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  1. AGon >

    Comment by Bernard Arnault — August 5, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  2. Pedroia wins on WAR/inch

    Comment by Jerome S. — August 5, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  3. Joey Bats is my pick

    Comment by MonteroSmash — August 5, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  4. Bautista

    Comment by Lewis — August 5, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  5. By the way, ignore Pedroia’s UZR, and he’s still only behind Bautista, Zobrist and Ellsbury, barely behind the latter two.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  6. So those shower pictures leaked?

    Comment by Nom Chompsky — August 5, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  7. Adam Dunn

    Comment by josh — August 5, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  8. Thought I don’t know why you would ignore UZR, unless you plan on ignoring fWAR altogether.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  9. I will say that Pedroia has no shot in reality though. The only reason he won in 2008 is because Quentin (traditional slugger candidate) missed the last month of the season, and Pedroia managed to lead the league in a lot of caveman stats like hits, runs, etc.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  10. Because 1 year sample sizes of UZR are volatile and unreliable.

    Comment by Heisenberg — August 5, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  11. Eh, I think it’s better for the game to pick Jose Bautista.

    I think it’s wrong to just flat-out ignore UZR. Yeah, it varies from year to year, but you’re not giving an MVP award as a culmination of the past three seasons. So even if Pedroia were hypothetically a +5 defender instead of a +15, as he has been this season, whether fortune or skill, he’s been a +15 defender this season and that’s all that matters.

    But, really, it comes down to Jose Bautista just being too cool to vote elsewhere. Have you seen him? He can be the face of baseball. No one really wants a scrapper from Boston or much less a player from Boston whom their fans thought they owned long before he departed from his San Diego confines.

    Granderson wouldn’t be a bad choice (note, and should have included this earlier: Yankee fan), but it would probably be the kind of MVP choice in a couple of years that makes you go, “Well… That was nice for him.”

    Comment by michaelfranko — August 5, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  12. There is no debate as of the first week of August. It’s Bautista.

    Comment by Heisenberg — August 5, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  13. Granderson will finish 3rd. The only reason Bautista will finish higher than him (and in 2nd place) is due to Granderson’s unimpressive batting average. If Granderson bats .290 or higher by year’s end though, he will finish ahead of Bautista. And of course A-Gone will win it due to his RBIs and his batting average and his teammates.

    These voters are very predictable.

    Comment by yorkieee — August 5, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  14. Bautista might win on the Juan Gonzalez effect:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1996.shtml
    2 great players on the same team (A Rod and Griffey) split the vote so player on a 3rd team comes out ahead…
    although in this case Bautista is fully deserving as well…

    Comment by jacob — August 5, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  15. I agree that you can’t ignore UZR, but you can’t take it at face value either.

    We don’t know that Pedroia has been a +15 fielder; UZR’s somewhat unreliable estimate is that he has been a +15 fielder. That being said: if UZR is measuring him as a +15 fielder, then he has certainly been a good fielder. It is just difficult to say exactly how good he has been so far.

    Also: Bautista.

    Comment by Aaron — August 5, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  16. As well as another caveman stat like fWAR (second in the league for position players): 6.8. Yes, he was 0.6 behind Grady Sizemore so if you want to argue there, you’d be a little more justified.

    Comment by Stan — August 5, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  17. Maybe three players… I’ve read several articles (don’t have them in front of me) talking about Ellsbury as an MVP candidate.

    Comment by Aaron — August 5, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  18. Even worse, I’m not sure Adrian Gonzalez is nearly as good as his WAR indicates. His offensive value is abnormally high due to an inflated BABIP. Some may say that that’s because he’s using the monster to his advantage, but then shouldn’t we give the monster MVP?

    Comment by AndyS — August 5, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  19. Bautista, by a beard hair over Gonzalez.

    Comment by tdotsports1 — August 5, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  20. you’re a brave man my friend…

    Comment by tdotsports1 — August 5, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  21. Bautista or Ellsbury. Gonzo doesn’t have all of those RBIs without Ellsbury – and Ellsbury has just as many homers!

    Comment by Mike — August 5, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  22. Pedoria won that year with the 2nd highest AL fWAR(6.8 to Sizemore 7.4, Sizemore on a 3rd place team). Quentin finished with a 4.8 WAR in 130 games and had no shot of catching Pedoria in WAR at all.

    Comment by BostonFanA — August 5, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  23. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more support for Miguel Cabrera than you’d expect. The strength of Gonzalez’s back-up band makes him less valuable to the Sox, in a lot of ways — can you imagine the Tigers being in contention without Cabrera or Verlander? Plus, having other legit Sox candidates will probably dilute Gonzo’s vote.

    Personally, I think Ellsbury deserves more consideration than he’s getting, but I’m a Sox fan and an Ellsbury fantasy owner, so I may be biased.

    Comment by JD — August 5, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  24. Oh, but it’s still Bautista, in my mind, unless he mysteriously goes Craig Counsell on us.

    Comment by JD — August 5, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  25. I’m starting to think Ellsbury is going to be the Red Sox vote. There is a real chance he ends up with a line like:

    125 R, 100 RBI, 50 SB, 25 HR, .320/.375/.515, and plus glove in CF. That’s pretty sick from any standpoint, traditionalist/saberist/soccer mom/anything. If Joey Bats continues to blast off, sure, it’s his all the way. But if he let’s it slip for a second, one of the three redsocks will overtake him.

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  26. The award isn’t for value to other teams than the one you play on.

    Although that would be funny, the Darwin Award of Baseball…

    Comment by SC2GG — August 5, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  27. I will say the monster seems to my (trained? untrained?) eye to have turned several of AGone’s HRs into doubles. Just saying.

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  28. Juan Gonzalez won because he lead the league in RBI, not deserving at all. Plus Juan Gon’s team(Rangers) made the playoffs seat over A-rod and Griffey’s team(Mariners), neither of those is going to happen. If you want to make a comparison it have to be Bonds in 04(11.9) beating the Rolen(9.2)-Pujols(8.4)-Edomnds(8.2) MV3.

    Comment by BostonFanA — August 5, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  29. It’s not like Pedroia hasn’t always been highly rated by UZR.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  30. Pedoria have a .030 edge on OBP over Ellsbury, he contributed to that RBI total as well.

    Comment by BostonFanA — August 5, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  31. Only the defensive component, my friend.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  32. As it does for Pedey and Youk and any other left-field-inclined masher. It also turns crap 320 ft flyballs into doubles too. Basically, it’s a doubles machine.

    The Monster giveth, and The Monster taketh away.

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  33. You should probably read my post again, guys. I’m talking about reality, as in the BBWAA voters. My guess is they didn’t choose Pedroia for his WAR. I’m not saying he wasn’t the MVP.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  34. Where is the Konerko love in here?

    Comment by Scott Kazmir's Talent — August 5, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  35. Michael Young as well

    Comment by Scott Kazmir's Talent — August 5, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  36. In other words, if you ignore UZR, Pedroira is the second best 2B in the league. Doesn’t say much for his MVP case.

    Comment by Garold — August 5, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  37. Hmm, interesting….because I think this is the first week where I really believe someone else has a shot at winning it.

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  38. A common misconception. See http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-fangraphs-uzr-primer/#15 to understand better.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  39. I love how the “UZR volatility” people only seem to have an issue with Pedroia’s UZR. How do we know Bautista isn’t really a -10? Because his UZR looks reasonable, we assume it’s more accurate. That’s ridiculous.

    Comment by Todd — August 5, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  40. I would like to see some of the demographics for MVP voters. I think age will play a big factor, old school voters going with AGon obivously and Bautista with the new school. Unless traditionilist views aren’t related to age, which I would be suprised to hear some agree with.

    Comment by theformat — August 5, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  41. Or is this some sort of nerd physics joke you are playing on us. I’m surprised at your certainty…

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  42. Seriously. What is this the Twilight Zone?

    Comment by Jon Heyman — August 5, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  43. Stan,

    I think Todd was referring to Pedroia’s chances of actually winning vs his worthiness. I think he’s right. Voters in 08 picked Pedroia for a lot of reasons, some of those reasons better than others.

    Comment by Brad C — August 5, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  44. I’m not sure I understand your reference but Counsell once hit 9 HR’s in a season, and dropped off to 2 HR’s the next.. so there’s that.

    Comment by theformat — August 5, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  45. Exactly. Even if you take his career average, it’s still something like +9 runs over a season. He’s always been phenomenal at 2B.

    Comment by theonemephisto — August 5, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  46. Bwuahahahaha Konerko and M Young… we spit on your small market psuedo stars.

    Comment by Telo — August 5, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  47. AGon is amazing but Bautista is better.

