If Ryan Braun and Clayton Kershaw win the MVP and Cy Young rather than Matt Kemp and Roy Halladay, I don’t think you can get overly upset. The baseball writers have done worse than give awards to 2nd place guys.
Let’s not pretend that we know everything there is no know about pitcher skill. When we learn in 10 years that Kershaw was able to systematically induce weaker flyball contact than league average, are we supposed to retract our outrage?
It’s hardly a travesty to pick the guy who won the triple crown as Cy Young. I’m sure you can find something better to complain about.
Comment by Werthless — November 17, 2011 @ 2:32 pm
Kershaw faced the Padres and Giants nine times. Halladay’s opponents were a pretty good reflection of the NL. This seems important when weighing their performances.
BaseballReference WAR has Halladay leading by only 0.4. Pitcher WAR is tricky, as Dave et al. have acknowledged. FG uses FIP, and completely strips out BABIP. BR is based on actual runs allowed and tries to adjust for defense, park, quality of competition, etc. Neither is perfect. I’d say Halladay deserved to win, but it was fairly close, and there have certainly been worse votes.
It honestly feels like Kershaw won 5 1-0 games against Lincecum last year.
Comment by Giants Fan — November 17, 2011 @ 3:06 pm
Thing is, when we’re breaking it down to this degree, clearly we’re nitpicking. I would’ve voted Hallday 1 and Kershaw 2 with this being one of the reasons, but I’ve got no problem with going the other way around.
If you look at their actual starts it’s not so obvious that strength of opposition was the difference. If you are going to decide a vote with something like that, shouldn’t you go all the way and compare the overall strength of their opponents through all 31 starts?
Kershaw also may (or may not have done) particularly well in the BABIP department this year because he fielded his position very well. DRS doesn’t think so, but he did have a whole bunch of assists and the writers did give him the GG (not that that is worth much).
I probably would have voted for Halladay, but either one is a reasonable choice.
Comment by Mike Green — November 17, 2011 @ 3:23 pm
Oh and Kershaw pitched in the NL West in a pitcher’s park.
Why is this not a bad choice again?
Comment by Crap Shoot — November 17, 2011 @ 3:26 pm
By now you would think someone would have calculated the average pitching/hitting advantages of playing for each team. It would not only factor in the player playing in their homepark half the time, but also all the extra time spent in other same division parks. I’m guessing Petco/AT&T would cancel out Coors/Chase, but who knows
Kershaw made 11 starts against the Cards, Reds, Rockies, and D-Backs – the four highest run scoring teams in the NL.
Halladay’s record against the four worst run scoring teams in the NL: 5-0, 6 starts, 48.1 IP, 9 RA, 4 BB, 57 SO, 1.30 ERA.
Kershaw against teams with a better than .500 record:
12-3, 18 starts, 125.2 IP, 34 RA, 28 BB, 148 SO, 0.939 WHIP, 1.93 ERA.
Halladay against teams with a better than .500 record:
4-4, 10 starts, 76 IP, 69 H, 26 RA, 18 BB, 70 SO, 1.145 WHIP, 3.08 ERA
Kershaw against sub .500 teams:
9-2, 15 starts, 107.2 IP, 84 H, 32 RA, 26 BB, 100 SO, 1.022 WHIP. 2.67 ERA
Halladay against sub .500 teams:
15-2, 22 starts, 157.2 IP, 139 H, 39 RA, 17 BB, 150 SO, 0.989 WHIP, 2.00 ERA
The numbers prove that Kershaw was sent out against superior competition far more often and he pitched his best against superior competition. The numbers also prove that Halladay was sent out largely against the dregs of baseball, and he cleaned up on them. In the rare times (less than 1/3 of his starts) he was sent up against the better teams, his performance was less than stellar. If anything, the head-to-head splits show that Kershaw was the more dominant pitcher because he pitched at an elite level against all comers.
