A Question About The Playoff Team Stipulation

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. I know the horse is dead and buried. We’ll talk about something else tomorrow, I promise. But, today, I have one final thought on the MVP discussion, and specifically, about the idea that a player on a non-playoff team has limited value. As Mark Bauman put it:

The Angels finished third in the AL West. Without Trout, where would they have finished? Unless you believe that they would have been 15 games worse without Trout, the correct answer would still be third.

The Tigers finished first in the AL Central, after a substantial struggle and a period of underachievement. Their subsequent advance to the World Series, of course, has no place in this election. But they did manage to make a push late in the regular season to overtake the White Sox and qualify for the postseason.

This is, for a lot of voters, a big issue. Cabrera’s team made the playoffs, and they wouldn’t have without him. Trout’s team didn’t make the playoffs, and they could have not made the playoffs even if he spent the whole year in the minors. So how valuable could Trout really have been?

To that question, I’ll ask one of my own – if you really buy into that argument, how can Trout even appear anywhere on your ballot?

The Tigers won the AL Central by three games. Take away Miguel Cabrera and they don’t win the division. But, take away Justin Verlander, they don’t win the division either. Take away Prince Fielder, they don’t win the division. Take away Austin Jackson, they don’t win the division. Besides Cabrera, there are at least three Tigers who were clearly worth more than three wins, and you could make a good case for Max Scherzer and Doug Fister as well.

How about on the Yankees? They won their division by two games, and finished five games ahead of Tampa Bay, the team with the best record that didn’t qualify for the postseason. Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia were worth five wins to the Yankees, right? And, if you think defensive metrics are total bunk, maybe even Jeter was too.

Same deal with Baltimore and Texas, who just snuck into the last wild card spot by the same margin as which Detroit won the AL Central. Do we not think Adam Jones or Matt Wieters were worth at least three wins to the Orioles this year? How about Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Yu Darvish, or Matt Harrison – were they not worth at least three wins apiece to the Rangers?

In every single case, you take them off their team, and the difference is likely making the playoffs versus not making the playoffs. They were all excellent players, and without them, their teams probably wouldn’t have made it to October. Why is Mike Trout more valuable than every single one except for Cabrera?

If a major determining factor in a player’s value is his team’s qualification for the playoffs, Trout shouldn’t finish in the top 10. There were a lot of great players who helped carry their teams to the playoffs. Trout isn’t one of them, and if that’s enough to exclude him from being most valuable, why isn’t he excluded from being second most valuable? How do we justify the idea that Trout is less valuable than Cabrera because of the Tigers playoff status, but still more valuable than Verlander, who is the reigning AL MVP and had another great season?

If our goal is to really identify the “most valuable” player and not the “best” player, why do we start with a list of the best players, and then only use a team’s playoff position as a divider, rather than starting with a list of guys who made the playoffs and then deciding who was the best from that group?

Is it, perhaps, because we know that a great player on a non-playoff team can be more valuable than a good player on a playoff team? Isn’t that what we’re inherently all agreeing to when Trout finishes ahead of Verlander, Fielder, Cano, Beltre, Hamilton, and the rest?



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Sam
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Sam
3 years 10 months ago

I’ve always thought that the ‘playoff stipulation’ made no sense. In fact, between two equal players, wouldn’t the ‘most valuable’ award go to the player who was relatively more valuable to his team – or the player on the WORSE team? That obviously makes no sense, but it makes even less sense – that is, less then no sense, and yes, I went there – that we reward a player for being on a better team.

Evan
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Evan
3 years 10 months ago

Dave Cameron uses Logic Attack!

The opponent becomes confused! It hurts itself in its confusion!

O's Fan
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O's Fan
3 years 10 months ago

When Gregg Easterbrook determines his Non-QB, non-RB NFL MVP each year, he starts with a list of the good players on playoff teams. It can be done!

Not that it would make much sense for baseball.

MikeS
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MikeS
3 years 10 months ago

You think quoting Greggggg Easterbrook supports your case?

Interesting.

Heather
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Heather
3 years 10 months ago

Why do you dislike Easterbrook?

