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Monday, February 25, 2008

SI: Heyman: Mets can’t top Rollins in war of words

Value Over Regis Philbin’s son-in-law?

Even so, I wasn’t shocked that stats people have taken issue with Rollins winning the MVP award. There are numbers crunchers out there—including a firejoemorgan.com author who wrote a guest piece in Sports Illustrated last week—who believe baseball writers rank somewhere between morons and idiots for voting Rollins as MVP over David Wright, who had a higher VORP. The stat people seem to believe VORP—a Baseball Prospectus statistic that stands for Value Over Replacement Player—defines a player, but why haven’t many of them championed last year’s VORP leader (Hanley Ramirez) as MVP instead?

I assume the stats guys favor Wright because he played for a contending team. I guess the rule is this: Highest VORP wins unless the VORP champion is playing for a loser.

If Wright’s offensive stats were slightly better than Rollins’, and I will accept that they were, especially considering the respective ballparks they play in (VORP accounts for ballparks), shouldn’t Rollins get points for playing a superb shortstop compared to Wright’s slightly-above average third base? And shouldn’t Rollins get credit for showing extraordinary initiative and leadership? For helping his team barrel into the playoffs from seven games back with 17 to go, as opposed to Wright’s team, which perpetrated a historic choke?

Repoz Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:35 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, phillies, sabermetrics

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   1. Wakefieldfan Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:57 PM (#2699634)
Get off my lawn!

I'm not one of the more well-read primates when it comes to popular media and knowing the specific authors' tendencies and slants, but Heyman could at least take 5 minutes to understand the meaning of the statistic before decrying it. Obviously I'm "preaching to a choir full of preachers" as someone so aptly put it yesterday, but the "rule" is more like the following: "highest VORP wins unless that player's defense completely negates his lead in value added to the team," which Hanley's unfortunately did. It's nearly incontrovertible that at least one of Wright/Pujols/Chipper got jobbed.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:00 PM (#2699641)
I can't remember that many people here clambering for Wright to win after what happened to the Mets. Mostly people wanted Holliday or Utley to take it over Rollins because they had better numbers.
   3. Cowboy Popup Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:01 PM (#2699642)
a Baseball Prospectus statistic that stands for Value Over Replacement Player—defines a player, but why haven’t many of them championed last year’s VORP leader (Hanley Ramirez) as MVP instead?

shouldn’t Rollins get points for playing a superb shortstop compared to Wright’s slightly-above average third base?

How does he write these two sentences so closely together and not make the connection?
   4. Raskolnikov Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:04 PM (#2699643)
Heyman should be embarrassed with this article. Can he take a few minutes to look up some of the things he's going to write about? Sometimes we go overboard with our criticism of sportswriters, but this is pathetic.
   5. Wakefieldfan Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:14 PM (#2699654)
Heyman should be embarrassed with this article. Can he take a few minutes to look up some of the things he's going to write about? Sometimes we go overboard with our criticism of sportswriters, but this is pathetic.


Totally agree. I was looking for an email address on the site, but conveniently it wasn't listed at the end of the article.
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:17 PM (#2699657)
I can't remember that many people here clambering for Wright to win after what happened to the Mets. Mostly people wanted Holliday or Utley to take it over Rollins because they had better numbers.
You may want to go back reread some of the threads. Wright was right there in the mix if not the plurality winner.
What you might be remembering is the "if you have to pick a player from a playoff team, surely you could pick Holliday or Utley over Rollins" argument.
   7. Cowboy Popup Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:23 PM (#2699663)
Wright was right there in the mix if not the plurality winner.

Yeah he was. I was a Holliday supporter, mostly for the novelty of it all (Coors hitter, LFer with great defensive stats, Rockies all of a sudden becoming a playoff team) and because my guy, Utley went down for a month. IIRC, Wright probably had a majority of the posts support him.

I also don't really have a problem with Rollins winning, even if Wright, Utley and five or so other players were better than him last year. It's not worse than the Morneau vote, at least Rollins, who pretty clearly is the Phillies' team leader, fit a pretty good storyline.

I do have a problem with Heyman pretending that defense and baserunning and other things did not factor into the discussions that use VORP.
   8. JJ1986 Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:47 PM (#2699682)
You may want to go back reread some of the threads. Wright was right there in the mix if not the plurality winner.
What you might be remembering is the "if you have to pick a player from a playoff team, surely you could pick Holliday or Utley over Rollins" argument.


