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Monday, February 18, 2019

J.D. Martinez: ‘For a DH to win MVP, they’re going to have to walk on water’

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Many were surprised last year when J.D. Martinez finished outside of the top three in MVP voting, but Martinez saw it coming.

Martinez’s numbers jumped off the page in 2018. In his first season with the Red Sox, the 31-year-old mashed his way to a .330 batting average, 43 home runs and 130 RBI. Still, he finished fourth behind teammate Mookie Betts, Angels superstar Mike Trout, and Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez.

While his teammates were stunned to see him fail to crack the top three after being arguably the best pure hitter in baseball, Martinez knew all along that being a designated hitter would cost him votes.

Bit rich from someone who wasn’t even the best player on his own team, isn’t it?

 

QLE Posted: February 18, 2019 at 07:25 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dh, jd martinez, mvp

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   1. bbmck Posted: February 18, 2019 at 08:43 AM (#5816050)
JD is 3rd in OPS+, Rbat, wOBA and wRC+ and like most bronze medal winners is considered arguably the best pure something. For a DH to win MVP, they're going to have to be the best hitter in the league and still might lose to Mo Vaughn.
   2. bobm Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:29 AM (#5816075)
OPS+ champions, Played at least 50% of games at DH, (Qualified for league batting title)

                                             
Player           OPS+ Year Age  Tm Lg   G  PA
Edgar Martinez    185 1995  32 SEA AL 145 639
Travis Hafner     181 2006  29 CLE AL 129 564
Frank Thomas      180 1991  23 CHW AL 158 701
Milton Bradley    162 2008  30 TEX AL 126 510
Travis Hafner     162 2004  27 CLE AL 140 576


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/18/2019.
   3. OsunaSakata Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5816085)
Do Red Sox fans really care about this? Can't we just celebrate the glory that is Mookie? I can't believe so much time is wasted arguing whether someone is the 3rd best player in the league. From a sabermetric viewpoint, J.D. is not in the top three. If you try to construct a traditional narrative, Boston was so far ahead of the Yankees, Rusney Castillo could have been the regular DH and they still would have won the division, so how valuable could J.D. have been?
   4. puck Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5816088)
Milton Bradley led the league in OPS+ and had two other seasons at 154 and 147 but did not have enough PA to qualify for the batting title (as was often the case for him). Yet his career OPS+ was 113. Turbulent career.
   5. Rally Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:50 AM (#5816089)
Martinez was the 3rd best hitter in the league last year, after Mike and Mookie.

Step 1 for a DH to win an MVP award: Be the best hitter in the league, preferably by a comfortable margin. Because once you start considering the parts of the game that happen outside the batter’s box, you are starting at zero and everyone else either does more than you, or at least no less.

Among DH’s Martinez is ahead of a full time DH since he can play 40 games in the OF as needed. Less value than a regular player, but more than a guy who can’t play the field. Are there any examples of that type left? I though Kendrys Morales, but have to consider his Rivera like performance out the bullpen.
   6. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5816094)
Why does Martinez insist on taking this personally, as if the guys with the computers somehow have a personal bias against him? Does the common sense argument elude him that others who take the field, especially those who play their positions well, are adding to the value they accrue as hitters while he sits in the dugout snacking on sunflower seeds?

The woe is me narrative is tiresome.
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5816105)
Why does Martinez insist on taking this personally, as if the guys with the computers somehow have a personal bias against him? Does the common sense argument elude him that others who take the field, especially those who play their positions well, are adding to the value they accrue as hitters while he sits in the dugout snacking on sunflower seeds?

The woe is me narrative is tiresome.


Because most athletes take anything and everything personally? We are only a few weeks past Tom freaking Brady trying to claim that no one believed in the Patriots...



   8. Nasty Nate Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5816108)

Because most athletes take anything and everything personally? We are only a few weeks past Tom freaking Brady trying to claim that no one believed in the Patriots...
And only a few months away from him starting to claim it again.
   9. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 18, 2019 at 12:30 PM (#5816124)
We are only a few weeks past Tom freaking Brady trying to claim that no one believed in the Patriots...

