The Josh Donaldson MVP Argument

It’s long been a foregone conclusion that Miguel Cabrera is going to win the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player Award. It’s long felt like a foregone conclusion that this will happen despite Cabrera again finishing well behind Mike Trout in league WAR. The question hasn’t been whether Trout will finish first or second; it’s been whether Trout will finish second or third or fourth or worse. We’ve already been through this, and if Cabrera has a serious challenger, it’s in the person of one Chris Davis. It’s Davis who has the lead on Cabrera in dingers. It’s Davis who’s playing for another AL contender. It’s Davis who stands the only real chance of knocking Cabrera down, in the event of a white-hot few weeks. But it still presumably won’t happen. Cabrera has packed a lot into his time.

This has been a foregone conclusion because we’ve tried to predict the tendencies and beliefs of the voters. Precedent: most previous votes. Specifically, last year’s votes. Cabrera will win because he’s a beast on a playoff team. Trout will not win because he’s a beast on a non-playoff team that hasn’t been close to the race. The overwhelming majority of voters place extra weight on productivity in meaningful games. Because we debate the awards every year, it’s pretty hard to find a fresh argument. It’s hard to feel like it’s worth writing something, when you feel like you’ve written it a thousand times before. But every so often, there’s an unexplored nugget of interest, and if you follow the thought processes of the voting writers, I think you can make an argument that this year’s AL MVP should or could be Josh Donaldson.

I want to make two things clear right here:

(1) I’m not sure how much I believe this argument. I think it’s just an argument one could make, somewhat reasonably. I’m as old as I am, and I still haven’t decided how I feel about the MVP, which speaks to its complexity. That’s a big part of the fun.

(2) This is less about Donaldson specifically, and more about the general idea. It’s an idea that could apply every year. When I first talked about this with Dave Cameron last week, the Tigers held a more comfortable division lead. It’s still comfortable, but it’s smaller, which alters this specific picture.

Let’s accept that the voters vastly prefer MVPs to come from good teams. I think they’ve demonstrated as much, and while many have argued against that, the landscape is what it is. Financially, it is more valuable to be a great player on a good team than a great player on a bad team. Any one win is one individual win, but perhaps wins do count differently. Perhaps you can’t add meaningful value to a cellar-dweller. I don’t know. Like most things, it’s probably in the gray area.

So what does that voter preference mean? It means that the games have to matter in order for much value to be accrued. The whole point of the season is making it to the playoffs, so then value really starts to add up on contenders. I don’t know where you draw the line between contender and non-contender, but a line exists, and it probably somewhat has to do with feel. This year’s Angels have not been a contender. They fell flat at the beginning. It’s remarkable for Trout to be able to do what he’s done on a team going nowhere, considering the attendant lack of motivation, but that’s supposedly not what the MVP is about.

But then if it’s about games mattering — high-leverage games, so to speak — there are opposite extremes. There are teams that are too bad for the games to feel important, and there are teams that are too good for the games to feel anything but comfortable. If you’re losing a blowout, you can’t change much with an out or a homer. If you’re winning a blowout, the same principle applies. The leverage is too low. Which, according to the writers, should factor in. They say the Angels would be a bad team with or without Trout. What if a good playoff team would still be a good playoff team without a particular star? It follows, just based on the voting pool’s logic, that the star also shouldn’t be much of an MVP candidate. The games weren’t important enough, for the opposite reason.

The Angels would be bad without Trout. The Tigers would be good without Cabrera. This argument is less convincing with their diminished division lead, but even without Cabrera, the Tigers would probably be the AL Central favorites. They haven’t had to worry much in weeks. Of course, part of that’s because of Cabrera, but if we’re concerned with game leverage, it seems like the focus should be on the teams right on the postseason bubble. Those are the teams with the most to gain or lose. We’ve been led to believe this is a critical factor.