O's Fan
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O's Fan
3 years 10 months ago

Um, what case?

And what’s wrong with Easterbrook?

Tom N.
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Tom N.
3 years 10 months ago

Last year Easterbrook’s Non-QB, non-RB NFL MVP was David Diehl, who is very possibly the worst OT in the NFL.

From BigBlueView.com: “It will come as no surprise to New York Giants fans that Pro Football Focus rates David Diehl of the Giants as the least efficient pass-blocking tackle in the NFL over the past three seasons. Showing a sense of humor, PFF wrote that the Giants’ tackle has an ‘impressive ability to give up pressure.’ That, I am sure Giants’ fans already knew.”

MVP!!!

bill
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bill
3 years 10 months ago

MikeS must a be a real GLORY BOY.

AJ
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AJ
3 years 10 months ago

I could never understand the reasoning behind this claim. Makes no sense to use “making the playoffs”, because this has no bearing on individual value. With the MVP award being an individual award and all…you get the rest. The player who makes the biggest difference on their team should be MVP, not the one who leads the team to the postseason.

Mitch
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Mitch
3 years 10 months ago

If Mike Trout could have figured out a way to get MLB to realign he would have been really valuable. You know, because the Tigers would not have made the playoffs in the AL West, while the Angels would have in the AL Central. Geography is hard. Either that or you’re voting for Cabrera because the Indians sucked.

Andrew
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Andrew
3 years 10 months ago

Yes.

McAnderson
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McAnderson
3 years 10 months ago

Though I disagree with a “playoff stipulation” and believe that anyone who has the opinion that Cabrera should be the MVP does not understand baseball, I think it is fair to use contending team vs non-contending team as a small factor in an MVP vote. I know that this means players get credit for something they have no control over, being on good teams, but there is part of me that thinks performing under the pressure of a playoff race should give you a slight edge over someone who performed when it did not matter.

This is not the case with Trout and Cabrera though, because Trout played in a playoff race for much (almost all) of the season and performed very well throughout. In no way am I saying that a player from a non-contender cannot win the MVP, only that performing under pressure can be a small factor in a persons vote.

evil kevin towers
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evil kevin towers
3 years 10 months ago

i don’t get awarding cabrera solely because trout didn’t make the playoffs… if you follow this logic to it’s endpoint, the MVP can only come from the world series winner.

Mike
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Mike
3 years 10 months ago

People who make the “Cabrera led his team to the playoffs, so he’s the MVP” argument are stupid people who aren’t worth arguing with. People like Dave have written tons of great things on the subject that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things because the people on the other side aren’t listening. All it’s doing is strengthening the case for people who agree to view the other side as moronic.

I used to love baseball arguments. I’m bored with them now. I respect Dave’s ability to write these sorts of things without going the Sheehan/Law route of insulting anyone who is on the other side, but at some point it gets tiresome to read (just as I’m sure Dave and others are tired of writing on the subject). You’re never going to change the “back of the baseball card” guy.

Ron
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Ron
3 years 10 months ago

I think the argument is we have to change the back of the baseball card.

Jason B
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Jason B
3 years 10 months ago

What are these baseball cards you speak of? Oh…oh, those 1988 Donruss thingies that I sold 25,000 of for a nickel? THOSE things.

(And here I thought Gregg Jeffries would fund the ol’ retirement! Bah.)

Bad Bill
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Bad Bill
3 years 10 months ago

“People who make the “Cabrera led his team to the playoffs, so he’s the MVP” argument are stupid people who aren’t worth arguing with. ” The arrogance of a statement like this is absolutely epic, and the attitude behind it, which is widespread in the world of statistical analysis, is both offensive and a key reason why the analytical approach fails to gain traction in traditional quarters. Baseball discussions can and should be conducted on a more mutually respectful level than presidential campaigns.

BalkingHeads
Member
BalkingHeads
3 years 10 months ago

I can’t wait for this to be over.

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
3 years 10 months ago

Because the voters aren’t voting based on reasons. They’re voting based on feelings. Whichever player had the most compelling story told about them in the weeks prior to voting get the nod, no matter the extent to which that story was true or relevant.