We can play these games with small sample sizes all we want. Keith Law once again proved he is a tool. He relied upon a paucity of evidence (9 starts against San Diego and San Francisco) that would confirm his bias, while he ignored more evidence that would prove him wrong. Law prefers Halladay to Kershaw, and so that’s why he voted for him.
Both Halladay and Kershaw are wonderful pitchers who had wonderful years. I think Kershaw was a little better this year than Halladay, but I can’t fault anyone for thinking otherwise.
Comment by Greg Hazard — November 17, 2011 @ 3:47 pm
You say that Kershaw made 11 starts against the 4 highest run scoring teams in the NL, but don’t cite how he fared. Then you cite how Halladay fared against the 4 worst run scoring teams in the NL. Then you compare how the two pitchers fared based on the record of the team they faced instead of the strength of their offense? That is some very shoddy reasoning. The Mets were a sub .500 team but they still had an above average offense.
I think the story here is that voters are stuck on a 19th-century metric. There are two legitimate ways to judge a pitcher’s success: run prevention (rWAR does this best) and fielding-independent outcomes (fWAR does this best). In between there’s an antiquated metric that makes subjective judgments about what plays shouldn’t count against a pitcher’s record and how innings would have unfolded if those plays were made. Unfortunately, that’s the metric you can find at ESPN.com or in the newspaper or on the TV screen. And the guy with the best ERA won the Cy Young.
Of course, that might just be me hoping it wasn’t because of wins.
Has it been universally agreed that fWAR is the “best” in fielding-independent outcomes?
Comment by IvanGrushenko — November 17, 2011 @ 4:37 pm
Okay, Cliff and Santos, here goes:
I should have started my comment with “Applying Keith Law’s logic….” I was trying to demonstrate that Keith Law voted for the Cy Young Award based upon pretty shoddy reasoning, and I think Keith Law is an arrogant tool. I was demonstrating how one could use the smallest of sample sizes, literally game-by-game matchups – which Keith Law apparently relied heavily upon – to prove Keith Law wrong. I stand by my evidence, because it is a helluva lot more compelling and carries far more weight than, “Kershaw made nine starts against the two worst hitting teams and so Halladay was better.” But it’s still gamesmanship, as I stated. I dug further than Keith Law. That was my point.
Since you asked: Kershaw struggled in his two starts at Coors Field and his one start at Great America Ball Park, but he pitched very well at Chase Field, and in Miller Park he shut out the Brewers in 8 innings. Against the Cardinals, Kershaw struggled in his one start at Dodger Stadium but shut the Cardinals out in six innings at Busch Stadium. Kershaw also pitched a complete game two-hit shutout against the Tigers – a very good hitting team – striking out 11. Halladay gave up 5 runs in 7 IP in his one start at Coors Field; Halladay had one good start and one bad start against the Brewers – the worst start of his season; Ditto with the Cardinals, one good and one bad; Halladay pitched very well against the Rangers and the Blue Jays. So overall, Kershaw and Halladay pitched about the same against the best hitting teams – a mixed bag due to using the smallest of sample sizes, but overall showing what we would expect: The best hitting teams do better than the worst hitting teams against the elite pitchers. Again, my point was to prove that Keith Law used shoddy reasoning by relying upon 9 starts against the Giants and Padres.
Comment by Greg Hazard — November 17, 2011 @ 4:40 pm
I’ve seen both pitchers in person multiple times. Given that and the stats I’d lean slightly towards Hallady, but Kershaw is not a bad pick.
I’d also have to say that Kershaw’s stuff is actually better than Halladay’s. The late movement on Kershaw’s pitch is other worldly. His future ceiling will be determined by the consistency of his command. If he can consistently command his stuff, look out. Halladay of course has great stuff and command (as well as guile).
Comment by Seideberg — November 17, 2011 @ 5:00 pm
And yet you were persuaded by Keith Law’s “nine starts against the Padres and Giants” argument?
