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Monday, August 15, 2022

The AL MVP race is closer than you think

Mike Petriello, analyst, stats and research: It’s very fair to penalize Aaron Judge because he doesn’t pitch. Pitching is hard! Ohtani is very good at it! And he’s also an elite hitter. I feel like maybe we’re bored by that now, but we shouldn’t be? It is still wildly insane.

Footer: Right, but can we really just give Ohtani the MVP every year of his career just because he does two things well?

Sarah Langs, analyst/researcher: If Ohtani weren’t still doing both at an elite level, this is a different discussion.

Petriello: Well. Yes. The lukewarm answer here is it’s perfectly reasonable to say either of these two could or should be MVP. I won’t exclude Ohtani because his team is bad. I won’t exclude Judge because he doesn’t pitch. I have my preference, but both have very good cases.

Anthony Castrovince, reporter/columnist: On the one hand, to vote anybody other than Ohtani for MVP is to normalize Ohtani’s truly unique skillset. I don’t wish to normalize it one bit. Ohtani is a freak of nature, and, while his offense isn’t quite what it was last year, his pitching is much better. For me, only something truly outlandish/historic/what have you can overtake the total value Ohtani has provided a terrible Angels team. But as of now, Judge has provided that.

Langs: He’s a better pitcher than last year … and he’s top five in barrel rate. Judge has a great case, too—and this is different than 2021 since that had the novelty.

Footer: We all have our definition of what MVP means. I tend to lean toward this barometer—if you take this person out of the lineup, what happens to his team? (I do think MVP should be awarded to a hitter; pitchers have their own award.) And while I think there are exceptions, for the most part, I’m pretty unmoved by a great player on a non-contending team. I think Judge has more value because his team is a contender, and if you take him out of that lineup, I can see things going sideways a little bit for the Yankees.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 11:26 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: aaron judge, mvp, shohei ohtani

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   1. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: August 15, 2022 at 12:44 PM (#6091715)
If interested, here's the subsequent back-and-forth:
Petriello: Over his last 21 games, Judge has 14 homers. He has a 1.614 OPS. It is the third-best 21-game streak since Barry Bonds retired ... the Yankees are 9-12.

Footer: I don't believe Judge is the only reason why the Yankees are good, but if you take him out of the lineup during that 9-12 stretch, maybe they're 4-17? That matters, no?

Petriello: It does not matter to me. I accept it matters to many. If the 2015-22 Angels have proven ANYTHING, it's that baseball is a team sport. Individuals can't win baseball games.

Castrovince: I'm not a fan of just sorting the WAR leaderboard and filling in an MVP ballot off that. However, I will point out that FanGraphs' total WAR leaderboard (pitching plus hitting, which is only worth looking at because of Ohtani) has Judge at 7.3 and Ohtani at 5.9. So by that measure, it's not especially close.

Petriello: I think that's a better argument for Judge than anything about what their team records are. Let me know when Ohtani gets Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes and Clay Holmes on his pitching staff, anyway.
   2. Lassus Posted: August 15, 2022 at 02:09 PM (#6091722)
It would have to be.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 15, 2022 at 02:25 PM (#6091723)
I will point out that FanGraphs' total WAR leaderboard (pitching plus hitting, which is only worth looking at because of Ohtani) has Judge at 7.3 and Ohtani at 5.9. So by that measure, it's not especially close.
And BB-Ref has Judge with 7.0 WAR & Ohtani at 5.7. That’s about a 20% gap using either measure, so it’d have to change considerably before Ohtani would have much of a case over Judge for the MVP. Ohtani would still have to overcome the “How Valuable Are You If Your Team Doesn’t Make The Playoffs” hurdle, which appears to be inconsistently applied, and thus may not be a huge factor. Still lots of baseball to be played, but if the season ended today, the MVP would be Judge, perhaps unanimously or very close to it. If you RTFA, the panel agrees on that, too.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 03:06 PM (#6091732)
(I do think MVP should be awarded to a hitter; pitchers have their own award.)