Jason
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Jason
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera has been on the team for years so he can’t get credit for wins 86-88. Prince Fielder is the most recent addition so he’s the one who put the team over the top.

bowie
Member
bowie
3 years 10 months ago

Dave is right.

WAR should really be 0 for every player whose team doesn’t make the playoffs.

Natty G
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Natty G
3 years 10 months ago

I agree that playoff qualification shouldn’t be the deciding, or even primary factor. However, I don’t think it’s irrelevant. If we concede that not all wins are created equal, and that a single victory can be much more valuable for a team in tight contention for the playoffs than for a team safely in the playoffs or safely out of contention, then why wouldn’t playoff contention be a valid consideration? In other words, a 7 WAR performance would have been less valuable for the 2012 Houston Astros or the 2012 Washington Nationals than it was for the 2012 Detroit Tigers, 2012 Anaheim Angels, or 2012 Oakland Athletics.

In this case, it doesn’t make a difference as both Trout and Cabrera were in close contention for a playoff birth. But in a year where two players are narrowly separated, I think it is appropriate to consider whether a player’s performance could have made the difference between playoff contention/qualification and non-contention/non-qualification.

Solidarity
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Solidarity
3 years 10 months ago

But they weren’t close in performance, unless you only consider offensive performance as applicable. If you consider their total contributions, Mike Trout is the only – and I mean only – option.

Antonio bananas
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Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

What I hate most about that argument this year is they aren’t just disregarding actual individual performance, but also team performance. They’re giving Cabrera the nod because he played in an easier division. Neither team won the world series, so there’s that too. Plus if we actually mean “value” to their team, well Trout put up similar numbers for about 1/40th the cost.

jim
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jim
3 years 10 months ago

excellent work today dave, on all these posts

Joe
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Joe
3 years 10 months ago

Dave once again you resort to hyperbole to argue:

Are people speaking in absolutes and saying no player from a non-playoff team can win? This seems to be how the article is written, yet that has how you have re-interperted the comment and resort to hypebole to argue against something you don’t agree with.

While I don’t agree with the viewpoint. I have no issue with a voter using it as A factor (not THE factor) in a close race if they personally believe that has value. Similarly while I don’t agree with “he did it down the stretch when the games counted most” argument I have no issue if some folks consider that.as a secondary factor or any of the other arguments people use.

The problem is people perceive value differently and while many in the SABR community can arrogantly argue there is only one right way to measure it logically that is simply not the case. As good as WAR framework and some of the advanced stats are, they also have many context issues within some of the more common components used.

As a fan of advanced stats , I find myself getting more and more annoyed by the constant drumbeat or “stupid”, “no logic”, “people vote on feelings” commentary and articles like this which rely on hyperbole to refute an argument because they don’t agree with someone’s viewpoint. Sadly this has grown more tiresome than triple crown = historic = MVP argument on the other side.

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

Dave isn’t saying that anyone thinks “no player from non-playoff teams can win.” He’s saying that those who use Detroit’s playoff qualification to tip the scales towards Cabrera are being completely arbitrary in how they apply it when measuring a player.

It’s being used by many to justify their preference for Cabrera over Trout (“A deciding factor, not THE deciding factor”), but they don’t take it to its conclusion because that would show just how absurd and arbitrary their usage of it is. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here, and I understand it. It’s the better story, “Triple Crown” is something magical, etc. If people want to rest on that and go their own way, fine. But magicking up “deciding factors” like this one and pretending it’s anything but purely arbitrary is simply laughable.

Joe
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Joe
3 years 10 months ago

I keep seeing things like “overwhelming majority” “many” with no actual data and things like “a lot of stock” and “the justification”- which is the start of classic strawmen creation that generally the SABR community ridicules.

