Rookie of the Year, Playing Time, and WAR

A fair amount of Most Valuable Player and Cy Young discussion has been going around lately, and while it seems a bit early with a month left in the season, I suppose it is understandable. There has been less discussion of Rookie of the Year. I don’t blame anyone for that. I really don’t get that worked up about the individual year-end awards. (I’m not quite brave enough to say that I don’t care, maybe if Greinke hadn’t won in 2009 the story would have been different.) And if I’m not that pumped about the MVP or Cy Young races, why should I be excited about Rookie of the Year?

Still, a number of rookies have been impressive this season, so it is worth discussing. Brett Lawrie, for example, has hit so well in only 26 major league games that he’s already at two WAR for the season, right of there with the best of the American League rookie hitters. What if he (or Desmond Jennings, or whatever player you want to pick) keeps this up? What if they put up more value than any other rookie in less than half of a season? Would you vote for them for Rookie of the Year?

While some components (mostly the fielding component) of Wins Above Replacement WAR stir controversy, I think few would dispute the value of the concept of trying to value players in a way that accounts for their offense, defense, position, and playing time. That last component — playing time — is the least discussed but it is in some ways the real innovation of replacement-level analysis. Prior to various replacement-level metrics, if a player was having a great season by a rate stat (back in those days we used “advanced” metrics like OPS) but missed some time with injury, people would always question how much he “really” helped the team.

Replacement level helps resolve that sort of dilemma by giving players credit for playing time over what a typical-AAA replacement would have contributed in equal playing time (around two wins below average). You can read more about replacement level here. The point is that for questions about awards like MVP, that helps take care of the “yeah, he was great, but this other player with inferior numbers played more games.”

Back to Rookie of the Year: I don’t have any strong opinions on who should get it in either league. The question is whether or not Rookie of the Year is just MVP for rookies. In that case I’d just look at the Rookie WAR leaderboards. I wouldn’t apply it mechanically: there’s enough uncertainty in various WAR components that I’d take the top players and then make distinctions myself as best I could (how to weight the relative error bars of offense and defense for hitters, different metrics for pitchers).

However, at the risk over thinking (which is not always the same as thinking intelligently) this, is Rookie of the Year really just “MVP for Rookies?” I’m fine letting the replacement component of WAR do the “work” on the playing time aspect of player value for MVP, but for rookies, for some reason I’m not sure. Check out the American League rookies for some examples. The leaders so far is a pitcher: Seattle’s Michael Pinedaat 2.9 and 2.8 WAR. [Author Edit: I originally had Alexi Ogando here, but although he's listed on the leaderboards as a rookie, he isn't actually a rookie.] From a simple WAR standpoint, however, he isn’t running away with it. Check out the position players. Seattle also has Dustin Ackley right there at 2.6 WAR, but in only 65 games, as he wasn’t called up until the middle of June. Not far behind Ackley are the Angels’ Mark Trumbo, who has been up all year and is currently at 2.1 WAR, but so is the Rays’ Desmond Jennings, who has been on fire over only 38 games and 171 plate appearances. If you think that’s a lot of value in a short amount of time, check out the Blue Jays’ Brett Lawrie, already at 2.0 WAR barely over 100 plate appearances.

It’s not inconceivable that Pineda could slow down and a guy like Ackley could get hot enough that he would pass them in WAR by the end of the season. Heck, it’s a small enough sample left that Jennings or Lawrie could do it, too. Now, if this were just an MVP-type category, I’d have no problem voting for whoever had the highest WAR if it was clear-cut, no matter what the playing time. But for some reason I can’t articulate it isn’t doesn’t seem quite right to do it for Rookie of the Year. It’s not that I’m looking for true talent here. Still, even if, for example, Pineda has a few bad starts and ended the season around three WAR and Lawrie or Jennings stayed aflame to end the season at four WAR, I’m not sure what I would think. Yes, by WAR Lawrie or Jennings would be more valuable in that case, but it seems like rookie going on a hot streak or half a season or less isn’t really “Rookie of the Year” as a player putting up the same or slightly less value for the full season.

Perhaps I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. But hey, it’s a blog: that’s what we do here. I don’t really know what to think; I’m not taking a side. I’m curious to read the thoughts of others. What do you think? Should a player be able to be “Rookie of the Year” in only half of a year of playing time?




