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Does Verlander’s ’11 Match Guidry’s ’78?

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 19, 2011

A case can be made on that. Below are pitcher seasons in the A.L. since 1973 where the pitcher had a WAR of 8.5 or better:

Rk Player WAR Year Age Tm Lg G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS PO BK WP BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Pit Str
1 Roger Clemens 10.3 1997 34 TOR AL 34 34 9 3 0 21 7 .750 0 264.0 204 65 60 68 292 2.05 222 9 1044 957 41 3 1 12 5 2 27 10 9 3 0 4 .213 .273 .290 .564      
2 Pedro Martinez 10.1 2000 28 BOS AL 29 29 7 4 0 18 6 .750 0 217.0 128 44 42 32 284 1.74 291 17 817 768 18 1 0 14 2 1 11 10 3 2 0 1 .167 .213 .259 .473   3164 2136
3 Roger Clemens 9.5 1990 27 BOS AL 31 31 7 4 0 21 6 .778 0 228.1 193 59 49 54 209 1.93 213 7 920 847 35 5 3 7 7 5 11 14 14 2 0 8 .228 .278 .306 .584      
4 Bert Blyleven 9.2 1973 22 MIN AL 40 40 25 9 0 20 17 .541 0 325.0 296 109 91 67 258 2.52 158 16 1321 1221 42 11 4 9 11 13 15 18 11 1 2 7 .242 .284 .334 .618      
5 Zack Greinke 9.0 2009 25 KCR AL 33 33 6 3 0 16 8 .667 0 229.1 195 64 55 51 242 2.16 205 11 915 849 47 5 0 4 8 3 17 5 9 1 0 5 .230 .276 .336 .611   3477 2206
6 Bret Saberhagen 8.6 1989 25 KCR AL 36 35 12 4 0 23 6 .793 0 262.1 209 74 63 43 193 2.16 180 13 1021 961 45 6 6 2 9 6 13 5 9 3 1 8 .217 .251 .317 .568      
7 Justin Verlander 8.5 2011 28 DET AL 33 33 4 2 0 24 5 .828 0 244.0 166 68 62 56 244 2.29 176 22 938 874 31 3 0 3 2 3 12 10 5 1 2 7 .190 .240 .308 .548 50 3821 2514
8 Ron Guidry 8.5 1978 27 NYY AL 35 35 16 9 0 25 3 .893 0 273.2 187 61 53 72 248 1.74 208 13 1057 969 34 5 1 1 13 2 15 9 14 2 1 7 .193 .249 .279 .528      
9 Mark Fidrych 8.5 1976 21 DET AL 31 29 24 4 2 19 9 .679 0 250.1 217 76 65 53 97 2.34 159 12 996 923 21 2 3 3 12 5 25 13 16 0 0 6 .235 .277 .301 .579      
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/19/2011.

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So, Verlander this season is not up there with Pedro in 2000 or Clemens in 1997. But, look at his WAR this season, his wins/losses and his strikeout totals. Those are right in line with what Guidry did in 1978 - although Gator's ERA+ was better.

Now, I wonder if Verlander will not get the MVP this season, like Guidry did not in '78?

This entry was posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011 at 2:56 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

104 Responses to “Does Verlander’s ’11 Match Guidry’s ’78?”

  1. Of course, this omits Sabathia who has a better FIP & xFIP in addition to playing in a harder park and league.

    But everyone else is doing that so vOv

  2. CC pitches in a different league than Justin?

  3. he meant division, clearly, but I still think Verlander is far and away better this year

  4. I think Verlander is better than CC this year, but I still give the edge to Guidry in 78. As to MVP, Guidry had to face off against Jim Rice, who had an outstanding year (far above his regular norm) and probably made the Hall of Fame because of it. The fact that both Verlander and Guidry have the same WAR is curious, since, while their stats are fairly similar, Guidry's were better. Might tell you something about WAR

  5. BB-Ref has Verlander's defensive support as 8 runs worse than Guidry's. I wonder what other defensive measures say. And so far, Verlander's given up 2 more unearned runs, which are counted in BB-Ref's WAR the same as earned because defense is already supposedly accounted for. I don't think BB-Ref's method is without justification, but I also don't think a team's errors are evenly distributed across all its pitchers, nor are they entirely dependent on the pitchers' styles.