Dave has taken a position, painted it in an extreme light and resorts to mentioning Matt Harrison… does that really sound like an intellectually honest conversation that is advancing this conversation and a reasonable interpretation of “those people’s” viewpoint? He does this (a lot) when trying to show how people are wrong and it is style that is heavy handed, lazy and disingenuous (I will refrain from the pretentious Latin phrase for this). It is clearly not the only factor and it is obviously not the biggest factor (or all the names Dave mentioned would be splitting votes)

Perhaps this factor is not taken to it’s conclusion because it is not the only factor for “many” ?(whoever these many are). Resorting to things like “laughable” and “it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here” is part of the growing black/white right/wrong attitude in the SABR community, which I think is counterproductive.

I would vote Trout 1, Cano 2, Cabrera 3, but I’m basing that on my own subjective interpretations of value. I would hope people would not call my position “laughable” simply because they don’t agree with it or because they use different criteria than I do. Nor would I call anyone voting Cabrera over Trout or even Cabrera over Cano (is that laughable too?), without really understanding their rationale.

This article really makes no attempt to do this and simply just assigns a general and extreme viewpoint to “an overwhelming majority” and labels the factor as “a lot of stock” – as a fan of advanced stats and a data driven approach that makes me cringe as no data was used to formulate these characterizations..

David
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David
3 years 10 months ago

Joe- The only thing I would point out, since I don’t care enough to 1)Identify wether the reasoning people are blaming the result on is representative of an overwhelming majority 2) Decide wether your rebuttal of a potential strawman, is in fact, a strawman itself, since I think your are REALLY missing Dave’s point.

Just to keep to the one, specific comment you made that both bother’s me, and gets to the core of the argument, is “Perhaps this factor is not taken to it’s conclusion because it is not the only factor”…

The point, in my opinion, is that how is it a factor at ALL? The reason he is taking it to his logical conclusion, is because including it as a factor hasn’t been considered rationally. It is literally about conisistency. Since the argument being made is true for a number of players on playoff contenders, pretty much any player that won a close playoff race, how do you weight that factor rationally against any of the others… Furthermore, if that is true, how does Trout still finish ahead of other players that the argument should also benefit? What, exactly, is the weighting of such an argument? Where is the tipping point?

Its an absurd factor, because it can’t be applied consistently, nor was it in this specific case. Why does Caberara get credit for it while Verlander does not? Or does he, and if so, how did last year’s MVP, putting up similar production to last year, and with similar value added as cabera, finish no better than fourth, and behind Trout on every ballot? Once again, how is this “factor” applied in a way that makes sense?
Demanding that individuals who make these arguments at least perform a sanity check is not unreasonable. Considering they are, you know, compensated to write about baseball, demanding that they do a passable job is not ridiculous, nor is, in my opinion, the arrogant tone suprising/upsetting (no need to get into a gaza strip style argument about who threw the first stones in the arrogance contest, and if you don’t think that is a widespread reaction on both sides i would suggest using google more often).

The simple truth is, if a SINGLE argument could be made that is rational, that can be applied down the ballot without hilarity ensuing, a lot of the criticism of the decision would go away. In years where the differences are small, it has been done (See, perhaps, Dickey versus Kershaw this year). But lately it seems like fangraphs, Keith Law, etc. are fighting each argument one by one. Because none of them pass pretty simple litmus tests of rationality; the arguments for Trout do. You win by scoring more runs than your opponent; You can win by either preventing less runs than you score or scoring more runs than your opponent is capable. Trout has the greatest impact on this scoring margin, by a significant amount that is greater than reasonable (or frankly even unreasonable) accusations of imprecision/error in the measurements, and thus is more valuable to a team. Trout will win a club more ball games than any other player in baseball, i.e. he is the first pick in the 2012 redraft if you could guarantee the exact same level of production for all players.

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

Joe,

David phrased his reply much better than I. You have legitimate concerns about people painting with a broad brush, and I don’t want to contribute towards that. My sincerest on that point.

But, yeah–we can’t complain that ‘no one is saying Matt Harrison should be MVP’ if we can’t weight the effect of a team’s playoff qualification. That’s all Dave was saying, and he’s using hyperbolic examples like that because the only thing we can say in response is, ‘that’s ridiculous!’ If we could say, ‘that’s ridiculous, because this should only be a deciding factor between players that have X degree of separation between them’ then that would further the discussion, I think.

