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Monday, August 14, 2006

Prospectus Today: Sheehan: AL MVP

Thought this was timely considering recent threads on BTF…

This has the potential to be the best awards race in years, and not because of the traditional “clutch” or “pennant race” arguments. The candidates for AL MVP are tightly packed and generate their value in disparate ways, so much so that even conscientious analysts will be scratching their heads deep into the offseason.

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 05:51 PM | 230 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: general

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   1. Juan V Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:02 PM (#2140400)
I get the feeling that he discounts Ortiz´s clutch contributions a tad too much. And Halladay? I wouldn´t have guessed it.

But anyway, I enjoyed the read. There is a lot of people for whom you can make a reasonable MVP case.
   2. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:02 PM (#2140402)
Does any other defensive metric rate Jeter so highly?
   3. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:04 PM (#2140409)
Why am I not surprised that Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome aren't on this list?
   4. Juan V Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:07 PM (#2140413)
Does any other defensive metric rate Jeter so highly?


Dial and UZR had him tipically low, last time I checked.
   5. pkb33 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:08 PM (#2140417)
The problem with his analysis is that he throws out the context-adjusted metrics when it's Ortiz but notes their value when it's Papelbon. There's no logic to that at all---if you value leverage, you should do it on both sides of the equation.

Also, while you can certainly discount Hafner or Ortiz' contributions because they have no defensive value to add, and that's a valid reason to argue for someone else winning the award, there's no more bogus faux-sabermetric argument than the one Sheehan and others make that "I’d add that the Red Sox—and Indians, for that matter—take a minor hit by having their DH spot locked up."

This is simply an excuse to inject bias into the discussion...the players value is a reflection of what they are doing, not what the impact to the team is of what they are not doing. There's as much logic to dinging Ortiz for this as there would be for dinging ARod for his not playing SS and an inferior player being there...and I haven't heard anyone argue that should be done. If you want to argue that a player's value reflects how optimally the team uses them that's fine, but that's a MUCH more complicated analysis (and one not at all unique to DHs) than Sheehan or others do.
   6. CWS Keith plans to [omitted] at [omitted] Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:11 PM (#2140420)
Aww, no love for Jermaine Dye? EqA of .322, WARP1 of 6.4 would (seemingly) put him right in the middle of the race, no? I guess it's 'cause his VORP is 9th among AL players...
   7. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:14 PM (#2140423)
"There's as much logic to dinging Ortiz for this as there would be for dinging ARod for his not playing SS and an inferior player being there."

A-rod is no longer the superior SS. It's been two years now, let it go.
   8. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:16 PM (#2140425)
Vernon Wells gets screwed here because BP's fielding stats have him as a -13 (yeah right). It is surprising, however, that he doesn't have any assists this year.
   9. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:18 PM (#2140428)
I think it's reasonable to consider "clutch" statistics for relievers only because excellent relievers are generally only used in clutch situations, whereas non pinch hitters are used at all times. Plus there are plenty of thorny issues to consider when judging the true amount of value add a 9th inning homer has vs a homer earlier in the game (i'm sure our resident Sox fans will soon attempt to remedy these discrepancies in subsequent posts... I wonder how that will end up).

bah, what the hell. consider whatever you want. ortiz is going to win the award.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:24 PM (#2140435)
I think it's reasonable to consider "clutch" statistics for relievers only because excellent relievers are generally only used in clutch situations, whereas non pinch hitters are used at all times. Plus there are plenty of thorny issues to consider when judging the true amount of value add a 9th inning homer has vs a homer earlier in the game.

Why do a LOT of people on this site say "a homer in the ninth has the same value as a homer early in the game", yet continue to talk about leveraged innings when it comes to relievers? I don't see how you can seperate the two.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#2140437)
So why is Joe going with Jeter first?
   12. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:28 PM (#2140440)
I don't see how you can seperate the two.


I agree. How is a highly leveraged relief inning pitched different from a highly leveraged at bat?
   13. Jimmy P Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:30 PM (#2140442)
It seems that every BPro article always comes down to, "This guy's VORP is higher, clearly he is better". What's the point of even writing the article if all you do is recite VORP as gospel?

I, too, am not surprised by Dye or Thome's exclusion from the discussion. Mauer, Halladay, and Papelbon, but not Thome or Dye? Ok, sure.

If this is article is going to highlight the "serious" contenders (i.e. the ones that have a shot in the real world), then throw Sizemore and Hafner out. There's no way the BBWA will vote for either of them.

I think it's reasonable to consider "clutch" statistics for relievers only because excellent relievers are generally only used in clutch situations,

Only? I'm too lazy to look it up, but I guarantee that Papelbon has more than a few 3-run saves. I'm also sure he has more than a few "enter the 9th with no runners on and the lead" saves. Those are not the most clutch of situations.

In the AL, the MVP is like the Heisman in that with the MVP, if there's a good NY or Bos or candidate, they are winning. In the Heisman, if there's a good Notre Dame or USC candidate, they're winning. This award is Jeter's, Papi's, or Manny's.
   14. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:30 PM (#2140444)
"So why is Joe going with Jeter first?"

