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   1. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 20, 2006 at 03:59 PM (#2219604)
In the IBAs, I had Papelbon #9 for Cy and #2 for RoY as well (Verlander).

I had Ortiz #3 for MVP (Mauer #1, Jeter #2). Manny at #10.
   2. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 20, 2006 at 04:03 PM (#2219608)
Let's not forget when discussing Manny the fact that, despite his team getting swept, that he hit .818/.900/1.545 in the biggest series of the season. By the time he was sitting, the Red Sox chances had already gone out the window.

To repeat: biggest series of the season: .818/.900/1.545.
   3. Dave Cyprian Posted: October 20, 2006 at 05:43 PM (#2219696)
Besides the fact that he hit like 225 home runs this year, the most astonishing aspect of David Ortiz's 2006 campaign is the fact that the health of his heart appeared to be directly correlated with the success of his team. When the Red Sox started to fade badly the stress Mr. Papi endured of fearing the sox wouldn't make the playoffs caused heart palpitations.


OK this is sox therapy lets sling some mud... Whats more impressive, David Ortiz's 54 home runs (45 vs. AL pitching, 9 vs. NL pitching) or Ryan Howard's 58 (48 vs. NL pitching, 10 vs. AL pitching)?
   4. Porpoise Delectable Posted: October 20, 2006 at 08:22 PM (#2219837)
Let's not forget when discussing Manny the fact that, despite his team getting swept, that he hit .818/.900/1.545 in the biggest series of the season.


I sure wish the Manny Fan Club would get off this "He had a great series against the EE" bit. It's not as if you can gleam anything definitive from 20 PA's, even if it was in a 5-game series against NY. And let's not forget the bulk of his production came in a 4-6 performance in game 1.

Manny is a great hitter and he's paid $20M/year specifically to put up a 1.545 OPS in a 5-game series against NY. It's not as if they're relying on him to be the face of the franchise or anything like that.

Yours in sport.
   5. Xander Posted: October 20, 2006 at 08:44 PM (#2219858)
Manny is a great hitter and he's paid $20M/year specifically to put up a 1.545 OPS in a 5-game series against NY.

What about a 2.445 OPS? Does that count extra?
   6. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 20, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2219881)
FWIW, he was 4-6 with a double in game 2, and 5 for 5 a double and 2 HR with 9 walks in the other 4 games. Of course, I agree that any 20 PA have basically no predictive or instructive value (unless perhaps it was a certain hitter going 0 for 20 with 18 Ks against a certain pitcher or something to that degree).

This is all beside the point anyway. I defend Manny because a) I like watching him hit, b) I think those who attack him for "not caring" and the like are missing the point and way off base, and c) it will be virtually impossible for the Red Sox to significantly improve this offseason if they trade him.

Re: Ortiz vs Howard - (per BPro) Howard faced pitchers who collectively allowed a .412 SLG, Ortiz .408. When you consider that the picthers who faced Howard also faced a fair number of pitchers themselves, driving down their SLG against, I imagine the difference might grow wide enough to become somewhat significant.

Howard did have some second half though. .355/.509/.751 - Yowza!
   7. Darren Posted: October 20, 2006 at 10:54 PM (#2219949)
Geez, I'd love to get in on that mailing list but no one seems to want to put me on it. ?
   8. Darren Posted: October 20, 2006 at 11:06 PM (#2219955)
And what about defense? Do we just forget defense? No matter what contorted version of value you choose, doesn't defense have to be a big part of it, and doesn't that make Manny and Ortiz pretty poor candidates? I say give it to Mauer and co.
   9. WillYoung Posted: October 21, 2006 at 12:23 AM (#2219979)
I say give it to Mauer and co.

So do I, but some people think otherwise.
   10. villageidiom Posted: October 21, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2220192)
And what about defense? Do we just forget defense?

Manager's decision.

Let's take an extreme example, and I'll get back to the original question. If the manager chose to bat Papi 9th, with 8 pitchers ahead of him, Papi wouldn't have too many RBIs. He probably wouldn't have too many ABs, either, what with all the extra IBBs he'd see. And Ortiz would be nowhere near the MVP discussion. While Ortiz is a stud of a hitter, without opportunity he's nothing.