It's right there in the voting rules FFS. And the name of the award.

And if ever there was a player that demonstrated why the MVP isn't a hitter-exclusive award, it's Ohtani. Ohtani is not top 10 in WARpos; he's 3rd in WARpit. He's never going to be the best hitter in the league and, even if he does do that one day, he'll likely do it as a DH and other guys will be more valuable. He may never accumulate enough innings in a season to be the best pitcher.

Now if MLB/BBWAA wants to create a best position player award, that would be fine. Then in true 21st c MLB style, the pitcher of the year and the hitter of the year can face off in some sort of K vs HR challenge to determine who wins the overall award. Sponsored by Luigi down at 5th and Lex.

EDIT: FWIW I will say that the novelty value of Ohtani pitcher/hitter shouldn't be rewarded in MVP votes ... which isn't to say that I or any of the actual voters would be able to resist the temptation. But I went Trout in Miggy's triple crown year and this isn't any different.
   5. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: August 15, 2022 at 06:07 PM (#6091765)
Out of curiosity, anyone know what the WAR comparison between Ohtani and Judge would look like if you removed the DH penalty? Like say he's just an average 1B instead. (I've always felt that penalty was too high, but it seems particularly unfair to Ohtani -- first and foremost because all the arguments about how the DH hurts the team's roster flexibility go straight out the window.)
   6. JJ1986 Posted: August 15, 2022 at 06:48 PM (#6091771)
Maybe it should be, maybe it will be...but there isn't a race right now.
   7. mex4173 Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:29 PM (#6091772)
Out of curiosity, anyone know what the WAR comparison between Ohtani and Judge would look like if you removed the DH penalty? Like say he's just an average 1B instead. (I've always felt that penalty was too high, but it seems particularly unfair to Ohtani -- first and foremost because all the arguments about how the DH hurts the team's roster flexibility go straight out the window.)


Ohtani is -9 with 109 games at DH and 476 PAs.
Matt Olsen is -6 with 116 games at 1B and 510 PA
On the Angels, Walsh is -5 104 games at 1B and 410 PA. Also has two games in LF
   8. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:30 PM (#6091773)
Out of curiosity, anyone know what the WAR comparison between Ohtani and Judge would look like if you removed the DH penalty? Like say he's just an average 1B instead. (I've always felt that penalty was too high, but it seems particularly unfair to Ohtani -- first and foremost because all the arguments about how the DH hurts the team's roster flexibility go straight out the window.)


Wouldn't make a difference, statistically. Conveniently, the Angels have a 1B with almost as many PA as Ohtani does at DH. Jared Walsh has 421 PA, all but 2 games at 1B. Ohtani has 478 PA at DH. Walsh has -5 position runs, scaled up to -6 for PA difference. Ohtani has -9. 3 runs is a rounding error.
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:35 PM (#6091775)
If Ohtani is healthy for an nearly an entire season, you almost have to give him a 1 or 2 war bonus simply because he effectively allows the team to add another player to the roster. If I had to vote today though, my vote would go to Judge.

   10. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 15, 2022 at 07:36 PM (#6091776)
Yikes!
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:11 PM (#6091787)
The positional difference between 1B and DH is about 5 runs over an entire season. I'm not sure what if any role Ohtani as "pitcher" plays in his Rpos although I think I did look at that once (i.e. whether he was treated as a DH or P in those games) and now that he can pitch without leaving the game at DH, that shouldn't matter at all ... maybe that's why he's already got as little dWAR this year as last. But a lot of the WAR difference between Judge and Ohtani is dWAR as Judge has spent more than half his time as an apparently competent CF and most of the rest as an above-average CF -- Ohtani dWAR of -1.1; Judge at 0.
   12. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:32 PM (#6091790)
Yes, Judge's CF play has cemented his MVP as of right now.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:35 PM (#6091791)
If Ohtani is healthy for an nearly an entire season, you almost have to give him a 1 or 2 war bonus simply because he effectively allows the team to add another player to the roster.
Not counting Ohtani, the Angels only have 9 batters with any positive WAR, and just 5 pitchers with 1 WAR or more. That additional roster flexibility isn’t actually providing any extra benefit to the Angels this season.
   14. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:40 PM (#6091792)
That's hardly the right way to look at it. For a team so bereft of positive contributors, someone who fills 2 positions is even more valuable.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:47 PM (#6091794)
Combining Ohtani’s batting & pitching WAR gives him full credit for his actual contributions. Adding 1 or 2 more WAR for the non-existent contributions of the Angels mythical 25th man goes beyond that.
   16. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 08:54 PM (#6091795)