Cuz Bpro's defensive numbers have Jeter at +3. ZR has him at like -10/150 or something like that. The best player is clearly Mauer. Add in WPA and Jeter and Ortiz join the arguement. Sizemore and Wells should round it out with whatever pitchers belong (I don't care very much about pitchers).
   15. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#2140447)
Why do a LOT of people on this site say "a homer in the ninth has the same value as a homer early in the game", yet continue to talk about leveraged innings when it comes to relievers? I don't see how you can seperate the two.

That's an easy one. Relievers are situational. So are pinch-hitters and pinch-runners. They're used in relevant situations. Using starting position players and starting pitchers is *not* situational - David Ortiz being up in a crucial situation isn't design, it's coincidence.
   16. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:32 PM (#2140450)
Because Papelbon only pitches at the end of the game, whereas Ortiz hits in the first inning, etc etc. Ortiz is supposed to get hits in every situation, whereas Paps is only supposed to get outs in clutch situations. Hitters "create their own leverage" so to speak, while relief pitchers don't.

I have no problem with some kind of bonus to Ortiz for hitting well at the end of games, that's certainly part of his value. I just would avoid using WPA as the only metric.
   17. DCW3 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#2140453)
In the AL, the MVP is like the Heisman in that with the MVP, if there's a good NY or Bos or candidate, they are winning.

Y'know, only one Yankee has won the MVP in the last twenty years...
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:38 PM (#2140458)
That's an easy one. Relievers are situational. So are pinch-hitters and pinch-runners. They're used in relevant situations. Using starting position players and starting pitchers is *not* situational - David Ortiz being up in a crucial situation isn't design, it's coincidence.

There is some luck to how often a batter hits in a crucial situation, but these situations _happen_. Just because an old white guy decides that a specific reliever should be used doesn't change the situation, or the value gained or lost. If you are going to assign higher or lower value to a situation, it doesn't change due to a lineup change.
   19. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:39 PM (#2140459)
Because Papelbon only pitches at the end of the game, whereas Ortiz hits in the first inning, etc etc. Ortiz is supposed to get hits in every situation, whereas Paps is only supposed to get outs in clutch situations. Hitters "create their own leverage" so to speak, while relief pitchers don't.
   20. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:39 PM (#2140460)
this is why Vorp is silly.

Lirano is only worth 5.5 wins? really?

If he came bac healthy today, he'd win the twins at least 5 more games than they'd win if he was gone.
   21. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:39 PM (#2140461)
Y'know, only one Yankee has won the MVP in the last twenty years...
Facts? Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true.
   22. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:41 PM (#2140468)
Oh ####. I just had a very long post cut off.
   23. DCA Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:42 PM (#2140469)
Why do a LOT of people on this site say "a homer in the ninth has the same value as a homer early in the game", yet continue to talk about leveraged innings when it comes to relievers? I don't see how you can seperate the two.

Within the same game, all runs have the same value. This is a truism. If you score three runs in the first, or three runs in the ninth, it's still three runs on the scoreboard.

Between games, runs do not necessarily have equal value. The ninth inning that Mo Rivera pitches is no more important that the first inning of that game. But it is going to be a high (marginal win : marginal run) game. Or we wouldn't use Rivera.

In game 7 of the WS, I would start Rivera and let him pitch as long as he can. I would not do it in any other game because, while runs in the first is are as valuable as runs in the ninth for that game too, it may turn out due to later events that it is a low (marginal win : marginal run) game and we waste our scarce resource (Rivera-quality pitching). By saving Rivera for the ninth, we know that runs are very valuable in the game in which we use him. That is how RP are leveraged.

I completely reject WPA as an after-the-fact value tool because it says -- nay, it is based on the premise -- that some runs are more valuable that others within the same game, and distinguishes itself from context neutral. This is horribly distorted, so much so that I have no confidence at all that it is better than doing no adjustment at all.
   24. Rally Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:45 PM (#2140476)
Y'know, only one Yankee has won the MVP in the last twenty years...

Unless I totally forgot somebody, its zero. Mattingly won it 21 years ago. How time flies.
   25. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:46 PM (#2140478)
"Unless I totally forgot somebody, its zero."

This is too much fun, no one say anything.
   26. Rally Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2140480)
Oh yeah. A-Rod is technically a Yankee.
   27. JPWF13 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2140485)
This is too much fun, no one say anything.


he doesn't count he's not a "Real Yankee"
   28. flournoy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2140486)
this is why Vorp is silly.

Lirano is only worth 5.5 wins? really?

If he came bac healthy today, he'd win the twins at least 5 more games than they'd win if he was gone.


Pretty bold statement, considering that he'd have about seven starts left.
   29. Guapo Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#2140488)
MVPs by team, since 1980:

San Francisco- 7
Oakland- 5
Texas- 4
Atlanta- 4
Philadelphia- 3
Milwaukee- 3
Chicago Cubs- 3
Baltimore- 2
Pittsburgh- 2
Chicago White Sox- 2
Seattle- 2
St. Louis- 2
Boston- 2
New York Yankees- 2
Detroit- 1
Toronto- 1
Kansas City- 1
LA Dodgers- 1
Cincinnati- 1
San Diego- 1
Colorado- 1
Houston- 1
LA Angels- 1
NY Mets- 0
   30. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:51 PM (#2140490)
I don't get it--you would think that an intelligent person like Sheehan would be extra careful to not neglect White Sox players after that basically made him look like a complete moron last year.