    Comment by bonestock94 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  48. Verlander has a decent shot of getting 22 or 23 WINS this year, and if he can do that with a sub-2.5 ERA, he could get a good number of votes himself.

    Comment by buddy — August 5, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  49. Counsell is 0 for his last 45 — one easy grounder away from tying the all-time record for the longest hitless streak by a position player.

    Comment by JD — August 5, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  50. I agree that A-Gonz is a candidate for regression due to a high BABIP. But should that really factor in? I always thought, personally, that BABIP was helpful in predicting how a player might perform going forward, not necessarily to decide how good of a season(s) he had. I guess it’s kind of a philosophical argument that I don’t feel like delving into. To me, the numbers are the numbers, whether they can continue at that pace or not (in terms of award voting, not in terms of future performance).

    Anyway, I looked at A-Gonz and Bautista closely and some interesting numbers. Keep in mind that AG has 55 more PA’s because Bautista had some injury issues a few weeks ago. But 33% of AG’s AB’s have come with RISP and 54% with runners on base. Contrast to Bautsita, 28% with RISP and 47% with runners on base. That’s a big difference…AG has come to bad with RISP 38 more times…that helps bridge the gap between RBI numbers (91 for AG, 73 for JB).

    But then look at their performances with RISP. AG= .370/.448/.500, JB= .244/.512./449. Obviously AG is performing better, though not hitting for a ton of power with RISP. However, JB is walking a staggering 34.4% of the time with RISP, compared to 13.5% for AG. He’s being pitched around (walking 16.5% with bases empty)!! Hard to knock those guys in when you aren’t being pitched to.

    I think Bautista is the MVP, at this point. Imagine if he had even 30 more PA’s with RISP and walked significantly less (say, 20%), I’d think he’d have comparable RBI totals. Factor in the positional value, I don’t think AG can hold a candle to Bautista.

    I don’t think you can discount Pedroia’s UZR (and I’m a Yankee fan), as he’s been a good fielder every season, but I don’t think his defense can make up for the type of hitter Bautista has been.

    Or maybe we should just vote for whoever leads the league in “OPSBI’s”?

    Comment by Matt — August 5, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  51. Michael Young is 16th in the league in wOBA and has been mostly a DH this year. You’re not really suggesting he’s an MVP candidate are you?

    Comment by Justin Bailey — August 5, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  52. “Because 1 year sample sizes of UZR are volatile and unreliable.” — as predictive measures, much less so as reflective of what actually happened during the season.

    Comment by chuckb — August 5, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  53. Actually, if you take out the fielding component of WAR (UZR), the AL WAR race looks like this:

    Name WAR (no D)
    Jose Bautista 7.14
    Curtis Granderson 5.62
    Dustin Pedroia 5.18
    Jacoby Ellsbury 4.98
    Ben Zobrist 4.62
    Adrian Gonzalez 4.57
    Miguel Cabrera 4.54
    Asdrubal Cabrera 4.40

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  54. Derek Jeter.

    Comment by D4P — August 5, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  55. chuckb, you’re using some mushy language here (putting things in relative rather than absolute terms), but it still seems you’re committing the mistake MGL warns against here: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/does_one_year_uzr_tell_us_exactly_what_happened/

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  56. As Bill Veeck once said to an ace pitcher looking for a raise, “we could have finished in last without you.” With Jose Bautista, Toronto’s a 4th place team. Without Jose Bautista, Toronto’s a 4th place team. There’s essentially no difference in return on investment to a club finishing with 70 wins or 77 wins in the A.L. East. Is that Bautista’s fault? Well, kind of; he voluntarily chose to sign with a team in the A.L. East that wasn’t New York, Boston, or Tampa, so he knew he had no shot at the postseason. By any objective measure, a “most valuable player” has to add some value to his team — and any way you slice going from “guaranteed of finishing in 4th place” to “gauarnteed of finishing in 4th place with a better record” adds essentially no value to his team.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  57. The simple solution is just to disregard unreliable defensive metrics entirely, and focus on offensive WAR with appropriate positional adjustments.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  58. That’s only taking UZR away from Pedroia and not Zobrist or Ellsbury. Pedroia is still only behind Bautista if you take UZR away from everyone.

    Comment by Breezy — August 5, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  59. I agree, that is a simple solution. Very, very simple.

    Comment by Jon Heyman — August 5, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  60. Yes, because “everyone is an average defender” is clearly closer to the truth. People’s reactions to defensive metrics are a classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  61. And here’s the AL WAR leaderboard if you take out the ‘fielding’ portion, and instead substitute a pro-rated portion of their career fielding numbers:

    Jose Bautista 6.51
    Dustin Pedroia 5.85
    Curtis Granderson 5.84
    Jacoby Ellsbury 5.56
    Ben Zobrist 5.42
    Adrian Gonzalez 4.73
    Kevin Youkilis 4.54
    Alex Gordon 4.45
    Yunel Escobar 4.18

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  62. If I was him I’d go ahead and purposefully break the record, just to be remembered for something. Jo Jo Reyes had a chance, but blew it by pitching well. Now no one will ever speak of him again.

    Cmon, Craig! Make some history!

    Comment by SC2GG — August 5, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  63. I’m still not really seeing what’s wrong in including his defense this year in MVP consideration.

    I guess the “he could have been terrible but the computers might for some reason think otherwise in this particular season despite the fact that he actually was terrible” kind of thing is a little daunting, but if we’re essentially viewing one season as if it were a lifetime of stats, as we do in things like MVP votes, I don’t see why it’s that terrible to include it as a consideration precisely as it is.

    I mean, if you’re just going to ignore it completely, then why even have WAR?

    Then again WAR is supposed to be a general estimate moreso than an exact contribution anyway, but still.

    It’s very difficult to just say objectively “Pedroia is a +15″ fielder, but that’s just what the numbers we have for this year are, even if it may have been made up by a bunch of far slow rollers that were much easier to get to than the range rating is programmed to value their difficulty as.

    But yeah, in general for MVP votes, I’m much more of a fan of traditional/rudimentary kind of “advanced” stats, like on-base percentage and home runs because at the end of the day it’s just not that important and it’s a pretty cut and dry way to say who was better in a given season.

    If I were doling out contracts, yeah, we’re breaking it down much further.

    Moral of the story is, yes, Bautista should win fairly comfortably.

    Comment by michaelfranko — August 5, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  64. Sorry; can’t happen. Toronto’s a 4th place team with Bautista or without. When the wins you add to a team don’t change their place in the standings, you’re just rearranging deck chairs.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  65. This is a really good point.

    Comment by chuckb — August 5, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  66. Mock all you like. Defense is obviously an important component of any non-DH player’s value, but if we don’t have the data to measure that on a year-to-year basis, I don’t see what good pretending that we have the data does us. Three-year rolling average might be a serviceable solution; taking the one-season sample at face value is simplistic in the worst way.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  67. Umm the Jays are pretty close to 3rd actually. And why does this argument only work in one direction? You think the Red Sox wouldn’t have finished in 1st or taken the wildcard WITHOUT a-gon? give me a break

    Comment by Brendan — August 5, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  68. Anon — I believe you’re right. Thanks for the link. UZR isn’t easy to understand. I was trying to equate it to FIP and xFIP in terms of FIP being a good measure of what happened but not at all predictive.

    Comment by chuckb — August 5, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  69. If you are looking for a SS, Yunel Escobar > Asdruabl

    Yunel Escobar quietly putting up the 3 highest WAR total among SS’s, and if you go by DRS, he should have about 6 points higher on his WAR total since UZR does not like him at all.

    Although QUIETLY is the key word.

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  70. What I like to sometimes is take all the various candidates and swap their teams around to see what I would think would happen (not adjusting for park or rifts in the fabric of space-time). Gonzalez on the Blue Jays means they still finish fourth so he can’t be MVP. Pedroia same thing. Ellsbury same thing. Stick Bautista on the Red Sox and they are still probably right where they are so he must not be the MVP. Stick Granderson on the Blue Jays or the Red Sox and they’re both still first and fourth place teams so it must not be him. Gee whiz, its almost like this is isn’t basketball where one player can change a non-contending team into a Champion all by himself…

    Comment by mkd — August 5, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  71. I’ll say it: traditionalist views aren’t necessarily related to age. I’m relatively young — just turned 30 — and although I’ve read extensively on “new school” analytical analysis and am intimitely familiar with how it works, I still tend to lean much more to the “tradionalist” side of things.

    If you really want to get silly with that, “traditional” voters should be going gaga over Curtis Granderson — every single other offensive player on the team has played below expectations; they still could very likely finish in first place; and Granderson’s currently on pace to finish the season with 41 HR, 29 SB, 125 RBI, and 144 R(!). The only “traditional” knock on him is his batting average, although .275 isn’t terrible in a year when everybody’s offense is down, and even that’s somewhat countered by the fact that he plays CF.