The Orioles are in the thick of things. Chris Davis has a 6.4 WAR. Manny Machado has a 6.0 WAR. The Rays are in the thick of things. Evan Longoria has a 6.0 WAR. The A’s are in the thick of things. Josh Donaldson has a 6.4 WAR. Right now, the A’s are holding off the Rangers in the West, which is the difference between playing at least one extra game and at least three extra games. The Rays are holding off the Indians and Orioles and others in the wild card. If the season ended today, the Rays and A’s would move on, and the Orioles would go home. If the voters were to give an extra boost to an MVP candidate on a contending team that gets over the hump, then here they’d be looking at Donaldson and Longoria, and Donaldson has the slight WAR edge. Not that things should be that simple, but that’s the argument. Donaldson has been Oakland’s best player, and without him, they wouldn’t be looking at a Division Series berth. There’s a world of difference between making the first round and qualifying for the one-game playoff.

Of course, the Orioles have still been a contender. Of course, one could still reasonably vote for Davis, or Machado. Those games have most certainly mattered. The point is that you could conceivably eliminate both Trout and Cabrera from contention, and then you’re left with a tough choice. Donaldson would never win, because nobody even knows who Josh Donaldson is, but according to the voters’ own demonstrated preferences, right now he’s a more deserving candidate than he’ll be treated as in the actual voting.

I mentioned before this doesn’t apply so well right now, with the Tigers’ division lead shrinking. But we can go back and apply it just a couple years ago. In 2011, the AL MVP was Justin Verlander. Verlander, of course, was amazing, and the Tigers won the Central by 15 games. Jacoby Ellsbury was amazing — arguably as or more amazing — and the Red Sox missed the playoffs on the final day, the conclusion of a month-long, team-wide collapse. Verlander got the edge because his team made the playoffs. All of the Red Sox’s games mattered, an awful lot, and while the Sox collapsed around Ellsbury, over that final month Ellsbury himself posted a four-digit OPS. He didn’t even succumb to the greater suck. He was penalized for his team falling apart, even though his team played more important games than the Tigers did. And it seems to be all about important games. At least according to the people who vote on this thing.

Prefer guys on contending teams? That’s fine. It’s arguable, but it’s not unreasonable. Maybe it really is about that high-leverage part of the win curve. But while there are win totals below, there are also win totals above. Either it’s about important games or it isn’t, and if it is, consider whose games truly mattered the most.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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JD
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JD
2 years 10 months ago

It’s more likely that Donaldson finishes out of the top 10 of voting than in the top 5. If Deadspin’s recent post about “Jason Donaldson” is any indication, most people don’t know or care who he is even if he’s been one of the 3 or 4 best players in the American League this year.

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
2 years 10 months ago

Most people, sure, but you’ve got to at least acknowledge the BBWAA would be aware of his existence.

JD
Guest
JD
2 years 10 months ago

Only in some vague “he’s on Oakland, right?” sense. I bet most would be surprised at how good he’s been this year.

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

No way. The BBWAA probably has next to no clue to who Josh Donaldson is:
-He plays for Oakland, a team often forgotten, who is leading the division, but hasn’t been a powerhouse
-He isn’t a big name to begin with
-He doesn’t have “sexy stats,” not a real high batting average, a lot of homeruns or RBIs
-A lot of his hitting value comes from a good walk rate and a good amount of doubles
-His overall value comes from an overall solid game, with no real weaknesses, but no amazing, elite skills, either, at a position of relative scarcity. This is the type of performance that goes consistently ignored by the BBWAA.
Half the BBWAA probably has nearly no idea who Josh Donaldson is. Those who do probably view Donaldson as a very solid player on a good team, not a top 5, 10, or possibly even 15 player in the MVP vote.

