2021 AL MVP

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from what would have probably been a unanimous ohtani win to now a close (two-player) race imo

Poll Results

OptionVotes
shohei ohtani 11
vlad guerrero, jr 2
someone else 0


mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Friday, 17 September 2021 13:44 (one month ago) link

No surprise: Vlad.

Hometown bias aside, I don't know, there's just something that seems very media-driven about Ohtani to me. I think I might be the only person in the world other than James who wishes the Angels would commit to one or the other, preferably the hitting. ("Are you insane, man? He's the greatest story since Ruth.")

But WAR rules the day, and on Baseball Refernce, Guerrero's not even second on his own team.

clemenza, Friday, 17 September 2021 16:02 (one month ago) link

Vlad is the best at doing a thing players do every year. Ohtani is doing something nobody's done in 100 years. It's Ohtani.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Friday, 17 September 2021 16:41 (one month ago) link

Guys hit .256 and post 3.36 ERAs every year!

(Yes, I'm joking.)

clemenza, Friday, 17 September 2021 18:37 (one month ago) link

If team success is an antiquated notion in an MVP vote, and "something nobody's done" isn't, what about Salvador Perez? He may be the first catcher ever to hit 50 HR; at the very least, he's about to break Bench's record of 45, and with Gold Glove defense besides.

clemenza, Saturday, 18 September 2021 01:30 (one month ago) link

why would the first catcher to hit 50 HR be more impressive than the first pitcher to do it?

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 01:40 (one month ago) link

Neither one of them has done it yet; I guess the implication of my post was, what is Perez does and Ohtani doesn't? And--clearly, I'm not very objective--I consider Perez a full-time catcher and Ohtani (115 IP, and evidently finished for the year as a pitcher) something less than a full-time pitcher.

clemenza, Saturday, 18 September 2021 01:49 (one month ago) link

perez is, per fangraphs, among the worst defensive catchers in the league. he also has a .301 OBP.

ohtani is the second-best hitter in the AL by wRC+. he's the tenth-best pitcher in the AL by bWAR (and i do agree with joe poz's critique of pitcher bWAR, but i think we can say that he is a comfortably above-average big-league starter). i don't know why this bothers you or what on earth you mean by him being 'media-driven' (has the media not been covering vlad jr. since he was three years old?) but i really don't understand why you're looking for ways to be unimpressed by a player this uniquely great

mookieproof, Saturday, 18 September 2021 01:54 (one month ago) link

Because God tapped me on the shoulder and said "Be difficult"...I just feel like Ohtani was given the award about six weeks ago, has slumped since, but--as people constantly yammered at me for years--the "narrative" was already entrenched. For what it's worth, Perez has a typically good defensive bWAR (1.1, I think), and Ohtani isn't in the Top 10 in offensive bWAR). Don't worry, he's gonna win. I don't have to like it.

clemenza, Saturday, 18 September 2021 02:00 (one month ago) link

I love ohtani, but I do get the “narrative” meta-counter argument. being an above average pitcher and one of the best hitters in the league is awesome, but he’s not quite head and shoulders above the league anymore when it comes to overall value. he’s been truly atrocious for a couple of months now

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:13 (one month ago) link

what’s interesting is that his “value”, by WAR, might be depressed by playing in the AL? I was looking at bumgarner’s career hitting numbers the other day…his career batting WAR (on fangraphs) is 5.3 over 727 PA, good for 4.7 per 650 PA. ohtani this year clocks in at 4.6 in 569 PA, or 5.2 per 650. madbum’s career wRC+ is 44

imagine if shohei were in the NL and played RF on his off days?

I have to think about this more to decide if my logic makes sense

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:25 (one month ago) link

well he'd have to play RF well to not be dinged for defense but sure a DH is gonna get less WAR than an adequate fielder

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:30 (one month ago) link

i get what you mean though, it is a weird situation. replacement level is much higher in the AL since its any hitter vs a pitcher hitting

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:32 (one month ago) link

either way though he's essentially 2 good players at once to the team which is hard to out-value for a most valuable player award. who else is as good as 2 good players?

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:34 (one month ago) link

right you're essentially getting an extra roster spot with him which I don't think WAR takes into consideration

frogbs, Saturday, 18 September 2021 04:42 (one month ago) link

Vlad any other year but this year. you just don't have two way players for everyone to fall in love with. overhyped yes, but in this case it's fine.

Bee OK, Saturday, 18 September 2021 06:30 (one month ago) link

I just skimmed this, but I think it's everyone but one for Ohtani:

https://www.mlb.com/news/vladimir-guerrero-jr-mvp-roundtable

The Triple Crown seems academic--I cannot see Vlad making up 8 RBI in 16 games. There's a decent chance he won't lead in any of the three categories when the season ends.

Having said that (and to reinforce Kevin's post above): "does it matter that Vlad is finishing red hot and Ohtani has been a little cooler..." A "little" cooler? Ohtani has been terrible in August and September on the hitting end of things. As of today: .207/.327/.379. He's still got some room to turn that around a little, but I'd be curious as to whether an MVP has ever finished a season so poorly. There was the one season where Hamilton got the MVP sitting out most of September, so I guess you could use that as a precedent.