I would even rate Dye higher than his WARP--since it was compacted into less playing time, it was actually more valuable to a good GM like Williams, as he was able to fill the hole left by Dye's injury with above replacement players...(Mackowiak and Gload)
   31. DCW3 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:51 PM (#2140491)
And, actually, over that same span, only two Red Sox have won the MVP. (Granted, one of those was one of the worst MVP choices ever, but there have also been a couple times when a Boston player probably deserved to win but didn't.)
   32. DCW3 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:52 PM (#2140494)
Well done, Guapo.
   33. Hal Chase Headley Lamarr Hoyt Wilhelm (ACE1242) Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#2140498)
Unless I totally forgot somebody
This guy.
   34. Nasty Nate Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#2140499)
Can someone please explain why everyone cares so much about the writers' awards?
   35. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:55 PM (#2140500)
Cowboy, good catch, this is funny. But I feel for him -- I can probably recite the MVPs from '56 through '80 or so off the top of my head, but I have to think real hard who won last year and couldn't tell you who won in say '95.
   36. WalkOffIBB Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:55 PM (#2140501)
Oh yeah. A-Rod is technically a Yankee.

I often get the impression that there are Yankee fans who would not agree with that statement.
   37. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:56 PM (#2140502)
Can someone please explain why everyone cares so much about the writers' awards?

Cuz the rest of the world cares about them. In 50 years, no one is going to dissect the IBA, or the posts on primer.
   38. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:56 PM (#2140503)
this is why Vorp is silly.

Lirano is only worth 5.5 wins? really?


Where are you getting that figure? I can't find it anywhere. Not to mention, Prospectus only presents VORP in terms of runs, not wins.
   39. Nasty Nate Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:57 PM (#2140504)
What's the IBA?
   40. WalkOffIBB Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#2140507)
MVPs by team, since 1980:

San Francisco- 7
Oakland- 5


Stupid West Coast bias!
   41. Worrierking Posted: August 14, 2006 at 08:59 PM (#2140510)
Looks like a pretty strong bay-area bias (Just kidding). Thanks for posting.
   42. Worrierking Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:00 PM (#2140511)
Looks like a pretty strong bay-area bias (Just kidding). Thanks for posting.
   43. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2140515)
Not to mention, Prospectus only presents VORP in terms of runs, not wins.

They've generally postulated that 10 runs equals a win, so 10 VORP would be a win.

What's the IBA?

Internet Baseball Awards
   44. pkb33 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2140516)
That's an easy one. Relievers are situational. So are pinch-hitters and pinch-runners. They're used in relevant situations. Using starting position players and starting pitchers is *not* situational - David Ortiz being up in a crucial situation isn't design, it's coincidence.

This explanation doesn't in any way justify the approach, though.

If you are valuing what the performance was, then producing in an important situation is of equal value regardless of whether the opportunity was design or coincidence. Why the particular player was given the opportunity in the situation they were is literally irrelevant to this analysis---what matters is that they were and how they produced.

I think people often confuse two different questions in this area: what is the value of a player's actual production (which is, to me, the only way anyone can explain the MVP criteria) and what is the chance the player will continue to perform at that level (for which the randomness of a player's number of late-inning at-bats may well be relevant). I see no argument at all that the second consideration has any place in a discussion of the MVP, which is a backward looking analysis, though.

This is also true of the use of DIPS ERA in Cy Young discussions, I believe. If a player has an outrageously low BABIP in a given season, that means it's very unlikely they'll repeat that level of performance. But it doesn't change that every out they got that year was a real out, with real, actual value to the team during that season.
   45. Repoz Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2140517)
In 50 years, no one is going to dissect the IBA

Not unless they get a court order to dig up dear ol' Hank...
   46. JPWF13 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:04 PM (#2140523)
I completely reject WPA as an after-the-fact value tool because it says -- nay, it is based on the premise -- that some runs are more valuable that others within the same game, and distinguishes itself from context neutral. This is horribly distorted, so much so that I have no confidence at all that it is better than doing no adjustment at all.



It also fails to adjust for the fact that players have differing level of oportunities- I read a post awhile back where someone searched for the # of times that Hafner had the opportunity to get a walk off hit- he had less opps than Ortiz had actual walk off hits (Another post noted that Ortiz had several failures during walk off opps as well- one reason Ortiz has more walk-off hits than Hafner for instance- is that Ortiz had literally 3 times as many opps)


If you drive in the go ahead run in a 2-1 game- in the 5th inning, WPA gives you much much less credit than if you do the same thing in the 9th- even though the end result is the same.

WPA is a fun thing to look at during a game - a hit here and we have a Y% chance of winning- two more runas and our odds of winning are X%...

but looking at WPA after the fact to rank and evaluate players? Nonsense- WPA could easily give a .250/.320/.390 hitter more points than a .275/.350/.475 hitter because the .250 hitter happene to have 3 walk off hits, and the .275 hitter none- WPA will give teh .250 hitter more points even if the .275 hitter had many mroe "game winning" hits (which just happened to occur early in the game- or the .275 hitter may have driven in more runs in close games- providing teh final margin of victory- but driving in 5 runs in 5 one run games- isn't seen as valuable as one walk off hit by WPA if all 5 came early in the game- or when the game wasn't close.
WPA is interesting and is ok as a fun stat- better than productive outs I guess- but if I'm going to take "clutchness" into account, I'll look at "close and late", batting with RISP etc.
   47. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:07 PM (#2140527)
This is also true of the use of DIPS ERA in Cy Young discussions, I believe. If a player has an outrageously low BABIP in a given season, that means it's very unlikely they'll repeat that level of performance. But it doesn't change that every out they got that year was a real out, with real, actual value to the team during that season.