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

98 Responses to “Rookie of the Year, Playing Time, and WAR”

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  1. lester bangs says:

    WAR is the answer to all questions!

    (Sometimes it feels like that on the interwebs.)

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  2. Nicholi says:

    Ogando still has rookie status?

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    • ecp says:

      He does not.

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      • ecp says:

        They even have Blake Wood as a rookie. They must disregard the service time stipulation. Both Wood and Ogando did not hit the innings count last year, but both exceeded the maximum service time.

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      • Mike says:

        Ogando only threw 41 innings last year. The maximum innings a pitcher can throw to not be qualified as a rookie is 50. So yes Ogando is still a rookie.

        Heck if you are not aware, Daniel Bard last year was still considered a rookie.

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      • Mike says:

        Actually mistake on my part, he is not, because as ecp pointed out, he exceeded the maximum service time (45 days on the active roster prior to September 1st)

        Ogando’s first appearance was June 15th

        With that said I am probably wrong about Bard also

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  3. Jay says:

    Lawrie and Jennings are the two best players of the rookie class.

    Whether they win an award or not because of the MLBs back-assward service time rules is kind of irrelevant IMO.

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    • the tourist says:

      “Lawrie and Jennings are the two best players of the rookie class” in one of the East Coast leagues, in a small sample, and not named Craig Kimbrel.

      Fixed it for you.

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      • Moe says:

        Lawrie and Jennings are the two most talented players of the rookie class. That’s a fact, I’ll take an everyday starting player over a closer every day of the week. Still, neither should win the award due to small sample size, I’d give it to Pineda and Kimbrel. Both have had bigger contributions to their club than the Jennings or Lawrie even though in the long run I’d take the two AL east guys over anyone in the class.

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      • the tourist says:

        Where is the proof it’s a fact and not simply a case of small sample size? Is Lawrie a better hitter, more patient, a better defender, and a better baserunner than Dustin Ackley?

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  4. Matthew E says:

    There is precedent; look at Willie McCovey. I dunno; what’s the official definition of the award? The rookie who has the best year, or the rookie who is expected to go on to the best career, or something else?

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  5. Larry says:

    No, Ogando is not a rookie

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  6. JohnnyBGoode says:

    How about Ivan Nova?

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    • jim says:

      ivan NOva, more like

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    • max says:

      Haha, the yankees broadcasters were just talking about this and one of them said he’d give his vote to Nova because he has the best W-L record.

      But seriously, no. Ivan Nova has not been the best rookie this year. To be frank.

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      • Mike says:

        I’m a Yankee fan and I agree with this. Although he has been a very valuable rookie, but it goes to the guy with the best stats which Nova certainly does not have.

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  7. JohnnyBGoode says:

    How about Ivan Nova?

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  8. Kernel says:

    I guess it depends on how you look at it. WAR is nice and all, but it does lack some context. Pienda is a young guy who’s being told he’s going to pitch for the worst offense in decades and has generally excelled. Trumbo is told throughout spring training and the first few months that Kendrys Morales will be back any day now, they’ll likely demote him tomorrow, and he goes out there and does a solid job every day for months.

    And then Mike Trout catches fire.

    Walden could’ve done well if he hadn’t set the rookie blown saves record.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      Solid is a bit of an overstatement, maybe one day he’ll be better than league average, but I’m still not exactly sold on him doing anything beyond this season’s value.

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      • voice of reason says:

        I cant see why you say that. The only thing keeping him down is poor plate discipline but who are you to say that he will never be a solid player. He is at 2.1 WAR which is around what the “average” starter should have. Not to mention that he is at 1B now, and will be forced to move for Morales thus greatly raising his positional value.

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      • Blackie says:

        “Not to mention that he is at 1B now, and will be forced to move for Morales”

        And move where? He barely has 3o minor league games played as an OF, and he’s on a team with so many OF options that Trout may be forced to SLC to start 2012. Where does he move beside DH, or another team?

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  9. PXF says:

    I think it’s the “of the year” part that leads you to favor a longer season. (This also begs the question of someone who is considered to be a rookie even if he was called up last September — to say nothing of Ogando, who was in the bullpen for all of 2010.)