    I don’t see him winning, of course, but he’s the ideal traditionalist candidate.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  72. Simplistic in the worst way is exactly what you propose – pretending everyone is average defensively, and that we know nothing at all.

    No one is saying you have to take single season UZR numbers at face value. If you don’t think Pedroia’s been +15, but you do think he’s probably a good defensive second baseman, give him +5 or +7 or whatever you think is reasonable.

    That is far more intellectually honest than “everyone is the same.”

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  73. Trolling, or…. ?

    Well, I’ll bite. Value is not contextual. If three people want to buy something for $20, and each person only has $5, it might seem like the fourth person to enter the group with $5 is more valuable. But if the other three people didn’t have $5, they’d still be in the same spot (with only $15). $5 is still $5.

    By your logic, the value of the money of the first three people in the group is … somehow worth less than $5 each.

    You’re penalizing Bautista for events that are outside of his control. If it were up to Jose Bautista, Toronto would have C.C. Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and a bullpen full of stud relievers. He would also have signed a bunch of great position players to play around him. But he didn’t get to make those choices.

    But yeah, you’re probably right. The fact that he leads the league in OBP by 25 points and in SLG by 75 points should probably be ignored because he doesn’t play for the Red Sox or the Yankees.

    Comment by rogue_actuary — August 5, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  74. I am not a fan of even 3 year UZR samples, doesn’t show that players are able to improve. Joey Bats tends to put up positive DRS, while given a negative UZR. Anyone who has watched Joey Bats knows that his defense isn’t exactly average at RF/3B

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  75. Chone Figgins.

    183 hits, 5 HR, 114 R, 54 RBI, 42 SB, 13.9 BB%, .289 AVG, .395 OBP, 393 SLG, .358 wOBA, 16.2 FLD & 6.9 WAR.

    Oh hang on it’s 2011?

    Comment by Slats — August 5, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  76. I propose using DRS.

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  77. Why not use DRS or rPM for WAR, or maybe give an option of WAR that uses each component since everyone likes different defensive metrics.

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  78. I would’ve agreed with you a month ago. Pedroia’s been hot, Bautista’s been not-as-hot. It’s gotten to be very close.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  79. @ Jim

    That is such a tired, contrived argument.

    So I’ll go with a slightly contrived rebuttal:

    If Gonzalez didn’t sign with Boston, they would have just used the money to sign another excellent player (ex Beltre) and they would have been in basically the exact same spot as they are now.

    Also, the Jays won’t be winning only 70 games and could easily finish in 3rd this year.

    Comment by Noxage — August 5, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  80. “No one is saying you have to take single season UZR numbers at face value”? Maybe “have to” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but isn’t fWAR saying exactly that: you take single season UZR at face value? (I still don’t know why it does that, since every sabermetric analyst on the planet seems to acknowledge at a minimum that one-season or partial-season UZR samples are unreliable.)

    I think there are various reasonable solutions. If you think there are no reliable quantifiable metrics of defensive performance presently available (which some people do), then I guess you watch a lot of tape and do the eyes test. Or maybe you talk to scouts. If you think UZR is potentially reliable in larger sample sizes, you can use a rolling average…maybe weighted towards more recent performance, although you obviously have to be careful with the weight. Or, if you despair of scouts and statistical measures, you can just mentally amend it to the MVP of batting award, and vote that way. I don’t think taking one-season UZR samples as authoritative is a particularly reasonable solution, though.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  81. The monster isn’t even the best wall in it’s stadium, much less the league.

    Comment by Jim — August 5, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  82. Single-season UZR samples aren’t useless. You’re vastly overstating the case against them.

    And, look, we’ve never once advocated for people to make grand decisions based on small differences in WAR. If one guy is +7.0 and the other guy is +6.7, we’re not going to write a post about how Player A is better than Player B. We understand that there’s variance in the metric, and that’s it not perfect, and we’ve been completely up front about that.

    It’s a tool. It has value. It should be part of the conversation. Throwing out any useful information because it’s not perfect is just counterproductive.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  83. Bonds won in 2004 because he hit .362 with 45 HR, .609 OBP and .812 SLG.

    Comment by Feeding the Abscess — August 5, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  84. Pedroia isn’t the MVP candidate you want to look at when talking about the dubious nature of defensive metrics. The one you want to look at is Curtis Granderson, whose monster offensive season is being brought down by nearly a win’s worth of UZR. In fact, the fielding component alone has taken a 14-run downturn from last season for no discernible reason. His fielding metrics have been all over the place his entire career so looking at that doesn’t help matters on its own.

    Disparaging Pedroia’s defense probably isn’t right, as both the stats and the “eye test” have agreed that Pedroia has been an excellent fielder at a premium position for his entire career. How one feels about defensive metrics really comes into play with someone like Granderson. If you think last year’s numbers are more indicative of his fielding ability then suddenly Granderson is pushing right behind Bautista and Pedroia on the WAR leaderboards. Even if you call it a wash and think the truth is somewhere inbetween, that still puts him near-or-above Ellsbury. I think it’s these type of discrepancies Cameron is referring to when talking about how one feels about defensive metrics.

    Comment by Joel — August 5, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  85. I don’t really have a problem with Jim’s argument, and I’d caution others against a rush to judgment.

    I don’t know if this is what Jim intended to be the foundation of his point, but it’s why I think it has merit: there is real, actual value in making the playoffs. Value that includes revenue, increased fan support and interest (which leads to the revenue), and of course, most importantly, a chance to win the World Series, which is what this whole thing is about.

    In other words, to pretend that a player adding 7 wins to an already playoff team (or an on-playoff team) adds the exact same value as a player whose 7 wins makes the difference between playoffs and not-playoffs is to ignore an aspect of value. The guy who makes his team a playoff team is adding real, actual value to his team that the other guys are not.

    Now there are faults to this line of thinking, don’t get me wrong. By this definition, half the players on a team that makes the playoffs by one or two games should be MVP candidates, since they made the difference. I get that. I’m not necessarily saying I’d adopt Jim’s philosophy, but I am arguing that it has merit. We’re looking at the Most Valuable Player, and he’s identified a way in which some players add value that others do not. Before ridiculing, take a time to consider what he’s saying. It’s a different way of thinking, but not necessarily an invalid way of thinking.

    Comment by Go To War Miss Agnes — August 5, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  86. While I understand your points of view, I can tell you that you’re looking at it from a completely incorrect perspective.

    Baseball teams are businesses. Their job is to make money. There are three ways to make money in sports — be very succesful and draw fans in that way (a la the 1990′s Cleveland Indians); have players that, whether they add wins to the team or not, bring people out to the ballparks in droves (see 1998 Mark McGwire or any of the various — usually mediocre — 76ers teams with Allen Iverson); or cut expenses so far you still profit even on mediocre revenues (see: the Pittsburgh Pirates (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=5484947)).

    The last factor is essentially disconnected from player performance, so it’s difficult to base an MVP case around it. An MVP case — and, almost by definition, must — be based on one of the other two factors. Whether it’s a player’s “fault” that their teammates are good or aren’t good is essentially irrelevent; unless you’re adding dollars to your team’s bottom line, you can’t really be considered particularly valuable. Jose Bautista is a great player, but their per-game attendence figures are lower than they were from 2006-2008, and directly in line with 2009-2011, so you can’t say Bautista’s had a huge positive impact on the number of butts in the seats in Toronto. He also hasn’t moved the team’s position in the standings at all, so he hasn’t had a huge positive impact there, either.

    Under any definition of value, Jose Bautista just hasn’t been a particularly “valuable” player this year. In real, economic terms, a 1.0 WAR player who provides the single win that’s the difference between a team making the playoffs and not is much more “valuable” to his franchise than Jose Bautista, since the additional revenue from playing even a single Division Series is greater than the additional revenue added by Jose Bautista. Obviously that 1.0 WAR player isn’t the “most” valuable — somebody else on that team was surely better.

    But you have to look at the “value” component of “most valuable player.” If a player hasn’t changed his team’s position in the standings, and hasn’t added marginal revenue to his team’s coffers, then he’s not particular “valuable,” even if he puts up a 5.000 OPS with 700 home runs in 700 plate appearances as the best defensive shortstop in baseball*.

    * – that particular example is paradoxical, of course, both because such a player would necessarily be almost guaranteed to put extra butts in the seats, and also because once a player passes a certain level of productivity it makes more sense just to walk him every single at bat. Also, his team would of course be unlikely to finish last.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  87. DRS vs. UZR for top 10 WAR leaders

    Bautista: 7 vs. -1.0
    Pedroia: 11 vs. 14.6
    Ellsbury: 12 vs. 7.5
    Zobrist: 11 vs. 9
    Gonzalez: -1 vs. 7.1
    Gordon: 6 vs. 4.6
    Granderson: -12 vs. -8
    Kinsler: 11 vs. 9.8
    Kendrick: 9 vs. 12.4
    Escobar: 8 vs. 2.6

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  88. Oops, my mistake.