Comment by Greg Hazard — November 17, 2011 @ 5:07 pm
Kershaw is flat out nasty. When he’s able to locate his fastball and slider low in the zone, he’s pretty hard to hit. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to do what he’s done with essentially a two pitch repetoire. He also throws a curveball and change up but not often and not nearly as effectively as his fastball/slider combo. Does anyone know if he mixes his fastball grips to make his fastball essentially 2 (or 3) pitches?
Comment by fergie348 — November 17, 2011 @ 5:19 pm
I’m glad the BS “winning team” argument didnt mess up this award. Clayton definitely deserved it. He won the pitcher’s triple crown; the discussion should end there. But for any doubters, here’s the cincher: compare how the top three candidates Kershaw, Halladay, and Kennedy fared against the top twenty NL hitters and the rest of the league. Against the rest of the league: OPS allowed was .548, .547, and .601 for Ker, Hal, and Ken, respectively. Now, against the 20 hitters Hal’s was .912, Ken’s was .948, and Kershaw… .610!
BBWAA just replaced Win with ERA recently as the key factor(as in after the Greinke 16 Lincecum 15 year), they are still using a 19th century metric to judge a 21st century player. To not give the bWar and fWar leader is a mistake and I predicted this yesterday(check my post on the Verlander CY thread).
Comment by RandomSoxFan — November 17, 2011 @ 6:16 pm
Do you guys adjust their opponent strength based on the lineup that day and whether or not it was before the trade deadline? Or whether or not players were hot?
I mean, a crappy team with a hot offense is harder to pitch against than a good team with a cold offense. Shouldn’t that be factored in?
Comment by Antonio Bananas — November 17, 2011 @ 6:19 pm
How has it not been agreed on that fielding independent stats are lazy? Just find out the average runs created on GB, FB, and LD and multiply it by the rate at which they get each and add it to the FIP equation and you’ll have a MUCH better stat.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — November 17, 2011 @ 6:20 pm
In 5 years it’s going to be funny when everyone is talking about how crappy FIP is. We’ll say “how retarded were you guys for taking batted balls out of it? Look at the type of batted ball and the velocity it traveled. Don’t just cut everything out”.
Actually no, we’ll be using some other stat with holes as a be all stat….and still dissing FIP or whatever “outdated” stat there is.
Think progressively. We don’t know it all and FIP is lazy. Yes, I’m a FIP hating “troll” or whatever.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — November 17, 2011 @ 6:24 pm
Again, I was not suprised, these are the same voters who deemed a 12.1 fWar season(Pedro 1999) unworthy of a MVP. I predicted this 2 days ago in the Verlander CY thread, and 27-4 win in 1st place vote is definitely a land slide.
Comment by RandomSoxFan — November 17, 2011 @ 6:27 pm
Total number of hitters faced
Average wRC+ of hitters faced
For comparison sake, here is the AL equivalent.
Total batters faced
Average wRC+ of batters
Sources: Retrosheet play-by-play and Fangraphs leaderboards
Kershaw maybe better than Roy Halladay this year, but not close to justifying a 27 to 4 advantage in 1st place votes and a 70+ points advantage in total points.
Comment by RandomSoxFan — November 17, 2011 @ 6:34 pm
When you have two terrific pitchers so evenly matched like Kershaw and Halladay – two pitchers who look great with back-of-the-bubble-gum-card stats and Sabermetric calculations – I say we use one stat to settle the score.
I say we use a stat that isn’t derived from a complex mathematical equation or economic theory; a stat that doesn’t have a % at the end or a little letter before a big letter at the front; a stat that isn’t intended to predict the future; a stat that any baseball fan can appreciate.
I’m talking about strikeouts.
Can’t we all agree that strikeouts is the ultimate FIP stat? There is nothing more resolute than a strikeout. Forget park factors. Throw defense and chance out the window. We don’t need to debate the virtues of grounders and flies, or wonder why Pitcher X has such a low FB/HR rate. I say, screw Crash Davis and his “ground balls are more democratic” nonsense. Screw democracy! Give me a despot on the mound with the big fastball and sick breaking ball who can tell his defense to take the night off. As much as I loved watching Maddux in his prime and Halladay now, give me Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez. I want an executioner on the mound, not a surgeon.