    This is similar to Dave’s debate earlier this year about the All-Star Game: Dave conceded that half-a-season is not necessarily reflective of true talent, but that the ASG rewarded players for putting together three good months. Do you want “Rookie of the Year” to go to players who are likely to have impact for years to come (the “true talent” argument, which would seem to prefer a longer sample of playing time) or to impressive but perhaps not sustainable performance?

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  10. benjipants says:

    What is Hosmer these days, chopped liver?

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    • Trotter76 says:

      I love chopped liver; try spreading it on a crusty bagel. Mmmm! That being said, I would gladly compare Eric Hosmer to chopped liver, as both are damn good. It is remarkable that he wasn’t even mentioned.

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      Hosmer is only 16th in the AL in Rookie WAR and if you go by Wins Above Average (WAA) he’s even worse at 78th. Even if you discount fielding stats and just give him a zero for fileding he’s still behind Ackley, Jennings, Trumbo, Lawrie and Reddick.

      Hosmer may have a bright future ahead of him but he really hasn’t done anything this season to warrant any ROY consideration.

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  11. jim says:

    it’s not the “future HOF” award, it’s for the rookie who had the best season while still a rookie.

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  12. RC says:

    “Still, a number of rookies have been impressive this season, so it is worth discussing. Brett Lawrie”

    At the point Lawrie is, Josh Reddick actually had 2.3 WAR, IIRC. Thats why Lawrie shouldn’t be in consideration. He MAY play great the rest of the season. He could also completely fall apart like Reddick has (although I think some of Reddick’s issue’s have been based on sparse playing time…. why they keep trotting Darnell “.186″ McDonald out there is a mystery to me)

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  13. WAR has DESTROYED Freddie Freeman this year, because UZR hates his defense at first base, though anyone who watches games can tell that he’s at least above average at his position. His WAR would be almost twice as high by the Fangraphs measure were it not for that uncertain fielding half of the equation.

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  14. JohnHavok says:

    If it’s voted on by the same guys who butcher the MVP award every year, the ROY will go to the most impressive rookie on a playoff team. Heaven forbid that a non-playoff player wins anything that has the word “valuable” in it.

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    • joser says:

      Yeah, because if a couple of other players on your team get injured and cause you to miss the playoffs, YOU are less valuable. That always makes so much sense.

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  15. Josh A says:

    I think Pineda wins it this year unless he really falls apart in September. Most of the hitters haven’t been impressive for long enough to really be considered. Maybe the voters will like someone like Ackley, or Trumbo with his 24 HR, but his .297 OBP is ugly.

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  16. SC2GG says:

    To put it bluntly, all the awards should have some sort of definition as to why any particular player wins them or not. At least, that’s how I feel in my process driven world.. hah.

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  17. gabriel says:

    Frankly, I think WAR is a good approximation for how we ought to account for the dominance/playing time trade-off in award voting. Rookie-of-the-year voting seems a little unjust if we exclude the short-season stars on account of limited playing time because they thereby lose their only chance at the award. Many rookies are midseason call-ups, and are already handicapped by their limited playing time in terms of generating value- they should not be further handicapped by an arbitrary view of how many AB or IP they need to qualify for consideration. If they are so dominant over 200 ABs or 50IP they exceed all other candidates in value, they should win the award.

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  18. MikeM says:

    General question about WAR and position adjustments.

    How should I take into account players being slotted into positions out of their control?

    For example, Alex Rodriguez, when he went to the Yankees, was by all accounts still a fine fielding shortstop (most thought him better than Captain Intangible) but he was penciled in at thrid base. Since WAR gives more positional adjustment credit to SS than 3B, I can’t help but think Alex got cheated a bit. He was still the same player, perfectly capable of fielding shortstop, but now his WAR would be penilized.

    I might very well be missing something in the formula that accounts for this, but it seems to me that the fact that there are a limited number of positions can skew things. If there are 33 players capable of playing the same quality defense at SS, then 3 of them are going to be playing at an “easier” position and get dinged in the WAS formula through no fault or diminished talent of their own.

    Am I misguided in this thinking? Can anybody in the fangraphs community answer that without snark?