Why do I bother with a nonsense scenario on offense to answer the question? Because it relates (potentially) to defense. Ortiz has no defensive opportunity, and it's due to his manager's decision to align the defense that way. It could be argued that Boston's defense would be better with Manny at DH, Youkilis in LF, and Ortiz at 1B; but that's not what the manager had decided. And we can't let the "what-ifs" into the discussion, or else we would need to discuss the MVP merits of J.T. Snow (what if he had regular playing time?) and the like. Ortiz is relegated to the defensive equivalent of the bench; lacking opportunity, his defense contributes nothing to the argument. To me, he should be counted ahead of the player who is equivalent in hitting but plays defense poorly, and behind the equivalent hitter who plays defense well.

That being said, there is no equivalent hitter to Ortiz in the AL in 2006. He's my MVP.

I don't give much CYA respect to Papelbon; it's hard for anyone to deserve a "best season" type of award when they miss a whole month of the season. My ROTY rankings - and rationale - match Toby's.
   11. RobertMachemer Posted: October 21, 2006 at 04:56 PM (#2220221)
And we can't let the "what-ifs" into the discussion, or else we would need to discuss the MVP merits of J.T. Snow (what if he had regular playing time?) and the like. Ortiz is relegated to the defensive equivalent of the bench; lacking opportunity, his defense contributes nothing to the argument.
I think you articlate that side of the argument well -- better than I've seen it elsewhere -- but I'm still not sure I'm convinced. By your logic (assuming equal playing time and equal offensive numbers), Manny Ramirez becomes less valuable than Ortiz precisely because he's more defensively able than Ortiz. That doesn't seem fair to me. How would you reply to that? (That's asked sincerely/inquisitively, not rhetorically/dismissively -- I think I haven't quite wrapped my head around your argument yet and so would love to hear your response).
   12. RobertMachemer Posted: October 21, 2006 at 05:01 PM (#2220223)
Perhaps my difficulty is in the differing definitions of value. Value can be defined in terms of amount contributed to wins, or it can be defined in 'fungible trade value' (or some variation thereof -- I'm not wording it well). It seems to me that it's this difference that leads to thoughts like "(assuming equal offense, salary, and playing time), Ramirez is the more valuable player in 2006, but Ortiz contributed more value."
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 21, 2006 at 06:14 PM (#2220251)
That being said, there is no equivalent hitter to Ortiz in the AL in 2006. He's my MVP.
Really? Jeter's got basically the same WPA, and he plays shortstop. There's no way that a bad shortstop has less defensive value than a DH. I really don't get it if that's what you're saying.

I had Papi fourth on my MVP ballot, after Jeter, Mauer and Sizemore. It's extremely hard for me to see how Papi could end up ahead of all four of those guys. I'm sure most non-Sox fans, and non-sox / non-WPA fans especially, would not understand why Papi would be in my top 5, so obviously this is a somewhat specialized argument. I watch the Sox every day, and Papi really did win an incredible number of games, more than the context-neutral numbers say. But he wasn't as good as the best hitters who also played defense, and hte best players on teams that made the playoffs.

I give a pretty significant playoff boost in MVP balloting. I've got two ways of justifying it. One, as with all awards, the MVP is defined by its past, not by a set of transcendent principles, and so having good enough teammates to make the playoffs is a part of the process. Two, given that we don't know with that much exactitude what makes a team good, I tihnk it makes sense to give extra points to guys on really good teams.
   14. Toby Posted: October 21, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2220343)
I am the one guy who did not include Mauer in the top 10. Let me say a few things about that here, though this thread is really supposed to be about the Sox on my ballot.

Catchers play an important defensive position, but they don't play it often. If you want to diss Ortiz for playing defense only 10 games, you have to diss Mauer for playing defense only 120 games.

There is a view that catching requires rare skill, but rare is not the same as valuable. I don't think Jeter could play catcher effectively, but I also don't think Mauer could play shortstop effectively. Many catchers catch because they can't play anywhere else. On days when Mauer is not catching, where is he playing? 1b, 3b, of? No, he is playing DH or resting.