Clayton Kershaw struck out more batters with greater frequency. There’s your Cy Young Award winner.
Comment by Greg Hazard — November 17, 2011 @ 6:50 pm
Someone will have to create a Pitcher-Dependent Fielding metric.
Comment by SOB in TO — November 17, 2011 @ 7:00 pm
I’m pretty sure the Cy Young just goes to the best pitcher. How the voters interpret that is up to them, but I don’t know why fielding/hitting should be excluded. Similarly the MVP (effectively) goes to the best hitter, but doesn’t just look at hitting.
Comment by Mayor McFleas — November 17, 2011 @ 7:56 pm
Just wait til the day there is another triple crown winner on the hitting side…but WAR says someone else was better
Then you’ll have a bunch of nitwits arguing the triple crown winner doesnt deserve to be MVP. Wont even matter if the difference in WHIP is questionable fielding metrics. THese nitwits will stand by their WAR
Comment by mister_rob — November 17, 2011 @ 8:38 pm
Who would name their kid Clayton? Or Roy for that matter. I ‘m fine with Kershaw. Look it could be worse. I heard a couple fools pulling for Ian Kennedy on MLB network in September. We should be happy that did not happen. When advanced metrics are within the margin of error go with the tripple crown dude. Prehistric, I know but whatcha gonna do.
Comment by sheath1976 — November 17, 2011 @ 8:45 pm
I’m pretty sure unless you’re the worst fielding pitcher EVER, you’re not going to be docked in the voting for your skill in that category. And hitting is excluded because AL pitchers don’t hit, silly. You can’t hold that against NL pitchers then. Awful comment.
It’s a bit of a shame that Kershaw is getting a bit overshadowed by the Halladay WAR love in.
Is it not a fact that Halladay had the fortune to be a bit lucky with his HR rate this year? His fortune is that this is counted in FIP and hence WAR.
Kershaw (and Verlander this year, and previously guys like Felix) had the misfortune to outperform the norm (or be lucky depending on your point of view) with their BABIP rate. The misfortune is that this aspect is not counted in FIP and hence WAR.
To be honest, I’m perfectly ok with a 23 yo Triple Crown winner on a dog-shit team sporting a >4.5 K:B ratio won the best pitcher award, over an already near HoF guy who has already bagged 2 CYA, and maybe that factored in.
1 and 1a, decider is that Halladay doesn’t have the spare mantelpiece space.
1. FIP does not strip out batted balls. It relates all non-batted balls to the baseline of batted balls. If a pitcher did nothing but allow batted balls, he would have a FIP of 3.2 (or whatever the constant is).
2. Just because we’ll likely have some better stat in the future doesn’t mean we should ignore FIP now. Instead we just need to realize that it isn’t perfect, and the Cy Young winner shouldn’t just automatically be the FIP leader.
Comment by suicide squeeze — November 18, 2011 @ 9:12 am
So, because defensive metrics have relatively large error margins, you’re just going to totally ignore defense? I mean even HRs have error margins due to differing park sizes and weather conditions.
The hitting triple crown may actually be less indicitave of player value than the pitching triple crown because it ignores/marginalizes so many important things like walks, baserunning, doubles, and positional scarcity.
Comment by suicide squeeze — November 18, 2011 @ 9:17 am
For that matter, who names a kid Clifton Phifer?
Comment by suicide squeeze — November 18, 2011 @ 9:18 am
The Dodger’s defense was above average this season, not sure why you say Kershaw played with “awful defenses behind him”. 12th in the league in UZR/150. The Phillies were 18th, with a marginal difference between the two, but if a gripe for defense goes in anyone’s corner this season its to Halladay’s.