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    • bender says:

      Generally speaking, players have higher UZRs at “easier” defensive positions. His FLD should theoretically improve. Obviously we don’t live in an ideal world and different players skillsets play up differently at different positions, but it’s really not that different from using blanket park factors when judging hitters-was it Adrian Gonzalez’s fault for being a power hitter in a park that is more damaging to power hitters, or Beltre’s for playing in a notorious RHH suppressor for years? No, the park factors penalize them just as much as everyone else, even if it’s not exactly fair to their skillsets.

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      • gabriel says:

        ARod, though, was moved from a position which played to his strengths to one that required much from weaker parts of his game. It would be interesting to look at how much assuaging The Captain’s ego (that might be unfair – it has as much to do with the Yankees brass being unwilling to confront the comfortable lies their fanbase tells itself) has cost the Yankees over the years in terms of wins.

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    • David says:

      WAR is descriptive of a players value on the field versus replacement level. It doesn’t measure talent. A player getting “dinged” on WAR for playing an easier position is merely a reflection of the value he gives to his team playing that position.

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      • gabriel says:

        Not quite- WAR is oblivious as to the actual, real-world alternatives a given team has. The Yankees would have been better served, at least on paper, by playing Jeter at 3rd or 2nd and leaving ARod at SS for the better part of the last decade. Between the two of them, the Yankees filled two positions sub-optimally, displacing 2 replacement-level players. Why Jeter should get the higher positional value for this arrangement is really opaque to me. Jeter gets rewarded for the bad decision-making of his team, and ARod gets penalized. Jeter simply hasn’t given the Yankees the positional value of taking up SS since the Yankees have had a superior choice since 2004.

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      • mlyons says:

        Jeter is slow to react to balls off the bat and can’t go to his left. He would have been an abysmal third baseman. The idea that having him at third and Rodriguez at short would have worked better doesn’t hold water.

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  19. kds says:

    I’m with Gabriel. I’m willing to trade off between playing time and real excellence, since rookies are unlikely to be great over a full season. I would recognize a 4 WAR season whether it was done over a full year or half. I have no problem with McCovey 1959, or Ryan Howard 1995.
    For MVP the playing time matters less because any candidate would need a full season to have enough value to compete. for HoF I want a high peak, not just a long career; many years of somewhat above average play doesn’t do it for me.

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  20. joser says:

    I’m fine letting the replacement component of WAR do the “work” on the playing time aspect of player value for MVP, but for rookies, for some reason I’m not sure.

    I understand your unease, and I share it. For other awards, the playing time aspect is an important component to the player’s actual value: staying healthy is a talent too. Jose Reyes’ hitting abilities and base-stealing acumen are diminished in direct proportion to his hamstrings’ inability to keep him on the field. But for most rookies, the lack of playing time has nothing to do with their abilities: it’s a product of the service time rules, or a manager who prefers vets, or an entrenched player (often with a big contract) who becomes a platoon partner, or other things outside their control.

    That said, Lawrie would’ve been up earlier if he hadn’t sat out time in the minors with a hand injury, so it’s not always office-politics and CBA machinations at fault.

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  21. JohnyBeGood says:

    How about Ivan Nova?

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  22. PadresFuture says:

    Corey Luebke is not getting the notice he deserves. 1.9 WAR, 2.87FIP, 9.5 k/9, 2.6 BB/9, and a 3.01ERA. Also, Petco has not been a factor as he has pitcher better on the road this season.

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    • jim says:

      craig kimbrel has almost twice the WAR, less than half the FIP, half again the K/9, slightly higher BB/9, a third the ERA, and TEN TIMES the WPA… leubke is being overlooked because he isnt worthy of consideration

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      • SpacemanSpiff says:

        It’s almost like pitching out of the bullpen is easier than starting.

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      • baty says:

        99% of the MLB relief corp wishes it’s as easy as what Kimbrel makes it look this season.

        A 2nd baseman like Espinosa clearly provides more tangible value to a team because of his role as compared to the role of a relief pitcher, but you can argue that Kimbrel is putting together one of the most dominant relief pitching seasons of the last decade. That has to weigh into the decision for an award like this.

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      • PadresFuture says:

        Just because Kimbrel is deserving, doesn’t mean Luebke is not deserving of the discussion. Fact is, he is having one of the best seasons in the league for a rookie starting pitcher. I wouldn’t trade Luebke straight up for Kimbrel.