  6. I'd also want to look at SNWL to compare seasons like these. I think with the 2011 Tigers, Guidry would have had more than 3 losses, but I doubt he would have had 9.

  7. You think Clemens was juicing as early as 1990?

  8. @7, Mike; re Clemens juicing in 1990. Probably not. he had such a drop-off ("twilight of his career") from 1993 -1997. Why not just keep juicing?

  9. I've been thinking that Verlander had a pretty decent shot at winning but it has been 25 years since the last starting pitcher won an MVP (Clemens in '86) and 40 since the one before that (Vida Blue in '71). In their big seasons Clemens & Martinez finished 10th & 6th respectively in the voting and neither got a single first place vote. But maybe this year will be the "perfect storm" that someone alluded to on a different thread: Granderson kind of gets lost in the shuffle in New York, Boston is struggling, Longoria seems to be flying under the radar, Joey Bats plays on a .500 team, Verlander is stealing the spotlight from Cabrera & Avila and no one else in the Central or West has much of a case. I'm still guessing Bautista but in a close one over Verlander.

  10. I think too much is made of this Verlander/MVP thing. I'm sure he'll get some votes, but I think Bautista deserves the MVP.

    When it comes to MVP, I think people really should be valuing WPA over WAR, 'cause WPA shows exactly how much a player has given his team a better shot at winning. Isn't that what makes a most valuable player? Right now, Bautista leads the league in WAR and he has 7.73 WPA... while Verlander has a mere 4.98 WPA.

    I'm not saying WAR is valueless, 'cause I'm definitely into that stat... but WPA really gives us a clearer understanding of Bautista's WAR compared to Verlander's WAR.

  11. If Verlander wins his last start, a better comparison might be with Koufax in '63...they'd both be 25-5. Different eras, I know, but Sandy swept MVP and CYA that year. And, more importantly, he led the Dodgers to a title.

  12. @10

    There are a number of problems with WPA:

    It's a counting stat. Players who have more chances will accumulate more WPA. WPA says nothing of a player's talent, only of how he performed in certain situations.

    David Ortiz has 2.5 WPA.
    Curtis Granderson has 3.3.

    Granderson should is "more valuable" because of this?

    If you look at WPA/LI, Ortiz is 4.1 while Granderson is 4.0.

    WPA isn't great at comparing one player to another, because it's entirely situational.

    And it doesn't have anything to do with overall value, so defense is ignored completely.

    Give me WAR any day of the week.

  13. And, also, a guy who hits 3rd or 4th in the line-up is more likely to have at bats in the 9th inning than is a starting pitcher, thus giving him more chances to accumulate WPA.

    If you're going to pay that much attention to it, it's better to use WPA/LI, but still recognize that you probably aren't evaluating talent or overall value.

  14. I think pitchers should win MVP's when they do something exceptional. Verlander's year is historically exceptional. Pitchers don't win the pitching triple crown very often, Verlander will DOMINATE it if his ERA holds. 24 (or more?) wins in a season is historic in the era of 5 man rotations. Pitching a no-hitter is historic. Those things all go way beyond a Cy Young award to me. Cy Young award is mostly about ERA and innings. MVP pitchers is about domination. MVP is about being the best player on a contender and Verlander's certainly on that list.