True. That is a VERY popular narrative. The no one believed in us but we showed them. And no one can take this away from us (because, what, there are people trying to things away?).
   10. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 18, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5816127)
Well . . Putin.
But that's just how eeeeeeeevil he is.
   11. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: February 18, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5816129)
Are people reading the same article I’m reading? I don’t see Martinez doing anything other than acknowledging the reality of the situation.
   12. villageidiom Posted: February 18, 2019 at 12:47 PM (#5816133)
Are people reading the same article I’m reading? I don’t see Martinez doing anything other than acknowledging the reality of the situation.
Martinez is saying nothing different from what Rally is saying in #5 above. In fact he's saying that because people like Rally are saying things like #5 there's no way a DH will win MVP. He's not even saying Rally is wrong.

Why does Martinez insist on taking this personally
I mean, there's more evidence that you insist on being wrong. Why do you insist on being wrong?
   13. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5816140)
Martinez is saying nothing different from what Rally is saying in #5 above. In fact he's saying that because people like Rally are saying things like #5 there's no way a DH will win MVP. He's not even saying Rally is wrong.

Which I suppose would mean the real question is "why does this keep getting discussed?" Which isn't actually a question about Martinez, unless he's seeking out reporters for discussions about the limitations on value that can be accrued by a DH.
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:25 PM (#5816154)

Are people reading the same article I’m reading? I don’t see Martinez doing anything other than acknowledging the reality of the situation.


To me he is saying it with enough edge to his voice that it certainly seems like he is pissed he wasn't at least in the group of three finalists. I don't really care, he certainly isn't being all that egregious about it, and if he needs to feel like 'analytic guys' are out to get him to make him play better, then so be it. He is obviously worse than Betts and Trout (he's got a lower OPS than both of them, to say nothing of defense and baserunning), and when you consider everything other than hitting it's pretty clear Jose Ramirez is a better overall player. But when did a player come out and say that they are ok with being 4th best? Especially after a career year, new contract, new team, etc. I just really hope Betts isn't getting pissy in the corner that the media is focusing on Martinez not having placed in top three rather than how amazingly good Betts was last year.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5816156)
I just really hope Betts isn't getting pissy in the corner that the media is focusing on Martinez not having placed in top three rather than how amazingly good Betts was last year.


Fortunately, that kind of thing seems very unMookie like.

   16. Eddo Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:39 PM (#5816159)
Because most athletes take anything and everything personally?

Because most people do? If the top employee of a company is declared, you can bet a bunch of other employees would start arguing they were even better, even if by most objective standards, they weren't.
   17. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5816163)
“I was like, ‘Guys, there’s no way the analytic guys are going to ever let that happen,’” Martinez told reporters Sunday at JetBlue Park. “For a DH to win MVP they’re going to have to walk on water.”


Blaming the "analytic guys" and that a DH will have to "walk on water" is certainly complaining.

The analytic guys aren't to blame, if anything the anti-analytic guys are even more anti-DH.

And a DH doesn't have to walk on water. He does need to compile more offensive value than other players compile between both offense and defense.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 18, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5816164)
Btw, my apba draft started today, and Trout, Betts and Ramirez were all drafted before JD.
   19. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 18, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5816168)
A DH doesn't necessarily have to walk on water to win MVP, but he does need to be head-and-shoulders the best hitter in the league. Arguably the best doesn't cut it.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: February 18, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5816186)
C'mon, saber nerds are happy if you can walk to first base.

DHs that also play the field. EE was about 50/50 1B/DH while in Toronto and still grabbed 20 starts a year there in Cle. Looks like Cruz pretty much gave up the OF two years ago (9 starts since). Kendrys had 17 in just 108 starts at 1B last year but those are the most starts since 2014. Last year was Khris Davis's first as a mostly DH and he had only 10 starts in the OF, we'll see if that sticks.

"Full-time" DH is still mainly an old-man's role. Guys who shift towards it earlier in their careers still usually pick up a fair amount of field time. Unsurprisingly, usually somethwere around 35-36, that gets curtailed.
   21. Brian Posted: February 18, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5816217)
The only interesting thing here is that JDM is claiming that he and his teammates were discussing how JDM was going to get screwed out of the MVP award when the guy who won it is the same team. Mookie seems pretty easygoing but if JDM is accurate here, I'd be surprised if Mookie didn't feel a bit slighted after this kind of discussion in the clubhouse.
   22. villageidiom Posted: February 18, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5816247)
JDM is claiming that he and his teammates were discussing how JDM was going to get screwed out of the MVP award when the guy who won it is the same team
He is claiming he and his teammates were discussing it in the middle of last season long before Betts had won it. And IIRC Betts was saying at the time that he thought JDM deserved it.