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  23. My echo and bunnymen says:

    As much as it may not fit into the year portion of the Rookie of the Year, I believe it should go to the most valuable rookie. To me value is value, and if that person play 1 month or 5 months and got the same value, both player achieved the same amount, however, the 1 month player gives you another 4 months to either gain more or less value. I feel bad to boil people down to numbers, but I do that even to my friends, I see the world as numbers. Luck driven or not, the most valuable rookie in that year should win the RoY, at least in my mind.

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    • André says:

      “I feel bad to boil people down to numbers, but I do that even to my friends.”

      Let me guess—you run a “retirement ranch” for old draught horses owned by “Numbers” brand white glue.

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    • André says:

      Also, let’s use your friends analogy to discredit your idea, using a stat called HOAE (“help-outs and excitement”) that I just made up.

      Let’s say you have two friends, friend “A” and friend “B”. You’ve known A for a long time, maybe 5 years. He’s a rock. When you have trouble, you go to him. Friend B, on the other hand, is new. You just met him, and maybe because of that, he’s really exciting. You go to clubs, or chess matches, or whatever you like together, and you have a great time, a time that you know you wouldn’t be having with Friend A. Friend B might go on to become your new best friend, or whatever, or he might not. You might know him for five years, or maybe your friendship fizzles out after 5 months. It’s impossible to tell. Anyway, here are their stats:

      Friend A: 5 years, total HOAE: 26.3, HOAE/year: 5.26
      Friend B: 3 months, HOAE: 5.2

      So Friend A has provided you with 26.3 HOAE over the course of 5 years of friendship, which means that you’ve benefitted a lot by being friends with him. But Friend B blows his numbers completely out of the water! He’s on pace to match five years of friendship in only 15 months!

      Who’s the most valuable friend? Without question, it’s Friend A. For the time being. But it’s more difficult to answer the question of who has been more valuable in the past year. You’ve only known Friend B for three months, but he’s been about as valuable as Friend A over that year. But the interesting part about HOAE is that it isn’t a counting stat: it goes up during the good times and goes down during the bad times. In fact, with Friend A, over the past five years, there have been a lot of bad times. But the good has outweighed the bad, always. And it’s been the same over the past year, as well: Friend A lost his job for a couple months, he wasn’t able to be as generous, and he got to be kind of a pest. But with 26.3 HOAE behind him, you stuck with him, and things improved. Uncertainty plagues every relationship, and things are constantly in flux.

      Suddenly that 5.26 starts to look incredibly valuable. Friend B might put up a historic HOAE—you might have the beginnings of one of the all-time best years of friendship ever. But you might not. It’s impossible to tell until that year is over.

      This is not a perfect analogy. You can grow tired of friends’s stories, whereas it’s unlikely you’d ever become tired of a ballplayer turning a double into a triple. But I think the analogy stands, especially at this point in the season where there’s so much uncertainty. A 2 WAR player who has played for 4 months is not less valuable than a 2 WAR player who has played for 1 month. They’ve been equally “valuable”, but sample size also matters. Comparing those two years, I think the former is more valuable, only because innings played, representation on the field, creates its own kind of value, and it’s impossible to tell what might happen in those four phantom months that you supposedly have.

      How do you calculate HOAE? Fuck if I know.

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  24. Jon says:

    I tend to think players shouldn’t be penalized for being called up mid-season. Its not their fault they have half the at bats. I don’t mean to discredit people who put in a full season and helped their team all year but if you get called up and do something special in 2 months, well, to me that deserves ROokie of the Year consideration very strongly. If Lawrie or Jennings continued this torrid pace, I’d give it to them. If they fall back, Pineda. I think Kimbrel is obvious in the NL but others disagree I guess.

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  25. Jon says:

    BTW, there simply HAS to be more to life than WAR. How in the world is Jeremy Hellickson behind someone like, oh I don’t know, Greg Holland of the KC bullpen? Come on now, that simply seems impossible to me!

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    • LTG says:

      Pitcher WAR is not as reliable as hitter WAR, but you might want to study the two players carefully before assuming your evaluation is the right one and WAR is the problem.