    I also look at the hitters and don't see the domination you typically get from an MVP. Bautista, Granderson, Cabrera, Gonzalez, I just don't see historic domiation on a competitive ballclub. The closest I see is Granderson with the combination of power and speed. Leading the league in triples and homers is hard to do, we'll see if he gets it (currently 1 down in each at time of posting). Bautista's not on a contender. 42 homers isn't historic. I don't think he's anywhere near as good a defender as granderson and obviously is not the threat to steal either. Bautista's historic stat is his walks, and you have to wonder how much of that is the Blue Jay's self fulfilling inadequacies of not being a contender. Gonzalez is clearly not helping on a team trying desperately to stay in the post season so he's out for me on that alone, statistics be damned. Cabrera I think should be a candidate every year but his defense and speed are terrible and he's not putting his best offensive numbers up either. Trailing granderson in slugging doesn't seem to give him that MVP light. Been a while since a guy got serious consideration with 26 homers and 97 RBI's too.

    I'd vote
    1) Verlander
    2) Granderson
    3) Bautista

  15. @14 Bautista has been an exceptional defender. He has switched from RF to 3B and back to RF again and he has something like 13 assists from RF. Also just because 42 homers isn't historic doesn't disqualify Joey Bats from candidacy, in fact it leads the majors.

    And being a competitive ballclub should have no bearing whatsoever on who gets the MVP. Bautista is responsible for more wins to his team than any other batter in the AL (WAR). He has the best OBP and SLG and is dominating the league in OPS+. He is more valuable to the Jays than Granderson is to the Yankees.

    "Bautista's historic stat is his walks, and you have to wonder how much of that is the Blue Jay's self fulfilling inadequacies of not being a contender."
    What does this even mean?? Bautista walks because pitchers pitch around him, because he is a truly great hitter. That has NOTHING to do with the Jays not being a contender this season. In fact, Bautista's walks have created many runs and only help the team.

  16. @11
    The dominance of Koufax from 1963-66 was downright sick. There was only one Major League Cy Young award until 1967, with each franchise represented by one voter who cast a ballot listing but a single name, not the weighted ballot in use today. Koufax won all three of his Cy Youngs unanimously. In the most pitching-dominated era since the end of the Dead Ball, Koufax was considered head and shoulders by voters of his time by an astonishing margin.

  17. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Close but not quite - I think that Guidry's 32 points of ERA+ and more than 20 more innings pitched (assuming Verlander has one more start of about six innings), more than makes up for Verlander's worse defensive support (thanks to Dvd Avins in #5 for explaining that).

    I was impressed how Verlander was so close to Guidry in a number of categories (especially starts and IP, OBA and SO), but Guidry/1978 looks a bit better.

    It pains me to recollect it, but Guidry also won the single most important game of the regular season, #163 against the Red Sox. That's gotta count for something.

  18. I don't see a 42 homer season as MVP worthy at all when the guy right behind you has 41. Obviously things aren't done but that's a wash. Time to look at other stats. It's not like Bautista doesn't have em but beating out Granderson by 1 hr at the end of the year ain't worth ****. Also, Bautista is not a good third basemen and is not capable of playing center. He is defensively worth less than Granderson. That one's not even close to a wash.

  19. @18

    Last I checked, RF was a position on the field. That he doesn't play CF doesn't mean RF isn't a position. Judge him by the position he plays, not by the ones he doesn't.

  20. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There are a number of problems with WPA: WPA says nothing of a player's talent, only of how he performed in certain situations.

    Isn't performance in certain situations a sample of a player's talent?

    And why is that a problem?

    It's only a "problem" if someone thinks the statistic means something else, or uses it for a purpose for which it is not intended.

    I don't see a 42 homer season as MVP worthy at all when the guy right behind you has 41.

    So if there's a season in which no player's stats are well above anyone else's, and no pitcher does anything exceptional, no one deserves the MVP?

  21. I'm confused. Guidry has a much higher ERA+ and more innings pitched. So how can he have the same WAR as Verlander?

  22. @ #12/13 ....right now, WAR is useless to compare Verlander (8.4) & Bautista (8.5), 'cause they are virtually equal. That's why WPA can be used to give us a clearer view of each player's WAR. The WPA shows that Bautista's helped his team more than Verlander.