I haven’t seen anyone do this even roughly — it’s just a purely subjective factor employed by people on the Cabrera side of the argument. Dave is asking, begging for anyone to tell him how and when this factor should be applied, and I’ve yet to see a remotely convincing answer.

I wouldn’t use the term “laughable” only because I disagree with your opinion (you’re clearly giving it a good amount of thought). I use the term because there’s such a similarity between the appeals to Dave for data to back up his assertions and the maintaining that such a nebulous factor should make up the statistical gap between the two players. Cheers.

Bad Bill
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Bad Bill
3 years 10 months ago

Superbly well put.

Jaack
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Jaack
3 years 10 months ago

The MVP here is obviously a tie between French military officer, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded the French Canadian Fort Detroit, and the collective group of Bavarian grape farmers who chose to establish Anaheim. Without them, the Tigers wouldn’t be in the AL Central, nor would the Angels be in the AL West. Who knows, had Antoine trekked on to Southern California as opposed to settling in and for Detroit, not only might Trout have won the MVP, but also Anaheim might have gotten Clint Eastwood and Eminem to do Superbowl commercials for them instead.

Christopher
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Christopher
3 years 10 months ago

And the unspoken corollary is that if the Tigers had won the division by 10 games, none of the Tigers would have been eligible for the MVP.

But my bigger problem with the argument is that before the award is won, playoff context matters. But after it’s won, context is forgotten and the winner is assumed to have been “the best player in the league.” If you want proof of this, just wait until the next HOF voting and listen to the same writers use MVP to show how many times so-and-so was one of the best players in the league. And if you just absolutely need an arbitrary tie-breaker, just give it to the guy less likely to win it in the future.

Skip
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Skip
3 years 10 months ago

An MVP must lead. Trout didn’t lead. Or did I miss seeing him in the playoffs? Posey and Cabrera both won in their rookie year. Trout has no excuse.

Abc123
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Abc123
3 years 10 months ago

That’s a great Skip Bayless impersonation.

Jaack
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Jaack
3 years 10 months ago

It didn’t interrupt anyone and it didn’t mention the greatness of Tim Tebow or the awfulness of Lebron James. B/B- effort.

Rick
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Rick
3 years 10 months ago

You can’t use logic on the media. They wouldn’t understand.

Please help stop the mindless mindlessness.

Gomez
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3 years 10 months ago

I thought the main argument for Cabrera was that whole Triple Crown thing.

Jon
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Jon
3 years 10 months ago

I’m as sabermetrically inclined as anyone, but I still believe in the playoff stipulation to a large extent, for exactly the reason you named (“where would the team be without this player?”). It’s NOT a requirement however – basically a huge bonus. Also, a player on a team that *nearly* makes the playoffs gets a large bonus as well – not nearly as large as the guy on the playoff team, but large nonetheless.

Now, if there were no Cabrera, would I vote for Cano? Possibly. I’ll admit that I’m biased towards offense, so Trout would probably still beat him in my mind. Fielder/Verlander/Beltre/Austin Jackson? No, their huge playoff bonuses don’t add enough to their stats to overtake Trout’s stats plus his large “close to playoffs” bonus.

If I had to quantify it, I don’t know, it would probably be something like:

WAR, plus one of the following bonuses:

– 50% if his team made the playoffs by a “normal” (say <= 10 game) margin
– 30% if his team made the playoffs by a large margin
– 20% if his team came within a few games of the playoff

(Yes, that's right – if a guy's team runs away with it, he has a lesser chance of winning the MVP. Where would they be without him? Still in the playoffs.)

So yeah, I know that that still puts Trout (12.0) well ahead of Cabrera (10.65). But in this case, Cabrera truly had a great season (the fact that it was a triple crown doesn't count for much, but it is something I guess), and the Tigers won by a relatively small margin. I know it's not a popular opinion on this site, but it would be hard to see anyone overtaking him if they didn't make the playoffs.

Anyway, I'm the guy who thinks the Marlins cam out ahead in the deal deal with the Blue Jays, so what do I know?