I forgot to mention that the one thing in the article that really bothered me is that Sheehan mentioned that Santana has "been much less reliant on his defense than Halladay has been". Give me a break. Some times statheads can't see the forest for the trees.
   48. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:09 PM (#2140534)
I think people often confuse two different questions in this area: what is the value of a player's actual production (which is, to me, the only way anyone can explain the MVP criteria) and what is the chance the player will continue to perform at that level (for which the randomness of a player's number of late-inning at-bats may well be relevant). I see no argument at all that the second consideration has any place in a discussion of the MVP, which is a backward looking analysis, though.

This is also true of the use of DIPS ERA in Cy Young discussions, I believe. If a player has an outrageously low BABIP in a given season, that means it's very unlikely they'll repeat that level of performance. But it doesn't change that every out they got that year was a real out, with real, actual value to the team during that season.


I agree 10000% with your argument in the second paragraph. I just don't think it's the same argument as the one that argues for using WPA for position players. Take a 1-0 game, for instance, that the Sox won with a David Ortiz home run. WPA says that the homer was a lot more valuable if he hit it in the 9th inning than if he hit it in the first inning. To me that doesn't make a lot of sense. You'd rather have him hit it in the first inning, because it allows you to manage smarter (don't screw up your reliever usage, use defensive subs, etc).

That said, I think ortiz DOES deserve a bonus for his clutch hitting, because he's been SO good this year (i forget the number but it's pretty silly). I just think straight WPA gives too much of a bonus.
   49. pkb33 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#2140536)
I completely reject WPA as an after-the-fact value tool because it says -- nay, it is based on the premise -- that some runs are more valuable that others within the same game, and distinguishes itself from context neutral. This is horribly distorted, so much so that I have no confidence at all that it is better than doing no adjustment at all.

It's not really after the fact, though, it's assessing at the exact point the at-bat occurs isn't it? The suggestion that some runs are more valuable than others because of the game context may be wrong, but if it is then your statement that:

The ninth inning that Mo Rivera pitches is no more important that the first inning of that game. But it is going to be a high (marginal win : marginal run) game. Or we wouldn't use Rivera.

is equally wrong.

The reality is, WPA and 'hi lev relief' are the two sides to the same coin. Prevention of a run cannot be suitable for leverage analysis while production of a run is not...that's simply not analytically consistent.
   50. pkb33 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2140544)
That said, I think ortiz DOES deserve a bonus for his clutch hitting, because he's been SO good this year (i forget the number but it's pretty silly). I just think straight WPA gives too much of a bonus.

This I probably agree with---WPA by itself is not a complete picture. But just as effectiveness in hi-lev pitching situations has greater value for a team than effectiveness in garbage innings, high-WPA production has more value than low-WPA production. In both cases, of course, there's other things to look at in the analysis though.
   51. Srul Itza Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:31 PM (#2140568)
In leveraging at bats, does WPA take into consideration the player who creates a "high leverage" late-inning at bat, by failing in a "low leverage" early-inning at bat? Does it in fact penalize the player who succeeds earlier, thereby preventing the high leverage situation later on?
   52. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:34 PM (#2140572)
"That said, I think ortiz DOES deserve a bonus for his clutch hitting, because he's been SO good this year (i forget the number but it's pretty silly)."

So where do you draw the line? Jeter and Dye both have sick WPA's too (not as good as Ortiz of course). Do they get a bonus for it? Or just Ortiz? I'm curious, I haven't really figured out how to factor it in myself.
   53. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:44 PM (#2140585)
Ugh, please, let's not get into precise line drawing. of course all the candidates get considered as well. i would think of it like a matrix

Player   Hitting   Defense   Pos_Dificulty   Clutchness   PennantRace
Dye      Great     Ok        Low             Good         Yes
Ortiz    Great     Terrible  Very low        Great        Yes
Jeter    Great     Bad       V. High         Good         Yes
Hafner   V. Great  Terrible  Very Low        Great        No
Mauer    Great     Good      High            Ok           Yes

Use whatever weights you want. I don't think there is an end-all, be all number that encapsulates MVP candidacy.
   54. shaftr Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:50 PM (#2140591)
Dye's WPA is 1 point higher than Hafner. So, I'd move his Clutch to Great and Hafner down to Good.
   55. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 09:59 PM (#2140599)
heh fill in the values however you want, that was just my off-the-cuff attempt to do it straight from memory. IIRC though hafner has very few clutch opportunities, and has hit pretty well in them, which is why i scored him like that. whatever, fill them in however you want.
   56. akrasian Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:00 PM (#2140601)
I would put the position difficulty of catcher higher than that of shortstop. Isn't catcher normally the worst hitting position?
   57. JPWF13 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#2140605)
Dye's WPA is 1 point higher than Hafner. So, I'd move his Clutch to Great and Hafner down to Good.


