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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Bill James Online: Strong and Weak MVP Classes

1.    2004 American League, Vladimir Guerrero. 

The memory of the American League in 2004 is very special to me, and it hurts me to put down the league in any way, but facts are facts.  Vladimir hit .337 with 39 homers, 126 RBI, a .989 OPS, and those are very good numbers and deserving of an MVP Award; he also had 206 hits, and led the league in Runs Scored.  But the steroid era abounds in big, BIG numbers, so it took a very large number of runs to win a game.  If you compare Vlad’s numbers in 2004 to the other MVPs of that era, you can see that those are actually not fantastic numbers for that era.  He had 27 Win Shares, 5.6 WAR, both pretty weak totals for an MVP; the other MVP candidates (Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, A-Rod, David Ortiz) all had about the same kind of numbers.  I wish David had won it, but I wouldn’t want to take anything away from Guerrero.  I’m just saying that 2004 was no better than any other season he had between 1998 and 2002, but it won the MVP Award because the competition wasn’t as strong as it had been in the National League in the late 1990s.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:28 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mvp

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   1. Adam Starblind Posted: October 20, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5984011)
Vlad also had Teh Fear.

I'm surprised an old Sox fan wouldn't detect that.
   2. John DiFool2 Posted: October 20, 2020 at 10:36 AM (#5984019)
Not sure why he didn't pro-rate any of the strike seasons.

Oh, that's right. Does he still NOT give credit for strike seasons in Win Shares?
   3. Rally Posted: October 20, 2020 at 11:10 AM (#5984027)
Guerrero for the full 2004 season was not much better than the other top candidates Bill mentions. Actually, by WAR Tejada and A-Rod are about 2 wins up on Vlad, I'm sure that's due to their playing tougher positions. 2 pitchers beat out all of them, Santana and Schilling, but most of the time voters are content to just vote for them in the pitcher award. Ichiro comes out #1 with 9.2 WAR. That was the year he broke the hits record and as usual won a gold glove, but voters were probably not going to give it to a player on a last place team 2 years in a row (Mariners lost 99 games).

Vladimir got a lot of bonus points for his clutch hitting down the stretch. Angels were 2 games back for the division with 10 to play. 6 of those 10 were against the team they were chasing, Oakland. They lost the first one but then won 7 of the next 8 to clinch the division. In those games Vlad hit .471 with 6 homers, a 1.638 OPS.
   4. Rally Posted: October 20, 2020 at 11:39 AM (#5984037)
Ortiz in particular would have been a terrible choice, at least by WAR. He was 16th, and that is just among players who received any MVP votes. Win shares might be kinder to a bat only player. Ortiz was one of the top 5 hitters in the league, without a lot of separation in that group. 5 players had OPS between .981 and 1.009. Two DHs (Ortiz and Hafner), two bat first corner outfielders (Vlad and Manny), and then Melvin Mora.

For a DH to win he can't just be one of a group of top hitters, some of whom play defense. If that's the case, always give it to the guy who plays defense.

Melvin Mora! I forgot that Melvin Mora once hit .340 with power and led the league in OBP. Two years earlier he was just a 30 year old utility player. Looks like a Justin Turner or Max Muncy breakout, and he did it before we had any launch angle data.
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 12:51 PM (#5984047)

Oh, that's right. Does he still NOT give credit for strike seasons in Win Shares?


Wouldn't that run counter to the whole idea behind Win Shares? I don't think extra WAR is granted to players during strike seasons.
   6. Rally Posted: October 20, 2020 at 02:12 PM (#5984060)
That is correct. The league leader in WAR has 3.5 or something like that. It is not pro-rated to 162 games on any of the sites that publish WAR. Win shares for a team always add up to 3x team wins.
   7. EddieA Posted: October 20, 2020 at 02:21 PM (#5984061)
1973 National League (Pete Rose won the Award. Top five in Win Shares are Joe Morgan (40), Willie Stargell (36), Pete Rose (34), Tony Perez (32), Darrell Evans (31) and Barry Bonds (31).


Barry was surprisingly good his age 8 season.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5984062)
I forgot that Melvin Mora once hit .340 with power and led the league in OBP. Two years earlier he was just a 30 year old utility player. Looks like a Justin Turner or Max Muncy breakout

More like having his wife give birth to quintuplets and realizing how expensive it is to go directly from having 1 kid to having 6 kids.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: October 20, 2020 at 04:57 PM (#5984090)
Barry was surprisingly good his age 8 season.

Gotta be the roids!!!!
   10. Mike Webber Posted: October 20, 2020 at 05:09 PM (#5984094)
@2
Not sure why he didn't pro-rate any of the strike seasons.