The positional difference between 1B and DH is about 5 runs over an entire season.


This may be obvious, but can I ask what this means conceptually? Im having a hard time trying to grasp this concept.
   17. Adam Starblind Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:03 PM (#6091798)
The word VALUABLE doesn’t mean what they think it means, even if they capitalize or italicize it.
   18. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:35 PM (#6091805)

That's hardly the right way to look at it. For a team so bereft of positive contributors, someone who fills 2 positions is even more valuable.



I feel like in theory there must be some value to his ability to do this but not quite sure how to quantify it. on those days he pitches and DHs, he is literally playing 2 positions. NOrmally you would need two players to cover both those positions but on those days you only need one.

So you gain a roster spot to use as whatever: PH, PR, defensive replacement, loogy etc. The average player is worth 2 WAR/season. Should we assign that 2 WAR? BUt it only happens every 6th day right? I mean if he was doing that everyday and still playing at a high level that would presumably be worth even more.

So 2 WAR divided by 6 = 0.3 WAR

BUt does that: PH, PR, def replacement, loogy etc even get in the game? So less than 0.3???

Whatever it is it can't be 1-2 WAR that would only be possible if he was pitching and DH'ing every game.
   19. Brian C Posted: August 15, 2022 at 09:55 PM (#6091811)
So you gain a roster spot to use as whatever: PH, PR, defensive replacement, loogy etc. The average player is worth 2 WAR/season. Should we assign that 2 WAR? But it only happens every 6th day right? I mean if he was doing that everyday and still playing at a high level that would presumably be worth even more.

Why would you give him the benefit of the "average" player? Any other player that the roster spot would be used for would be much closer to replacement level than average. So I'd say 0.0 WAR is the right way to think about his added contribution by combining two roster spots.

Realistically speaking, I very much doubt that the value the Angels get from him doing both is very significant. I understand the impulse to say it must provide value somehow, but the guys at the end of the roster by definition aren't very valuable. It's very unusual that he can do both, obviously, but that doesn't mean that it's more valuable. It's just unusual (and very cool).

I think the right way to think about this is that, for a DH, he provides a lot of defensive value - by pitching every sixth day. Which is, of course, a roundabout way to say that his overall WAR fairly reflects his value. But it helps me conceptualize why that's the case.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: August 15, 2022 at 10:09 PM (#6091813)
I feel like in theory there must be some value to his ability to do this but not quite sure how to quantify it. on those days he pitches and DHs, he is literally playing 2 positions. NOrmally you would need two players to cover both those positions but on those days you only need one.

So you gain a roster spot to use as whatever: PH, PR, defensive replacement, loogy etc. The average player is worth 2 WAR/season. Should we assign that 2 WAR? BUt it only happens every 6th day right? I mean if he was doing that everyday and still playing at a high level that would presumably be worth even more.

So 2 WAR divided by 6 = 0.3 WAR

BUt does that: PH, PR, def replacement, loogy etc even get in the game? So less than 0.3???

Whatever it is it can't be 1-2 WAR that would only be possible if he was pitching and DH'ing every game.