(But what about Ohtani's pitching for those two months? Very good August, lousy September; combined, you're talking about six starts and 35 innings.)

clemenza, Saturday, 18 September 2021 13:41 (one month ago) link

something being “unprecedented” seems awfully narrative-y! interesting how those same mores are deployed in favor of shohei if things continue along this path.

so does ohtani just keep winning every year he’s above average on both sides? or does he only win MVP this year because of the novelty factor? or perhaps…will it be based on the cumulative amount of value he produces on a year by year basis?

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Saturday, 18 September 2021 14:08 (one month ago) link

the first and third are kinda the same though is what i was getting at - its hard to out-value someone whos producing two good players worth of WAR even when one of them has the DH penalty applied

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 14:36 (one month ago) link

and if you think the MVP award is about who contributed the most to their team then yes he should win every year. they didn't stop giving it to barry bonds after the first year he obp-ed .600 as if that was no longer impressive the second or third or fourth time

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 14:38 (one month ago) link

err .500 you know what i mean

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 14:39 (one month ago) link

frogbs’s point that his ability to play both starter and DH essentially frees up a roster spot notwithstanding, our currently accepted framework for “value” has other guys within rounding error

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:04 (one month ago) link

Ohtani’s arm is going to explode in the next 2 or 5 years. Probably sooner. Give it to him now while he really is one of the best hitters and the best pitchers. It’s incredible, and as much as everyone just assumes he’ll keep doing it and there will be this problem with giving him 10+ MVPs, irl tragedy and disappoint will strike relentlessly until he is a 80% shell of his potential and his combined WAR dips below 6

typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:16 (one month ago) link

yeah i was looking at bbref where he's got more than a win on guerrero, fangraphs has them closer

either way i'm happy to consider other guys besides the WAR leader but if i had to choose today i'd pick ohtani. i don't believe that august/september games are worth more

ciderpress, Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:24 (one month ago) link

going back to what I was saying before, ohtani’s split OPS+ in games he started as a pitcher is 452, over 58 plate appearances. I’d love to see how many wins that’s worth if you changed his defensive adjustment from DH to P

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:24 (one month ago) link

in fact, i predict that ohtani will be out of the big leagues by 2026

typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:42 (one month ago) link

give the kid his mvp for being an international superstar, a new babe ruth, doing something that literally no one else can do, for being really hot, and for being an icon. then let him suffer and die and go away

typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:42 (one month ago) link

vlad jr is from the guerrero family. he will always hit the crap out of the ball, even if it's 2 feet outside, even if his arm is broken. he'll be fine. he will collect 2 MVPs and deserve a 3rd before his career is through

typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:43 (one month ago) link

but also, am i wrong in thinking that if vlad finishes 1 RBI off johnny RBI and doesn't win the triple crown, then he has absolutely no chance at MVP? let's see, give it to a generational icon who is about to die (ohtani), or give it to someone who will win 2 MVPs later and whose chance of winning this one comes down to RBI opportunities

typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Saturday, 18 September 2021 16:50 (one month ago) link

i don't believe that august/september games are worth more

I've advocated for this before without much agreement here. To me, it's just the mirror image of the concept of in-game leverage. (You could, I suppose, argue that with Ohtani's team more or less out of the running by the All-Star break, his late-season slump really doesn't matter.)

clemenza, Saturday, 18 September 2021 23:24 (one month ago) link

Perez tying "Bench's record" is false -- he has 30 HR as C and 15 as DH. They're not the same thing and he's not a serious candidate.

Vlad is amazing but come on. What Ohtani is doing was considered impossible by literally every expert and casual fan. There is almost no precedent for it in modern sport.

"Two good players in one roster spot" absolutely has value that WAR cannot account for.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 19 September 2021 09:25 (one month ago) link

Is this roster-spot thing a money issue? Hasn't he already been credited with the appropriate WAR, i.e. how many games better he is than a replacement hitter or pitcher?

If it's a money thing, do we start giving MVP candidates extra credit for things like taking less money in a free-agent year to stay where they are? (Not that that ever happens--you know, theoretically.) How much invisible WAR do we credit Ohtani with in every MVP contest?

