer game? Of course not. I was just giving the numbers to those who may want to reconsider (either their MVP vote or their view of WS).
   22. Steve Posted: October 21, 2002 at 12:57 AM (#606844)
There is a reason why A-Rod probably won't win the MVP and Tejada will. A-rods team probably wouldn't have done much worse without him. After all, last place is last place, you can't get below it. The A's needed Tejada in there to win and at times he did carry the club (let's call that the Kirk Gibson effect on MVP voting). The twist comes when you ask if there is any other current shortstop who could have done as well or better, guess what, there is. It helped that the A's have a solid line-up. If you want to vote for the guy that did the most for his team, that would be Thome. And please prove where Giambi is a better fielder than Thome. I've seen Thome play a lot and he makes all the routine plays and some good plays to each side. New York would have made it as far as they did with Thome or any of a half dozen other first basemen.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Marc Sully's not booin'. He's Youkin'.
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.8785 seconds
47 querie(s) executed