The only post-results mention in the article is that when the results came out he wasn't surprised. At no point is he saying he thought he deserved it, or deserved it ahead of Betts. I mean, he's not surprised he didn't win, and we're not surprised he didn't win, so again it's weird that people have a problem with him having the same opinion as we do.

A DH doesn't necessarily have to walk on water to win MVP, but he does need to be head-and-shoulders the best hitter in the league.
The production needed to be head-and-shoulders above the next best hitter is pretty much walking-on-water territory for a DH. For example, let's take Mike Trout's 2016 (9.9 oWAR, vs. Altuve's 7.9) and put Trout at DH the whole season instead; suddenly 9.9 oWAR becomes 8.1 oWAR. A DH at 8.1 vs. a 2B at 7.9? The 2B is getting it. Trout had almost a 2-win advantage, but change his positional adjustment and it's gone.

A DH would have to be like 40+ runs better than every player's offensive performance. That ain't happening without a miracle. As long as the positional adjustment is considered relevant to MVP discussions a DH is not getting MVP per the analytics folks. Martinez is absolutely right.
   23. Jack Sommers Posted: February 18, 2019 at 08:50 PM (#5816272)
Current search:
For Single Seasons, From 1871 to 2018, Played at least 50% of games at DH, (requiring WAR/pos>=6, oWAR>=0, dWAR>=-4 and Rbat>=0), sorted by greatest WAR Position Players

Rk           Player WAR/pos oWAR dWAR Rbat Year   G  PA  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
1    Edgar Martinez     7.0  7.3 
-1.4 67.9 1995 145 639 511 121 182 52  0 29 113 116  87 .356 .479 .628 1.107
2      Frank Thomas     7.0  7.4 
-1.6 66.1 1991 158 701 559 104 178 31  2 32 109 138 112 .318 .453 .553 1.006
3    Edgar Martinez     6.5  6.5 
-1.0 62.2 1996 139 634 499 121 163 52  2 26 103 123  84 .327 .464 .595 1.059
4     J
.DMartinez     6.4  6.8 -1.4 59.0 2018 150 649 569 111 188 37  2 43 130  69 146 .330 .402 .629 1.031
5       David Ortiz     6.4  6.5 
-1.4 58.0 2007 149 667 549 116 182 52  1 35 117 111 103 .332 .445 .621 1.066
6    Edgar Martinez     6.2  6.2 
-1.2 57.1 1997 155 678 542 104 179 35  1 28 108 119  86 .330 .456 .554 1.009
7      Frank Thomas     6.0  6.2 
-1.3 58.6 2000 159 707 582 115 191 44  0 43 143 112  94 .328 .436 .625 1.061 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/18/2019.
   24. bbmck Posted: February 18, 2019 at 10:22 PM (#5816285)
A DH would have to be like 40+ runs better than every player's offensive performance.

No, a DH needs to be like 10+ runs better than a defensively average LF/RF/1B. 20+ runs better than a defensively average 2B/3B/CF and 25+ runs better than a defensively average SS/C. The main reason DHs don't win the award is because most of the best players have the athleticism and are on a roster than makes playing them at a defensive position the optimal lineup. Edgar was better than Mo Vaughn and it's not like .356 BA is more than .300 requires a math degree even if .479 OBP is more than .388 exceeds the depth of understanding of many BBWAA voters. Edgar could have won the award but so could Randy Johnson but he didn't walk on water. Claiming a DH bias because seven seasons of 6+ WAR resulted in 0 MVP awards when Randy Johnson has seven seasons of 8+ pitching WAR and his highest MVP finish is 6th is cute.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: February 18, 2019 at 11:12 PM (#5816288)
No, a DH needs to be like 10+ runs better than a defensively average LF/RF/1B. 20+ runs better than a defensively average 2B/3B/CF and 25+ runs better than a defensively average SS/C.

Yes but, if it's close, they're likely to give it to the guy who plays the field. That's part of vi's point ... Trout the DH probably would have to top Altuve by at least 1 WAR to take the award. Of course all of this in the fantasyland where WAR is the main criterion for the MVP. :-)

But it's better in the Edgar vs Mo comp. Now Rfield put Mo in the positive that year which was unusual but in general a DH vs lumbering 1B competition is about nothing but the bat. Of course Mo had two better seasons by WAR without a particularly serious sniff from the voters.