    That’s actually impressive then.

    Comment by Garold — August 5, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  89. Right, but its kind of silly to give Bautista a boost for being completely mediocre at a position low down the defensive spectrum.

    Whether or not you think UZR does a good job, Pedroia is absolutely an elite defender, and that has value. I think pretending it doesn’t is worse than just assuming UZR is accurate.

    I just don’t see any reason AGon should be in the discussion. He’s the 3rd best player on his team right now.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  90. Yunel Escobar is top 10 in AL WAR this year too.

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  91. His BABIP is ‘inflated’ mostly because hes hitting in Fenway Park. His Road BABIP is only up about 20 points. His home BABIP is up about 50 points… which is pretty similar to what we saw in Beltre moving from Seattle to Boston.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  92. Then, by your argument, each of the Red Sox MVP candidates would be eliminated from the discussion because, marginally, any one of them could probably be replaced by a replacement-level player and it wouldn’t change the income stream to the Red Sox at all.

    Once you start talking about the marginal value of wins, and attempting to attribute that “value” to specific players, I think you’re taking a long walk from the point. While we can look at an upcoming season to estimate WAR and possibly figure out how much an event is “worth” to a team, it becomes difficult to attribute actual net value to player performances in season. Derek Jeter has not been good. Derek Jeter plays for the Yankees. Does that make Derek Jeter good this year?

    How much credit to a current year MVP race do you give to once recent championship and four that happened a long time ago? How much credit does Adrian Gonzalez get for simply switching teams? He becomes inherently more valuable when playing for the Red Sox?

    I don’t think you have the slightest idea what you’re writing about.

    Comment by rogue_actuary — August 5, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  93. Boy, that Escobar trade just keeps getting better!

    Comment by Navin Vaswani — August 5, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  94. Not at all, I’m playing my character. Character aside, Gonzalez gets my vote.

    Comment by Scott Kazmir's Talent — August 5, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  95. It’s not giving Bautista a boost. He’s first no matter whether you include UZR, exclude it, or regress it. I was just correcting Todd’s post, which pointed out that Pedroia’s WAR isn’t dependent on a high UZR. He’s top 3 no matter how you slice it.

    AGon is in the discussion because he’s got the traditional resume. He’s going to finish 1st in AVG and RBI’s, and maybe 2nd or 3rd in OPS.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  96. BABIP
    2011
    H:.444
    A:.353

    2010
    H:.316
    A:.328

    So, a .025 increase in his away BABIP, and a .128 increase in his home BABIP. There’s probably some luck in there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his BABIP going forward is .375+ in Fenway. He’s perfect for the park.

    As to his walk numbers, its kind of silly to think that BABIP and k%/BB% are unrelated. When guys are seeing the ball well, and swinging well, they walk less and strikeout less, as well as hit more line drives. Its tough to walk a lot when you killing the ball.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  97. Just realized 4 of the top 7 there are Red Sox. Crazy.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  98. Rogue Actuary, I know exactly what I’m talking about. There are other interpretations from mine — I’d never argue that my analysis is the only possible correct one, in any conversation under any circumstances — but it’s a factor that has to be considered. Your statement that “[o]nce you start talking about the marginal value of wins, and attempting to attribute that ‘value’ to specific players, I think you’re taking a long walk from the point” is kind of the crux of the matter. That’s not “a long walk from the point”; when talking about Most Valuable Players, that’s pretty much the _only_ point.

    When you’re analyzing a particular player just for the sake of analyzing him, it’s fine to look at his performance ceterus parabus. But when you’re analyzing a player in terms of looking at who’s the most valuable player in the league, you have to look at each team’s marginal value of wins to determine who’s actually contributed value.

    To answer your questions: Derek Jeter hasn’t been good this year, and he hasn’t been particularly valuable. If he’d missed the entire season and the Yankees had had to play somebody else at shortstop, their outcomes wouldn’t have changed much. And a 7.0 WAR player on the Rangers is still more valuable than a 4.0 WAR player on the Rangers. But a 4.0 WAR player on the Rangers absolutely can be more valuable than a 7.0 WAR player on the Blue Jays — the former made the difference between his team making the playoffs and not; the latter didn’t.

    Adrian Gonzalez absolutely became inherently more valuable once he moved from the Padres to the Red Sox. Somebody saying he didn’t is willfully ignoring the entire concept of economics.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  99. And Boston is still a playoff team without one of Gonzalez, Pedroia, or Ellsbury.

    Comment by Kirkwood — August 5, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  100. The best player has the most value, to any team. Therefore the player with the most value should be elected the Most Valuable Player.

    Comment by topper009 — August 5, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  101. * – that particular example is paradoxical, of course, both because such a player would necessarily be almost guaranteed to put extra butts in the seats, and also because once a player passes a certain level of productivity it makes more sense just to walk him every single at bat. Also, his team would of course be unlikely to finish last.

    ** – Except in Tampa Bay

    Comment by SC2GG — August 5, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  102. Navin – Yunel Escobar has already earned his entire contract for the next 4 yrs. Basically, everything from this point forwards is free for the Jays, he could go into Operation Shutdown right now and it’d still be a deal.

    Comment by SC2GG — August 5, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  103. JimNYC wrote: “Under any definition of value, Jose Bautista just hasn’t been a particularly ‘valuable’ player this year”

    Well, that’s simply wrong. Bautista has value in at least two significant ways: One, he sends a signal to the fans that the team cares about being competitive – soon, if not right now. And two, he’s a star-player around whom the team can market itself. (And doing a much better job than Vernon Wells was in the same role.)

    I’ll forgive your unfamiliarity with the marketing-machine that is The Toronto Bautistas, but his face is on every promotional piece the team puts out, he’s all over the newspapers, (and unarguably our favorite athlete – this, in a hockey town) and his shirt is on the back of every third fan at the stadium. (With, admittedly, Arencibia’s shirt on the back of every second female fan.) THAT has value.

    Comment by Neil S — August 5, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  104. Alex Rios likes your thinking.

    Comment by SC2GG — August 5, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  105. So, Jim, you are arguing that the MVP is the player who makes the most money for the team. By that reasoning, there were nearly 25 MVP’s in the NL last year, all playing for the Giants, as the Giants would probably not have made the playoffs, let alone won the world series without any given one of them.
    So, does the MVP go to whichever one of them made the least money?
    Somehow, I don’t think this was what the MVP award was created for, nor what anyone but you wants it to be.

    Comment by GiantHusker — August 5, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  106. Neil S., you’re absolutely right; that does have value. Having a marketing facoe for the franchise is obviously a huge thing, and I apologize for my unfamiliarity with the Toronto sports market. I was going mostly on attendance numbers.

    Also, for what it’s worth: My personal vote for MVP this season would be Justin Verlander.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  107. UZR isn’t as good as we would like it to be, therefore defense doesn’t matter.
    Is that what you’re saying?

    Comment by GiantHusker — August 5, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  108. “The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.”

    I don’t see anything in there about economics….

    Comment by Calm Like A Bomb — August 5, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  109. Giant Husker — the M.V.P. is a regular season award; award voting is done before the season starts. And if you think I’m the only person who feels that way, take a look through the history of MVP voting and look at how many players on playoff teams or teams contending for the playoffs won when there were objectively “better” players that year. The only thing I’m trying to say is that those voters weren’t necessarily wrong.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  110. Gordon for MVP! Beats the crap out of the ball and plays great defense.

    Comment by Juancho — August 5, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  111. Dave, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a highly split vote. A lot of the “old school” voters think “best player on (one of) the best team(s)” as a primary criterion in voting, not just “most RBI” (though of course “most RBI” is one of the indicia of “best player” to this group). With so much disagreement among the MSM on who the best player actually is in Boston, and with traditionalists being unlikely to rank Boston’s big 3 1-2-3 in voting, don’t be surprised to see all three of Pedroia, Ellsbury and Gonzalez lag a bit in the voting. I think Bautista will both deserve and actually win the award this year, with Curtis Granderson as a dark horse candidate.

    Comment by mcbrown — August 5, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  112. I love Strat-0-Matic, a fun game that can duplicate statistics fairly accurately.
    It is faily easy to set up a team, add and subtract players and see what impact they have on the outcome. (you can play a season in 3-4 mins) My point is certain players will make a difference, which is exactly what the WAR statistic measures. Even though Bautista plays on an overall weaker team, he should get consideration based on the impact he has on his team. Same for Gonzalez or any other player. The beggest impact = the most valuable player. Simple.