Philip Christy
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Philip Christy
2 years 10 months ago

The “he’s in Oakland” argument has zero weight here; Oakland players and managers have won several awards over the years, most likely many more than an average team. The BBWAA knows about the Oakland Athletics.

ralph
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ralph
2 years 10 months ago

Donaldson really is an amazing story this year. Too amazing for Keith Law, apparently, to the point that he has to pull out his self-professed mortal enemy (slight exaggeration) of “arbitrary endpoints” against Donaldson in a recent chat:

http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/48829/mlb-insider-keith-law

“He’s .256/.349/.409 since the break, more in line with his previous performances in the majors and minors. I don’t think his first-half numbers are indicative of what he’ll be in the long run, which is a long way of saying I might give him a 50 (average) but not a 55 (above).”

I guess Donaldson really had a good couple last few days, because now he’s up to .272/.359/.445 after the break. And for the past calendar year, he’s at .292/.365/.481 over 689 PA.

He might end up being right, but Donaldson is quickly accumulating at least 55-quality PAs.

I just point this out because it’s always amusing to see Keith Law create his own #narrative using #SSS.

Danmay
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Danmay
2 years 10 months ago

“He’s .256/.349/.409 since the break, more in line with previous performances in the majors and minors.”

Besides being an arbitrary end point/SSS I find it even more infuriating that the statement is just false. He put up definitively better numbers as a minor leaguer, and put up definitively worse numbers prior to his call up in late 2012.

I’m not saying that this proves how good Josh will be in the future, just that Keith really pulled that one out of his ass.

ralph
Guest
ralph
2 years 10 months ago

Good points. Donaldson is a fascinating player, with the reasons you mention adding to that. Keith always says that he’s willing to consider endpoints tied to an actual change… and of course Donaldson stopped catching right around when his hitting took off.

Like you say, I don’t know if that means it’s a real change in Donaldson’s outlook, but it’s much more complex than Keith makes it out to be.

Greg
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Greg
2 years 10 months ago

And Donaldson was a catcher throughout the minor leagues. Moving out from behind the plate may be part of the reason for his emergence as a hitter.

Simon
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Simon
2 years 10 months ago

Then again, many, if not most, players have better numbers in the minors than they do when they reach the majors, because the majors are harder.

mario mendoza
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mario mendoza
2 years 10 months ago

Zips and Steamer ROS agree with Law.

ralph
Guest
ralph
2 years 10 months ago

Of course ZiPS and Steamer would. They’re designed to predict regression, and they’re often right.

But it also means they almost categorically miss breakouts.

cass
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cass
2 years 10 months ago

I thought the logic behind MVP voting was that the best player should win and the best player is the player with the most RBIs. Unless a pitcher gets mid-20s or higher in wins and there isn’t a player with a ton of RBIs. Isn’t that how it really works?

The winner can almost always be predicted by that formula.

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
2 years 10 months ago

Um…that’s spelled “ribbies”.

Free Bryan LaHair
Member
Free Bryan LaHair
2 years 10 months ago

Um…you mean “ribbies.”

Pedantic twat
Guest
Pedantic twat
2 years 10 months ago

I can’t downvote LaHair enough.

Jaack
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Jaack
2 years 10 months ago

Ehhh… 2012 NL is an example that kind of disproves that. The top 4 vote getters, who accrued all but one of the top 3 votes were Posey, Braun, Molina, and McCutchen. In the NL Braun was second in RBIs, Posey sixth, McCutchen eleventh, and Molina 33rd. Chase Headley, the RBI leader came in a distant 5th. Now that may be because of the Padres not actually existing, but 3rd and 5th place RBI men Alfonso Soriano and Hunter Pence got very little attention from MVP voters.

Looking at the top ten of the 2012 NL ballot, the three names that stick out as weird are Adam LaRoche, Jay Bruce, and Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel got votes because of the weird thing that MVP voters have for closers. The other two were probably boosted by RBI totals, but also from the fact that they played on the two of the best teams in the NL, neither of whom had an obvious MVP candidate.

