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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
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   201. DCW3 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:18 PM (#2141972)
If you're still asking, AP = Andy Phillips

Wow, I never realized that so many of the articles that get posted around here were written by Andy Phillips.
   202. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:23 PM (#2141976)
Of course this is the case. When I responded to Dizzy earlier I said this was the case. Can you stop misrepresenting me now? The contributions within a game all have value ... in proportion to how much they helped the team win or not win ... which is to say, in proportion to the runs that they created.

Go back and read what I said in post 44, it's exactly what you seem to now be saying you agree with. And it is not, in fact, consistent with what you said in post 71, where you advocated treating hitters differently than closers for leverage purposes. The misrepresentations, and the attitude (complete with game-playing on the definition of terms like 'leverage') are all yours.

Perhaps if you spent less time fixated on definitional sophistry on 'innings' 'games' 'appearances' and 'leverage' you would not have lost track of our respective starting points.

Ortiz playing at his normal level is more valuable than Rivera not playing. Ortiz making outs is NOT. Both of these Ortiz situations are DIFFERENT than Rivera not playing.

Again, welcome aboard on this conclusion.
   203. Chris Dial Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:37 PM (#2141989)
But if you start taking away points for the value a player does not provide, you need to do it across the board.

Not really. Every other player has an inherent evaluation at his position. There are only about 8 DHs - heck, probably fewer. So while the overall answer is "yes I do it across the board" it's only substantial when I look at DHs who contribute an absolute zero.

Tango has this positionla conversion thing he likes to use (I don't), and DH isn't on it. Those guys are really bad with gloves, and it shows.
   204. Chris Dial Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:41 PM (#2141993)
The suggestion that there's no real budget would imply that you are a Yankee fan! But in point of fact, once you get into roster-optimization issues I don't really see how you can argue that salary isn't as relevant a consideration as the other things you describe.

Not a Yankee fan at all. Your "point of fact" is that you don't really see?

Well, salary considerations are of *some* consideration, just minicule. They represent an extremely small input. It's like adding in productive outs. It's 0.01%.
   205. DCA Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:48 PM (#2142001)
Go back and read what I said in post 44, it's exactly what you seem to now be saying you agree with. And it is not, in fact, consistent with what you said in post 71, where you advocated treating hitters differently than closers for leverage purposes. The misrepresentations, and the attitude (complete with game-playing on the definition of terms like 'leverage') are all yours.

Post 44 seems to be about value vs. predictive stats. I'm aware of the distinction. I give the MVP to the guy with value stats, and I draft the guy for my fantasy team with predictive stats. I've also only been talking about value stats in this thread. I take serious issue with WPA as a value stat, because it's so riddled with problems I don't trust that it's better than using a context neutral approach for value. The post is not relevant to any discussion I've had on this thread. Although it's a good post and I agree with all of it (though I don't think I agree with the way you define importance of the situation, but you don't go into any detail there).

In post 71, I said that relievers can have high leverage because they are selected mid-game or end-game to appear in games where runs are "more important" (high MW/MR). I have not wavered from that. And it does not treat relievers and hitters differently -- MLB managers do, by not leveraging good hitters. Which they shouldn't, because hitters don't need to sit most of the time, while pitchers do. This is perfectly consistent with everything I've said.

I'll drop the attitude when you stop putting words in my mouth that I never said, thoughts in my head that I never had, and ignoring what I actually write.

Perhaps if you spent less time fixated on definitional sophistry on 'innings' 'games' 'appearances' and 'leverage' you would not have lost track of our respective starting points.

It's not definitional sophistry. It's being precise. And it's important. I've only got one horse here: within a game all runs have equal value by definition, and any value metric has to follow this. Which is why WPA is likely WORSE as a value metric than context-neutral. Everything else I've said is only to elaborate on that position, apply it to a specific case, or to clear up something that you've misrepresented me saying or assumed that I would say.
   206. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2142004)
So while the overall answer is "yes I do it across the board" it's only substantial when I look at DHs who contribute an absolute zero.