Paul
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Paul
3 years 10 months ago

I pretty much agree with all of this, even the Marlins point

Antonio bananas
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Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

How do you still justify it if the playoff team had a worse record than the non playoff team? That’s what puts such a huge hole in the playoff argument of this particular race.

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

I appreciate your trying to quantify it.

I really appreciate that you didso even though your method still puts Trout “well ahead” of Cabrera. by 1.35 “points.”

Saying, “Cabrera truly had a great season” seems to suggest that Trout had an even greater season, right?

Jon
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Jon
3 years 10 months ago

Trout definitely had an even greater season. I don’t think anyone’s debating that at all.

And yes, I know my method still puts Trout ahead. I guessed at those percentages first, thinking they’d put Cabrera ahead (before looking at the WAR values and doing the quick mental math), but they didn’t, but I didn’t want to go back and change them.

So in this case it’s really just a gut feel thing. A player with a “truly great” season on a playoff team does beat out a player with a historic season on a non-playoff team. If Cabrera went, say, .300/30/100 with an OPS of 900, then that would probably be enough to drop him below Trout. But if Trout was 200 OPS points better, that wouldn’t put him above Cabrera, if that makes sense.

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

That makes sense. I do see what you’re saying, and I appreciate your making the effort to clarify your “gut feeling” as much as possible. It’s honest and it’s helpful.

I hope you can understand how terms like “gut feeling” and factors beyond the player’s control like his teammates’ performance can drive a lot of us batty, too.

In this case, I think we’re both okay with saying that our definitions of what the award should be based on are fundamentally different:

1) Player who played baseball best relative to other players, or
2) Player whose season was most worthy of admiration in relation to the other great performances throughout the season.

1) is obviously less prone to subjectivitity.
2) is obviously more prone to interpretations of what makes a season worthy of admiration.

Glad to have a non-violent conversation about this.

Jon
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Jon
3 years 10 months ago

Likewise! And I fully respect that my opinions on it can drive people crazy (well, smart people at least). In a sense they drive me crazy too, because I’m as critical of “old-school” analysts as anyone. It’s really just with this one award, with the “most valuable” thing – it’s just the way I’ve always thought about it.

I wish it was the “best player” award so badly, but we have what we have. I don’t have any problem with those who interpret it as that (and thus, those who improved their team the most/added the most wins – which is a perfectly valid interpretation of “most valuable”).

Tom
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Tom
3 years 10 months ago

Ironically in one of the earlier articles on the endless Trout vs Miggy discussion here, Dave completely failed to mention the playoff factor and now suddenly he is mentioning it as “a lot of stock” for the “overwhelming majority” of voters

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/al-mvp-debate-we-did-this-two-years-ago/

This article was written less than 2 months ago and was a justification about how voters got it right by voting for Hamilton’s overall game (defense, position) over Cabrera’s offense (and playing time as Hamilton missed some games). The rather obvious implication that Trout is in the same boat and we should see the same result and there really is no new ground to be broken in this year’s MVP discussion

However somehow in that article there was no mention of Hamilton’s team winning the division and Cabrera’s team finishing 3rd….This seems kind of odd given how Dave now asserts that the “overwhelming majority” of voters put a lock of stock into this. You’d think given this belief it would have warranted a mention in that article as a possible factor? Just an oversight?

A cynic might think it was not mentioned because it would have completely undercut the conclusion of the article – voters simply chose the more valuable player based on position and defense and they should obviously do so the same with Trout.

Keith
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Say in 2013, SS Jed Lowrie wins the triple crown, leads the league in WAR, and, heck, even pitches well a few times, but the Astros finish last. You gonna deny him the MVP?

If so, where/do you draw the line? At what point must a team finish for one of its players to be considered for MVP?

And if not, you’ve just been to the end of the logical spectrum and awarded MVP to a guy on the last place team. Accordingly, there’s no logical reason precluding a player on a team in the cellar from winning the award.

Jon
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Jon
3 years 10 months ago

He gets it if there’s nobody on a playoff team within, say, 5 WAR from him, and nobody on a near-playoff team within, say, 3 WAR from him.