It's not just when he is playing though, most teams have 13 pitchers and 13 hitters nowadays (or whatever the rule is) he's taking two of those spots as one player, meaning that the 26 man roster effectively has 27 players. I said 1-2 war, as I don't think you replace him with an average player, but a specialist or some other player that you get some value from. And yes, I fully support giving him imaginary credit because there is actual value in a teams ability to do that. It's also why I give more value to healthy players who have a history of being healthy, there is value in roster construction when you know you don't have to cover for a quality player 30+ games missed a year.

Voting straight war value for a player is about the dumbest thing imaginable, outside of voting for a player on a winner or rbi total.
   21. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 15, 2022 at 10:19 PM (#6091815)
I feel like in theory there must be some value to his ability to do this but not quite sure how to quantify it. on those days he pitches and DHs, he is literally playing 2 positions. NOrmally you would need two players to cover both those positions but on those days you only need one.

Back in the Ben Zobrist days, the best idea I could come up with was giving a multi-position player credit for the equivalent of always having the platoon advantage in one spot in the lineup, because someone who plays (say) both 2B and RF very well gives you the option of setting up a platoon of a left-handed RF and a right-handed 2B.

But that doesn't really apply to Ohtani; I have no idea what to credit him with. Weirdly, I feel like the inherent value of his particular diversity is less, because his role doesn't provide much flexibility in terms of the players you can put on the field day-to-day; he DHs every day and pitches once every five. Having an extra seat available on the AAA bullpen shuttle doesn't do much for me value-wise.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 10:20 PM (#6091816)
If Ohtani is healthy for an nearly an entire season, you almost have to give him a 1 or 2 war bonus simply because he effectively allows the team to add another player to the roster.

In theory maybe (though hardly 1 or 2 WAR). In practice, whether necessary or not, to keep him in the rotation, the Angels carry a 6-man rotation ... so they still have 13 non-Ohtani pitchers, 5 SP and 8 RP just like all of the other teams. Meanwhile he's a full-time DH who basically never plays the field so reduces roster flexibility.

Or maybe it's easier to look at it the other way -- putting Ohtani in the lineup nearly every day (without wearing him down) requires them to use a (near-?) replacement level starter at least 7 more times than an average team. It looks to be far more than that as the Angels don't run this such that the other 4 main guys will get 30 starts, it looks like a pretty strict 6-man which might be required. So that 5th starter looks like he'll get at least 20 starts even if everybody stayed healthy. That might well cost them a win or more (relative to a standard 5-man rotation in which hopefully Ohtani makes 32-33 starts). How many extra games in the lineup does that buy them -- 25-30? (One for each start?)**

Now if Ohtani allowed them to carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players plus Ohtani -- which they could if he started every 5th day -- then maybe there is an advantage relative to other teams' rosters. Or if they started him every 5th game such that it allowed them to add a 9th reliever, that would be a possible advantage. As is, we "have to" assume that the 6-man rotation allows him to be in the lineup those extra days. But given the way he's pitching this year, just missing him 6 starts could be one win plus the cost of "taking" 6 starts from Sandoval, Detmers, etc. ... and given the way he's hitting this year, there's no way the extra PAs make up for it. (Last year might be a different story.)

** It's tricky. Nearly every team will use their 6th+ starters a lot due to injuries, etc. The difference here is that it is by design -- even if everybody is healthy, no starter would get more than 25-26 starts. If somebody gets hurt, you've got to trot your #7 starter out there. I'm pretty sure you could "optimize" it by taking advantage of off-days to get the other 4 top starters another 3 starts or so.
   23. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 10:29 PM (#6091817)
. So I'd say 0.0 WAR is the right way to think about his added contribution by combining two roster spots.


That cant possibly be correct. You can have a replacement guy who's a good fielder. You just use him for fielding occasionally. You can have a replacement guy who's good at running, you just use him for running. There are good hitters who are terrible fielders. There are guys who can only hit righties. Etc.

These are guys you use only on occasion. Over the course of a regular season they might be 0 war, but if you use their skills correctly you can get a few percentage pts out of them.

