2011 AL MVP

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Let me stipulate a few things up front:

Awards are stupid. Caring about awards is stupid. Counting stats are stupid. Sportswriters are stupid. And while I’m at it, Barack Obama is stupid.

Done--we don’t need to argue about any of that. I’m not sure how you should vote--who you think should win (where I’m pretty sure Bautista would win handily) or who you think will win (less clear)--so you decide, perhaps making note in a post of which way you went. Some of these guys have no chance, but I tried to include anyone who looks like he’ll finish in the top 10.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Jose Bautista 10
Justin Verlander 3
Curtis Granderson 1
Adrian Beltre 0
Adrian Gonzalez 0
Dustin Pedroia 0
Jacoby Ellsbury 0
Michael Young 0
Miguel Cabrera 0


clemenza, Thursday, 29 September 2011 23:19 (eight years ago) link

lol. love that you cleared all that up!

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Thursday, 29 September 2011 23:49 (eight years ago) link

off-poll vote 4 robby andino

johnny crunch, Friday, 30 September 2011 00:05 (eight years ago) link

i still don't get how michael young is in this discussion -- is it really just a batting average thing?

at this point i'd go

1. ellsbury
2. verlander
3. bautista

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Friday, 30 September 2011 00:26 (eight years ago) link

Pretty much, yes--he's definitely the weakest candidate on there. Beyond the hits and average, the only real positive I see are the 40 doubles. (Didn't even score 90 runs in almost 700 plate appearances.) I just included him because I imagine he's the kind of old-fashioned candidate who still sneaks into the lower reaches of the Top 10.

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 00:33 (eight years ago) link

i think beltre is actually the weakest candidate on this list on account of only playing 120 games

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Friday, 30 September 2011 00:36 (eight years ago) link

I guess that's why I didn't seem to hear much about him during the year--just threw him on when I started double-checking. He sure accomplished a lot in 120 games, though. (Although I just notice now how few walks he drew.)

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 00:39 (eight years ago) link

By rWAR, Bautista finished 0.1 ahead of JV, so flip a coin.

Granderson, not to mention Young and Beltre, isn't in the top 10 position players in rWAR, outranked by Longoria*, Alex Gordon, Napoli, Kinsler, and Avila (and overall by C.C. and Jered).

*had kind of a big hit

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 September 2011 00:41 (eight years ago) link

I can certainly see a couple of those guys landing in the Top 10, and I'm not disputing that Longoria was in fact one of the ten most valuable players in the league, especially after last night, but you know yourself that no one who hit .244 is going to draw much MVP support. Last year's Cy Young notwithstanding, I don't think the ground underneath has shifted that much, not yet. (And if I'm wrong, I'll just say "Wow" and adjust my thinking next time.)

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 00:48 (eight years ago) link

since boston hilariously collapsed i have no idea who will win, since i think the BBWAA is going to unfairly penalize ellsbury just enough for him to not win. might be enough for verlander to sneak away with it.

omar little, Friday, 30 September 2011 02:08 (eight years ago) link

this is probably the only cy/mvp debate that has any suspense imo, since i think kershaw sewed up the nl cy and i think kemp takes the nl mvp.

omar little, Friday, 30 September 2011 02:09 (eight years ago) link

Kemp was clearly the best player, but I was thinking Braun was going to win, helped along by his (no doubt fake) graciousness over the Reyes matter. Maybe someone else can start up a poll for that (don't think you'd need anybody beyond those two).

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 02:21 (eight years ago) link

voted Bautista

polyphonic, Friday, 30 September 2011 03:19 (eight years ago) link

BP staff choices for awards:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15193

And yes, Kinsler is the best Ranger.

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 September 2011 11:49 (eight years ago) link

If Kemp were to win--and the last-minute flurry of TC attention may well be what he needed to make people pay attention (people like me!)--and assuming Kershaw does too, I wonder how far you'd have to go back for such a mediocre team taking both the Cy and MVP?

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 11:51 (eight years ago) link

I agree, I definitely goofed by omitting Kinsler. It won't affect the voting at the top, though.

clemenza, Friday, 30 September 2011 11:54 (eight years ago) link

Voted Verlander just cuz I'd like to see a starting pitcher win again and I think it's close enough that you can make a case for any of three guys.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Friday, 30 September 2011 12:46 (eight years ago) link

I wish we could get an NL poll because I want to harp on about how under the radar Joey Votto is (though he did win last year)

IMO Verlander doesn't deserve it - even Pedro in his prime didn't get many MVP votes, and while Verlander's season has been great, it's hardly an all-timer, and I do think the Tigers would be playoff-bound even without him...seriously, have you seen the rest of the AL Central? If you really want to vote for a guy who single-handedly put his team into the postseason let's go with Longoria!

frogbs, Friday, 30 September 2011 13:17 (eight years ago) link

you can always start one...