Anyone can be considered for MVP, but how his team finishes is at least half as important as the season he had.

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

“At least half as important as the season he had.”

Rephrased: “What the rest of the players on Player A’s team do is at least half as important as what Player A himself does in determining how good Player A is relative to a player on another team altogether.”

Why “at least half”? How did you arrive at that number?

Bobby
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Bobby
3 years 10 months ago

Ah, never mind. Didn’t see your post above.

IanKay
Member
IanKay
3 years 10 months ago

I dunno. It took 50+ years to allow a black man into the National League, anywhere from 10-15 years of wide spread and obvious steroid use before rules against it were instituted, and they just recently started to consider instant replay. I’m thinking that all of this “crazy computer math” may take a while to sink into the mainstream thinking! (p.s. I think Harold Reynolds and Billy Ripken may not even know what OBP actually is, and they don’t care.)

David
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David
3 years 10 months ago

TRADITION!

Ender
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Ender
3 years 10 months ago

What if the Giants had won the division by 15 games instead of 8. Would we not consider Posey since the Giants would have still won the division without him? MVP is a personal award, wins shouldn’t have anything at all to do with it.

Paul
Guest
Paul
3 years 10 months ago

The playoffs thing is perhaps not quite as black and white.

Its the perception of both the team and player down the stretch run.

Posey obviously was amazing post All-star break, and led his team to the playoffs even losing Melky.

Angels seemed clueless, anf Trout, while still being really good, fell off a bit
Tigers momentum seemed to increase (mainly due to terrible CWS), while Miggy upped his game.

So Wright in 2007(?) was hurt by the choking Mets, even though he was still brilliant down the stretch

I think really, that the voters just thought it was Miggy’s time (HoF track career who has knocked on the door for a few years), and if you are not going to reward him as MVP in his Triple Crown year for a playoff team, then when will he ever get it? Trout is a rookie, needs to serve his time and can win next year if he is for real.

The fact of this is simply Miggy and bat first players like him do not have the skills/body whatever to lead the league in WAR as he will be overtaken by a good bat, great DEF/BsR, but it is also apparent that players like Miggy, especially the exceptional HoF track bats Miggy are more valued in MLB and BBWAA than they are by WAR (probably incorrectly, but there you go).

bkgeneral
Member
Member
bkgeneral
3 years 10 months ago

Can we just agree that the MVP is terrible award. Pitcher can win it, but maybe the shouldn’t. But if no hitter from a playoff team is good enough, then a pitcher can. Unless of course Andre Dawson has a great year, or Willie Hernandez out of the bullpen. Then of course either of them is a great choice.

If you think Trout is the clear winner, you are wrong. If you think Cabrera is the clear winner, you are also wrong. There is no such thing as a clear winner.

The only thing worse than MVP is rookie of the year. Mike Trout is a rookie? I am pretty sure I saw him play in 2011. Dumb. I know the rule, but it is a stupid rule. For a stupid award.

Hopefully somebody will overpay Josh Hamilton soon, so there is something new to talk about.

Bad Bill
Guest
Bad Bill
3 years 10 months ago

I will certainly not agree that the MVP is a “terrible award.” It is, however, not the ultimate arbiter of a player’s worth, either seen through the historical lens or in the context of its day. A middle ground between those two extremes can surely be found.

When looking back through MVP votes over the years, I tend to divide a year’s outcome into one of three categories: the voters got it right; the voters made the wrong choice among two or more basically reasonable candidates; or the voters completely, inexplicably screwed up and picked someone who wasn’t even in the top echelon of performers. Votes in the third class are fairly rare — Mo Vaughn in 1995, Dennis Eckersley in 1992, Andre Dawson in 1987, Willie Hernandez in 1984, maybe Jimmy Rollins in 2007 and Rollie Fingers in 1981 (what was it about AL closers from 1980 to 1995?), and that’s all I can see since 1980. A 10% failure rate is not indicative of a “terrible award.” The presence of that middle class, into which this year’s vote arguably falls, is also no disgrace.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 10 months ago

Henceforth, it should be calledd “the best rbi producer on a playoff team” award…the BRPOAPT.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie
3 years 10 months ago

Take Bryan LaHair off of the Cubs, and they don’t make the playoffs!