Hafner is hitting: .392/.500/.725 in 62 "close and late" PAs and
Dye is hitting: .314/.375/.608 in 56 "close and late" PAs

Hafner is hitting .308/.454/.744 with RISP
Dye is hitting .356/.424/.702 with RISP

Hafner is hitting .302/.492/.767 with RISP & 2 outs
Dye is hitting .321/.438/.660 with RISP & 2 outs

I'd throw out WPA and use the hoary DMB clutch descriptor for both men in 2006: "terror in the clutch"
   58. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:05 PM (#2140607)
I would put the position difficulty of catcher higher than that of shortstop. Isn't catcher normally the worst hitting position?

By far, unless you count pitcher. Catcher is the last position left where teams will put up with an offensive liability.

That's one of two reasons I'd give my vote to Mauer - he's hugely productive for his position, and it's hard to imagine that the team would be where it is without him.
   59. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:07 PM (#2140609)
Cuz Bpro's defensive numbers have Jeter at +3. ZR has him at like -10/150 or something like that. The best player is clearly Mauer. Add in WPA and Jeter and Ortiz join the arguement. Sizemore and Wells should round it out with whatever pitchers belong (I don't care very much about pitchers).


Sure, he outlines some of Jeter's credentials, but he never really says why he gets the nod over the others (particularly Mauer, who I think is the best candidate).
   60. Guapo Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:08 PM (#2140611)
I can't believe you just gave Jeter a "Good" for Clutchness. That's like giving Jesus a "Good" for "Ability to Heal the Sick."
   61. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:08 PM (#2140612)
In leveraging at bats, does WPA take into consideration the player who creates a "high leverage" late-inning at bat, by failing in a "low leverage" early-inning at bat?


It does not.

Does it in fact penalize the player who succeeds earlier, thereby preventing the high leverage situation later on?


WPA probably does penalize that player to a certain extent.

My own preference, rather than using WPA, is to evaluate peformance based on a more general grouping by LI. Tango defines low/medium/high/very-high leverage, as (roughly) LI <=0.7, 0.8 to 1.5, 1.6 to 2.9 and >=3.0, and I think that makes sense to get a picture of how the value is distributed. Ortiz concentrates most of his performance in the high and very-high categories; A-Rod had (at least in '05) a lot of his performance in the low-LI category.

So where do you draw the line?


I look at leverage as providing additional value above and beyond the baseline of the player's overall performance. I don't look at it as "the" measure, because a player does have to perform across all situations. But if he can leverage a significant fraction of his performance into situations that have a much larger impact on the results of individual games, he should get extra credit for that, in my mind.

-- MWE
   62. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:13 PM (#2140619)
"Sure, he outlines some of Jeter's credentials, but he never really says why he gets the nod over the others (particularly Mauer, who I think is the best candidate)."

Sheehan, like myself, is a Jeter fanboy. I will vote for Jeter #1, unless he really slumps, whether or not I think he really deserves it. If he's a top 3 or so, he's getting my #1 vote, I'd imagine Sheehan is a similiar case.
   63. Russ Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:15 PM (#2140621)
It also fails to adjust for the fact that players have differing level of oportunities- I read a post awhile back where someone searched for the # of times that Hafner had the opportunity to get a walk off hit- he had less opps than Ortiz had actual walk off hits (Another post noted that Ortiz had several failures during walk off opps as well- one reason Ortiz has more walk-off hits than Hafner for instance- is that Ortiz had literally 3 times as many opps)


This seems like a pretty easy thing to remedy. Take

Sum( WPA[1:Num Plate Appearances] )

divided by

Sum( Max Possible WPA [1: Num Plate Appearances ])

In other words, in each situation there is a maximal amount by which one can increase the WPA (obviously with a home run in most cases, and a ceiling that is less than a home run in the walk-off situations). If you sum over this in the denominator, this seems like you would have a good measure of "clutchness" (and this shouldn't be hard to calculate). This way, a guy who makes the most of his high leverage clutch appearances will get to outweigh any non-clutch suckiness earlier on.
   64. Srul Itza Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2140623)
I would put the position difficulty of catcher higher than that of shortstop. Isn't catcher normally the worst hitting position?

It is the worst hitting position normally, but it also depends on what you mean by "position difficulty." The position puts a lot of wear and tear on the body, but how would the skill set compare to that at shortstop?

Consider that Mike Piazza, however bad he was at it, was still able to get away with playing catcher. Would you really like to contemplate what it would have looked like if he had tried to play shortstop?
   65. Kyle S Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:18 PM (#2140625)
Bah, everyone, make your own damn matrices and leave mine alone! (kiddin')

i haven't checked position splits, i thought SS was considered the toughest position on the spectrum though. jeff sackman's minorleaguesplits says that for the PCL, SS's hit worse than catchers as a group. it's the reverse in the IL, so i dunno
   66. Buddha Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2140628)
Halladay, Santana and Papelbon but no Verlander? Come on.
   67. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:23 PM (#2140629)
Consider that Mike Piazza, however bad he was at it, was still able to get away with playing catcher. Would you really like to contemplate what it would have looked like if he had tried to play shortstop?

You're comparing apples and oranges here. The skillset for catcher and shortstop is completely different.
   68. Srul Itza Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:37 PM (#2140636)
You're comparing apples and oranges here. The skillset for catcher and shortstop is completely different.