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    • baty says:

      I would prefer to ignore pitcher WAR, but at the very least I think it’s best to look at pitcher WAR in groupings or tiers, rather than taking heart to the significance of it’s actual number when making comparisons.

      While Kimbrell is certainly more valuable than many starting pitchers this season, there’s a great disconnect taking place, as he appears near the top 25 most valuable pitchers in the league with WAR. To put that into context, that would place him in a move valuable contributing role than most starting pitchers, and even several SPs slotted in the 1-2 spots of some pitching rotations.

      If you had an 11 man pitching staff with all Kimbrels, you might blow away the league competition in team pitching WAR, but you wouldn’t even make it to August with innings pitched. How does that make any sense?

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      • baty says:

        I know that’s abusing the meaning of WAR a bit, but it seems that when you compare players without additional context (solely based on WAR) You’re for example, assuming a full pitching staff with Kimbrel’s is “better” than a full pitching staff with 11 Jeremy Hellicksons.

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  26. Ben says:

    Great article. I’m as pro-WAR as the next guy, but I’ve been dismayed by all of the end of year awards talk that basically argues the player with the best WAR deserves the award. You would think that faithful stat wonks would realize that no one statistic is perfect and that the WAR list isn’t simply a “best player” list. Stats are best used in conjunction with each other.

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  27. SOB says:

    As much as I love stats, I get so tired of people trying to use WAR for awards on pitchers.

    Look, WAR uses FIP, which is basically “what should have happened” – but quite often it didn’t. So do you really tell a guy who hypothetically goes 20-1 with a 1.50 ERA that he shouldn’t win the Cy Young because his Low-6 K/9, Mid-3 BB/9, and low 200s BAbip should have actually produced a 4+ ERA?

    What DID actually happen is what needs to be graded when it comes to awards like this, and FIP/WAR just doesn’t always represent that very well Sure, it tells us what is most likely to happen next season, but the award is not called “should be really good next season”…

    So while I know my example above is hyperbole, and in reality results will often at least get close to FIP/WAR, it does sometimes come in to play and its important to remember that the awards are for what did actually happen when you were on the field. A case in point:

    Jeremy Hellickson, 11-10, 155 IP, 3.01 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.6 WAR
    Michael Pineda, 9-8, 153 IP, 3.71 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 2.9 WAR

    The award (between these two at least) should go to Hellickson for actually allowing almost a run fewer per game to cross the plate, regardless of what his low K and higher walk rates say should have theoretically happened – it didn’t.

    Fantastic K/BB ratios and a normal BAbip alone does not make a successful pitcher – just ask Brandon Morrow, who has been anything but a near 4 WAR pitcher the last two seasons…

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    • Matt M says:

      I can understand how Brandon Morrow is a 3.0 WAR player this year, in spite of his traditional stats. After all, is it really his fault the Jays played E5 at third, Rajai Davis in center, or Corey Patterson anywhere for much of the year. Hell they are still playing Thames at a fielding position when he would best serve the Jays by playing at E5′s current position (DH). The rest of the Jays have an average UZR which I consider pretty accurate watching them play. So while I personally don’t take WAR or FIP as gospel, after all Romero plays in front of the same defense and has a .250 BABIP (compared to Morrow’s .300), these stats are best for indicating which player is better than their ERA, Win/Loss column suggest.
      Besides, having a 3.0 WAR only suggests a player is above average. Morrow is above average. Especially when you consider more than a couple of average to below average pitchers have flamed out in front of that Jays defense this year and Morrow has done as well as can be expected for an above average player playing on a pretty bad team.

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      • LTG says:

        Why should Hellickson get credit for having more success than someone else unless that success is due to his own performance? The Rays have the best defense in the league or, at least, they save the most runs (and it isn’t that close). Most likely, the difference in ERA between Hellickson and Pineda is the difference between having the Rays defense (and Maddon’s mad-scientistic approach) behind the one and the Mariner’s defense behind the other.

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      • Dbwright says:

        A team like the Jays consistently playing around .500 is, by definition, an average team – not a ‘bad’ team.

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      • SOB says:

        His ERA is so out of whack not because of the defense as much, but rather because of the absolutely horrific LOB% he insists on carrying – a problem he has shown since 2008 really. His 64.4% is better then only Fausto Carmona. And that is because of his complete inability to get an out after allowing a runner on.