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Friday, 30 September 2011 13:21 (eight years ago) link

looking at things; for me, it's either Bautista, Verlander or Miggy.

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Friday, 30 September 2011 13:27 (eight years ago) link

while Verlander's season has been great, it's hardly an all-timer

It doesn't have to be, it just has to be the best this year! Using Pedro as a reason not to vote for him is like these guys who wouldn't vote for Tom Seaver on his first HOF ballot cuz they didn't want it to be unanimous.

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Friday, 30 September 2011 14:00 (eight years ago) link

Yeah I'm not comparing his season to Pedro, but to other players this year. Plus if he wins this year it might make it more likely for someone putting up Pedro-esque numbers to win.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Friday, 30 September 2011 14:18 (eight years ago) link

Not that I'm particularly invested in MVP votes, but I do think it's nice when they get them right (or at least not horribly wrong.)

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Friday, 30 September 2011 14:19 (eight years ago) link

Baseball Reference has been running side-by-side polls (who should win, who will win), with twice as many choices as I put up, and without Michael Young. Verlander’s leading both, 35-22 over Bautista in “should,” 36-21 over Granderson in “will.”

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/15420

My vote still goes to Verlander, and for the most basic of reasons: I believe he was the single most indispensable player this year in terms of his team’s fortunes. I made a mistake the other day saying he’d blown the ERA title in his final start--he did end up beating Weaver by 0.01, thereby winning the Triple Crown. But that’s not why I’d vote for him. Up until July 20, when he began his 12-game winning streak, the Tigers were 51-46, tied for the divisional lead; Verlander himself was 12-5, 2.29. And if the wins themselves don’t mean anything to you, only one of them was cheap: he gave up six runs in one of them, 3 runs in two of them, 2 runs in one of them, 1 run in five of them, and no runs in four of them. Up to that point, he’s in the running for me; I think it was his pitching that was the single biggest reason why Detroit was able to stay afloat in a weak division.

After that, he pulls away. When he wins his 12th start in a row on Sept. 18, Detroit is 89-64, 12.5 games up. I guess you could say that Verlander’s fortunes mirrored his team’s during that stretch, but he was basically the same great pitcher he’d been all year: he went 12-0, with the exact same 2.29 ERA as before the streak. It would have been nice to see him win his 25th, but obviously that game meant nothing to his team.

My main reason for not going with Bautista is not that the Jays were not in contention. I’m not wedded to the idea that the MVP has to come from a contending team--I would prefer it, but if it were a year where there was one notably outstanding player and no other strong competition, I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for the guy on the mediocre team. My two biggest problems with Bautista are 1) in the end, I thought he had a great year, but not a significantly outstanding year (to me--and maybe I’m wrong--.302/.447/.608/43 home runs blends in with a number of seasons in recent memory), and, especially, 2) that he did the great bulk of his hitting in the first two months. From June through the end of the season, Bautista hit 23 homers, scored 60 runs, knocked in 65, and his slash stats were .272/.412/.523. Cabrera during the same four months: 20 homers, 72 runs, 68 RBI, .361/.445/.600. (in August/September, Cabrera was .408/.493/.648). I realize that a win in May counts for just as much as win in September, but as a practical matter, I think it’s preferable that an MVP be a force down the stretch. If anything, I’m starting to wonder if Cabrera deserves it.

Two things I'd factor into a vote for Verlander (I realize there's special pleading to be done for any of the contenders): 1) after a Tigers loss, Verlander was 16-3, 163 IP, 106 H, 159 K, 31 BB, 1.71 ERA--in casting an MVP vote for a pitcher, I'd want to know his record after team losses (the old-fashioned notion of a "stopper" and all that); 2) the oft-repeated fact that he went at least 6 innings in every start this year. Something that to me is a non-issue: Pedro not winning in '99, just because a couple of wingnuts left him of their ballots. So:

1. Verlander
2. Cabrera
3. Bautista
4. Ellsbury
5. Granderson

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 15:35 (eight years ago) link

I meant to add that a other non-issue to me is that Verlander's BABIP indicates he was rather lucky this year. As an indicator that his luck will likely take a turn for the worse next year, I think that's a useful stat; in terms of the MVP vote this year, I don't see how it matters. His results were what they were, no matter how much luck may have been involved.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 15:41 (eight years ago) link