I suppose I'm wrong then. I guess I kind of agree with Heyman, which feels wrong. I don't think a player should be excluded or even penalized because his team choked, especially since Wright did so well in September. But, when players are very close statistically, I would think the award should go to the guy with the successful story instead of the one that ended in dismal failure. That's Holliday, though, not Rollins.
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:53 PM (#2699691)
For what it's worth, Holliday won the Internet Baseball Award MVP, followed by Wright, Rollins, Ramirez and Fielder.
   10. AJMcCringleberry Posted: February 25, 2008 at 11:13 PM (#2699714)
So much wrong in so few sentences.
   11. Jeff K. Posted: February 26, 2008 at 02:35 AM (#2699798)
VORP is not a BPro statistic. BPro has their own VORP, but that's like saying that batting average is a TSN statistic.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: February 26, 2008 at 02:55 AM (#2699814)
I assume the stats guys favor Wright because he played for a contending team. I guess the rule is this: Highest VORP wins unless the VORP champion is playing for a loser.


ASSUME: When you ASS-U-ME, you make an ass out of you and an ass out of me.
   13. Danny Posted: February 26, 2008 at 03:01 AM (#2699822)
VORP is not a BPro statistic. BPro has their own VORP, but that's like saying that batting average is a TSN statistic.

Who else developed VORP, and where is it published?
   14. Mister High Standards Posted: February 26, 2008 at 03:07 AM (#2699827)
Keith Woolner, developed it, he since went onto BP. But VORP predates BP.
   15. Jeff K. Posted: February 26, 2008 at 03:13 AM (#2699834)
Who else developed VORP, and where is it published?

VORP was on Usenet.

(EDIT) My TSN comment was overstating things, but there are many people who calculate their own VORP. VORP is not a BPro-only statistic.
   16. Benji Posted: February 26, 2008 at 06:15 AM (#2699906)
Who cares if Rollins made a million outs? He's a GREAT INTERVIEW, therefore he's the only choice (for people like Heyman, anyway) for MVP. Utley, Wright and especially Holliday would have been much better choices.
   17. billyshears Posted: February 26, 2008 at 06:21 AM (#2699909)
I've never seen a player get more credit for leading a team to 89 wins, a 1 game division win on the last day of the season and a mauling in the first round of the playoffs than Jimmy Rollins.

Heyman's article reads like a usenet post from the mid/late nineties from somebody that just stumbled onto alt.sports.baseball at 2am and decided to take on all these crazy statheads.
   18. Raskolnikov Posted: February 26, 2008 at 06:22 AM (#2699910)
MHS is right. Woolner used to publish VORP independently on his own website. In fact, it was the main rival to BP's pet metric, Davenport's EqA. Then finally, there was Nelson Lu's metrics, which was posted regularly to r.s.bb.

Over time, VORP has emerged as the favored metric.
   19. Raskolnikov Posted: February 26, 2008 at 06:24 AM (#2699911)
Heyman's article reads like a usenet post from the mid/late nineties from somebody that just stumbled onto alt.sports.baseball at 2am and decided to take on all these crazy statheads.


If only these stathead ostriches would get their heads out of the sand. Bow down to the King!
   20. parkermo Posted: February 26, 2008 at 06:28 AM (#2699912)
hasn't this argument been done? i feel like heyman feels like if he gets the last word, he wins. too bad FJM's already got a response posted.
   21. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: February 26, 2008 at 08:23 AM (#2699927)
I always thought that Albert Pujols sould have won the MVP. Quite possibly the best defensive first baseman in baseball and the best hitter as well. However, I forget the VORP/RARP/SLWTS numbers so I can't say something like, "he was the best in the NL in (insert stat here). He has now been jobbed in two straight years which puts him in company like Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.
   22. Crashburn Alley Posted: February 26, 2008 at 11:15 AM (#2699935)
Mark, you're absolutely right that Pujols was a top candidate. However, I still have to give it to Wright considering that he steals bases at a high rate (87% last season; 82% career) and plays above-average defense at a premium defensive position.

For what it's worth, both had a 12.5 WARP-3.

I wrote a response to Heyman here. Feel free to critique it.
   23. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: February 26, 2008 at 11:54 AM (#2699940)
For what it's worth, Holliday won the Internet Baseball Award MVP, followed by Wright, Rollins, Ramirez and Fielder.

None of whom can carry Chipper Jones' jock.
   24. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: February 26, 2008 at 12:08 PM (#2699942)
They had their chance last spring when Rollins spoke, but to a man, they were afraid to speak up, a reticence that was later reflected in the way they played -- scared


I love it when sportswriters question the manhood of the athletes they cover. I also remember the Mets saying a lot last year after Rollins piped up, but that would torpedo the narrative, wouldn't it? For instance:

“Good for him,” Carlos Beltran said of Rollins’ boast. “What’d they win? What’d they win last year?”

That took about two seconds to find on Nexis.

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