   24. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 10:34 PM (#6091818)
It's not just when he is playing though, most teams have 13 pitchers and 13 hitters nowadays (or whatever the rule is) he's taking two of those spots as one player, meaning that the 26 man roster effectively has 27 players.


But how do you respond to the argument I made previous: If Ohtani played two positions EVERY day, his value would have to be what 6x greater than his current usage patter? Agreed?

He's only playing 2 positions 1/6 of the time. Dont you have to factor that?
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2022 at 11:35 PM (#6091824)
This may be obvious, but can I ask what this means conceptually? Im having a hard time trying to grasp this concept

I'm not clear what you're asking. Since all of this was put together in the days of 25-man rosters, let's ignore the 26th man for now.

1. A 120 OPS+ hitter with the defensive capability to handle 1B must be more valuable than a 120 OPS+ hitter who can't.

2. If you have a full-time DH (or a near-one for most purposes) then you have just 11-12 guys (depending on size of staff) to rotate among the 8 fielding positions, giving you less flexibility in terms of resting guys, platooning, mixing/matching. This is a disadvantage relative to an equally good hitting team that can do more rotation. Therefore your full-time DH must hit better.

Now, regarding 2, given every AL team and now every team has always had to use a guy at DH for that game, there's no within-game advantage to be had really so it's an argument around freshness and other tiny advantages. The WAR guesstimate is that those tiny advantages add up to about 5 runs over a full season. It also jives with the way the DH position has historically been handled -- a full-time or near-full-time DH generally does have to put up a 120-125 OPS+ to hold their job.** Your Dan Vogelbach types (105 OPS+, no defensive value) have difficulty holding a job, don't make big money, change teams a lot -- very fungible in a way that 105 OPS+ 1Bs usually are not.

Even David Ortiz never cracked $20 M in a season I don't think. JDM put up a 150 OPS+ over 4 seasons and couldn't do better than 5/$110 through age 34; Freddie Freeman, 142 OPS+ previous 4 and 3 years older at FA just got 6/$162 through age 37. Schwarber and Castellanos are "should be DH" type players and got 4/$79 and 5/$100. Yordan Alvarez (career OPS+ about 155 at signing) got a arb/FA buyout (I missed this) that will pay him $27 M for his first 3 arb years (through age 31). Matt Olson (139 OPS+ 2019-21) gets $5 M per year less (substantial) but signed through age 35 (which could work to Alvarez's advantage).

But #1 might be the easier way to look at it in the days of the universal DH. You could think of it as an adjustment to replacement value. Anybody can swing the bat and not play a posiiton -- how much more fungible can you get? The 100 OPS+ DH is, by definition, easier to replace than the 100 OPS+ 1B or 100 OPS+ LF. The DH is so fungible most teams don't even bother having an exclusive DH.

(As has been noted many times, probably more for convenience than anything, "replacement value" is set up in bWAR such that dWAR is really dWAA. You could do that any way you wanted though and we might think of the 22 runs of replacement value as being, say 17 runs for hitting a bit below-average and 5 runs for standing near 1B in a roughly average way. Whoever is at DH today is not being credited with 5/162 runs for standing near 1B in a roughly average way because they aren't.)

** It could be that all of this is/has changed. Or it could just be the transition period to the universal DH. Lately DH have hit rather poorly, substantially worse than 1B. However there is also a broader change to there being only small differences among positions in terms of offensive production. Here are the 2021 tOPS+ by position for all MLB:

C 91
1B 117
2B 101
3B 104
SS 102
LF 102
CF 99
RF 112
DH 105

It's Lake Wobegon where all (but Cs) are above-average. This year is kinda bizarre with CF down to 93 and RF down to 99!! RFs are now average hitters? Imagine what CF 2022 would look like if they weren't getting half of Judge's PAs credited to them. Put your best athlete at SS, put your fast guy in CF, find somebody to play C, everybody else is the same.