They don't contribute an absolute zero - they contribute with the bat, and they don't hurt the team with their glove.

Those guys are really bad with gloves, and it shows.

Sure, otherwise they wouldn't be DH's.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think your philosophical opposition to the job makes you overstate how important the flexibility a team loses when they use an everyday DH is.
   207. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 15, 2006 at 09:57 PM (#2142005)
The contributions within a game all have value ... in proportion to how much they helped the team win or not win ... which is to say, in proportion to the runs that they created.


The problem with this argument is that the number of runs that your players need to create in order to help your team win is not even constant within a game; it varies based on the strategic considerations and the resources that remain available to your team, and those that remain available to your opponent.

I believe that, while there is less difference between a run created in the first inning to break a tie, and one created in the ninth inning to break the same tie, than WPA suggests that there is - and also that WPA might rank them in the wrong order - there *is* a difference between the two, and that the issue is worth further investigation. In some ways, breaking the tie early is more important; in some (more obvious) ways, breaking the tie later is more important. LI/WPA is a crude measurement, which does not take into account how teams actually play with an early lead vs how they play from behind (both in terms of resource deployment and in terms of strategic adjustments). Using LI is better than assuming no in-game difference, IMO, given the state of the art, but we need to do a better job of evaluating in-game strategies with the lead, and when trailing, to feel comfortable with using any value-added approach.

-- MWE
   208. The Balls of Summer Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:05 PM (#2142012)
The thought that a player contributes more value to his team by playing DH then playing a below average but certainly manageable SS is flat out wrong.

I'm willing to buy this conclusion. The problem, as I said in an earlier post, is that we evaluate defense based on how the player ranks compared to the others at his position. While this makes sense, it leads to arguments like "Jeter hurts his team -10, while in reality, he helps his team by being an excellent hitter that can play a passable shortstop. Unfortunately, we don't have any metrics that evaluate this.
   209. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:12 PM (#2142019)
"Unfortunately, we don't have any metrics that evaluate this."

This is why I like the idea of a replacement level fielding stat. I know most people on this site hate it, but if you could set a level of fielding that was really the lowest you could accept at a position it would give some value to players up the middle who don't embarass themselves in the field, but aren't in the top half at their position. I haven't really put much thought into this, but I feel that would help address the issue of how much value you might give to below average fielding in this case, because I really do believe that being able to play a below average SS (or catcher, or centerfielder, or 2nd base) in the majors has positive value to a team, particurlarly if you are a good hitter.
   210. Dizzypaco Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:16 PM (#2142021)
Unfortunately, we don't have any metrics that evaluate this.

Well that's not completely true - there are ways to adjust for this. The offensive contributions of a replacement level player at shortstop are different than for a DH; the most difficult part is determining what replacement level is for shortstop and DH.

Defense is a different story. I agree with the general win shares approach which say that the worst defensive player produces zero defensive value, and as a player improves, so does his value.

Lets assume that Jeter is the worst defensive shortstop in baseball - which is obviously debatable. To calculate his value, I would estimate how many offensive runs he contributes over a replacement level shortstop, and then assign him little value for his defense. To calculate Ortiz's value, I would estimate how many runs he contributes over a replacement level DH, and then give him no credit for defense. I would treat Manny Ramirez similar to a DH in that all of his value is in his offense, and I would estimate his offensive production compared with a replacement level left fielder.
   211. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:20 PM (#2142024)
in reality, he helps his team by being an excellent hitter that can play a passable shortstop. Unfortunately, we don't have any metrics that evaluate this

Win Shares makes the attempt, although it does so in a different way, by trying to account for a player's positive contributions instead of accounting for a player's performance versus a notional "replacement level" player. Of course, defensively speaking, that's what WS ends up doing anyway.
   212. The Balls of Summer Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:26 PM (#2142029)
Defense is a different story. I agree with the general win shares approach which say that the worst defensive player produces zero defensive value, and as a player improves, so does his value.

