You can set your watch to it: Every year after the MVP awards are announced, people complain about who got — or didn’t get — votes. We SABR nerds at Fangraphs are no different. But, of course, we look at things a little differently. With that in mind, here are some SABR-darlings who haven’t gotten a single MVP vote in five years — and why that might not change this year.
First things first, though. We need a metric by which to measure player production. Since this is Fangraphs, we’ll use WAR as the measuring stick. I’m using a five-year range because most MVP voters will have had some exposure to advanced metrics during that time.
So, here are the players who finished in the top 10 WAR rankings at the end of the season, but who didn’t get a single MVP vote (average 2.4 players per season):
|SABRE Darling||Year||League||WAR||WAR Rank||wRC+||Fld+BsR|
|Range =||4.9 to 6.8||3 to 10||105 to 140||-0.5 to 32.4|
Some generalities can be made about this group:
• None of the top players was missed. On average, the players who didn’t receive a vote had ~6 WAR and were ranked eighth overall.
• Generally, the players didn’t hit great that season. They had an average wRC+ of ~122. From 2006 to 2010, the players with the closest wRC+ were Jermaine Dye, Andre Either and Hideki Matsui. All of them are good hitters, but not great ones.
• This group can field and run. With the lack of trust in fielding metrics, I understand how these players fell. Each of these players got an average boost of 1.6 WAR because of their fielding and base-running abilities.
I took the range of values from above and looked for players might be shut out from votes in 2011. Here are the top 10 position players in WAR in the AL and NL :
|Rank||Name||League||Team||wRC+||UZR + BsR||WAR|
|1||Jacoby Ellsbury||AL||Red Sox||150||16.8||9.4|
|2||Jose Bautista||AL||Blue Jays||181||-2.1||8.3|
|3||Dustin Pedroia||AL||Red Sox||134||17.0||8.0|
|9||Adrian Gonzalez||AL||Red Sox||153||2.5||6.6|
Each of these players was removed from consideration for the following reasons:
Note: Alex Gordon barely made the WAR cut (by 0.1) and wRC+ cut (by 1). When I initially looked over the lists, Gordon’s name stood out as the player who didn’ get any votes. I’ll have see if my gut or if the numbers are right with him.
Seven players remained.
Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Upton and Ben Zobrist are all at the upper limits of the range of values. They have a chance of being shut out, but those chances are slimmer than the next guys: Andrew McCutchen, Brandon Phillips and Shane Victorino. Both McCutchen and Victorino have low WAR totals, but at least they have some value with wRC+ — which are higher than normal. If they fail to get an MVP vote, I wouldn’t be surprised. Phillips, though, appears to be the No. 1 candidate who could get the MVP-vote goose egg. Almost a quarter of his WAR came from fielding and base running. And he wasn’t that great of a hitter to begin with.
It’s no surprise, then, that players who have had great WAR seasons have been shut out of the MVP voting. Most of the time, though, these players were non-elite hitters who got a considerable amount of value from fielding and base running. And this year, Brandon Phillips fits that mold.
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