    Comment by Hurtlocker — August 5, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  113. But no one’s going to vote for Escobar over Bautista. There will be plenty of writers who vote for Gonzalez over Pedroia, and vice-versa.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  114. Yeah, his BABIP is undoubtedly inflated. But in addition to the park factor, I agree that you should consider his much lower walk rate this year (this year is 8.7%, 2010 was 13.4 %, 2009 was 17.5 %). I think that if you slashed his BABIP, he’d make up for a lot of it with an increased BB rate.

    But anyway, I don’t think he should be punished in MVP voting for the high BABIP. It’s a predictive issue.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  115. It is possible that DEFENSE actually fluctuates that much(and not the metrics), just like offense does.

    Ellsbury had a real bad year according to UZR a couple years back, and that whole year we talked about how he was playing too far forward, and kept getting balls hit over his head. Next year (he gets hurt, but the next) he’s playing a little further back, and his UZR/150 goes back to +10.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  116. I think it’s more likely that Bautista keeps up his pace than Ellsbury keeps up his pace.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  117. @Jim

    what is a better MVP season:

    A) Jose Bautista hitting 55HR, 120RBI, and a .325BA with 10WAR on a rebuilding Jays team that finished 14 games out of a playoff spot and averages 20,000 fans

    OR

    B) Jose Bautista hitting 40HR, 100RBI, .299BA with a 6WAR on a Jays team that competes all year for a playoff spot and finishes with a Wild Card spot and averages 22,000 fans?

    I believe it is scenario A

    Comment by csawce — August 5, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  118. Justin Verlander is the most valuable player in the AL this year. He should win the MVP and Cy Young. Nothing against AGon and Bautista but Verlander is that much better this year.

    Comment by bourne — August 5, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  119. You’re playing your character? This isn’t Dungeons and Dragons.

    Comment by bc — August 5, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  120. Are you also “playing a character”?

    Comment by bc — August 5, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  121. I think JimNYC is actually arguing that Jay-Z is AL MVP for making Yankees caps really popular.

    Comment by Peter Gentleman — August 5, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  122. Nope, no one has said anything of the kind. Neat strawman, though. It’s hilarious that you’re equating one extremely fallible means of estimating defensive performance with the entire concept of valuing defense.

    Comment by Anon21 — August 5, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  123. CSAWCE — it’d be Scenario B, to be perfectly honest.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  124. Sorry, let me restate that. A younger person with an old school view WITHOUT a bias to any particular team or player.

    Comment by theformat — August 5, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  125. Bautista has an on-base percentage 100 points better than Granderson and a slugging percentage 90 points better than Granderson. Even most traditionalists can wrap their heads around these two ‘very advanced’ metrics, and Bautista’s essentially scream his case. It’s pretty difficult to look at an OPS value that is greater than 1.100, accumulated over 100 games of a season, and make any case to say that player is not the MVP.

    Comment by WinzAbove — August 5, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  126. Yeah, but apart from education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

    Comment by Reg of the PFJ — August 5, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  127. It’s more of an identity. The Bourne Identity.

    Comment by Jason B — August 5, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  128. The thing is, defense matters. A good defender at an up-the-middle position has a ton of value (and the positional adjustments probably understate their value). If it wasn’t the case, we’d have 1st-baseman-type players playing everywhere. Pujols would still be playing short.

    Its entirely possible that a .900 OPS Middle Infielder contributes more to winning than an 1.100 OPS corner outfielder.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  129. Actually, you’re kind of unintentionally making the argument for Player WAR/Total Team WAR. I say that because most teams value wins; owner’s value added revenue.

    In that case, Bautista trumps Boston, as they have a lot of players adding a lot of value, and Toronto has 1 superstar.

    Comment by PiratesBreak500 — August 5, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  130. heh heh. He said “leaked”.

    Comment by MBD — August 5, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  131. @Jim

    You are not doing well here.

    Comment by Hanzel — August 5, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  132. It’s not strictly a “predictive” issue, but also a skill issue. When you have an inflated BABIP, it’s often due to luck, not skill. Why should you be rewarded for outcomes you (probably) couldn’t influence?

    Comment by AndyS — August 5, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  133. Explain how “AGon>” gets 19 votes against and “Bautista” gets 12 votes for. Maybe I misunderstand the purpose of rating comments.

    Comment by Oliver — August 5, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  134. Bautista has been a plus defender though in RF, UZR doesn’t show it, but every other metric does, And Granderson has been a well below average defender. Not to mention Bautista has been a terrific defender at 3rd since being moved pre-Lawrie call up

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 5, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  135. Another comment that may or may not be correct but doesn’t deserve being hidden.

    Comment by Oliver — August 5, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  136. So thankful you don’t vote on the MVP! You seriously sound like someone who needs something to do.

    Oh, and good luck making the argument Verlander is even the MVP of his team! You sure it’s not CC MR. NYC?

    Here’s the problem with the argument you make. I will use WAR just to shorten the argument, but I don’t actually believe in voting on WAR values. A team on the verge of the playoffs likely has a few 4-6 WAR players. How do you choose 1 from this group when a team just below in the standings has a stud at 7+ WAR. You are inherently creating competition between people who don’t deserve the award, thus people who vote on principals that make sense still get to have their guy win. I’m just sayin’.

    Comment by SKob — August 5, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  137. Not just 4 of 7 Red Sox, but 3 of 7 home grown Red Sox! Yeah boys!

    Comment by SKob — August 5, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  138. I don’t have a bias towards Granderson — as I said elsewhere, my MVP vote this year would go to Justin Verlander.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  139. I am not claiming that Bautista shouldn’t be the MVP (I think he should be). I am discussing how I think voters will vote, and I think a decent number of them will vote for Granderson.

    Comment by mcbrown — August 5, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  140. Hanzel — sorry, but other than a few typos, there’s nothing I’ve said here that’s been wrong in the slightest. Choose to agree with it or not, nobody’s really come up with any arguments why I’m objectively wrong.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 5, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  141. Also, of all the individual points in my post, I’m not sure why you would hone in on the Granderson bit, particularly since I explicitly wrote that I believe Bautista “will both deserve and actually win the award this year”. My point was that the 3 Red Sox players might not do as well in the voting as many of us thought a month or so ago (allowing Granderson to sneak into 2nd), when it looked like the storyline was going to be “Gonzalez vs. Bautista / Old-school vs. SABR”, and the vote may be quite fragmented.

    Comment by mcbrown — August 5, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

  142. Newsflash: Sabathia is going to lead the league in wins and pitch 250 innings, finish 6th in the voting. Not that he deserves to be that high.

    Comment by J — August 5, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  143. “nobody’s really come up with any arguments why I’m objectively wrong”

    Actually, I would say that’s exactly what the numerous posters here have been doing. The I’m right because I don’t like the other arguments defense is pretty weak.

    -43

    Comment by Hanzel — August 5, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  144. If his WAR and traditional stats continue to trend towards the better like they have been the past three months, he very well may deserve that 6th place finish.

    Comment by Joel — August 5, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  145. I wasn’t really talkig about Granderson, more Pedroia, and the insistance that we should just be looking at OPS.

    Comment by RC — August 5, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  146. You are the fucking nut low. How do you write this shit and ignore BZA?

    Writing has never been your strong suit so whatev.

    Comment by Garrett — August 5, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  147. Just to be remembered for something? Come on! He scored the winning run in Game 7 of the World Series. He’s already going to be remembered for that.

    Oh. Right. Marlins. … Yeah you’re right.

    Comment by Grebe — August 5, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

  148. because agone isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team or even in his division, let alone the entire league.

    Comment by jim — August 5, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

  149. you are bringing a bad name to jims everywhere

    Comment by jim — August 5, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  150. The defensive numbers for Youkilis are at first base, so likely not indicative of his value this year

    Comment by Steve — August 5, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  151. Fangraphs users just took a dump on “Jim NYC”

    Comment by Shaun Catron — August 5, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  152. Just wait til 2012… comeback player of the year and MVP!

    Comment by joe — August 5, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  153. fWAR, yes, pedroia was second; rWAR, he was tied for 8th among position players.

    Comment by jim — August 5, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  154. Bautista isn’t a bad defender.

    Comment by André — August 5, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  155. yeah, i bet miggy gets some votes- he’s the pujols of the american league (they even both play in the central – whoa…)

    and verlander is definitely pitcher-MVP

    Comment by jim — August 5, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  156. you want to talk about issues with UZR, look no further than granderson…

    Comment by jim — August 5, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  157. Ignore everyone’s UZR and Pedroia ranks second in WAR. What possible knowledge could you gain by only ignoring his UZR and still giving Zobrist and Ellsbury credit for theirs?