There is a view that most catchers can't hit a lick, while most hitters can hit well, so you are better off having a Mauer catch and a typical (or replacement level, take your pick) DH at DH than having an Ortiz DH and a typical or replacement catcher catch. According to BP's VORP, though, Ortiz plus a replacement catcher is worth significantly more than Mauer plus a replacement DH. And I believe BP's VORP understates their relative values, because it considers Ortiz a 151-game DH, rather than the 10-game 1b, 141-game DH that he is, and considers Mauer a 137-game catcher, rather than the 120-game catcher, 17-game DH that he is. You could do much the same exercise with players other than Ortiz and with stats other than VORP.

And of course for me that's only a starting point, because I also consider the other silly intangible factors I mentioned in the intro, and Mauer doesn't score particularly well (nor particularly poorly) on those.

Mauer's a fine player and it's certainly nice for the Twins and their fans that he's only 23 and making in the six figures rather than the eight figures. I don't regret leaving him off the ballot.
   15. villageidiom Posted: October 21, 2006 at 08:51 PM (#2220356)
I think you articlate that side of the argument well -- better than I've seen it elsewhere -- but I'm still not sure I'm convinced. By your logic (assuming equal playing time and equal offensive numbers), Manny Ramirez becomes less valuable than Ortiz precisely because he's more defensively able than Ortiz. That doesn't seem fair to me. How would you reply to that?

Based on their 2006 seasons, you can't state definitively that Manny is "more defensively able" than Ortiz. Ortiz simply didn't have the opportunities to demonstrate his defensive abilities one way or the other, and those opportunities were out of his hands. Granted, Francona might have made him DH because his defense might be worse than Manny. He also might have done so to reduce wear and tear on his knees, or because he doesn't want Manny sitting next to him in the dugout while the team is in the field, or because he's a simpleton who doesn't know what he's doing. The only thing you can definitively state is that Manny had more defensive opportunities, and he didn't do much with them to help his case for MVP.

Perhaps my difficulty is in the differing definitions of value.

We're all there.

There's no way that a bad shortstop has less defensive value than a DH. I really don't get it if that's what you're saying.

That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that a bad shortstop loses something in the MVP discussion because he did poorly with the opportunities he had. The DH neither gains nor loses in MVP discussions from their lack of defensive opportunity, much as they neither gain nor lose because they didn't pitch.

Think back to Pedro in 1999. He likely added more value in the 20% of games he played in than any hitter did in 100% of the games. (Even if he didn't, I recall it was a close call. For the sake of argument here, let's say he clearly added more value.) Should we "dock" Pedro because he must've been such a bad hitter that his team elected to use a DH? I say no. It sounds like the Ortiz/defense argument - which docks a one-dimensional performance simply for being one-dimensional - would say yes.

Papi really did win an incredible number of games, more than the context-neutral numbers say.

That's essentially my thinking when I wrote, "There is no equivalent hitter to Ortiz in the AL in 2006." I think Ortiz has a significant advantage here, and that it surpasses the defensive advantages of the other players on the short list of context-neutral offensive comparables.

I give a pretty significant playoff boost in MVP balloting. I've got two ways of justifying it. One, as with all awards, the MVP is defined by its past, not by a set of transcendent principles, and so having good enough teammates to make the playoffs is a part of the process. Two, given that we don't know with that much exactitude what makes a team good, I tihnk it makes sense to give extra points to guys on really good teams.

One, I think what you're saying here is that if the BBWAA jumped off a bridge you'd go with them. Two, from the perspective at the end of the season, the part of "what makes a team good" that we don't understand is insignificant compared to the part that we do understand. As such, bonus points should also be insignificant. I choose 0.
   16. DCW3 Posted: October 21, 2006 at 09:19 PM (#2220383)
According to BP's VORP, though, Ortiz plus a replacement catcher is worth significantly more than Mauer plus a replacement DH. And I believe BP's VORP understates their relative values, because it considers Ortiz a 151-game DH, rather than the 10-game 1b, 141-game DH that he is, and considers Mauer a 137-game catcher, rather than the 120-game catcher, 17-game DH that he is.

I'm pretty certain that VORP weights the replacement level to which it compares each player by how many games the player had at each position. However, I also believe that the replacement level for DH is lower than that for 1B.
   17. Swedish Chef Posted: October 21, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2220391)
So a -5 SS has less defensive value than a full-time DH? I can't see how that idea can be useful to value players...
   18. villageidiom Posted: October 22, 2006 at 12:58 AM (#2220674)
So a -5 SS has less defensive value than a full-time DH?