On the AL side, moving past the Trout-Cabrera debate, which was not just about RBIs, some of the big RBI men of 2012 such as Josh Willingham, Billy Butler, and Curtis Granderson, were all shut out of the MVP balloting despite being tied for 3rd, 6th, and 7th respectively in RBIs. Josh Hamilton is really the only guy whose placing really got boosted by his RBIs, aside from Cabrera, obviously.

I don’t mean to say that the BBWAA is doing a great job at picking MVPs at all, but that simplifying their analysis to one number, especially one as vilified by this community as RBI is overly naive. Many writers may not have a very good method at picking players (or to be even more fair, one that the sabermetricly inclined fan would agree with), but its not as utterly simple and stupid as you make it out to be.

Cus
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Cus
2 years 10 months ago

I’m pretty sure the original comment was meant in jest.

mesofunny
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mesofunny
2 years 10 months ago

OMG!!!!!! THAT”S SOOOOOO FUNNNYYYY1!!1!111 I’ve never heard that joke before! That’s a good one there. You sure showed those sports writers! LOLZ RBIs!1!

Steven
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Steven
2 years 10 months ago

Good logic, wrong year. Tigers are only 4.5 away from missing the postseason all together. Cabrera’s 7 wins are the difference (and the Tigers lead has only dropped 2 games in 10 days, so even 10 days ago Cabrera was the difference).

What I am curious about is whether or not the difference in WAR between Trout and Cabrera will get to the same level it was last year. It was 3.1 here and 3.6 on reference last year. Currently it sits at 2.5 and both places. Last year, it was so clear that Trout was better that it made people angry when others argued for Cabrera (myself included). If it exceeds the 3.5 mark this year, (not impossible with Cabrera’s injury status) will people get equally angry, or are we all to exhausted from last year’s debate?

Ivan Grushenko
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Ivan Grushenko
2 years 10 months ago

The Angels were also a lot better last year than this year. They were a semi-contender that actually won more games than the Tigers.

Hank
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Hank
2 years 10 months ago

It was so clear that an A’s front office person at a SABR conference said their own internal value systems had Cabrera as slighlty more valuable than Trout.

But then again that front office is pretty backward thinking and tends to be old school when it comes to analysis.

LK
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LK
2 years 10 months ago

This anecdote is so over-cited it’s ridiculous.

The A’s front office person didn’t say anything about how their internal value system was constructed, most importantly whether it considered context or not, and also said nothing about how the A’s estimate replacement level, which was a pretty big deal last year with Trout missing a month. He also said that while Cabrera had a slight lead, the 2 were close enough that it was a virtual toss-up.

So let’s say we have 3 value systems (the A’s which we know nothing about, FG, and B-R). 2 have Trout way ahead, one has them essentially tied.

More importantly, there’s the matter than Jayson Stark said last year that of all the front office people he surveyed about the MVP, only 1 picked Miggy and all the rest picked Trout.

It’s impossible to get a universal consensus about anything, but Trout was pretty clearly better last year no matter how much people want to latch onto an off-hand quote from an A’s AGM.

yf223
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yf223
2 years 10 months ago

I doubt it. Here’s the thing- last year, Miggy had a great offensive season, but one that was bolstered because of his Triple Crown win. But was it really that much better than what he put up in 2010 and 2011? By any measure, it was a great year, but nothing out of line with what some top offensive players have put up the past 5 years or so.

This year, Miggy’s offensive performance has been on another level. It’s been historically good. Last player with a wRC+ higher than his 199 was a dude who had the league at his mercy from ’01-’04. Before that, you’d only have a couple of McGwire seasons, and a Bagwell and Big Hurt season that can compare.