The question is, at what point is a player actually hurting the team with his glove. Manny may look pretty bad in the field from time to time, but he does make a good amount of successful defensive plays, which is more than you can say for Ortiz. Those successful defensive plays have value. Is it simply a matter of adding up all of the plays (successful and screwups)and assigning them a degree of difficulty, and subtracting the bad from the good? Then when a player gets below zero, they are officially hurting the team on defense.

Of course, you would have to factor leverage, outs, RISP into that as well, to see how much each play actually affects the team. What a nightmare.
   213. Chris Dial Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:26 PM (#2142030)
I think your philosophical opposition to the job makes you overstate how important the flexibility a team loses when they use an everyday DH is.

That certainly shows your bias in the discussion.
   214. The Balls of Summer Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:31 PM (#2142033)
Win Shares makes the attempt, although it does so in a different way, by trying to account for a player's positive contributions instead of accounting for a player's performance versus a notional "replacement level" player. Of course, defensively speaking, that's what WS ends up doing anyway.

See, and that's what I would like to do with Ortiz and Hafner. Value their positive contributions, while granting that their contribution on defense is zero, not positive, not negative. The tough part is giving a below-average defender (like Ramirez) positive credit for his defense.
   215. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:38 PM (#2142035)
That certainly shows your bias in the discussion.

Me? I'm a DH relativist - I don't really care that it's around, but I wouldn't be sad if they got rid of it.

While I can understand the philosophical objection to the DH qua DH, I have a hard time blaming individual players for that.

If the DH had been around in the forties and fifties, Ted Williams would probably have been a DH. I don't think he would have been a lesser player, or less valuable, as a result.
   216. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 10:52 PM (#2142041)
Not really. Every other player has an inherent evaluation at his position. There are only about 8 DHs - heck, probably fewer. So while the overall answer is "yes I do it across the board" it's only substantial when I look at DHs who contribute an absolute zero.

No, you clearly don't do it across the board...because you say you are only adjusting a few players (8, apparently) not all the players whose suboptimal use affects the team. That's fine as a choice, but you are not in fact adjusting others the same way you are DHs, and that to me is a mistake.

The suggestion that you give Giambi credit for playing horrendous first base and Hafner and Ortiz demerits because their teams play them at DH makes no real sense. It doesn't make sense in terms of adding fielding value and hitting value, and I can't imagine how you'd justify a 10+ run adjustment for the 'giving guys days off' issue. It's simply not the case that playing someone as bad as Giambi is defensively is a positive---it's a clear and likely significant (i.e up to a win) negative.

That Tango doesn't include DHs in his position adjustments likely reflects that they are essentially interchangeable with many (though certainly not all) 1B more than it reflects your conclusion that they are of uniquely lower value.
   217. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:10 PM (#2142066)
Post 44 seems to be about value vs. predictive stats. I'm aware of the distinction. I give the MVP to the guy with value stats, and I draft the guy for my fantasy team with predictive stats.

You should read the other half of the post then---it says the same thing you did about 150 posts later and that I additionally repeated in this thread numerous times.

And it does not treat relievers and hitters differently -- MLB managers do, by not leveraging good hitters. Which they shouldn't, because hitters don't need to sit most of the time, while pitchers do. This is perfectly consistent with everything I've said.

If you think about it, though, it very much does treat them differently. As I explained several times, and as you yourself even recognized later on in post 199 when you said "Yes, you are right that to get at value you have to integrate performance and leverage at an earlier state." So there, at least, you got it...perhaps you subsequently lost it, who knows. Speaking of which...

It's not definitional sophistry. It's being precise. And it's important. I've only got one horse here: within a game all runs have equal value by definition, and any value metric has to follow this. Which is why WPA is likely WORSE as a value metric than context-neutral. Everything else I've said is only to elaborate on that position, apply it to a specific case, or to clear up something that you've misrepresented me saying or assumed that I would say.