That is sort of the point. You see a lot of players get "shunted" to catcher because they can hit some, and maybe by being a catcher they can land a major league job. Good hitters like Piazza and Posada, who never played catcher before they were converted in the minor leagues.

But how many goes get shunted to or converted to short stop? How many guys pick up that position for the first time in the minors?

I think playing short stop is harder than playing catcher, as it involves the same issue of arm strength plus other skills. I think playing catcher is harder on the player, because of the damage it does to them.
   69. JPWF13 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:43 PM (#2140642)
his seems like a pretty easy thing to remedy. Take

Sum( WPA[1:Num Plate Appearances] )

divided by

Sum( Max Possible WPA [1: Num Plate Appearances ])


is anyone actually counting "Max Possible WPA" on a player by player basis?
   70. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:45 PM (#2140644)
I think playing short stop is harder than playing catcher, as it involves the same issue of arm strength plus other skills. I think playing catcher is harder on the player, because of the damage it does to them.

While I agree that the mechanics of shortstop are more difficult, there's more to catching than merely being a backstop, or else there'd be more good-hitting catchers than there are.

I don't think there are many guys out there who can call a decent game, which is why you see so many mediocre catchers hang on forever.
   71. DCA Posted: August 14, 2006 at 10:52 PM (#2140650)
The reality is, WPA and 'hi lev relief' are the two sides to the same coin. Prevention of a run cannot be suitable for leverage analysis while production of a run is not...that's simply not analytically consistent.

No, they're not. High leverage relief -- the concept, perhaps not the particular calculation that you are thinking about -- is a product (or at least can be a product) of selecting high leverage GAMES, in which runs have differing value, not INNINGS WITHIN A GAME, where all runs have the same value. An elite PH, only brought into close games but left on the bench for blowouts, is leveraged the same way a reliever is leveraged. We don't see that, because guys can hit every day, but they can't pitch every day.
   72. DCA Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:02 PM (#2140665)
is anyone actually counting "Max Possible WPA" on a player by player basis?

But that's unrealistic, because if you hit that HR in the 3rd, the available WPA might be a lot lower later in the game. So you could get the situation again, as with WPA, that by failing early on, you actually get higher WPA than if you succeeded early on. Which is bull

Out
2B
2B
HR

might have higher WPA -- and higher possible WPA -- than

HR
2B
2B
HR

if the lack of the early HR kept the game close. It might be +.30/+.50 in the first case, but only +.24/+.25 in the second case. When added to an average player who might be +.00/+36.00 in a season, the former makes the player look better overall than the latter.
   73. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:23 PM (#2140696)
What a dumb article. An excellent defensive catcher on a contending team hitting .361/.441/.522? Christ...talk about your no-brainers.
   74. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#2140708)
"An excellent defensive catcher on a contending team hitting .361/.441/.522? Christ...talk about your no-brainers."

And amazingly, he might finish somewhere like 4th or 5th this year.
   75. Jimmy P Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:36 PM (#2140719)
And amazingly, he <strike>might</strike> will finish somewhere like 4th or 5th this year.
   76. Frisco Cali Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:38 PM (#2140728)
Max Possible WPA

He came over in the Wickman trade?
   77. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:39 PM (#2140731)
And amazingly, he might finish somewhere like 4th or 5th this year.


True. Obviously I was referring to what should happen, not what will happen. Barring a major slump or injury, Ortiz will probably win.
   78. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:41 PM (#2140736)
#31. Are you talking about the alleged robbery of 1995? If so, go back and find what Albert Belle's stats were at the end of July when the Indians had already effectively clinched the AL central with something like a 13 game lead over their closest "competitor". Belle had something like 19 of the 50 home runs he finished the season with at that point. Did Albert Belle turn in the best numbers on the season? Yes. Absolutely. But he was no more valuable than about 5 other Indians in blowing the competition out of the water and clinching the division.

Did Belle likely lose votes for his personality and demeanor? I don't doubt it. But he got most of his production in the seasonal equivalent of garbage time on a time loaded with other contributors relative to Mo Vaughn's Red Sox. I would have voted for Belle but it wasn't so ridiculous a choice as people imagine seeing their triple crown stats and knowing that Belle was a notorious jerk.
   79. Srul Itza Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2140739)
While I agree that the mechanics of shortstop are more difficult, there's more to catching than merely being a backstop, or else there'd be more good-hitting catchers than there are.

I think that ignores two parts of the problem. Playing catcher involves an incredible amount of wear and tear on the body -- crouching for 100-150 pitchers, sometimes in all that hot protective gear in the middle of summer; getting hit by foul tips on the hands and also on the head, which will ring your bell even with the mask; getting hit by the bat; some times; diving to stop bouncing pitches; occasional collisions at home plate.

So unless you feel the "calling" to be a catcher, you probably want no part of that job. And if you are a good hitter, and the manager has a choice of where to play you, will he put you at catcher, were he can get only 130 or so games a year out of you, or at another position, where he can get 150+?

So I don't think it is the case that the catcher position has such desperately needed skills that you are willing to put up with a bad hitter back there. I think it is more the case that being a catcher (a) kills you as a hitter; (b) is a position that good hitters tend to avoid; and (c) is a position that managers do not want to waste a good hitter in, hence things like Biggio's move to second. Added to that is the factor that you reference, namely, that there are certain skills that managers look for, for which they are willing to tolerate a lesser bat.
   80. DCW3 Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:53 PM (#2140756)
I would have voted for Belle but it wasn't so ridiculous a choice as people imagine seeing their triple crown stats and knowing that Belle was a notorious jerk.