Thanks to all the position player pitching, in 32 PAs this year, Ps are hitting 276/344/448, about a 123 OPS+, tops of all positions. :-)
   26. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 15, 2022 at 11:45 PM (#6091825)
This is a follow up to what I was saying to CFB:

If Ohtani's playing DH only, he can't come in and pitch right? thats illegal. Or if Ohtani's pitching and not DHing, he cant suddenly be the DH, right? SO I get what you're saying that he fills two positions and you're trying to make that argument he's filling two positions on the everyday roster, hence his value is good for all season.

But the fact that he CAN play two positions means zilch in a game where he is only allowed to play one. Right? So you say because you have Ohtani you dont have to carry a regular DH but if Ohtani is pitching only he cant come in DH so you still need a DH. So whatever flexibility he gives you is lost in those games.

Therefore the only time he can possibly give you an advantage in flexibility is when he is playing two roles in one game. ANd that only happens every 6 games as I understand it.

****

thanks for explanation, Walt
   27. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2022 at 12:22 AM (#6091826)
Valuing Ohtani's dual role. I think CFB is closest with the direct approach of It's not just when he is playing though, most teams have 13 pitchers and 13 hitters nowadays (or whatever the rule is) he's taking two of those spots as one player, meaning that the 26 man roster effectively has 27 players.

This will also allow me to make my point that the way he's actually being used probably minimizes this extra value and might even be negative.

Each team has 26 and the restrictions are 13 position and 13 pitchers. As a 2-way player (the only one to my knowledge) the Angels can basically count him on one side or the other while he fills both roles. So in effect the Angels can either carry 14 position players (13 + Ohtani classed as a pitcher) and 13 pitchers (12 + Ohtani) or they can carry 13 position players (12 + Ohtani) and 14 pitchers (13 + Ohtani classed as position). So the Angels add a 27th man. This gets back to earlier points though that this 27th man is probably a replacement level player unless it's the Dodgers in which case he's an all-star.

But in terms of actual usage, on any given day, your average team has 13 position players, one SP, 8 RP and 4 guys sitting on their ass doing nothing until at least the 13th inning (i.e. the rest of the rotation). Let's call that 13, 1, 8, 4 (pos, SP, RP, lazy bastards).

If the Angels started Ohtani every 5th game then:

Ohtani classed as pitcher: 14, (1), 8, 4 on the days he starts and 14, 1, 8, 3 on the days he doesn't. They've added a position player every game.

Ohtani classed as position: 13, (1), 9, 4 on the days he starts and 13, 1, 9, 3 on the days he doesn't. They've added a reliever every game.

Instead, 6-man rotation: 13, (1), 8, 5 on the days he starts and 13, 1, 8, 4 on the days he doesn't. They've gained nothing in terms of roster spots, they've gained an extra lazy bastard every 6th game.

Now I'm sure you can play all sorts of games with the AAA shuttle and off days to minimize the number of games with 5 guys unavailable, adding an extra pos or RP. You can also work the AAA shuttle and off days to keep your 4 other main starters on something closer to a 5-game rotation (also freeing up your 6th starter for more relief duty) so that at least Ohtani's schedule doesn't serve to also reduce the number of starts those guys get. Or if the 6-man rotation increases Ohtani's availability as one of the 13 position players (presumably the Angels' strategy) then maybe this is a positive.
   28. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 16, 2022 at 12:32 AM (#6091827)
I dont see how Ohtani's flexibility can possibly add 2 WAR unless he's playing two positions every game. Just because he's on the bench doesnt give them an effective extra spot. If he starts the game on the bench he can only play one position.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2022 at 12:34 AM (#6091828)
#26 ... one rule was changed starting this year. If the SP is also the DH then he remains as the DH even if he is pulled as the pitcher. Ohtani can theoretically get 162 starts at DH and 32 starts at P. But yes, as far as I know, if he starts as the DH then enters the game to pitch, the Angels lose the DH and once he's done pitching, he's out of the game. Similarly if he is the starting pitcher but not the DH on that day, then he's out of the game once he's pulled and never gets a PA. If he starts at P but not DH but then the Angels move their DH to a field position, the Ohtani would bat until he's done pitching.