So even if Trout’s going to outpace Cabrera in WAR by a similar amount, there won’t be nearly as much of an outcry about it. It’s the difference between a great offensive player having a very good offensive year winning, and one having a historic offensive year winning.

evo34
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evo34
2 years 10 months ago

What are you talking about? How is Cabrera’s offense significantly better than Trout’s this year? Hint: baserunning is part of offense.

wally
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wally
2 years 10 months ago

“Good logic, wrong year. Tigers are only 4.5 away from missing the postseason all together. Cabrera’s 7 wins are the difference”

But they are 6.5 up in there division after tonights game. I think you’re looking at the WC teams there. The teams chasing them for the division are behind Texas and Tampa Bay.

Regardless, I don’t think the point is necessarily just player WAR >= #games a team wins a division by. Obviously, then if a team wins by 1 game, just about any regular player on that team could be the MVP.

Rather it needs to be some kind of balance. If your team wins by 6 games, but you had 7 WAR, then sure those 7 WAR where the difference! However, its pretty likely that a good team emphasizing winning would get better than 1 WAR from who ever they replace that person with. Therefor, in this hypothetical, its likely that team still wins the division. However, if a player on another team gets 6 WAR, but they win the division by 1 game, its going to be pretty hard to replace that player and still win the division….

Now, I”m not sure I agree with all this. Personally, I just like the MVP going to the best player regardless of team standings. Team standings could be a nice tie breaker if there is no clear winner, but depending on if you like WAR, WPA or RBI, it seems you can usually come to some pretty clear winner most every year.

ralph
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ralph
2 years 10 months ago

“It’s arguable, but it’s not unreasonable.”

I’d just like to note how much I appreciate your willingness not to try to make everything a 100% right/100% wrong situation.

Colin
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Colin
2 years 10 months ago

Only the sith deal in absolutes.

Mac
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Mac
2 years 10 months ago

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kevin
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Kevin
2 years 10 months ago

One of the reasons Jeff is my favorite author here!

chief00
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chief00
2 years 10 months ago

Your absolute favourite author?

Bab
Guest
Bab
2 years 10 months ago

If Jeff has an SO she/he’s probably pulled out all their hair by now

Patrick
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

It’s not about important games. It’s about the value of a player’s contribution to his team. If one player contributes X and the impact is that his team makes the playoffs, and another player contributes X and the impact is that his team finishes third, the first player has provided greater value to his team.

It’s not just about contending, either. It’s about winning. Contending has value, as baseball is an entertainment business. But winning gives the team a shot at a championship. That’s real value.

Apart from the serious inconsistency in WAR’s defensive metrics, there are other problems that make WAR the wrong way to measure value for MVP purposes.

WAR measures hypothetical wins above a hypothetical replacement player. wOBA takes the real events that happen on the field and changes their value to a context neutral setting. Hey, I love wOBA. I think it’s the best offensive stat in the world. But value to the team is measured by what impact that base hit, or whatever it was, has on the team.

Yes, players on better teams, with better players getting on base ahead of them have an advantage. Yes, players on better teams have a greater opportunity to provide value to their teams. Yes, the contributions of team mates help them in the MVP race. Such is life. Baseball is not a context neutral sport.

ralph
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ralph
2 years 10 months ago

pssst… wOBA is not park-adjusted, which I find makes it hard to classify as the “best offensive stat in the world.”

Ivan Grushenko
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Ivan Grushenko
2 years 10 months ago

It’s also not a counting stat. According to wOBA John Paciorek would be the greatest hitter of all time.

Spit Ball
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Spit Ball
2 years 10 months ago

Trolling

Patrick
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

wRC- there, same thing= counting stat

Baltar
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Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Yes, but Jeff’s point is that if a team would have made the playoffs without a given player, he is not “valuable”. But the voters who automatically eliminate any player whose team did not make the playoffs because he was not “valuable” by the same definition.
Using that definition, the MVP must be a player on a team which marginally made the playoffs, yet a player on a team that made the playoffs by a huge margin is much more likely to get votes.
Thus, the voters are total hypocrites.
It is abundantly clear that the intent of the award was that it go to the best player.
So instead of making up twisted and inconsistent definitions of “valuable,” the voters should just vote for the best player.