"another non-issue"

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 15:41 (eight years ago) link

Looking through those Baseball Prospectus ballots, I notice that one guy voted CC over Verlander for the Cy Young. I would really love to read his rationale for that, which at first glance strikes me as being as idiotic as the Pedro non-voters from '99. Verlander had more wins, fewer losses, an ERA a half-run better, two-and-a-half fewer H/9, more strikeouts, fewer walks, better K/BB ratio, significantly lower WHIP, more IP, more shutouts, more no-hitters, fewer HBP...I'm being silly now, but I'm trying to find even one category where Sabathia had better numbers. There must be some kind of awesome park factor at work there. (Okay, I just located the key: Verlander had more than three times as many wild pitches, 7-2.)

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:14 (eight years ago) link

Probably the strong division/weak division and/or media circus/midwest anonymity argument.

A Chuck Person's Guide to Mark Aguirre (Andy K), Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:21 (eight years ago) link

it was daniel rathman and yeah, i'd like to see that too. he gave up significantly more home runs and had an astoundingly lower BABIP, but other than that, idk

xp that too

k3vin k., Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:26 (eight years ago) link

I can see the weak division argument, I took a quick peak at his game log:

Verlander's wins (15 against ALC):

CHW x5
CLE x4
KAN x3
MIN x3
TOR
BOS
SEA
COL
ARI
NYM
LAA
TAM
BAL

Verlander's no-decisions (all AL East):
NYY 2x
BOS
TAM
BAL

Verlander's losses (almost all AL West):
CHW
LAA
SEA
OAK
TEX

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:42 (eight years ago) link

Breaking that down a bit more, Verlander's records

vs ALC:
15-1

vs. ALE:
3-0 (5 no decisions)

vs. ALW:
2-5

interleague:
3-0

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:46 (eight years ago) link

removing ALC and interleague, Verlander went 5-5 with 5 no decisions.

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:47 (eight years ago) link

I should have picked up on the divisional argument--I think there's some merit in that, but obviously not enough to come anywhere close to countering all the other stuff. By my count, CC faced the Red Sox and Rays nine times this year; Verlander faced the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays six times, although only once after June 1. (I don't see having to face Toronto or Baltimore as anything special.) The media circus argument (I realize it's not your argument, Andy, but that you're trying to figure out Rathman's) seems pretty specious to me, especially as Verlander received a lot of media attention this year.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 16:48 (eight years ago) link

i would think that going 9-0 against CHW & CLE would actually bolster verlander's mvp case

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Saturday, 1 October 2011 17:00 (eight years ago) link

Good point. In a weird way, depending upon how you view the two awards, it might strengthen one argument (MVP) while mitigating the other (Cy Young).

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 17:05 (eight years ago) link

9-1 fwiw

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 1 October 2011 17:11 (eight years ago) link

i mean, CC faced better competition, but you also have to take the yankees out of the equation, and that takes the AL east down a notch

and it's not like verlander was an emperor w/ no clothes outside the al central

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Saturday, 1 October 2011 17:18 (eight years ago) link

i think my baseball math is correct, and if so verlander pitched 117.1 innings against the AL west and east, 108 Ks, 2.61 ERA. looks like against potential playoff foes (and the red sox), verlander was a little better.

omar little, Saturday, 1 October 2011 17:47 (eight years ago) link

I believe the CC argument boils down to FIP?

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 1 October 2011 19:36 (eight years ago) link

is FIP park adjusted? i forget. if not, then also home stadium.

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Saturday, 1 October 2011 19:39 (eight years ago) link

FIP's kind of new to me, but I get the gist of it. I hope Rathman has a more compelling argument than that: Sabathia's is 2.88, Verlander's 2.99. So if we eliminate the other eight guys on the field (I guess the catcher needs to be there to catch the strikeouts), which technically would be some sport other than baseball, Sabathia's marginally better.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 19:54 (eight years ago) link

Well, what's the reason fWAR ranks Sabathia highest?

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:09 (eight years ago) link

fWAR normalizes BABIP, bWAR doesn't

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:12 (eight years ago) link

Because fWAR uses FIP which in a way makes no sense since FIP is more about what should happen then what did happen...

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:17 (eight years ago) link

"is FIP park adjusted?"