I assume ... but don't know since nobody in their right mind would do it pre-Ohtani ... if he is not in the starting lineup at all then enters as a reliever, I assume the Angels can "pull" the DH when he comes in and have Ohtani bat the next time that spot comes up, assuming he's still on the mound. Once he was pulled the new reliever would bat in that spot.

So far this year, he has been the DH every time he's pitched.
   30. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 16, 2022 at 12:50 AM (#6091830)
well, yeah so he could start as a pitcher only and then hit if the DH moves to another spot. interesting.


Lets look at it another way: there are all sorts of guys that can play two positions. E.g. 1b/3b or OF/1b or 2b/ss. Do we start assigning all of them extra WAR? And as much as CFB suggests?

Granted when Ohtani is pitching and hitting he's doing something different then those guys. But if he starts the game on the bench then hes like one of those guys, an unusual form of them but still.
   31. John Northey Posted: August 16, 2022 at 07:44 AM (#6091841)
I think in a close race, Ohtani allowing a team to have a roster slot open as he is a hitter and a pitcher should be the tie breaker - along with which team is actually in a playoff race. Both are important, but secondary to who is most valuable. But if it is a splitting hairs choice then those 2 things need to be in play. As long as Ohtani is stuck in Angels land though the playoff thing will be a negative for him. Thus why if I'm running the Angels I'd make a strong offer to him for a long term deal this winter and if he doesn't bite then trade him pre-season.
   32. John DiFool2 Posted: August 16, 2022 at 09:40 AM (#6091851)
https://tht.fangraphs.com/re-examining-wars-defensive-spectrum/

This article makes a convincing case for eliminating that -5 DH penalty, mainly on the basis of the "PH penalty" (where players lose some hitting ability vs. How they hit at their regular position). As indicated upthread teams sure do often find it difficult to find someone to who can actually hit in that role, but I hesitate a bit to say there is positional scarcity there on that basis (since anyone from another position can be put there).
   33. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 16, 2022 at 10:20 AM (#6091857)
It would seem very difficult to put a positional value on the dh. One thing is that talent is not perfectly distributed once you get to that position. We don't ha_e carbon copies of an average tihhing outfielder who happens to dh. We get guys who are hurt, guys who aren't good hitters for for an OFer etc. So we are looking at guys who aren't as good as reg hitters and ten we try to evaluate how much easier it is with out needing to field a position.

I can see calculating it for two field positions. We can measure the diff between an avg hitting ss and 3bman.
   34. Ithaca2323 Posted: August 16, 2022 at 10:38 AM (#6091860)
Ironically, Aaron Judge is probably the guy making the strongest case for the pointlessness of the DH penalty.

Judge is a good fielding centerfielder, and an even better fielding right fielder, who plays as the DH solely to give him a half day of rest while keeping his bat in the lineup. He's not some lumbering, Adam Dunn who embarrasses himself in the field.

   35. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2022 at 06:38 PM (#6091928)
Judge is a good fielding centerfielder, and an even better fielding right fielder, who plays as the DH solely to give him a half day of rest while keeping his bat in the lineup.

But that is still less valuable than an otherwise equal Judge who has played the additional 162 innings in the field (18 starts at DH). Judge is probably the guy making the strongest case for the utility of the DH Rpos penalty. There is zero question that Judge the DH is a significantly less productive player than Judge the OF. It's no different than Darin Erstad the 1B vs Darin Erstad the CF -- nobody would dispute that Erstad (in his prime) was more valuable in CF than 1B; nobody should dispute that Judge in the field is more valuable than Judge at DH.