    Comment by Jake R. — August 5, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  158. He’s awful at 3B (which is where he’s been playing). He’s fine in RF.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  159. I can’t figure out anywhere that it’s listed, but I have no doubt that Gonzalez has driven in Pedroia more than he’s driven in Ellsbury.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 5, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

  160. “It’s not strictly a “predictive” issue, but also a skill issue. When you have an inflated BABIP, it’s often due to luck, not skill. Why should you be rewarded for outcomes you (probably) couldn’t influence?”

    Because it’s assumed that a high BABIP is due to luck, but you can’t guarantee it. Sure, regression analysis would show that he’s unlukely to repeat or continue that, but there’s no way to accurately say he WON’T. That’d be like punishing someone for having a career high HR/FB rate…should we not reward that, even though it’s doubtful the player would ever do it again (like Bautista last year, though he is doing it again).

    Comment by Matt — August 5, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

  161. http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=2140&position=OF

    Delmon Young has +3.9 UZR so far this year. Throw that monkey wrench into fielding debates!!

    I’d snap pick Bautista as he is the best player in the AL quite handily (at this moment anyways). I’d accept Pedroia or Tacoby Bellsbury. AGone is a bad pick. Verlander guy is straight trollin’.

    Comment by MNzach — August 5, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

  162. Because people don’t seem to have an issue with Ellsbury or Zobrist’s UZR, only Pedroia. I guess it would make more sense to make Pedroia +5 or whatever would put him on pace for his career UZR/150

    Comment by Jon Heyman — August 5, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  163. Quite frankly, both players are having fantastic seasons and either one deserves it. It’s certainly between AGonz and Bautista.

    Comment by HBCruiser — August 5, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

  164. If it makes you feel better Oliver, Adam Dunn is +29

    Comment by glen — August 5, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  165. Disagree. The only possible way you could justify AGone is if you don’t believe in positional adjustments (stupid) and you do believe in the almighty power of the RBI (stupid).

    Comment by MNzach — August 5, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  166. I think that Jim’s argument might have some merit if we had a better statistic than WAR to determine it. If we took the WPA of every players offense, defense, and base running, THEN looked at the games these events occurred in and how much they helped get the team into the playoffs, we might have an interesting stat to settle this debate. While I would not necessarily want to use that stat to decide the MVP, it would be interesting to look at.

    That said, Penalizing the best player in baseball for playing for a bad team is a really unfair thing to do.

    Comment by williams .482 — August 5, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  167. @Heyman: Does ANYONE really think Pedroia is anything but an incredible defensive 2B?

    Comment by williams .482 — August 5, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  168. Why do people have such a hard time believing that defence can take a 14 run swing in one year but have no problem accepting a 30 run swing in offence in a single year?

    Comment by Kogoruhn — August 5, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

  169. Granderson’s offensive marks have been all over the place for his entire career as well. Do you question their validity?

    Comment by Kogoruhn — August 5, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  170. @Kogo

    Simple, because offense is much more easily quantified and swings can be more easily explained.

    +3.9 for Delmon Young is as wrong is UZR gets as he is one of the worst defenders I have had the displeasure of watching. Try explaining that swing as he looks as awful as ever to the naked eye.

    That being said, I believe in fielding metrics, I just don’t weight them as highly.

    Comment by MNzach — August 5, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  171. You can’t take UZR at face value. It’s doesn’t have hang time on balls in play nor velocity of ground balls fielded, and therefore we can be sure that some pairs of balls that are recorded as the same are not in fact equal.

    Comment by philosofool — August 5, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  172. BZA has been very valuable this season, but he doesn’t figure into the article because he has zero chance of actually finishing anywhere near the top of this year’s AL MVP voting. He had 8.6 WAR in 2009 and the highest he was on anyone’s MVP ballot was one 6th place vote. It’s no small feet being the second best 2B in the AL East, but he’ll be lucky to crack the top 10 in the voting.

    Comment by DavidB — August 5, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  173. No… if yu have any background on the rates at which offensive stats stabilize vs defensive stats.

    Nice use of the strawman…. by that logic we should toss out Agon’s BABIp fueled #’s

    Comment by joe — August 6, 2011 @ 12:31 am

  174. The issue is not the possibility of a 14 run swing but the ability to measure it accurately. Is Agon, a career 1.6 UZR/150 defender coming into this year with a high somewhere around 6, really now on pace to save 11-12 runs this year?

    The knobs are just not fine enough for a 1 year sample size (zone size, lack of consideration of the starting position, classifications of batted ball speed, speed of runner, subjectivity and error in the ArmR ErrR and DPR components and of course input bias)

    Take a look at Carl Crawfords home road LF splits over 6 years at the Trop and away from it… you think that’s he’s really playing that much worse on the road?

    Comment by joe — August 6, 2011 @ 12:48 am

  175. People do not watch baseball if they thumbs down AGon

    Comment by Bernard Arnault — August 6, 2011 @ 4:57 am

  176. Combine Rios, Dunn & Pierre and those three White Sox have a WAR of -3.4.

    That’s impressive.

    Comment by Slats — August 6, 2011 @ 5:44 am

  177. Perhaps the MVP should go to the player with the most WAR on the last team into the playoffs—after all, “his” marginal value to push his team over the hump is greater than every other player’s value. (Yes, this is sarcasm; I realize it’s difficult to distinguish tone.)

    Comment by Nathan — August 6, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  178. “Most Valuable to his Team”

    statistically speaking, wouldn’t the “correct” answer to this question be some sort of “WAR%”.

    i.e. the player who makes up the greatest amount of his team’s WAR is statistically the Most Valuable to his Team?

    Comment by everdiso — August 6, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  179. Even taking Jim’s argument seriously, the only reason they could finish 4th without him is that the Orioles are awful.

    Comment by DCN — August 6, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  180. Even on fangraphs, we cannot have this debate.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — August 6, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  181. Also, forgetting stats, I think the eyeball test is that the Red Sox have the best team of players, the Blue Jays have the best player. Watch a lot of Sox games and a lot of Jays games, and the impression you come away with is “wow that’s a hell of a team” and “that Bautista guy is really carrying this team,” respectively.

    That’s the subjective argument. From the statistical side:

    Gonzalez’s WPA is at 3.03, and Bautista’s is at 6.15. That’s not even close. So if you’re going to say whose production matters more to his team this year (at least in terms of hitting, which is the main thing these guys are doing), I think the answer is clear. The offense Bautista generated had more effect on his team’s chances of winning.

    Bautista has an advantage of 1.8 WAR despite 52 fewer PA. Part of this is due to him playing 8 fewer games, but part of it is that Gonzalez’s team gets him to the plate more often. Meanwhile, Bautista has gotten his teammates to the plate more often. Both batters have 201 hits plus walks, despite the PA disparity. So if you’re going to compare how much the lineup helps the hitter versus how much the hitter helps the lineup, Bautista wins again. And that’s not even factoring in the superior lineup protection Gonzalez has.

    Playing the devil’s advocate, the weak Jays lineup does probably help Jose get some walks. But then again, that makes it more impressive that he has Gonzo beat by 15 homers, even seeing (theoretically) fewer good pitches.

    Comment by DCN — August 6, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  182. I would say no, simply because in this case % makes no sense. The same argument against RBIs applies here with “Why should a player be more rewarded for having worse teammates?”. I think that total WAR, with some research and combination of defensive metrics, should be the only backing for the MVP debate.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — August 6, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  183. Exactly, it’s not the belief that defense has tremendous value, at some positions, but the ability to quantify it is in question. It’s not easy to justify when practically every sabermetrics site has a different way to do this.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — August 6, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  184. I don’t disagree.

    But if we’re arguing between two different definitions of MVP – i.e. the argument between “Best Player” and “Most Valuable to His Team” – then it seems to me that the statistical definition for the former would be straight up WAR, but that the statistical definition for the latter would be WAR%.

    And if a player falls behind another player in BOTH categories, then it would be pretty damn hard to argue that he fits ANY definition of “MVP”.

    Comment by everdiso — August 6, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  185. Heh heh you said “pairs of balls”

    Comment by DCN — August 6, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  186. @ williams:

    Yankees fans.

    Comment by Sam — August 6, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

  187. Positional scarcity. I was unaware of any other elite 2B/OFers in baseball. And unlike Pedroia his is not having an outlier defensive season. He’s played at an elite level all across his career.

    If there is any discussion of “should” and you include inferior players (Assdribble?), wtf is wrong with you.

    Comment by Garrett — August 6, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  188. weird I’m watching the bourne identity right now

    Comment by James — August 6, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  189. Taking into account he’s a class act and The Captain, I’d go with him too!

