Any idea how this list would compare to a simpler list of RBI% (RBI/total RBI opportunities)? That’s not a stat I’ve seen often, but it’s pretty simple and foolproof. I would suspect that there is some agreement, but your list probably classifies hitters more closely to their overall abilities.
Comment by Jeremiah — November 19, 2009 @ 10:44 am
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Despite the fact that the BBWA got it right with Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Joe Mauer and technically Albert Pujols, they are still a bunch of morons. Somehow, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Andre Ethier and Pablo Sandoval all ended up with more MVP votes than Chase Utley. At 7.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Chase Utley was the second most valuable hitter in the NL (behind Pujols, at 8.4 WAR) and the seventh most valuable player overall. A strong balance between fantastic defense at 2B and quality hitting at the plate makes Chase Utley one of the most valuable assets in baseball (based on his production and salary, Fangraphs ranked Utley as a top ten asset earlier this year). Utley does many things very well. He can hit (28+ HRs in 4 of the last 5 seasons, .390 career wOBA), field (career +15.5 UZR/150 at 2B), and run the bases (23 SB last season, 0 CS). He tied Reggie Jackson’s World Series homerun record this year. And, as evidenced below, he can even fly.
But Chase Utley gets no love.
At first glance, Pujols appears to deserve the MVP. His monstrous bat was second to none (+16 Runs Above Replacement (RAR) compared to Mauer, the AL MVP) and his defense is solid (it has averaged just under +5 RAR per season since 2002). However, Albert Pujols plays first base. Yes, WAR accomodates this with a -12.4 Positional Adjustment to Pujols’ cumulative RAR, but there is something more to be said when the WARs are close and the positions played by two players require significantly different levels of skill.
“But DME,” you say, “Pujols has a +8.4 WAR and Utley has a +7.6 WAR. That’s a chunky +8 RAR difference.” True, in theory, but WAR does not encapsulate every aspect of a player’s value (and no, I’m not talking about Grindiness Per Nine Inning (G/9)). WAR does not encapsulate baserunning skills. Because WAR is derivative of wOBA, which already accounts for SB%, the additional “Baserunning RAR” (BRAR) is calculated by (EQBRR-EQSBR). According to Baseball Prospectus, Chase Utley was the second best baserunner in the majors last season (behind Michael Bourne) and his BRAR was +5.32. Albert Pujols was not even a top 500 baserunner and his BRAR was -0.62.
This makes the difference between Utley and Pujols’ end of season cumulative RAR’s within two runs of each other. Such a difference is pretty marginal. Factor in Pujols’ +13 PA’s and the fact that Chase Utley’s team made it to the World Series (where Utley raked), and I would have to tip my hat in favor of Chase Utley, who plays in a much tougher division, for the NL MVP award. By no means is it a travesty that Pujols got the honor. It is a travesty, however, that Utley did not even finish top 5 in NL MVP voting.
This only goes to show that even when the BBWA gets it right, they still manage to get it wrong.