It isn't so much that Belle was robbed--I probably would have voted for Edgar Martinez. The problem is that there were about 30 players in the AL more deserving than Vaughn that season.
   81. Sawney Snows Posted: August 14, 2006 at 11:56 PM (#2140761)
You'd rather have him hit it in the first inning [than the ninth]

Absolutely. The sabermetrically inclined person who is able to quantify this seemingly backwards assertion will happen upon one of the great advances in our understanding of the game.

The earlier, the more important. Please, someone take that and run with it.
   82. DCW3 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2140781)
And, in any event, Belle's line at the end of July '95--which, yes, was just about his lowest point of the year--was .302/.380/.572. Vaughn's line for the whole season was .300/.388/.575.
   83. Frisco Cali Posted: August 15, 2006 at 12:06 AM (#2140790)
If so, go back and find what Albert Belle's stats were at the end of July when the Indians had already effectively clinched the AL central with something like a 13 game lead over their closest "competitor". Belle had something like 19 of the 50 home runs he finished the season with at that point

He hit 31 HR during the last 2 months of the season? Sweet! I didn't remember that. How many of his 50 doubles did he have during that time period?
   84. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 15, 2006 at 01:02 AM (#2140938)
Belle's 1995 batting splits courtesy of retrosheet

He did have 19 HR at the end of July. Indians were up 17.5 at the time.
   85. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 15, 2006 at 01:10 AM (#2140960)
How many of his 50 doubles did he have during that time period?

29 of his 52. 23 2B and 31 HR in 215 AB. EBH "avg" of .251.
   86. Booey Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:11 AM (#2141178)
Can someone who's smarter than me post Belle's first/second half splits from 1998 as well? If I remember correctly, he hit something like .264 with 18 homers before the all star break, and .381 with 31 homers after it.

When he got hot, Belle was one of the scariest hitters I'd ever seen. I kept waiting for the year when he'd put together a first half like he did in '94 or '96 AND a second half like he did in '95 or '98, and give us something we'd never seen before. He - not Thomas, Bonds, or Griffey - was always my pick for the 1990's player most likely to win the triple crown.
   87. Srul Itza Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:19 AM (#2141201)
Is it my imagination, or are threads not just closing, but actually vanishing?
   88. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:23 AM (#2141205)
Is it my imagination, or are threads not just closing, but actually vanishing?

You didn't see anything... </skipper>
   89. JC in DC Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:23 AM (#2141206)
I see dead people. And threads.
   90. ronh Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:37 AM (#2141222)
But he got most of his production in the seasonal equivalent of garbage time on a time loaded with other contributors relative to Mo Vaughn's Red Sox.

So now we are going to discount a players stats because they had a big lead? I suppose you consider the RBI stat a good one.

How is it Belle's fault that the rest of the division stunk?

25% of the Indians games after July 31st were against playoff teams. I doubt they were "garbage time".

The 1927 Yankees won by 19 games. Let's discount their stats next.
   91. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:44 AM (#2141232)
Can someone who's smarter than me post Belle's first/second half splits from 1998 as well?

Belle's Retrosheet 1998 splits
Month       G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
March       1   5   1   2   0   0   0   2   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  .400  .400  .400
April      25  88  12  21   9   0   5  14  16   1  19   0   0   3   0   0   3   1   2  .239  .346  .511
May        28 104  15  29   9   0   5  24  13   0  13   0   0   4   0   2   5   0   2  .279  .347  .510
June       28 112  22  33   2   1   7  23  12   0  16   0   0   1   0   1   3   1   0  .295  .360  .518

July       26 101  24  41   6   0  16  32   9   2  13   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0  .406  .455  .941
August     30 110  22  39  13   1   8  26  15   2  17   1   0   3   0   2   2   2   0  .355  .426  .709
September  25  89  17  35   9   0   8  31  16   5   6   0   0   4   0   0   3   2   0  .393  .468  .764


End of June, 17 HR. After that, 32.
   92. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2141234)
Can someone who's smarter than me post Belle's first/second half splits from 1998 as well? If I remember correctly, he hit something like .264 with 18 homers before the all star break, and .381 with 31 homers after it.

When he got hot, Belle was one of the scariest hitters I'd ever seen. I kept waiting for the year when he'd put together a first half like he did in '94 or '96 AND a second half like he did in '95 or '98, and give us something we'd never seen before. He - not Thomas, Bonds, or Griffey - was always my pick for the 1990's player most likely to win the triple crown.


I don't know if I'm smarter than you, Booey, and Retrosheet only does splits by month, not pre- and post-ASB.

But, through June of 1998, Belle was hitting .275/.352/.511 with 17 HR, 63 RBI. From July through September of 1998, he hit .383/.450/.803 with 32 HRs and 89 RBI.