Oh, that's right. Does he still NOT give credit for strike seasons in Win Shares?


From TFA:
I didn’t want to make a "full" adjustment for the playing time, because that would be adjusting out of existence something that actually happened. You can’t say that 1981 or 1994 was a year when a lot of players had great seasons, because that didn’t happen. 113-game great seasons are not as great as 162-game great seasons. On the other hand, I did not want a system in which all of the strike-shortened seasons ranked as the worst MVP groups ever, because that’s just dumb. So I made a partial adjustment for the shortened season.


So James did Pro-rate them....
   11. The Mighty Quintana Posted: October 20, 2020 at 05:33 PM (#5984095)
The NL was absolutely loaded in the late 60's, early 70's. The earlier crop of megastar outfielders was still productive (Aaron, Mays, Robby, Clemente). The aces were in their prime (Seaver, Gibson, Carlton, Jenkins). The sluggers were still sluggin' despite the mound (Stargell, McCovey, Cepeda). And there were a couple little guys whose value was being obscured by their park (Morgan, Wynn). And then there was the Big Red Machine! (Rose, Bench, Perez)
   12. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 20, 2020 at 06:43 PM (#5984099)
The American League at that time was just very much star-deprived. This is not an original observation; they lost the All Star game with the predictability of mosquitoes in a swamp, and that league at that time had very, very few Hall of Famers.


Looking at 1963, there were 36 HoFers, and 23 of them played in the NL. And 5 of the 13 American Leaguers were pitchers (Bunning, Ford, Roberts, Wilhelm, Wynn), so you could only just barely make a starting lineup with the remaining eight...and, even then, you'd have to move Killer to first base:

1B - Killebrew
2B - Fox
3B - Brooksie
SS - Aparicio
LF - Yaz
CF - The Mick
RF - Kaline
C - Yogi

That'll work.
   13. Srul Itza Posted: October 20, 2020 at 07:10 PM (#5984100)
The NL was absolutely loaded in the late 60's, early 70's.


From 1963 to 1982, back when a lot of the players still cared about it, the NL won 19 out of 20 All Star Games.
   14. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 20, 2020 at 09:56 PM (#5984139)
2 pitchers beat out all of them, Santana and Schilling, but most of the time voters are content to just vote for them in the pitcher award.

I am pretty sure that the advanced metrics did not rank those pitchers higher at the time. In fact, I’m pretty sure that prior versions of WAR didn’t either (I don’t think WAR existed in 2004 but I might be wrong).
   15. Rally Posted: October 21, 2020 at 08:21 AM (#5984206)
You are correct that the currently popular versions of WAR did not exist in 2004. Win Shares was out, but in general starting pitchers don't rank as well by that stat as they do in WAR. Prospectus had some kind of total value stat, but it's probably changed a dozen times since then and they certainly didn't use the same level of replacement as people do now. For a while they had it set at a AA level or something, so Jeff Francoeur in his worst seasons would still show 1.5 wins better than replacement or something like that.
   16. Rally Posted: October 21, 2020 at 08:30 AM (#5984208)
Cool, I was able to find a thread from 2004.

I remembered some stuff right, Santana with 27 win shares was behind 6 of the hitters, and someone posted WARP3 (Baseball Prospectus WAR precurser). Tejada was at 12.3, Guerrero 10.6, for seasons we now view as in the 5-8 WAR range so you can see the scale is very different. In that system a league average player playing everyday probably comes out around 5.0
   17. Rally Posted: October 21, 2020 at 08:43 AM (#5984209)
Reading through that blast from the past, I don't see any discussion of Santana as MVP. Looks like we took it for granted that he was competing for the pitcher award, and focused the pro/con arguments on the hitters.
   18. Mefisto Posted: October 21, 2020 at 09:22 AM (#5984218)
Wow, that thread has a ton of comments from folks long gone.
   19. McCoy Posted: October 21, 2020 at 10:15 AM (#5984229)
The problem with WARP is that it used replacement level for offense and defense instead of doing average for both and then adding in replacement level. Consequently the win numbers were always a bit high.
   20. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 21, 2020 at 10:30 AM (#5984233)
Wow, that thread has a ton of comments from folks long gone.


Not sure how much pride I should take in having contributed the following three items to stimulate the conversation on that thread 16 years ago . . . jeez.

Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 04, 2004 at 08:36 PM (#897448)

Alexis Rios in anybody's top 10 for AL ROY?
63. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 04, 2004 at 08:56 PM (#897491)
Hi!
64. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 04, 2004 at 08:56 PM (#897493)
Please disregard that outburst........

   21. Mefisto Posted: October 21, 2020 at 10:38 AM (#5984237)
Given the steroids debates back then, I'd say you were quite restrained.

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