        .208/.288/.314/.602 – Bases Empty
        .279/.344/.483/.828 – Runners On
        .308/.364/.546/.910 – RISP
        .357/.393/.643/1.036 – Runner on 3rd, less then 2 outs

        THAT’S his problem, not E5… and it matches last years results perfectly as well

        As far as the Jays being a “bad team”, you are looking at a 69-69 record – good enough for 15th in Baseball. The also hold a (-)0.6 UZR150,which places them 16th in the league. Meanwhile, they sport a .847 RZR – 4th best in the game. Clearly there is a major disconnect between the Teams .847 RZR and the (-)12.7 RngR of UZR here

        Anyway, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how in the world Morrow was worth 3.7 WAR last season (and on pace for about the same for 2011) when he just cant get an out when runners are on base to save his life! Try to blame it on or two of the fielders behind him if you like, but the overall stats just don’t back that argument up and instead point to a pitcher with nerves of jello.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      FIP tells you what happened, xFIP tells you what should have happened.

      So… your whole argument, please throw it in the trash on the way out.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Youre not the brightest bulb, are you?

        ERA shows what actually happened.

        FIP shows what a robot in front of the closest to average Defense you can assemble should produce on the pitchers Strikeout, Walk, Hit Batter and Homerun Rates alone.

        FIP does not factor for Wild Pitches, abnormal Hit rates, Extra Basehit ratios and distribution, Pickoffs or Stolen Base ratios, and any number of other factors which the pitcher has at least some influence on.

        As shown, Morrow is a good example of the numerous human aspects which can destroy the accuracy of FIP. Morrow either cannot pitch from the stretch or has mental hangups after allowing base runners aboard. The purely statistical ‘should have’ scenario which FIP creates cannot account for such human faults so it cannot give a truly meaningful evaluation of the Toronto Starter. That makes FIP, and in turn WAR, basically worthless with regards to his performance.

        With so many being such a fan of the stat, it would be nice if a higher percentage took the time to at least understand it. You sir, fall into that category.

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  28. curious says:

    I think a players rookie status should have some bearing on th discussion. If a guy is going ro be called up mid season or later, but still ends up burning his rookie status he should most definitely be considered if his performance merits it.
    However if a guy hasn’t played enough to burn his rookie status, then it also not likely to have been long enough to get an approxomation od the legitimacy of their numbers. Initial small samples of rookies are different from players that have been in the league for a few years in that opposing teams don’t have detailed scouting reports out on the rookies early on. This means in their initial small sample the rookie player hasn’t had to make adjustments to the league based on the opposing teams more directed approach against them. Other rookies who have been in league longer have had to deal with that and survived or haven’t.

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  29. Toffer Peak says:

    Personally I think the ROY should go to a player that contributed value but that also showed promise of excellence. I would much rather rank players by WAA then to discount the value contributed solely by playing above replacement level. Even when only rewarding a player’s contribution for above average performance they still need to have enough playing time to overcome a lesser player’s playing time advantage. By WAA the top AL rookie hitters so far would be.

    Brett Lawrie – 1.6
    Dustin Ackley – 1.5
    Desmond Jennings – 1.5
    Josh Reddick – 0.9
    Craig Gentry – 0.9
    Mike Carp – 0.7
    Jason Kipnis – 0.6

    Hosmer would be al the way down at 78th with -0.9 WAA.

    I think the top 3 players in WAA are definitely what most people think of as a Rookie of the Year; someone who has come up and dominated and will have a great career ahead of them. Not someone like Karros, Berroa or Coghlan who put in nice long seasons of nice but only slightly above average performance. These are exactly the type of players who tend to really fail to live up to their Rookie of the Year billing.

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  30. pssguy says:

    Did Lawrie have 45 days pre Sep 1st? If not – and he heats up a bit – then he could be in line for consecutive ROYs

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  31. joshcohen says:

    i think this is a really great question.