If you combine his April, May, and June of 1994 with his July, August, and September of 1998, you'd get a season line for Belle of .377/.460/.763, 56 doubles, 55 HRs, 127 Runs, 156 RBIs in 155 games and 681 plate appearances. That would have missed a Triple Crown in 1998 by one home run and one RBI.
   93. Srul Itza Posted: August 15, 2006 at 03:00 AM (#2141250)
You didn't see anything... </skipper>

In keeping with the theme of the last closed thread, shouldn't that be:

These aren't the threads you're looking for.

You can go about your business

Move along

</obi wan>
   94. Sawney Snows Posted: August 15, 2006 at 03:07 AM (#2141254)
A quick-and-dirty estimate of Belle's combined monster "season" (first half of 1994 and second half of 1998) from the last paragraph of #92 computes to an OPS+ of 212. That would be tied for the 25th best single-season OPS+ all-time--tied, interestingly enough, with Frank Thomas's OPS+ for all of 1994, and a point behind Jeff Bagwell's 1994.
   95. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 15, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2141260)
If you are valuing what the performance was, then producing in an important situation is of equal value regardless of whether the opportunity was design or coincidence. Why the particular player was given the opportunity in the situation they were is literally irrelevant to this analysis---what matters is that they were and how they produced.

The thing is, Ortiz is used in the "low-leverage" *and* the "high-leverage" situations. To an extent, he can create the high-leverage situation by failing in the low-leverage one.

If the Red Sox replaced David Ortiz with an anti-Ortiz, who had all of those 9th inning RBIs in the 1st inning of the same games, the results for the team would be roughly the same, but the WPA for anti-Ortiz would be much lower. I agree with whoever said that in-game leverage means nothing when it comes to hitters because they played the whole game. The only meaningful concept of leverage for hitters, IMO, is between games--close games would be considered higher leverage and blowouts are lower leverage.

But even then, a guy like David Ortiz creates his own leverage, in a way, by performing worse in the early innings (and if he doesn't perform worse in the early innings, he'll have better overall numbers than the other guys and you won't need to use WPA to justify his MVP award).

The relief pitcher is different. The manager chooses to use his closer in high-leverage situations only and uses lesser pitchers in the low-leverage situations. He generally knows that when he brings in his closer, the runs prevented have extra value because it's a close game.

I think people often confuse two different questions in this area: what is the value of a player's actual production (which is, to me, the only way anyone can explain the MVP criteria) and what is the chance the player will continue to perform at that level (for which the randomness of a player's number of late-inning at-bats may well be relevant). I see no argument at all that the second consideration has any place in a discussion of the MVP, which is a backward looking analysis, though.

This is also true of the use of DIPS ERA in Cy Young discussions, I believe. If a player has an outrageously low BABIP in a given season, that means it's very unlikely they'll repeat that level of performance. But it doesn't change that every out they got that year was a real out, with real, actual value to the team during that season.


I understand your first paragraph here but I don't necessarily think the second paragraph follows. If a pitchers has an low BABIP, some of that may be his own doing, some of it may be his defense, and some of it may just be random variation. I don't have a problem giving the pitcher credit for his own doing or even random variation (Joe Mauer isn't going to be a career .360 hitter, but I wouldn't have a problem with him winning the MVP if he hits .360). But we should try to isolate the role of the defense to the extent possible, and not give the pitcher complete credit for that.
   96. SuperGrover Posted: August 15, 2006 at 05:35 AM (#2141352)
The race comes down to Mauer, Ramirez, Ortiz, Jeter, and Dye. No one else has a chance (well, unless Thome goes CRAZY the last month).

If Minnesota wins the WC and Mauer performs down the stretch, I could see him winning it. I think the Boston boys split enough votes that Ortiz falls a little short, and Dye, while having an outstanding year, has been completely under the radar.

My guess is Jeter wins it with Ortiz second and Ramirez third. That's assuming the yankees hold onto the AL East, of course.
   97. Urban Faber Posted: August 15, 2006 at 05:45 AM (#2141356)
No Shannon Stewart 2003-type candidates this time??
   98. SuperGrover Posted: August 15, 2006 at 06:03 AM (#2141366)
f you combine his April, May, and June of 1994 with his July, August, and September of 1998, you'd get a season line for Belle of .377/.460/.763, 56 doubles, 55 HRs, 127 Runs, 156 RBIs in 155 games and 681 plate appearances. That would have missed a Triple Crown in 1998 by one home run and one RBI.

Or basically Frank Thomas's projected 1994:

Numbers projected to 155 games:
.353/.487/.729
47 2Bs
52 HRs
145 R
139 RBIs
150 BBs

Sorry, I'm still pissed that season was cancelled.
   99. ian Posted: August 15, 2006 at 06:39 AM (#2141375)
Consider that Mike Piazza, however bad he was at it, was still able to get away with playing catcher.

Consider that Derek Jeter, ...
   100. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 15, 2006 at 07:15 AM (#2141381)
Going back about 85 posts, and slightly deeper into the balloting...
In the AL, the MVP is like the Heisman in that with the MVP, if there's a good NY or Bos or candidate, they are winning. In the Heisman, if there's a good Notre Dame or USC candidate, they're winning. This award is Jeter's, Papi's, or Manny's.

Since Mattingly/Clemens in 1985-86, the two teams have had one MVP winner apiece. They've had five runners-up-- six, if you count David Ortiz behind A-Rod. And they've had five more players come in third. That's 12 or 13 "good NY or Bos candidates," and two wins.
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