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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The AL MVP Battle Could Come Down to Philosophy

Absent an incredible final week that eliminates any doubts about who the MVP ought to be, there are a bunch of philosophical choices that voters will have to make. How much does it matter that Anderson and LeMahieu missed time? If we look at the White Sox candidates, Anderson has been the better player when he’s played, but Abreu has 20% more playing time and that’s tough to ignore. LeMahieu’s case is similar to Anderson’s given the time missed from injury….

There’s a decent possibility that the two best players in the AL this year are playing on a 24-31 Angels team, which some will opt to hold against them. It doesn’t take much to convince me that Mike Trout is having the best season of any player in the AL, and his track record indicates that his performance this season isn’t some small-sample fluke. Should that matter in a 60-game season when it doesn’t as much over 162 games? I wouldn’t fault anyone for voting for Trout because they know this performance is real. He also might not be having the best season on his team. Meanwhile, the White Sox are a great story — Anderson’s emergence over the last few seasons has been incredible, while Abreu is having a great year after turning in two average campaigns before this one. Does Anderson’s trajectory and potential future put him ahead of Abreu’s great couple of months? After last night’s games, Ramírez is the AL WAR leader and would be a deserving winner. It wouldn’t necessarily be a copout to avoid the discussion entirely and just go with Bieber, though some reserve the MVP for pitchers in a truly difference-making season.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2020 at 11:40 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mvp

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   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 23, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5978262)
I think this is a year for advanced metrics to be, if not discarded, at least taken with a heavy grain of salt. I'm skeptical of how things like OPS+ and WAR are being calculated in a year where teams are playing such a focused schedule.
   2. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: September 23, 2020 at 01:32 PM (#5978288)
Given that this is such a weird season, I'm fine with the award going to Mike Trout just because.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2020 at 01:45 PM (#5978291)

Given that this is such a weird season, I'm fine with the award going to Mike Trout just because.


I kinda wanted some weird choice this year, like 2020 NL MVP Donovan Solano.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 23, 2020 at 01:59 PM (#5978292)
Oh. I was hoping this year it was going to be based on Kantian ethics or something.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 23, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5978293)
Much less time this season for potential award winners to sort themselves out. Because of that, and 16 teams making the playoffs this season, it would have been better to include postseason performance in the voting. Too late now, and some wouldn’t like the precedent, but it makes sense from an ‘only for 2020’ perspective.
   6. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 23, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5978301)

AL MVP Battle Could Come Down to Philosophy

Socrates Brito is cursing his luck that he couldn't last another year in the big leagues!
   7. Rally Posted: September 23, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5978302)
Surprised to see that Cruz leads in OPS+ at 179 (Abreu 178, DJ 177, Trout 172).

Surprised mostly that the leader, whoever it is, has only a 179. Trout's been over 180 the past 3 years, and I assumed that in a short season somebody would have a fluky 190 or 200.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 23, 2020 at 03:01 PM (#5978309)
Surprised mostly that the leader, whoever it is, has only a 179. Trout's been over 180 the past 3 years, and I assumed that in a short season somebody would have a fluky 190 or 200.
Juan Soto leads the NL with a 206 OPS+.
   9. caspian88 Posted: September 23, 2020 at 03:04 PM (#5978310)
Aristotle Lazarou played D ball in 1943.

Jason Satre was a Reds pitching prospect in the early 90's.

Jerry Augustine saw a few seasons as a starter in Milwaukee.

Maybe add Jeff and Bobby Locke as well.

Interestingly enough, these are all pitchers.
   10. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 23, 2020 at 03:17 PM (#5978315)
You know who's definitely not going to win the AL MVP? Someone from the Red Sox.

Yep, still bitter.
   11. Zach Posted: September 23, 2020 at 04:39 PM (#5978325)
Salvador Perez has missed too much time to be a candidate, but a Gold Glove catcher hitting .346/.363/.615 deserves an attaboy, at least.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2020 at 05:00 PM (#5978328)
Give it to the Rays' GM.

First time I've looked at the WAR leaderboard all year. Machado has more than Tatis. Dansby Swanson has had a breakout. Yaz Jr Jr is top 10 in the majors, tied with Anderson. And, yes, Mookie leads the majors.

EDIT: Ahh Swanson's is an extreme +11 in DRS. His career high is +10 and he was +8 career to this point so color me doubtful he's on a +28 pace. (Defense will be as subject to small-sample variation as anything else but that's still pretty extreme.)
   13. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2020 at 06:21 PM (#5978339)
So the Red Sox ... Verdugo is at 2.3 WAR ... which should have him tied for 9th with Yaz and Anderson but he's not in b-r's list for whatever reason.