I don't think an MVP hitter should check out after the All-Star game.

clemenza, Sunday, 19 September 2021 13:33 (one month ago) link

Good point about Bench/Perez. For what it's worth, I checked Bench's '70 season, and 7 of his 45 HR were hit while playing somewhere other than catcher (six as an outfielder, one at first base). So I guess the record is technically 38--or maybe someone else has it for catcher-only.

clemenza, Sunday, 19 September 2021 13:59 (one month ago) link

Is this roster-spot thing a money issue? Hasn't he already been credited with the appropriate WAR, i.e. how many games better he is than a replacement hitter or pitcher?

haven't really thought about it, but first, put aside the money. just think about the value of an entire extra roster spot. yes, he's already credited with WAR for how much better than he is than a replacement hitter and pitcher. now, think about about why baseball teams get excited about adding additional roster spots at the end of the season, before the playoffs.

from a cardinals perspective, we rarely carry a 3rd catcher. yadi always starts, anyway, and knizner (the backup) rarely plays. but the effect is that yadi can never come out of the game, because if he does, there's no backup to the backup. and when knizner gets a rare starting opportunity, yadi can't pitch-hit, etc. when there's roster space, they bring up this one guy (ali sanchez) to be the emergency catcher.

what's that extra spot worth? i don't know, but every single team will take it and use it

Maneuverability--fair point. I hope the Ben Zobrists of the world got their invisible WAR adjustment in MVP voting every year.

Vlad's within a game of Ohtani in fWAR (1.2 down in bWAR) and having a good day today. I'm going to hold off till the end, and hope he edges him out in at least one of the two. If it happens, I'm going to change my argument to, "Come on, the guy pitches and hits, and Vlad still has more value!"

clemenza, Sunday, 19 September 2021 19:44 (one month ago) link

haven't really thought about it, but first, put aside the money. just think about the value of an entire extra roster spot. yes, he's already credited with WAR for how much better than he is than a replacement hitter and pitcher. now, think about about why baseball teams get excited about adding additional roster spots at the end of the season, before the playoffs.

― typo punishment 3: people shouldn't have to feel like they have ea (Karl Malone), Sunday, September 19, 2021 2:20 PM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

by definition the player who fills this extra spot will be a replacement player, right?

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Sunday, 19 September 2021 19:45 (one month ago) link

I'm going to change my argument to, "Come on, the guy pitches and hits, and Vlad still has more value!"

lol, tbf that is a good argument! and don't get me wrong, sorry - vlad is having a great year and he's right up there with ohtani. you can make arguments for both for sure. i just want ohtani to win before he dies.

by definition the player who fills this extra spot will be a replacement player, right?

haha, sorta! i don't know, my life is upside-down right now so the little man in my brain who figures out things is just tossing up his arms in the air recently. i think they would be a meta-replacement player

like karl i fully expect him to explode in some form within a few years, or just spend half the season on the IL every year, or stop being very good at all at either position...... if he doesn't do that then we will be blessed and i will be cool with him just getting an award annually for it. if he does this long enough to win 10 MVPs i will be just as giddy about it by #10

, Sunday, 19 September 2021 22:43 (one month ago) link

there should be a new award, maybe even one given while ohtani is still playing, like now:

best pitcher/position player combo. The Ohtani award.

Give Ohtani the NL MVP since no one really deserves it

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Sunday, 19 September 2021 22:54 (one month ago) link

That's a good point, you could argue that since he's a pitcher who hits, he's de facto an NL player

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 20 September 2021 00:38 (one month ago) link

by definition the player who fills this extra spot will be a replacement player, right?

overall, yes. but the extra roster flexibility allows for high-leverage use of one-tool players — if ohtani makes the room to carry career 75 OPS+ hitter jarrod dyson specifically to run in extra innings, that has real-life value not captured by WAR.

mookieproof, Monday, 20 September 2021 01:54 (one month ago) link

agreed re: Ohtani's longevity, can definitely see a future where pitchers figure him out a bit (which may be happening right now) and he's too perpetually injured to pitch regularly. really hope I'm wrong though!!

frogbs, Monday, 20 September 2021 02:17 (one month ago) link

Perez's 46th HR evidently does count as an official record; you've got to play at least half your games at a position to qualify for a positional record.

https://www.mlb.com/royals/news/most-home-runs-by-a-catcher

clemenza, Monday, 20 September 2021 22:30 (one month ago) link

(Javy Lopez holds the unofficial record with 42 while catching.)

clemenza, Monday, 20 September 2021 22:31 (one month ago) link

Ohtani and Guerrero now separated by 0.4 fWAR (Burnes has moved to #1)--which actually surprised me, as Ohtani had a very good start yesterday.

clemenza, Tuesday, 21 September 2021 17:15 (four weeks ago) link

three walks and two homers isn’t great for FIP

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Tuesday, 21 September 2021 17:59 (four weeks ago) link

Over. I thought Vlad was the best choice two weeks ago--TC still viable, Jays on a streak, Ohtani supposedly finished pitching and slumping badly with the bat--but Vlad (1-17) and the Jays have cooled, Ohtani's had two good starts, and his hitting has picked up. Probably back to unanimous, or close.

clemenza, Tuesday, 28 September 2021 14:49 (three weeks ago) link

yeah agree

mens rea activist (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 29 September 2021 11:11 (three weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Friday, 1 October 2021 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Saturday, 2 October 2021 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

god bless you, two people.

FRAUDULENT STEAKS (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Saturday, 2 October 2021 04:04 (two weeks ago) link

One of whom would change his vote today...

clemenza, Saturday, 2 October 2021 18:24 (two weeks ago) link


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