No, you have been trying to get away from the statement you began with, e.g. that we shouldn't value hitting production based on when it occurs. To do so, you've played games with the key terms (such as the tangent you went off on about 'leverage' in post 199 that was interesting but had no relation to what I had said, or what you had said). Stuff like that is not about precision, it's just sophsitry. At best. And the only misrepresentations here are yours, as you continue to demonstrate...and no doubt will continue to.
   218. DCA Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:18 PM (#2142079)
No, you have been trying to get away from the statement you began with, e.g. that we shouldn't value hitting production based on when it occurs.

We shouldn't. A run in the first = a run in the ninth in the same game, by the same team. However, think this is not necessarily true between games: a run in game A =/= a run in game B. I have not wavered from this position, as much as you'd like to believe that I have. Just for reference, here are my VERY FIRST WORDS IN THIS THREAD:

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.
   219. DCA Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:21 PM (#2142087)
BTW, you should be able to tell that this treats relievers and hitters identically: value of the run is constant within game, and not constant between games. For ALL PLAYERS. Even Ortiz and Rivera.
   220. Kyle S Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:22 PM (#2142091)
The suggestion that you give Giambi credit for playing horrendous first base and Hafner and Ortiz demerits because their teams play them at DH makes no real sense. It doesn't make sense in terms of adding fielding value and hitting value, and I can't imagine how you'd justify a 10+ run adjustment for the 'giving guys days off' issue. It's simply not the case that playing someone as bad as Giambi is defensively is a positive---it's a clear and likely significant (i.e up to a win) negative.

The fact that the Yanks use Giambi at first base when they could DH him, while the Sox don't even though they have Manny in LF costing them 20 runs a year (and that's generous to manny :) is a signal about Ortiz's value if he had to play the field. This has been said 20 times already this thread so I'll leave it at that.
   221. Chris Dial Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:22 PM (#2142092)
Me?

You are biasing your reading of my opinion by what you think my bias is.
   222. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#2142102)
And those words are as illogical now as then, which was shown pretty clearly in the thread...clearly enough that you yourself stated by post 199 that "Yes, you are right that to get at value you have to integrate performance and leverage at an earlier state."

You do have to integrate performance and leverage to get valuation correct. And leverage is situationally and contextually dependent.
   223. Chris Dial Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#2142106)
No, you clearly don't do it across the board...because you say you are only adjusting a few players (8, apparently) not all the players whose suboptimal use affects the team. That's fine as a choice, but you are not in fact adjusting others the same way you are DHs, and that to me is a mistake.

I didn't say I was only adjusting 8 players. I said there were only 8 DHs. It's not "suboptimal use" it is non-use.

I don't adjust for productive outs, and that is not a mistake. There is no need to make the other adjustments because the differene is effectively included in their defensive output. That doesn't exist with DHs.

That Tango doesn't include DHs in his position adjustments likely reflects that they are essentially interchangeable with many (though certainly not all) 1B more than it reflects your conclusion that they are of uniquely lower value.

It doesn't *LIKELY* reflect anything of the sort.

For the 8 DHs, there is little doubt they are tremendously worse fielders, and I think you know that.
   224. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#2142109)
The fact that the Yanks use Giambi at first base when they could DH him, while the Sox don't even though they have Manny in LF costing them 20 runs a year (and that's generous to manny :) is a signal about Ortiz's value if he had to play the field.

No, it simply isn't.

It's a reflection of two other things:

1. There are injury concerns about Ortiz because he was oft-injured when he played first regularly in Minn and has been healthy in Boston. Though, it is worth noting that he played a good bit of 1B in 2003 and stayed healthy.

2. Giambi has a stated preference for playing in the field and a very large (200 points of OPS) spread indicating he is more comfortable as a hitter while playing first base.