By WAR, the position players are a bit above average overall. Oddly, the pitchers only a bit below-average ... double oddly since I don't know how -27 RAA could translate to just -1.6 WAA but I've got to trust the process.
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 23, 2020 at 08:20 PM (#5978349)
@9,

The pitching staff should get a boost from (Tom) Hume and (Bill) Singer. We can have an outfield of (Lonnie) Smith, (Dion) James, and Dewey.
   15. Ron J Posted: September 23, 2020 at 08:41 PM (#5978353)
#2 I think they should take the opportunity to redress some older wrongs instead. Maybe Alan Trammel.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: September 23, 2020 at 09:08 PM (#5978360)
I think this is a year for advanced metrics to be, if not discarded, at least taken with a heavy grain of salt. I'm skeptical of how things like OPS+ and WAR are being calculated in a year where teams are playing such a focused schedule.


Agreed, I think that this season you almost have to look at the entire story lines of viable candidates. War can be a tie breaker for players on the same team I guess, but yes, I'm not going to have much confidence of park effect numbers this season, nor am I going to think a guy should lose out because of a bad 10 game stretch that might have hurt his otherwise great numbers etc.

I think this is the year that the writers will ultimately relish, as it's going to be more than advanced stats determining the winner. (which is more or less the way it should be, if it's close, the issue is that advance stats have routinely proven that it's not often close, or that the writers made glaringly stupid decisions in the past....) but considering how close the leader board is going to be with war, considering the chaotic nature of this season etc.... you kinda have to use the advance stats as a tool to illuminate the argument, and not be the end all of the argument.
   17. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 23, 2020 at 09:36 PM (#5978366)
@9 and 14;

can add (Sammy) Sosa and (Gaylord) Perry, if you don't mind some contemporary philosophers. (Zach) Putnam can pitch in relief and lecture about semantic externalism.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: September 23, 2020 at 10:08 PM (#5978373)
I do have to say that this thread has managed to meet expectations... as soon as I saw the headline, I knew what was going to come....
   19. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2020 at 12:32 AM (#5978418)
The pitching staff should get a boost from (Tom) Hume and (Bill) Singer. We can have an outfield of (Lonnie) Smith, (Dion) James, and Dewey.

Surely we can fill out the offense with some (pill) Poppers.

On park factors ... I wish the b-r glossary was easier to find and navigate but ... WAR uses 3-year PFs although I don't recall what they do before they have next year's PFs to factor in. It would be wise for b-r to downweight this year's PFs in that calculation due to the small number of games but also because (I believe) PFs ignore interleague games and those are a much larger proportion of all games this year. Still, these wacky PFs will have reduced impact on WAR by design. Note, the "simplest" way to do it is to just pro-rate which might be what they do already -- i.e. you don't calculate 3 seasonal averages then average those averages (which would work fine in normal circumstances), you calcluate a single PF by pooling together all games for 2018-20.

That's not to say PF weirdness can't have some pretty dramatic effects on an individual's WAR in the right conditions. I once stumbled across two Jose Quintana seasons, back when he was with the Sox, where his performance, his opponents' performance, his mix of park and opponents all look pretty similar but his WAR differs by nearly 2 wins. Turns out even those individual seaosn PFs are pretty much the same. It's just that year 1's PF is a combo of the PF in years 0, 1 and 2 and year 0, Comiskey played as a hitter's park; Year 2's PF is a mix of years 1, 2 and 3 and it turns out Year 3 was a big pitcher's park PF. I just checked, it was 2013 and 2014. The difference in raw RA9avg is 0.29 R/9; the PFs add 0.34 R/9 to that gap. The one-year factor in 2013 was 101; in 2014 it was 101. But in 2012 it was a whopping 113; in 2015 it was 93. So what's esimated as a 1.9-win gap was probably about a 1-win gap.

Note using 3-year PFs is a fine idea and a standard statistical method for this sort of calculation; the vast majority of the time a better idea than using one-year or two-year PFs. It kinda all evens out in the end in mean terms -- i.e. Quintana probably deserves WAR credit he didn't deserve in 2013 but if we avoided that using one-year PFs, his 2012 performance would have received a big boost in WAR and his 2015 WAR would go down. Just keep it in mind when freaking out about a player's variation from year to year.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 24, 2020 at 04:57 AM (#5978422)
Socrates Brito is cursing his luck that he couldn't last another year in the big leagues!


Brito was in the Pirates’ player pool this year. He talked about possibly opting out partway through the season after his brother died of COVID, but I don’t think he ended up going through with it.

He also had COVID himself in July, so it really hasn’t been a banner year for him.

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