Patrick
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

“It is abundantly clear that the intent of the award was that it go to the best player.”

I strongly dispute this premise. The entire history of the award shows that it has gone to a player on a team that won the pennant.

There’s nothing twisted about the phrase “greatest value to his team”. You may like to twist that into ‘best player regardless of the impact on his team”.

sopcod
Member
sopcod
2 years 10 months ago

I agree with Jeff on this one, I’ve always felt that people take the term “most valuable player” too literally. It only makes sense that the best individual performance would be recognized, and the MVP should do that. MVP arguments every year are more about what MVP means rather than who is the best player.

Tim
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Tim
2 years 10 months ago

Does a championship have any actual value, or are we just buying into an arbitrary system? A World Series title doesn’t add anything to the world, and only redistributes a marginal amount among cities.

me
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me
2 years 10 months ago

Would you go for WPA or similar as best MVP indicator?

dfives
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dfives
2 years 10 months ago

is there a stat like win probability added but on an entire game basis- “war in games where your team is within 5 games of a playoff spot over the course of a season” or something like that?

Colin
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Colin
2 years 10 months ago

Kinda crazy that a month ago Trout and Cabrera were basically even in WAR.

dave k
Guest
dave k
2 years 10 months ago

He sat out a bunch of games and his base running (already bad) took a major hit over the past month.

Cus
Guest
Cus
2 years 10 months ago

Whose WAR represents the highest percentage of his team’s total wins?

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 10 months ago

Without actually looking it up I’d imagine Trout would be #1 and Jason Castro would be up there.

elgato7664
Guest
elgato7664
2 years 10 months ago

fWAR / Team Wins

14.6% Mike Trout
9.8% Carlos Gomez
9.5% Matt Harvey
9.0% Andrew McCutchen
8.9% Felix Hernandez
8.9% David Wright
8.9% Miguel Cabrera
8.4% Chris Sale
8.3% Chris Davis
8.2% Troy Tulowitzki
8.1% Jason Castro
8.1% Joe Mauer
7.9% Jose Fernandez
7.8% Manny Machado
7.7% Josh Donaldson
7.7% Evan Longoria
7.4% Buster Posey
7.3% Carlos Gonzalez
7.2% Max Scherzer
7.1% Matt Carpenter

Question
Guest
Question
2 years 10 months ago

Is that fWAR / Team fWAR, or fWAR / Team Wins (literal wins)?

I think it would be interesting to see both. Not interesting enough to actually put it together myself, but, you know, kinda interesting.

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 10 months ago

Has there ever been a season where there were so many fantastic 3rd basemen in one league? Cabrera, Donaldson, Machado, and Longoria are all superstars at 6+ WAR, then there’s Beltre who will likely break 5 and Seager at 4. That’s a lot of excellent 3Bs.

Tim
Guest
Tim
2 years 10 months ago

Calling Miguel Cabrera a 3rd baseman is like calling Derek Jeter a shortstop

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 10 months ago

That comparison can be made. But I was no way implying it.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

Considering Jeter is a shortstop, I don’t see any reason with calling Cabrera a 3b.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

switch ‘reason’ with ‘problem’ and it makes a little more sense.

Devin
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Devin
2 years 10 months ago

Josh who???

Never heard of him.

Mr Punch
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Mr Punch
2 years 10 months ago

“Financially, it is more valuable to be a great player on a good team than a great player on a bad team.” Financially, the most valuable player in baseball history may be Manny Ramirez, who played before more home sellouts, I’d guess, than Cobb, Ruth, Williams, Mays and Aaron combined. But he was never [regular season] MVP.