Does a bad manager have less managerial value than the third base coach?

Does your pet dog have less companionship value than a dog still in a cage at the pet store?

Is $500 more valuable than what's behind door number 1?

In each case we're trying to determine value of a known vs. an unknown. You can try all you want to develop assumptions about David Ortiz and what he would have done in the field for a season, but it's not part of the 2006 evidence. If you want to base it on his career fielding, you'd need to demonstrate first how prior-year stats have any relevance in current-year MVP discussion. And they really don't. No matter what you do, if you try to rate Ortiz's full-season defense by filling in anything other than his full-season defense, you might as well try to make the case for Mark Kiger (or Tom Seaver) winning the 2006 Cy Young.

Simply put, you shouldn't enter unknowns into a discussion of 2006 actual performance. What would have happened had Ortiz played defense? Well, what would have happened had Jeter been in the starting rotation? Or had Mauer been with the Tigers? Or had Sizemore been batting 8th all year? Each of those would have drastically changed the opportunities the player had. They don't change their intrinsic value, merely the value they had the opportunity to contribute. We can discuss and debate all of the above, but they're not part of the factual evidence of the 2006 season.

As Robert alluded to earlier, the definition of "value" depends on what you're valuing. A certain level of performance has more value to a team if it's at a lower salary; it has more value if it drives ticket sales, ad revenue, and merchandising volume. But we're not talking about salary, nor profits. We're talking about on-the-field performance in the 2006 season. We have to work within the context of the opportunities presented in that timeframe.
   19. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: October 22, 2006 at 01:59 AM (#2220826)
If you're not going to use replacement level on defense then you really should adjust the replacement level for a DH as well. I use a league average hitter (sans pitchers of course) as replacement level for DH, as every AL team should be able to find an average hitter with no defensive value.

When you do that Ortiz comes out 10th among AL hitters in WARP (using ZR for fielding runs). Of course I do think Ortiz is more valuable than his context neutral stats would suggest, just not to the level that WPA would suggest. I don't see any way he's the MVP this year, but I don't see any way he's only as good as LWTS would suggest either.
   20. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: October 24, 2006 at 02:03 AM (#2222695)
I vote Therapy to put out a Bounty on Francona
   21. OlePerfesser Posted: October 28, 2006 at 02:32 PM (#2227255)
It appears that Therapudlians are hibernating lately, but in case anybody stops by, I'd add these 3 cents:

1) I definitely agree with MCoA that Jeter is the MVP and both Mauer and Sizemore were more valuable than Big Papi as well.

2) If you want to proclaim a DH most valuable, you've also got to convince me Hafner wasn't better than Big Papi.

3) Leaving Mauer off your ballot, Toby, can only be seen as an oversight. The kid had an awesome year, at an amazingly demanding position. Also, he's an athlete; if you watch him move, you know he could play any corner position on the field reasonably well--and with some experience, superbly well. I hope his knees hold up, 'cause he'll be fun to watch for a long, long time.

Anyway, when are we going to start kibbitzing about what Theo absolutely, positively has to do this off season?
   22. Toby Posted: October 28, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#2227348)
OleP,

I think catchers get, effectively, triple credit for catching. First, we use counting stats like VORP that compare them to other catchers rather than to other players. Then we compare them to other players by using rate stats rather than counting stats. And then we ignore the fact that they play defense only about two-thirds of the time in the first place.

Catchers are, by the nature of the position, only two-thirds as useful as other position players. We intuitively understand that a reliever is inherently not as useful as a starter; relievers just don't have the innings of starters. Why do we not understand that a 120-game catcher is inherently not as useful as a 155-game shortstop or center fielder? For some reason, we actually think the reverse. I don't understand where the catcher-worship comes from.

And on top of that, we overrate Mauer's 2006 because he was 23 and cheap, and we figure he will be even better in years to come. But projections for 2007 and beyond don't count in MVP voting for 2006. For 2006, there were plenty of players who hit while playing catcher. I mean, old friend Josh Bard posted an OPS+ about the same as Mauer's, albeit in half the plate appearances.
   23. Cowboy Popup Posted: October 28, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2227373)
"I think catchers get, effectively, triple credit for catching. First, we use counting stats like VORP that compare them to other catchers rather than to other players. Then we compare them to other players by using rate stats rather than counting stats. And then we ignore the fact that they play defense only about two-thirds of the time in the first place."