    Comment by Pretentious Polyester Poodle — August 6, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  190. It’s interesting that every year we get these “oh no. The BBWAA is going to pick the wrong guy” stories, and then they go and pick the right guy. Don’t know what to make of this other than that the BBWAA is not nearly as stupid as FanGraphs et al would have us believe.

    As it stands, Adrian Gonzalez will not win the MVP. He’s not the AL’s top hitter, and he’s not the best player on a playoff team. And the people with votes understand this just as well as the people who don’t. And they’re not just going to throw up their hands and give it to the guy with the most RBIs like they did in 1979 or whenever.

    Comment by Pierre — August 6, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  191. To the point about Granderson, every advanced defensive metric has him rated as an awful defender, try again

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 6, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  192. Single season UZR sucks:

    Michael Bourn -6
    Carlos Lee +9

    Comment by Matt brown — August 6, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

  193. Listed at the top of b-ref Game Logs, and Gonzalez has driven in Ellsbury 30 times and Pedroia 17.

    Comment by Eric M. Van — August 7, 2011 @ 1:14 am

  194. @Yirmiyahu

    Not as crazy as the fact that 2 of the top 9 (why 9?) are from the Blue Jays – a fourth place team in the AL East.

    It really says something about the competitive balance of baseball that only 1 player from this list (Alex Gordon) doesn’t play for an AL East team.

    4 Red Sox
    2 Jays
    1 Ray
    1 Yankee
    1 Royal

    Comment by Momus — August 7, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  195. It’d be nearly impossible to determine an individual players ROI. Too many factors. But by your standards I suppose jersey sales, advertising revenue and ticket sales should be the new triple crown.

    Even in a ROI context, I’m sure a team like the Jays with few other stars gets proportionately more of it’s money from Bautista than a star loaded team like the Sox would from AGon. Bautista is more valuable to his team by far than AGon would be his. In other words, take Bautista off the Jays and AGon off the Sox, who loses a larger portion of it’s revenue?

    While we must accept baseball’s economics, to boil down an MVP argument to anything other than what occurs on the field is a path Im not willing to go down. Superior performance should be the only factor for a sports award not marketability.

    We may as well award the World Series to the team with the highest revenue every year instead of only doing that most of the time.

    Comment by fothead — August 7, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  196. Your opinion doesn’t deserve -9 (-8) thumbs down. Verlander has been vital for Detroit, extremely valuable.

    Comment by Sultan of Schwwingg — August 7, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  197. Exercise in Futility: Using fWAR, how much better the top player is than the average of the top 10 players at his position.

    2nd number is how much better they are than their position’s next best player.

    Dustin Pedroia…..46.93%…..16.42%
    Brian McCann…..39.81%…..8.33%
    Jose Bautista (COF) …..39.13%…..21.74%
    Ben Zobrist…..36.51%
    Jose Reyes …..36.11%…..0.00%
    Troy Tulowitzki…..36.11%
    Alex Avila…..34.34%
    Adrian Gonzalez…..32.69%…..7.69%
    Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) …..31.85%…..10.00%
    Adrian Beltre…..30.20%…..2.56%

    Not a part of any AL/NL MVP debate, but it does show how impressive a year the listed players are having.

    Comment by Sultan of Schwwingg — August 7, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  198. Top 5 players at his position…

    Dustin Pedroia…..32.09%…..16.42%
    Jose Bautista…..26.09%…..21.74%
    Brian McCann…..22.22%…..8.33%
    Adrian Gonzalez…..22.12%…..7.69%
    Jose Reyes…..21.43%…..0.00%
    Troy Tulowitzki…..21.43%
    Ben Zobrist…..18.75%
    Adrian Beltre…..16.67%…..2.56%
    Joey Votto…..15.63%
    Alex Avila…..15.15%
    Kevin Youkilis…..14.47%
    Jacoby Ellsbury…..13.75% 10.00%

    Comment by Sultan of Schwwingg — August 7, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  199. Kipnis

    Comment by Marco — August 7, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  200. Why do you think a player wouldn’t see big splits home/away with defense, when we see exactly that in offense?

    Comment by RC — August 7, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  201. why is the WAR category clearly voting for Bautista? at this point, he is only 0.2 WAR ahead of pedroia and bautista has gotten worse each month this season while pedroia has gotten better

    Comment by miffleball — August 7, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  202. Why take out fielding? Aren’t you supposed to pick MVP based on who is most valuable THAT YEAR? You might as well just look at career hitting numbers too. If someone is having a particularly good season defensively, you should factor that in, not take it away from them

    Comment by Sully13 — August 7, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  203. After listening to your arguments JIM_NYC, I am sold – Jose Bautista is MVP. I am following what you’re saying, but I don’t think that is the right approach to picking an MVP – see CalmlikeaBomb’s comment

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  204. so it really should be Bautista vs Pedroia?

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  205. @Heyman Are you the real deal? How do read this site and yet post so much nonsense?

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  206. @Navin Loved that Escobar trade, glad he had problems with Bobby Cox

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  207. wow, Alex Gordon, that is beautiful to finally see this season

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  208. wow, I wish I could give 2 thumbs up for that comment Telo, well done!

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  209. Has happened to the Mets multiple times – how else do you explain Ryan Howard’s MVP?

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  210. plus, he has an edge!

    Comment by astromets — August 7, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  211. becuase if you state the obvious (i.e. the MVP is between Pedroia and Bautista), you can’t haul out the “watch the ingorami vote for Gonzalez” pinata. Same as when Mauer, Pedroia, Grienke, and Felix were going to get robbed by the BBWAA but then weren’t.

    Comment by Pierre — August 7, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

  212. I think there was a post saying that in 2010 Andrew McCutchen had more than 100% of his team’s WAR. Not the rest of the team besides him, but the rest of the team *including* him. (i.e. the rest of the team added up to negative WAR).

    Comment by jrogers — August 8, 2011 @ 2:14 am

  213. or jimmy rollins’ mouth stealing david wright’s mvp

    Comment by Anon — August 8, 2011 @ 2:25 am

  214. I was thinking of starting a pun thread, but then realized this isn’t a meme circlejerk site like reddit.

    Comment by Anon — August 8, 2011 @ 2:32 am

  215. Because guys don’t go through slumps in which they forget how to run and catch, probably?

    You guys really need to stop worshiping UZR. It’s pretty awful, MGL’s snarky, egomaniacal rants about people not understanding it notwithstanding.

    Comment by Anon — August 8, 2011 @ 2:36 am

  216. Most valuable in my mind is clear cut value. Not to the team you play for, but value in general.

    As someone said above and I’ll explain in a different way– If I give my $100 to my grandson instead of a charity, does that make my $100 less valuable?

    No. Value is value.

    In traditionalists’ minds and by their logic they are in essence denying the definition of value: “relative worth, utility, or importance”

    Maybe not as much denying, but trying to contextualize a word. “Most Valuable Player”. Or “Player of Most Relative Worth, Utility, or Importance”

    In what way, shape, or form does “value” or “most relative worth, utility, or importance” decrease because of what you cannot control?

    The worst part about all of this, is that the traditionalists don’t stick with their own argument. Just of recent, look at Ryan Howard. Phillies won 85 games in 2006 and finished in 2nd place.

    Despite that the Cardinals only won 83 games, Albert Pujols was right there, if not better than Howard outside of HR’s that year, and the Cardinals made the playoffs.

    Just simply will never understand the argument that “value” is more on a winning team than a losing one– in a 25 man roster sport with 9 players on the field at a time.

    There might be less of an argument if the Blue Jays weren’t in the AL East, and the player people are arguing for is on a team with 2 other MVP candidates and one of the best hitting parks suited for him.

    To bring it up quickly, it was the same thing and has been in basketball. The Miami Heat were without a doubt the best team in the NBA in 2010/2011. But because LeBron James, the best player in basketball, is on a team with two other “superstars” he’s penalized because he can’t put up the statistics that Derick Rose does on a team where no one is near his caliber.

    It’s actually funny, because that is almost the opposite thinking of baseball. Because Adrian Gonzalez is on [close to] the best team in baseball, with two other players right near his caliber. Yet, he gets the opposite of penalized– because he can put up the numbers.

    The point of that quick NBA bit was to show that the “MVP” arguments across all sports are just ridiculous. Just change the award to “Best Player” and leave it at that.

    The only reason there’s any argument is because “Most Valuable Player” is able to be thought of in several different ways because there’s no set context. With “Best Player”, there’d never be an argument.

    Comment by YourSFGiants — August 8, 2011 @ 6:14 am

  217. Okay, use three years. Oh look, Pedroia is still awesome. The whole UZR thing is a red herring.

    Comment by Jon Heyman — August 8, 2011 @ 7:11 am

  218. http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_2006.shtml#ALmvp

    Also, Gonzalez is going to win.