I don't believe it is.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:20 (eight years ago) link

it's not

k3vin k., Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:22 (eight years ago) link

There's definitely an argument to be made for CC using FIP, depending on how seriously you want to apply that stat.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 1 October 2011 20:32 (eight years ago) link

Like all stats, I'm sure FIP has its uses. I remember this guy in the '80s, Jose DeLeon, who would have good H/9 and K/BB ratios, and he'd never have anything to show for it. I imagine FIP would have been one more way to demonstrate that he was a much better pitcher than some of his standard metrics indicated. But if you're going to ignore a dozen different indicators that Verlander was a better pitcher than Sabathia, and hang your argument on something that is largely theoretical--who'd be better if there were no fielders around?--that, to me, is a textbook example of someone whose facility with new stats has left common sense behind. As to why Sabathia ranks ahead in fWAR, you're asking the wrong guy.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 October 2011 21:25 (eight years ago) link

H/9 has nothing to do with FIP. FIP is really all about strikeouts, walks and home runs.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Saturday, 1 October 2011 21:59 (eight years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Tuesday, 4 October 2011 23:01 (eight years ago) link

I'll be very suspicious if Adrian Beltre takes this.

clemenza, Wednesday, 5 October 2011 00:26 (eight years ago) link

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

System, Wednesday, 5 October 2011 23:01 (eight years ago) link

duh

k3vin k., Wednesday, 5 October 2011 23:27 (eight years ago) link

Obviously people voted should as opposed to will. Still disagree, but this is an argument that will never be resolved.

clemenza, Thursday, 6 October 2011 00:17 (eight years ago) link

to me, since Cy & MVP have de facto equal visibility, a pitcher has to have an All-World season to earn both if a position player has a legit claim to MVP.

incredibly middlebrow (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 6 October 2011 00:24 (eight years ago) link

I basically agree with you, so I guess it comes down to not just how you view Verlander's season, but also Bautista's (and, of course, your interpretation of the award itself). I see Verlander as just a notch below All-World; but while I obviously view Bautista as a legitimate candidate, I don't view him as an exceptionally strong one.

clemenza, Thursday, 6 October 2011 00:32 (eight years ago) link

whoops i forgot to vote for ellsbury

yung huma (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 6 October 2011 01:02 (eight years ago) link

i voted crutis btw

johnny crunch, Thursday, 6 October 2011 02:14 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

...you know yourself that no one who hit .244 is going to draw much MVP support. Last year's Cy Young notwithstanding, I don't think the ground underneath has shifted that much, not yet. (And if I'm wrong, I'll just say "Wow" and adjust my thinking next time.)

I'm back to say...inconclusive verdict. Longoria didn't draw a whole lot of support--27 points--but he did finish 10th. I'm guessing it's very rare for a player who hits under .250 to crack the Top 10. I'd have to check that, but if my guess is right, Longoria is indeed more evidence that the ground underneath has shifted.

clemenza, Monday, 2 January 2012 17:01 (seven years ago) link

four months pass...

A guy asked James about Verlander's MVP today. I think this is a good, methodical approach to that question, the main point being that pitchers today are less qualified than 30 years ago:

It has always been clear (and remains clear now) that a BATTER has more control over the outcome of a batter/pitcher matchup than does a pitcher. It's a 50/50 game, but the pitcher's share is divided with the defense (that is, with the fielders), so that batting is more controlling than pitching, at bat to at bat.

This was off-set (and more than off-set), through the mid-1970s, by the fact that pitchers worked more batter-pitcher confrontations than did batters. In 1973, for example, Wilbur Wood faced 1,531 batters, Gaylord Perry faced 1,410, Nolan Ryan faced 1,355, Bill Singer faced 1,348, Bert Blyleven 1,321, Jim Colborn 1,287, Mickey Lolich 1,286, and 35 other pitchers faced more than 1,000 batters--while no matter faced a pitcher, in a season, typically more than 750 times in a season.

By 1983, however, only 18 pitchers faced 1,000 batters in the season. By 1993 only 12 did; by 2003 only one did (Roy Halladay). Last year Chris Carpenter led the majors in batters faced, with 996.

Since the leading pitchers in modern baseball only face about 25% more hitters than hitters face pitchers, and since the batter still has more control over the outcome of each event than the pitcher does, it is difficult, in modern baseball, for the pitcher to be the Most Valuable Player. Not saying that it CAN'T happen or doesn't happen, but it's difficult, and rare.

The questioner's objection wasn't that pitchers can't be the MVP, but that if you give it to a pitcher, you've shut out position players from the top two awards. His suggestion: a Cy Young, an equivalent award for position players, and an MVP for the whole league.

clemenza, Monday, 14 May 2012 19:41 (seven years ago) link


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