Mauer was 5th in the AL in VORP (Behind Sizemore, Jeter, Hafner, and Fatass), he played 120 games at Catcher and 20 at DH. His counting stats are more then enough to warrant a spot in the top ten. And Mauer doesn't need any adjustments to be in this race. He was 6th in EQA and had less PAs then one person who finished ahead of him. If he were a good fielding outfielder or a decent fielding 3rd baseman, he would belong in this conversation. As a sick defensive catcher, he's definately a top ten (and IMO a top 3) candidate this year.
   24. Cowboy Popup Posted: October 28, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2227374)
"The MVP is about a contribution that defies belief, shocks the conscience, and captures the imagination."

Also, how does being the first catcher to win a batting title not fit that description?
   25. Cowboy Popup Posted: October 28, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2227376)
AL batting title that is.
   26. Toby Posted: October 29, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2227436)
VORP itself is biased in favor of good catchers. Any statistical measure that is based on an average player at a position is biased in favor of good catchers.

When you figure the average shortstop, for example, most of the plate appearances are concentrated in the top 30 guys (30 starting shortstops, each playing every day). When you figure the average catcher, the plate appearances are distributed much more widely among the top 60 guys, because backup catchers get so much more playing time than backups at other positions. So the pool to which you are comparing Mauer is heavily watered down by all the playing time given to backup catchers.
   27. Darren Posted: October 29, 2006 at 12:10 AM (#2227438)
how would that distribution affect VORP, which doesn't use average but uses replacement level?
   28. Toby Posted: October 29, 2006 at 12:22 AM (#2227442)
VORP uses a different replacement level for each position. The replacement level is, I think, something like 75% of the average.
   29. Darren Posted: October 29, 2006 at 12:41 AM (#2227448)
ah, gotcha.
   30. Toby Posted: October 29, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#2227450)
By the way, Mauer batted "only" .333 as a catcher. He won the batting title at DH.
   31. Darren Posted: October 29, 2006 at 03:14 AM (#2227459)
That's a tortured definition of 'winning the batting title as...' No other player is held to that standard.
   32. Darren Posted: October 29, 2006 at 03:21 AM (#2227462)
And Toby, WTF is with this mailing list? Why are people conspiring to keep me off of it. Jerkwads.
   33. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 29, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#2227468)
And Toby, WTF is with this mailing list? Why are people conspiring to keep me off of it. Jerkwads.
It's the Primer List Darren. For a while there was some relationship between being on it and having the keys (if you had the keys you had to be on the list...or vice-versa, I don't remember). Given that they let a shlub like me on, I'm sure if you talk to Dan S. or Jim or someone they'll put you on
   34. Rear Admiral Piazza Posted: October 29, 2006 at 05:07 AM (#2227485)
I dunno. If I were drafting a team for 2006, based on what I know now, I'd take Jeter and Mauer over Papi. This is in part both are good at their defensive positions, and it is much more difficult to find someone who can do that and hit than it is to find a fatass who can hit dingers.
   35. OlePerfesser Posted: October 29, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#2227546)
Well, thanks for bringing up Bard, Toby. It reminds me of Meredith, and... aw, crap.

Anyway, I still don't get your logic. By most reasonable counting stats, rate stats, or intuition, Mauer's at least on a top-10 list of MVP candidates. Leaving him off your list entirely is hard to defend. Your anti-catcher arguments seem mostly to be assertions; you might want to dig up Woolner's old article on defining replacement value (plus any subsequent refinements) and see if you're really confident that there's significant bias in VORP, and that it's greater for catchers than other positions.* But even if the average catcher is weak and Mauer's numbers look inflated by comparison (if I understand what you're positing), isn't "value" partly about the rarity of what a particular player is adding to a team's output? I.e., every team has to put a catcher on the field; if the offensive bar IS set lower for them, it reflects that good ones are rare or that the work load beats 'em down and depresses their numbers. (And I don't know of anybody in this debate who is weighing Mauer's cheapness or ecomomic value in this situation.)

*I could argue there's also some bias in the DH average: Some teams use the DH position to give tired or gimpy players a "day off," and this might dampen the position average relative to full-timers. But I really don't think that potential source of bias is quantitatively significant.

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