    Comment by Jon Heyman — August 8, 2011 @ 7:16 am

  219. Unlike Pedroia?

    Pedroia has been a career +10/150 defensive guy at 2B his whole career and is only 26. He’s still young enough that improvement shouldn’t be all that surprising.

    Also, watching Pedroia, he DOES look rangier this year, and people were remarking that before UZR was showing it. Is he a +20 defender? Probably not. Is he a +15? Likely.

    Comment by RC — August 8, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  220. “Because guys don’t go through slumps in which they forget how to run and catch, probably? ”

    Because you don’t go through slumps in which you forget how to swing a bat?

    No, guys don’t forget how to catch, but guys most certainly do change their positioning, have vision changes, lose and gain speed based on minor injuries that never get reported, cover different ranges, etc. How quickly a player picks up the ball, and makes his first reaction is a huge part of defense, and that’ll change drastically just based on how much sleep the guy got the night before.

    Comment by RC — August 8, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  221. “With “Best Player”, there’d never be an argument.”

    Sure there would. At this point, Pedroia and Bautista have both been really fricken good, but as far as who is best, there’s no real clear decision. WAR isn’t precise enough.

    Comment by RC — August 8, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  222. Only -59?
    I topped -140 last time there was a debate here!

    Comment by AdamM — August 8, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  223. I just thought it was funny when Jim said that AGon was “inherently more valuable” once he switched from the Padres to the Red Sox.

    Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic in any context; intrinsic.

    It’s tough to have arguments with people who do not use words correctly.

    Comment by Nick44 — August 8, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  224. I was just checking in to see if you guys have settled the issue yet?

    Nope.

    Okay, see you again next August.

    *grin*

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 8, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  225. his BABIP is likely also “inflated” because there are way more runners on base ahead of him this year….and particularly way more runners on 1B trying to steal bases, forcing the 1B out of defensive position.

    Comment by everdiso — August 8, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  226. Miggy is not the Pujols of the AL. Even if you ignore hitting differences Pujols is much better defensively than Miggy.

    Comment by Derek — August 8, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  227. Bautista is a +20.4 defender at 3B this year, for the record.

    now tell me that that’s too small a sample size…..

    Comment by everdiso — August 8, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  228. He plays the game the right way.

    Comment by SC2GG — August 8, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  229. @Yirmiyahu

    First, I am a Sox fan.

    At first I thought the same thing as you, but the more I think about it. Jacoby is still going to get pitches to hit with Pedroia and AGon after him. Also I don’t think Bautista is going to get too many more pitches to hit.

    Comment by Derek — August 8, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  230. Yes, but the argument would be about who’s the best player not over the context for why a player is the “Most Valuable”

    You can only interpret “Best Player” one way.

    Comment by YourSFGiants — August 8, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  231. Considering the below:

    Todd says:
    August 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I love how the “UZR volatility” people only seem to have an issue with Pedroia’s UZR. How do we know Bautista isn’t really a -10? Because his UZR looks reasonable, we assume it’s more accurate. That’s ridiculous.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Reply

    Anon21 says:
    August 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The simple solution is just to disregard unreliable defensive metrics entirely, and focus on offensive WAR with appropriate positional adjustments.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Reply
    Jon Heyman says:
    August 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I agree, that is a simple solution. Very, very simple.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Dave Cameron says:
    August 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Yes, because “everyone is an average defender” is clearly closer to the truth. People’s reactions to defensive metrics are a classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.
    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1
    Anon21 says:
    August 5, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Mock all you like. Defense is obviously an important component of any non-DH player’s value, but if we don’t have the data to measure that on a year-to-year basis, I don’t see what good pretending that we have the data does us. Three-year rolling average might be a serviceable solution; taking the one-season sample at face value is simplistic in the worst way.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Dave Cameron says:
    August 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Simplistic in the worst way is exactly what you propose – pretending everyone is average defensively, and that we know nothing at all.

    No one is saying you have to take single season UZR numbers at face value. If you don’t think Pedroia’s been +15, but you do think he’s probably a good defensive second baseman, give him +5 or +7 or whatever you think is reasonable.

    That is far more intellectually honest than “everyone is the same.”
    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1
    ddriver80 says:
    August 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I am not a fan of even 3 year UZR samples, doesn’t show that players are able to improve. Joey Bats tends to put up positive DRS, while given a negative UZR. Anyone who has watched Joey Bats knows that his defense isn’t exactly average at RF/3B
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    ddriver80 says:
    August 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I propose using DRS.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Anon21 says:
    August 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    “No one is saying you have to take single season UZR numbers at face value”? Maybe “have to” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but isn’t fWAR saying exactly that: you take single season UZR at face value? (I still don’t know why it does that, since every sabermetric analyst on the planet seems to acknowledge at a minimum that one-season or partial-season UZR samples are unreliable.)

    I think there are various reasonable solutions. If you think there are no reliable quantifiable metrics of defensive performance presently available (which some people do), then I guess you watch a lot of tape and do the eyes test. Or maybe you talk to scouts. If you think UZR is potentially reliable in larger sample sizes, you can use a rolling average…maybe weighted towards more recent performance, although you obviously have to be careful with the weight. Or, if you despair of scouts and statistical measures, you can just mentally amend it to the MVP of batting award, and vote that way. I don’t think taking one-season UZR samples as authoritative is a particularly reasonable solution, though.
    Vote -1 Vote +1
    Dave Cameron says:
    August 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Single-season UZR samples aren’t useless. You’re vastly overstating the case against them.

    And, look, we’ve never once advocated for people to make grand decisions based on small differences in WAR. If one guy is +7.0 and the other guy is +6.7, we’re not going to write a post about how Player A is better than Player B. We understand that there’s variance in the metric, and that’s it not perfect, and we’ve been completely up front about that.

    It’s a tool. It has value. It should be part of the conversation. Throwing out any useful information because it’s not perfect is just counterproductive.

    So my question is: how much does certainty matter? It sounds good to say that any information is better than none, but let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Measure 1 (of offensive talent) is 90% accurate, 10% error, and Measure 2 (of defensive talent) is 10% accurate, 90% error. I agree with DC that ignoring Measure 2 is equivalent to assuming that everyone is equivalent on defense. But including Measure 2 introduces a TON of uncertainty into our measure. So at first it actually seems somewhat reasonable to say “We don’t have great measures of defense, so let’s just look at offense and see what we get.”

    However, this has the problem of ignoring what information we do get out of Measure 2. I suspect it seems appealing to ignore Measure 2 entirely because it often yields the wrong sign: if you’re choosing between Player A and Player B, and both seem to be above-average defenders based on observation, but Measure 2 says Player B is BELOW-average, you could see why someone would want to throw Measure 2 out, because rather than help you compare the two players, it seems to be making the problem harder.

    (Here’s another scary thought: what is Measure 2 is systematically biased, consistently and erroneously rewarding certain types of players over others? Many offensive metrics are certainly guilty of this (e.g., BA) – why not defensive metrics? I’m sure someone else has discussed this somewhere…anyway, I’ll leave that possibility aside for now.)

    However, I argue that Measure 2 provides SOME information, even if that information comes riddled with error, and it is counterproductive to ignore information. So to the extent that judgments of defensive value influence a vote for MVP, I would argue that these judgments of defensive value should be based on some weighted combination of Measure 2 and observation. Since Measure 2 contains a high degree of error, observation should be weighted more highly in the combination than it otherwise would be (for example, offensive metrics are, in my view, sufficiently advanced that observation should be discounted entirely, since its contamination with systematic error such as idiosyncratic preference for certain players/teams and bias in media coverage outweighs any new information it provides). So if Measure 2 rates a player as a few units below average, but observation indicates he is a few units above average, the final estimate of his value should remain above average.

    Now, how will the above be modified if we replace “Measure 2″ with UZR? That depends on your confidence in UZR, which, as can be seen from comments on this site, varies considerably: some may think that UZR is closer to 99% error, and some may think it’s closer to 20% error. But unless you think UZR introduces systematic error that outweighs the information (however imprecise) it does provide, your confidence in the measure should not eliminate the role UZR plays in your decision; rather, it should only affect the weighting scheme that you apply.

    However, for full disclosure I should say that I’m a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and when it comes down to it I usually just cast my vote for my favorite player. This year it’s Ichiro, although he’s dropped down quite a bit, but I’m rewarding him for past performance.

    Sincerely,
    Rich

    Comment by Rich — August 8, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

  232. Without Justin Verlander the Tigers would be in 3rd place. The guy should be seriously considered for MVP.

    Comment by GK — August 17, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

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