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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AL MVP Voting---George King is an Idiot

Earlier today (11/21) in a chat Rob Neyer was asked

"Connor (Seattle): Why do we get so wrapped up in these nonsense awards? Who cares who wins the silver slugger or the gold glove? My opinion - every player would trade MVP or Gold Glove for a World Series Ring.

Rob Neyer: The awards themselves have little "meaning," but they do give us a chance to ask some important questions, and for that reason alone they serve us well.

Eh..not exactly. To quote Biff from B2TF pt 2: "Now, McFly, let's here the right answer?"
Ok, the reason people care so much is because the awards (which are for the most part meaningless/nonsense) are used by people justify arguments such as HOF status, but also used to justify other awards. Case in point: Tim Kurkjian on ESPNEWS today talking about Derek Jeter (note: the good part is about 35 seconds in):

"..But when you look at Jeter's numbers, 2nd in the league in Runs scored, etc, etc...Gold Glove at a premium defensive position for the best team in the league..etc."

I guess the reason reason that people (such as myself) care so much about these awards is because there are other people who place too much stock in them and use them to justify other things (even other awards). So we (the ones who care) pretty much know the awards are meaningless, but because other people out there think they are the end-all be-all in player evaluation, we want them to be awarded fairly and accurately. Because otherwise you end up with idiots trying to tell you that Jeter is a good defensive fielder because he has won 3 Gold Gloves (which everyone who follows baseball knows is not true).

We're not going to spend much more time debating and rehashing all the arguments because you can find them everywhere, but I just want to mention a couple of points regarding the voting and the arguments that have emerged in the final 3 days.

Keith Law called Morneau "a laughable choice for MVP" (then quickly changed the title of his post to "Mauer would've been better choice") . He is correct that is you are judging MVP purely on statistics and placing significant weight on fielding ability, then Morneau finishes a distant 3rd (or worse) behind Mauer and Jeter. But MVP has never been based purely on statistics (if it was, AROD would have 6 by now). He did note (correctly) some terrible voting mistakes such as leaving Mauer off of 5 ballots, someone voting AJ Pierzynski 10th (wtf?), and 3 people who put Frank Thomas 2nd despite the fact that he was only the 3rd best DH in the AL much less overall player.

Buster Olney laid out a fairly good case for Morneau being the MVP and it contains many of the same reasons we used here at REAL BBBB. He cites their statistics relative to their positions in the lineup (#3 vs #5 for Mauer vs Morneau) and something you might not have known "Morneau had more RBI with runners in scoring position than any player in the majors, while ranking 11th in RISP at-bats." In comparing Morneau to Mauer, its obvious that Morneau generated more runs on the offensive end (as demonstrated by RC 119.7-107.6). I'd like to see a "Runs Prevented" metric for defensive ability. How many more runs did Mauer prevent with his excellent defense than Morneau with his average defense? If the sum total of Runs Created/Runs Prevented comes out higher I would have no problem with judging Mauer as more valuable than Morneau.

Now to talk about Jeter, Buster Olney makes an excellent point which somehow every Jeter lover always overlooks: "Offense from No. 2 hitters like Jeter is great but not necessarily integral, not when you've got a $13 million guy hitting in front of you, a $15 million-a-year guy batting third, a $25.2 million player batting cleanup and a $17 million-a-year guy hitting fifth. "
Or as we've been saying here at REAL BBBB all along, "8 All-Stars and 2 former MVP's providing batting lineup protection couple with subpar SS defense and the best closer of all time, yet a #2 singles hitter is the reason they win." No, didn't think so. Which brings us to my next point.

In response to the above argument, many people have been saying that because Morneau had 2 teammates who finished in the top 10 of the voting (and Jeter didn't) that the argument about Jeter's supporting cast isn't valid and therefore Morneau really wasn't all that important. This argument is complete crap because while it is true that Santana performed better than any starting pitcher and Mauer perhaps performed better than any other Yankee hitter, the fact remains that the other 7 Twins hitters performed much much worse than the other 8 Yankee hitters (on an individual basis)--including those other 8 hitters which have all been All-Stars and have 3 MVP's between them. Same thing with the pitching. Santana had 24 QS, Mussina 23. Comparing all other starters Minn 49, NY 56. Or look at starters ERA besides Santana & Mussina: Twins 5.44, Yankees 4.82. So yes, the Twins had one A+++ starter and one A+ catcher besides Morneau, but there are also 18 other players on the Twins (C's, D's, F's---Kyle Lohse, Scott Baker) significantly worse than those other 24 on the Yankees.

Finally, Rob Neyer had a whole post about deciding the MVP as an empiricist (statistics) or intuitionist (best player on a winning team). The MVP isn't clearly defined so some people vote one way and some people vote another way. If you want to make the award an empiricist award, fine; a logical argument could be made for Jeter on the basis of his VORP and Win Shares (although again, I believe this total is inflated because of his team) that deserves the MVP. And although he does come up lacking in certain statistical measures (even VORP where he barely beat a guy who didn't swing a bat for the final month of the season), on pure statistical, offensive statistical evidence there's a case to be made for Jeter as MVP. Now on the other side, you have the argument player who was the most pivotal factor in helping his team reach the playoffs. The question really is "Who was most responsible for Team X winning?" This would be how Frank Thomas finished so high in the voting. While some use the same statistics to determine the answer, its an inherently different question than "Who was the best player?" Frank Thomas clearly wasn't the 4th best player in the AL; he probably wasn't even 10th best in the AL. But if you took him away from the A's, they would probably go from a division winning team to a middle of the pack .500 team battling it with Texas (or so the argument would go). What Neyer and Law refuse to comprehend is that removing Jeter from the Yankees would have minimal impact on the number of wins and overall offensive output (this gets into a whole side argument about win shares which I am going to post later). This also comes back to the name of the award (Most Valuable Player, not Player of the Year). Thus, I don't think Jeter can honestly be considered as an Intuitionist candidate. As a statistical (empiricist) argument, sure, an argument combining statistical and intuitional evidence, perhaps, but not using soley intuitionist reasoning which is apparently what most voters did this year (as in most year's past).

One more thing. George King is a total moron. This guy has the gall to complain about the MVP voting here. Now you might be asking doesn't he have the right to complain about the voting? And the answer is no. No he doesn't. Not when he left Pedro (23-4, 2.07, .92, 313) Martinez off his MVP ballot completely because he claimed "MVP is for everyday players. Pitchers have their own award.", yet voted for 2 pitchers (David Wells, Rick Helling) the year before (1998) for the exact same award. Email George King: and tell him "George, you have no right to complain about the MVP voting this year when you left Pedro Martinez off your ballot in 1999 because you said pitchers aren't eligible for MVP, yet you voted for 2 pitchers the year before (in 1998). "


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