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t think there is a playoff stipulation. By that I mean I don’t think a voter is consciously saying “this guy’s team didn’t make the playoffs, therefore, he cannot be the MVP”. Such a stipulation is, of course, moronic.

However, IMO it is valid to take into account, as one of many factors being weighed, that a player’s team did make the playoffs. Should it count for something, yes. Should it, by itself, be determinative, no.

On a different topic, the award is not for highest true talent level or the most valuable player in the league, its for the player with the most value to HIS team. Context is everything!

Which begs the question, how useful is it to use a stat (yes, WAR) to judge a context dependent award when that stat by its very nature ignores context?

If your goal is to ignore all context, then perhaps WAR is the way to go (or at least its a major step down that path), but if you want to take into account the context of the actions, then WAR may not be the answer. I don’t know the right answer. And maybe that’s it. Maybe there is no “right” answer, just varying shades rightness…

Erik
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

The problem with this line of thought is that Trout destroys Cabrera in all of the context inclusive stats as well. The only thing Cabrera really lead Trout in was the triple crown & his team making the playoffs in a lesser division.

metsmarathon
Member
metsmarathon
3 years 10 months ago

the mvp is a team award, or rather, it is an award for the best player with teammates just good enough to get him into or really really close to the playoffs, but not so good as to be nearly as good as he, nor nearly so good as to run away with a division.

clearly.

metsmarathon
Member
metsmarathon
3 years 10 months ago

i think ultimately, the solution is to build a new stat along the lines of Win Probability, but call it Playoff Probability.

essentially, the result of each game factors into a team’s odds of making hte playoffs, much as the results of each play factors into the odds of a team winning a game.

at the end of the season, we’d see not only who was most instrumental in winning baseball games, but also who was most instrumental in leading their team to the playoffs.

pt
Guest
pt
3 years 10 months ago

Fundamentally, isn’t the complaint about the playoff stipulation for the MVP actually the same as the complaint with using RBI’s to evaluate hitters, or with using wins to evaluate pitchers? All these practices assign an unrealistic amount of agency to individual players. Sure, a player’s performance influence his team’s outcomes, but team-level outcomes are an highly noisy signal of individual player performance. Why would we use such noisy measures of player quality when less noisy, player-specific information is available?

This is an old point — and maybe it’s so obvious to the readers here by now that it’s not worth reiterating — but it seems to me that this is the main point that many traditionalists have not yet accepted.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
3 years 10 months ago

Biggest problem with the “MVP” award is the semi nebulous definition of what it actually means. Who is it intended to reward, what is the “statistic” that has major bearing on it, etc etc. And, what value? To the team, to MLB, to the fans, to … It’s an ill-defined award, and as a result, it will always be the target of “who really should have won it?” commentaries/blogs/etc. Heck, most valuable can simply be the one that outperforms his contract the most, in a given year.

Spencer Jackman
Guest
Spencer Jackman
3 years 10 months ago

Why does it have to be one extreme or the other? Individual hitting matters the most… But why can’t the fact that Cabrera’s team made the playoffs be given some weight? Like almost anything in baseball (or life for that matter), it’s not just black and white.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 10 months ago

Would the Tigers have made the playoffs if they didn’t have Justin Verlander? How about the Angels? Would they have made the playoffs with Verlander in the rotation? Maybe he’s the real MVP.

Jake
Guest
Jake
3 years 10 months ago

I love the new argument developing in this thread that winning too many games can hurt your mvp chances since you would make the playoffs too easily. This criterion can lead to the “bizarro paradoxical situation” where an MVP candidate can knock himself out of winning the award by getting a (or even multiple) game winning hit(s) late in the season. After all the hit itself would only help his stats a little ( a little WAR, OBP, Slugging, runs created etc.) but would add a whole win the the amount his team got into the playoffs by. I can imagine him saying “Darn, If only I’d struck out instead with the game on the line then I would be MVP right now.”

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