Spit Ball
Guest
Spit Ball
2 years 10 months ago

No, not this year. Not after what we went through with Trout and Cabrera last year and we still don’t know enough about defensive metrics to make this call. I always question defensive measurements in Oakland the way I do Fenway’s left Field. SOOOO much foul territory. Nice try but no. Not if we accept WAR +/-15 percent for each player. At some point we have to go back to the slash line plus defensive reputation until we get it right.

me
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me
2 years 10 months ago

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 years 10 months ago

1st thing I thought of here was Ichiro’s rookie MVP on Seattle’s dominant ’01 team. A good year no doubt, but 1) overrated due to high BA 2) they would have clobbered everybody even if they had started their AA rightfielder all year.

Conclusion: MVP voters, like everyone else in the world to some extent, are hyporcrites

Patrick
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Not hypocrites.
A hypocrite is one who preaches one thing and does another.

Duplicitous, maybe.

Tom
Guest
Tom
2 years 10 months ago

Duplicitous, maybe.<cite.

That movie was really awful.

Michael
Guest
Michael
2 years 10 months ago

“Donaldson would never win, because nobody even knows who Josh Donaldson is”

I love this. I hate to be that guy but seriously what Billy Beane and the rest of the A’s front office does year after year is unbelievable.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t get something with both this article and the earlier one about value in a losing effort.

Specifically, why is it that if one says that a player contributes less if they are on a losing team, it means they contribute NOTHING if they wre on a losing team? I know some people have said the latter, but I’ve always felt it is the former: A player on a losing team still has value…but it seems hard to argue that a guy with 8 WAR value is more valuable on a team that gets into the playoffs (You may add a bonus if they had to fight tooth and nail, I suppose) and a guy who gets last: The wins are more valuable. (You could also argue that the player would be more valuable because he can do postseason stuff and help win a WS. I’ll avoid this argument because I don’t have a position on it).

It’s the same logic that paying for extra wins when you are in a certain sweetspot (IIRC, something like 98-99 wns?) is more valuable than paying for them when you’re paying for the difference between 60 and 70: Wins that mean postseason possibilities are more valuable.

Plus, there is value in winning so much that you don’t have to worry down the stretch: You can use that time to rest injured players and the like.

All the same, articles like this are why I’m glad the argument on things like value and best exist.

ErnestoSalvaderi
Member
ErnestoSalvaderi
2 years 10 months ago

I would assume Adam Jones gets more love from the MVP voters than Manny Machado. .290/30/100/100/15 is fairly hard to overlook from an athletic centerfielder.

rageon
Guest
rageon
2 years 10 months ago

I’m just surprised there are 50 comments and no one has posted a GIF of Donaldson’s absurd diving-over-the-tarp catch from last week.

Free Bryan LaHair
Member
Free Bryan LaHair
2 years 10 months ago

as posted by @me a few comments up

Jason
Guest
Jason
2 years 10 months ago

Not to bring up past arguments about the MVP, but the 2011 MVP argument may have had less to do with who did and did not make the playoffs than it did that there were many good offensive candidates.
Name FanG WAR B-R WAR
Verlander 6.9 8.4
Ellsbury 9.1 8.11
Bautista 7.7 8.07
Granderson 6.6 5.4
Cabrera 6.7 7.58
Cano 5.3 5.45
Gonzalez 6.2 6.9
Michael Young 3.5 2.3 (?? Does his mother get to vote?)
Pedroia 7.6 7.94
Longoria 6.2 7.49
What this shows us is that NY writers shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

I remember the comments that Bautista would probably win because Ellsbury, Pedroia and Gonzalez would steal eachother’s votes. Perhaps, without a clear-cut “best hitter” that season, they decided to vote on the pitcher who clearly out-performed the rest of the league.

Additional comments:
I agree that silly things like RBIs, Avg and HRs shouldn’t define a MVP. Nor should wins and ERA define a Cy Young winner, but it’s hard to accept using something like WAR when there isn’t a consensus WAR calculation. Perhaps, the SABR community should reach out to MLB and try to get things like pitcher’s FIP or hitter’s wOBA presented on MLB.com.

