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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cuckoo for Jeter Puffs---the sequel

On Tuesday Sept. 26, Rob Neyer answered an email from a fan regarding Derek Jeter as the MVP choice. I was quite disappointed as I read the email he answered since I had emailed 3-4 days earlier with pretty much the same content you see listed below (I admittedly did not include the specifc VORP and OPS stats from 99 and 06). However, Neyer answered a very weak and unorganized email here and basically made the argument that if you look at VORP and Win Shares, Jeter has the best combination out of any of the candidates. He also discounted Morneau because he is 18th in OBP and only 7th in OPS and said that Joe Mauer was more preferable over Morneau. So I decided to drop into one of Rob's chat on Sept. 28th. I continuously submitted the email I sent to him on 1-2 minute intervals. Neyer obviously got the messages (which he refused to answer) as he closed the chat with the following line:

Rob Neyer: Probably not, and no. I was being theoretical. Thanks for the questions (except for Josh in Florida), hope to see you tomorrow (except for Josh in Florida).

As you could probably tell, I was the "Josh in Florida". So I dropped into Neyer's chat the next day and submitted a shorter, different version of my original email. To my chagrin, Neyer actually answered it:

Josh (XXXX,FL): Hey Cuckoo for Jeter Puffs, The award is titled MVP, not "Player having the best statistical season" award. If it was, AROD would have 5 or 6 of them, and Jeter would be a perfect candidate for it. But since it is NOT, excuse me if I discount Jeter's stats from playing in a 9 All-Star batting lineup with 450+ wins on the mound (including 18QS from the #3 starter) and the greatest closer of all time...

Rob Neyer: I've heard this sentiment a LOT this week (mostly because I argued for Jeter as MVP in a column on Tuesday). Here's the problem with this "logic" . . . Josh, yours is a standard that's rarely (if ever) been applied. As I think I mentioned in this space last week, when Joe Morgan won MVP Awards in 1975 and '76, his Reds finished those seasons with 20- and 10-game leads, and would have won division titles with anybody at second base. MANY MVP's have come from great teams that didn't actually need him. And Jeter's no different.

Here's where Neyer is completely and totally dead wrong:

1) He says "yours is a standard that's rarely (if ever) been applied. " Now I don't know exactly what he was talking about, but I think he was referencing my "standard" which was that players who play on really good teams aren't discounted or downgraded in the MVP race because of the team they play on. That isn't the point that I was trying to make. While that may be true (although the Yankees won 4 WS titles in 5 years yet never had anyone higher than 3rd in MVP voting which leads one to believe that their individual stars were discounted), the point is that Jeter's stats are a product of his environemnt. An environment which includes 2 former MVP's providing lineup protection behind him. You take Jeter and put him in the #2 slot of the Royals lineup or the Padres lineup and he sure ain't hitting .340 with 100 RBI's. People pitch to him because they aren't worried that he will hurt them since he never ever homers.

2) He mentions Joe Morgan as someone who won the MVP award who played on good teams which would have won their divisions easily if he was removed. While that me be true, it is also true that Joe Morgan lead the National League in OPS both years (by .40 in '75 and .100 in '76). He had OPS+ of 169 and 189 (Jeter best OPS+ is 161 in 1998---when he finished 6th in MVP voting in case you forgot). The point being that Morgan was a truly dominant productive middle of the order (#3) hitter. As soon as Jeter leads the league in OPS or nearly doubles the league average OPS, I'll gladly hand him an MVP.

I wrote Rob an email with the above things mentioned after his 9/29 chat. He responeded with the point that Jeter was the best player on his team this year, if not, the league (AL) itself and that according to the best evidence (VORP, WARP-3, Win Shares) he was at the top. Therefore, he was a credible MVP candidate. Nothing about the fact that Jeter plays in possibly the best lineup of all time. Nothing about the fact that Joe Morgan was in fact a worthy MVP (even if his teams won the division by 10-20 games).

I replied to Rob talking about VORP and Win Shares with the basic point that his VORP was inflated because he is a poor defensive shortstop (and VORP only considers position, NOT quality of skill at position). Also, his Win Shares total is inflated because he plays on a winning team. I laid out an extensive argument about how if Jeter went 4-4 in a game with 3 singles and a double in the Yankees lineup he would probably score 3 or 4 runs and the Yankees would win 12-6 and he would get some credit applied towards his win shares. However, if he played on the Orioles or the Nationals and had the exact same line, they would lose 8-5 and he would get NO credit applied towards his win share total (since they are calculated from actual win numbers). That might possibly explain why Travis Hafner is more valuable than Jeter (despite playing no position and Jeter getting inflated SS value) yet is 7 win shares behind him.

No response from Neyer yet...Still waiting..Perhaps I will drop into a chat of his coming up.


Blogger GITPE said...

So who should the AL MVP be, then? Travis Haffner, who is a DH and missed 1/5th of the season? Mourneau who finished behind Jeter in win shares by 20% (despite his team finishing witn only 1 fewer win)? Mauer (despite finishing behind Jeter in VORP, win shares, runs, HR, RBI, SB, and only sporting an OPS 4% better than Jeter's)? Ortiz, who gets penalized in the win shares for being a DH and playing on a worse team, but still manages to finish behind Jeter in VORP (by the way, his protection is pretty good; Manny had win shares exactly equal to Ortiz despite missing significant time). If you want to argue it should be Santana, fine. Starting pitchers over every-day players is an entirely different debate, and not one without merit. Its easy to hate jeter, to be sure, but its no excuse for being an idiot.

3:10 PM  
Blogger DWTHTB said...

While I may rightfully be accused of being an idiot for many things (understanding Quantum Physics, drafting catchers too early in FB drafts, running into the wall on Choco Mountain 2 seconds after getting a star in 4th place on Mario Kart), I don't think arguing against Derek Jeter as MVP should be one of them. Travis Hafner really was the AL MVP this year, but because he got injured and only played 80% of the season, his cumulative (i.e. non-rate) stats are down. So I guess you can't really give it to him. Thus, I would vote for Ortiz and then probably Morneau. Probably Hafner 3rd/4th. After that, its a crapshoot. But I am going to make a separate post listing my hypothetical ballot and the reasons for it.

12:58 AM  

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