    IMO part of the problem with awarding the ROY to a player who’s only played 40 games is that we could implicitly be overvaluing scouting perception/minor league stats as well as the small sample in which he’s excelled (which we then adjust to a rate per 150 games…also bad).

    first, scouting perception’s role in this is sneaky. jose constanza is (justly) dismissed as a 28 year old AAAA player having a career month. but when carlos santana produces 2 WAR in 46 games, because he’s met the hype, it’s largely accepted as being a true indication of his talent. that’s bias.

    many commentators point out that if you went searching for a stretch of 46 consecutive games from many “decent” players (say jeff francoeur) it’s likely you’d find 2 WAR stretch. because it occurs at the beginning of one’s career, should that be judged as better? ok, but to what degree? (ps i’m not trying to pick on santana. i think he’s a very good player.)

    second, ancedotally, we often hear that a hitter will struggle as the league develops a book on him. i have no idea whether this notion stands up to statistical scrutiny (my guess that it’s at least partially explained by a sort of “beginners luck” phenomenom seen in gamblers whereby good players have the opportunity to regress whereas bad players are sent down), it nonetheless does make some sense that it would occur. the better the book on the hitter, the tougher it is to put up high variance performance.

    IMO, unless the august call-up leads the rookie crop in WAR by a “good clip”, we should give preference to players with 300+ ABs. otherwise we’re letting things like hype and hot streaks color our perception more than we probably should.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      For me the award is the Rookie MVP, not who’s going to have the best career. I can separate those two, some people, unfortunately cannot. A hot streak adds up in a career of a player, just like the cold streaks, and if they do have “luck” at the beginning of their career good enough for an award then why not? A player creating 2 WAR in 60 games has produced as much as a man who produced 2 in 130 games, it’s just that Brett Lawrie is going to be better, probably, career wise than Mark Trumbo. They both equally deserve the award for their performance, if that’s the high.

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  32. pft says:

    I won’t use FG WAR for pitchers because FIP is not approporate to determine what a player has actually done (actual runs created or saved) , and I think the race is between Trumbo and Nova in the AL.

    I think you have to start at least 15 games or get 300 PA to be considered.

    IMO rookie of the Year is not MVP for rookies, it is the rookie player (pitcher or hitter) which was most productive w/o consideration of team value, kind of like the Cy Young Award for Pitchers extended to Pitcher and Hitters. There should be no consideration of if the results are predictive because it is an award based on what a player has done in 2011, no matter it is luck or not.

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  33. Cecala says:

    Its sad how Nova will probably be in the top 2 just based on his wins and how he plays for a contender.

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  34. bookbook says:

    It’s better for the game to have Jennings win the rookie of the year over Trumbo. Pineda, Lawrie, Ackley, Hellickson would all be good enough winners as well

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  35. Blue says:

    The result of allowing rookies to win ROY with 40 games will be the award of a lot of stupid ROY awards. History is full of guys who came up in the last couple of months of the season, set the league on fire, and then were never heard from again. Given the right schedule quirks, a guy could get ROY facing a series of appalling teams, with very little indication of his true talent level.

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    • gabriel says:

      Any actual examples to be offered? We’re not talking about giving Lawrie or Jennings the ROY for 70 ABs, but something more like 200.

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      • joshcohen says:

        shane spencer produced 1.2 WAR in 27 (73 ABs) in ’98. his wRC+ was 227. the winner that year, ben greive, only produced 1.8 WAR over a full year (although this is largely the result of a -21 pre-UZR fielding rating).

        fwiw, i do think more than a handful of those players exist and we simply don’t remember them because their careers were otherwise so unremarkable.

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      • joshcohen says:

        also, this issue would only potentially come to the fore when there isn’t a slam dunk choice for ROY. of late, that hasn’t been a big problem.

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      • gabriel says:

        I remember Spencer that year – good example, and I’m sure there have been more, but 1.2 WAR wasn’t even enough to get him near it in ’98, which was a pretty poor year for AL rookies, it looks like. I think Jennings or Lawrie will have to get to 3 WAR for serious consideration, and they will both finish with more than 200 PA, which isn’t ridiculously small sample size.

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  36. Steve LoughtoN says:

    New to this site. Exactly what is a WAR? Is there oil involved?

    When you say “Wins Above Replacement” exactly which people are the replacement players? Is it like Wins Above a “Jerry Sands” type player? I never understood what the “replacement” was.

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  37. Robert says:

    If a rookie acquires too much service time to be eligible as a rookie the following season, why should their lack of playing time be held against them in this year’s vote?

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