On JDM and his teammates ... they have a distorted perspective of course but one way it's distorted is that most of them were there the year before, this year's team did way better, so the difference makers must be the new guys. I recall the (I think) 98 Astros and, as the season neared the end, I recall stories about how they considered Carl Everett the team MVP. (Not necessarily NL MVP. And of course I might have the wrong team/player/year ... f'ing human memory.) Anyway, Everett was by WAR the 5th best position player on the team. But he was new and held down a CF position that the Astros had struggled filling since Steve Finley. Most importantly, they improved from 84 wins to 102 wins so somebody must be responsible for that. They could have chosen Moises Alou (2 more WAR) or Randy Johnson (god for 2 months) but Everett was the guy they felt really made the difference.

From the outside of course, it's Biggio or Bagwell but from the inside, they felt Everett was the guy who changed things. I'll guess that's part of what the Red Sox and even Mookie felt -- JDM had an outstanding season, plugged a big hole from 2017 and they won 97 more games than the year before (possible exaggeration). Without him they're a "completely" different team.
   26. villageidiom Posted: February 19, 2019 at 12:04 AM (#5816294)
Of course all of this in the fantasyland where WAR is the main criterion for the MVP.
The topic JD Martinez initiated is that the analytics crowd wouldn't favor a DH for MVP, so I'd say we're in the relevant fantasyland. It's also why I'm not going to engage in the Edgar vs. Mo debate, because the analytic crowd wouldn't have pointed to either of them. Neither of them was the best (by WAR) player on their respective teams. The fact that the MVP voters chose Vaughn in 1995 isn't particularly relevant to MVP discussions in 2018 and the influence the analytics crowd has on the vote.
   27. bbmck Posted: February 19, 2019 at 12:49 AM (#5816298)
In 1995 DH Martinez who didn't have the most WAR on his team didn't win the MVP but that's not particularly relevant to MVP discussions in 2018 when DH Martinez who didn't have the most WAR on his team didn't win the MVP.
   28. Rally Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:27 AM (#5816310)
I think the guys who played the most at DH while winning MVP awards are Jim Rice and Don Baylor in 1978-79. Rice deserved his award, or at least was a top 2 candidate with Guidry. Baylor did not, he just had a ton of ribbies. Both played more in left field than at DH in their award seasons. Frank Thomas in his back to back MVP years played very little at DH.

If Frank had hit the same and been a full time DH in 1993-94, he would have been just as good a candidate. If the NL had a DH rule from 2001-2004, Barry Bonds would have been a deserving DH MVP. That's about the level of hitting it takes. Don't think anyone ever claimed Barry could walk on water. But then again if a storm overtook the ballpark, umpires refused to call the game, and home plate flooded, I'm sure the pitcher would still walk him.
   29. villageidiom Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:59 AM (#5816313)
In 1995 DH Martinez who didn't have the most WAR on his team didn't win the MVP but that's not particularly relevant to MVP discussions in 2018 when DH Martinez who didn't have the most WAR on his team didn't win the MVP.
Serious question: are you drunk right now? Mo Vaughn isn't relevant to the discussion. It's right there in the post you're responding to.
   30. villageidiom Posted: February 19, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5816363)
I think the guys who played the most at DH while winning MVP awards are Jim Rice and Don Baylor in 1978-79. Rice deserved his award, or at least was a top 2 candidate with Guidry. Baylor did not, he just had a ton of ribbies. Both played more in left field than at DH in their award seasons.
Rice was at 6.7 oWAR in 1978, but would have been 5.7 oWAR had he been a full-time DH that year. That would have been in the same figurative ballpark as Amos Otis, Doug DeCinces, Ken Singleton, Roy Smalley, and Larry Hisle, and the same literal ballpark as Carlton Fisk. Otis, Fisk, DeCinces, and Smalley got decent bumps for defensive performance, meanwhile Guidry is standing well past them all with 9.6 WAR, and Mike Caldwell at 8.2. Had analytics been prevalent back then, and as influential on the vote as it is today (which is still limited but far from zero), there's no way Rice as a full-time DH would have been endorsed by the analytics community as MVP.

Baylor's case (with the analytical community) would have been helped had he been a full-time DH. He was at -15 Rfield, a whopping 3.7 WAR, but would have had a 4.4 oWAR as a full time DH. It wouldn't nearly have been enough to make the case.
   31. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:32 PM (#5816457)
it's weird that people have a problem with him having the same opinion as we do.


C'mon, vi, lots of people would rather fight than win.

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