Those things, and not Ortiz defensive value, are actually what's going on I believe. Having watched both Ortiz and Giambi play 50 or so games at first, Ortiz is slightly better but both are very bad.
   225. DCA Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2142114)
You should read the other half of the post then---it says the same thing you did about 150 posts later and that I additionally repeated in this thread numerous times.

Please point it out. All I see is:

P1: In a value stat, what matters is what the player actually did and when he did it, not whether it's his fault/credit that he was in those situations.

P2: Value stats are better for MVP discussions than predictive stats.

P3: DIPS should not be a CY stat.

What is it that I'm missing? I don't dispute any of that. I never have. As long as you calculate value correctly, which requires that runs have equal value within a game. Note that there may be several different "correct" ways to calculate value, which may rank players differently, but all of these must preserve the within-game run value (this is no different than VORP, EQA, wOBA, and other context-neutral metrics which rank players differently and are each basically "correct").
   226. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:49 PM (#2142153)
For the 8 DHs, there is little doubt they are tremendously worse fielders, and I think you know that.

On the contrary, having watched Giambi and Ortiz and reviewing Tango's fan survey I think the opposite is far more likely the case at least between Giambi and Ortiz. Both, of course, are awful fielders relative to just about anyone else. You likely have the ZR stuff handy, but I seriously doubt it shows much of a difference, either.

Of course, the tiny sample size issue should give you tremendous pause before stating something the certainty you do above, shouldn't it? The real issue is that we simply don't know the defensive abilities of those guys who don't play often.
   227. pkb33 Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:54 PM (#2142160)
In a value stat, what matters is what the player actually did and when he did it, not whether it's his fault/credit that he was in those situations.

is not consistent with your oft-stated description that we shouldn't use leverage when looking at hitting production, most recently stated

We shouldn't [value hitting production based on when it occurs.]

in post 218.
   228. Chris Dial Posted: August 16, 2006 at 12:36 AM (#2142253)
Of course, the tiny sample size issue should give you tremendous pause before stating something the certainty you do above, shouldn't it? The real issue is that we simply don't know the defensive abilities of those guys who don't play often.

Should give *ME* "tremendous" pause? You don't even consider numerical values and state Ortiz is better.

And I am saying the DHs are tremendously worse than what you claimed they were:
they are essentially interchangeable with many (though certainly not all) 1B

That's not true by your own admissions regarding Hafner and Ortiz. In addition, I have years of data on Giambi and Ortiz, as well as years of observation.
   229. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 16, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#2142414)
When it comes to the designation of "Most Valuable" I look for complete players. Guys who bring a comprehensive package to the ballpark every day. Ortiz is great in the batters box and by all accounts great in the clubhouse. Doesn't/cannot field and runs the bases like fat kid chasing the ice cream truck.

If someone is going to tell me Ortiz is the Most Valuable player in the American League it better be a darn weak crop of candidates.

And it ain't. Not even close. And yes I understand all the various metrics. Got the math. No problem there. Doesn't mean I let the calculator do all the work.

But I do confess that after Don Baylor won the award in '79 over several other more deserving candidates (like 15 of them) I always give the DH an extra hard look. And this time it isn't even that challenging, "clutchiness" or no.
   230. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: August 16, 2006 at 02:36 AM (#2142565)
they are essentially interchangeable with many (though certainly not all) 1B

They might be, but they weren't. And that's the key in trying to determine which player is more valuable.

Those first basemen go out and play hundreds and hundreds of innings, busting their butts in the field. First basemen are involved in well over a thousand plays a year, and have to make hundreds of plays themselves beyond fielding easy throws. Fielding at the major-league level, at any position, is damned hard work and I have a ton of respect for what those players do. That first baseman who is out there fielding throws from third base, or making a stab on a hard grounder and hitting the pitcher on the fly as he goes to first... he is adding value to his team. Not a lot of value, true, not on most plays. But every time he's involved, it's another thing he's done to help put a "W" in the ledger. A DH doesn't do that.
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