Manny1
Guest
Manny1
2 years 10 months ago

Machado? Not in the mix. 6 WAR built up by phony fielding metric.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
2 years 10 months ago

This would probably be really hard to calculate, but it would be fun to make a playoff weighted WPA. Basically you would take the expected change in Playoff Odds for a win for the team given their current record and place in the standings and multiply that by the WPA for each player. That would give a stat which could quantify exactly which players contributed the most towards getting their team to the playoffs. It would heavily be weighted towards players who played well on teams battling for a playoff spot towards the end of the season.

For calculating the playoff odds change I would think it would make the most sense to use the coin flip method of estimating odds and pretend each game was played in isolation. For example if we wanted to weight the Rays game against the Red Sox tonight, we would take the current standings with the Rays at 78-65 (playoff odds 49.5%) and simulate their playoff odds with all the other teams the same, but the Rays at 79-65 (guess 53%) and 78-66 (guess 43%). Subtract the two to get the playoff odds change of 10% for the game. Then multiply that by the WPA of each player for the game.

Maybe it would make more sense to use the Divisional Series Odd instead of playoff odds with the new wild card situation. You could also do the same thing with the World Series % odds and continue to calculate it through the playoffs.

me
Guest
me
2 years 10 months ago

Love it. It’s not explicitly stated in the article, but I think what it boils down to is giving weight to “extra games played x (share of contributions towards those extra games played).” Which is why Donaldson would be a better candidate than Davis; maybe they have comparable contributions towards those extra games played, but Donaldson (if season ended today) would be playing at least 3 more games, where Davis is only guaranteed one more.

Owen
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Owen
2 years 10 months ago

Clearly what we need is a statistic called PPA for Playoff Probability Added. It would take every action by a player and the corresponding addition or subtraction to the likelihood that his specific team makes the playoffs that year. I’m mostly kidding, but I kind of want someone to do this.

suicide squeeze
Member
suicide squeeze
2 years 10 months ago

When FG rolled out the playoff odds feature, I asked if they would do this, and The Dark Overlord seemed receptive. Here’s betting they do it next season.

Jason
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Jason
2 years 10 months ago

You’re assuming that the voters (who are journalists) have some sort of collective rationality. Go back and read Mitch Albom’s column after Cabrera won the MVP last year (lede: “The eyes have it.”). Albom made the argument that “stats geeks” who only care about numbers lost out to “actual fans” who “actually watch the games,” all while a lot of his argument was based on a slavish adherence to 3 numbers. I don’t think Albom is in the BBWAA, but this is the sort of thinking that’s prevalent among baseball writers. Remember, this is the same organization that kept Bagwell out of the Hall because of unfounded suspicions, and Biggio out because…? Something about being a Hall of Famer but not a First Ballot? I don’t even remember. You think they’re going to understand a slightly subtle argument about high leverage? There’s not enough collective reason there. (And maybe that’s how it should be…after all, we’re arguing about men hitting balls with sticks here).

beejeez
Guest
beejeez
2 years 10 months ago

You’re confusing Mitch Albom with journalists. Albom’s a pop writer who can write entertainingly about sports when he isn’t delivering the moral sermon of the week, and his bread is buttered in Detroit. While there’s a good case that Trout is a better overall player than Cabrera, there was also a solid case for rewarding Cabrera’s longer-sustained contribution in 2012. I get it that old-school writers may be suspiciouis of WAR (I have my doubts, too; I think it undervalues home runs a bit), but at least they’re hip to OPS nowadays.

Greg Tellis
Guest
Greg Tellis
2 years 10 months ago

How about the Matt Carpenter argument…leads or at the top in runs, hits, runs produced(runs + rbi’s), and extra base hits…catalyst for the offense all year while most of the “names” have been out of the lineup at times…also made
smooth transition to second base while backing up at third.

BlueMoonOdom
Guest
BlueMoonOdom
2 years 10 months ago

Disgusting shaved mullet award? Sure. The new brandon ingot. Go back where you came from.

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