You presumably are trying to make the point that the choice is between Judge the 140 game RF who's worn out in Sept vs Judge the 130 game RF plus 25 game DH who's fresh in Sept and clearly the latter is better. And that's probably true and that might be the case for the specific individual Aaron Judge. But even the latter Judge is not as valuable as the 155 game RF Judge who's fresh in Sept ... and maybe that Judge doesn't exist but Barry Bonds did; Sammy Sosa did (2001 Sosa put up a 203 OPS+ and started 160 games in RF; he started 150+ in the field from 97-02); Sheffield did on occasion. (Sure in all 3 cases they would have got more starts at DH if in the AL ... but Freddie Freeman has 114 starts at 1B and 0 at DH so far this year.) Maybe half-days off help maximize Judge's production but that doesn't mean he's as valuable as guys who don't need that half-day off or that he's as valuable on the days he DHs as he is on the days he's in the field.

The tough ones are the Sheffields and Mannys and Dunns of the world. Is Franmil Reyes really 5 runs/650 less valuable at DH than an otherwise similar-hitting average defensive 1B? (Personally I think he's lucky to be docked only 5 runs.)

Still, the more I think about it, the more I would rather see it (partially?) incoporated into Rrep than Rpos. You gain replacement value (basically a reward for playing time) based on time in the batter's box and time in the field. DHs are obviously not producing even replacement value in the field.

If you want to push it to extremes, we already distinguish between pitcher WAR and position player WAR. We could conceptually just as easily have pitching WAR, batting/running WAR and defensive WAR.

AL pitchers of the last 50 years and now all pitchers essentially have zero batting WAR, not even replacement-level value. They are also treated as having 0 defensive WAR because, given the way WARpit is calculated, it's assumed their defensive value shows up in their RA9 but obviously it could be measured as well/poorly as other defense and separated out. Position players generally generate no pitching value and DHs go even further by generating no defensive value ... not even Rrep.

So you'd get, say, 17 offensive Rrep per 650 PA; 5 defensive Rrep per 1300 innings in the field (or whatever); 22 pitching Rrep per 220 innings on the mound (or whatever) ... or maybe 21 pitching Rrep and 1 defensive Rrep.

This also would give us a "clean" way of valuing Ohtani: excellent pitching value (in limited innings), very good batting/running value; some defensive value on the mound, nil otherwise. He's about 3/4 of the way through a full offensive season so he'd have about 12 offensive Rrep and 0 (or <1) defensive Rrep and 11 pitching Rrep ... total 23 Rrep vs. his current total of about 27. But he'd have a smaller Rpos penalty.

But that's not fully satisfactory because Rpos still has to float around somewhere so we still need to assign a Rpos to DH. That Rpos could either live on the offensive side or the defensive side but it just shifts from "why are DHs valued as being 5 runs worse than an average 1B?" to "why are DHs valued the same as an average 1B?" to "why are DHs valued the same as an average defesnive CF?"

So that remains the crux of the issue. Take three players with identical batting/running value. They could all be 0 Rbat, 0 Rbase and 0 Rdp (dead average) or they could all have those elements sum to +50 (roughly Judge) or +100 (peak Bonds), it doesn't matter from a WAR perspective as long as they sum to the same.

Now A is an average defensive CF, B is an average defensive 1B and C doesn't play the field. The inescapable conclusion (IMNSHO) is that C is a less valuable player than A or B.** Throughout all of sabermetric history, it has been considered an inescapable conclusion that B is a less valuable player than A. So the gap between A and B and the gap between B and C have to be captured somewhere. In the current bWAR formula, that has to be in Rpos and/or Rrep ... or more precisely in Rpos alone as it is or in some combo of Rpos and Rrep.***

** Note this could be considered either on a seasonal basis (i.e. a full-time DH) or a game basis (Aaron Hicks is DHing today for some reason). Anthony Rizzo as today's DH is contributing more than Anthony Rizzo sitting on the bench all game today but less than Anthony Rizzo the 1B contributed yesterday.

*** I think in theory we could also incorporate Rpos into, say, posRbat where the batter is comped to the average hitter at his position rather than the average overall hitter (Rbat).

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