    And yes, WPA is a counting stat the same way WAR is -- both stats can be added to and minused from. So saying WPA is worth less 'cause it's a counting stat, is also saying WAR is worth less too.

    Also, Verlander gets a whole lot more chances per game to add to his WPA than Bautista does. I mean, Verlander's throwing to 20+ batters a game, while Bautista only gets 4 plate appearances? Seems the chances for adding to one's WPA would be largely in Justin's favor... but he still lags behind Jose.

    @14 & 18 ... 42 HR's may not be historic, but have you noticed that Verlander is dominating the AL less than Bautista is dominating the AL? Seriously. Verlander's got a 176 ERA+, while Bautista has a 187 OPS+. So if you want to talk about historic, well, Bautista's more above average player this season than Verlander. How can you claim Verlander's really that historic? BTW, historically, Bautista's OPS+ ranks 114 all time for a single season, and Verlander's ranks 115 all-time for a single season... there ain't a whole lotta difference there in how they're dominating. If Verlander's on a historic tear, then so is Bautista.... which negates any argument on the historic factor.

  23. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I believe that the comps favor matching Verlander with Fidrych more than any other
    . "The Bird" is not too clearly remembered now, and what few memories people have of him usually involve his iscussuins with balls, etc.; but for a brief period there, he was a dominant figure in the American League.

  24. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Please forgive the typos. My heart is young, but my eves are 75.

  25. I like WPA. A lot. I think it is a fun and different way of evaluating what players did on the field. That being said, it is far from perfect. And much further from perfect than WAR.

    For instance, in Friday night's Sox/Rays game, Dustin Pedroia came up in the bottom of the 7th, Sox up 4-3, 1 out and a runner on 3B. Pedroia hit a scorcher down the line. Longoria, defensive whiz that he is, dove, snagged the ball out of the air, and landed on 3B before the runner could even move. It was a phenomenal play. Pedroia, who hit the ball about as well as you could, earned himself a -.09 WPA. Shields, the pitcher, who probably didn't even see the play happen, earned a +.09 WPA. Longoria got nothing. In reality, Pedroia did well on the play, Longoria did better, and Shields... not so much. But WPA doesn't reflect that. In the end, the result of Pedroia's at bat was that the Sox were slightly less likely to win after than before, so it is an accurate assessment of the play, but the credit is unfairly distributed.

    There is always the potential for such things to even out (for instance if Pedroia were to reach on an error where important runs score). And most plays obviously give a much fairer distribution of the value. But, you do have to take it with a grain of salt. And this is coming from someone who really, really likes the stats and, moreso, its potential.

  26. @Mosc

    There's really no argument on who has been a better hitter this season. Bautista has even the simplest metrics to back that up. OBP and SLG, Bautista leads them both. Using stagnant values such as hits, RBIs, runs, walks, total bases and even home runs is iffy because those numbers provide no context.

    Did you know? Bautista has more RBI per AB than Granderson?

    Bau - 0.2083 RBI/AB
    Grandy - 0.2058 RBI/AB

    I still hate RBIs and this number shouldn't mean much but even on a team where people get on base less than the Yankees, Joey Bats averages more RBIs per AB than Grandy. Strange how RBIs still favour Granderson in most people's eyes. Regardless, RBIs and runs are stats that should be taken with a very large grain of salt, as they require better team performance as well. Second degree metrics such as the one I posted above are a much better method for evaluating a player's overall performance.

    If we're going to talk about defense, you have to go into way more detail than "Bautista doesn't play CF and Granderson does" because even with the most moronic MVP voter that just won't fly.

    Bautista deserves to be considered the best batter in the AL. Verlander could easily win MVP but it's just not right to say that anyone has been a better hitter or a more valuable hitter to their team than Bautista.

  27. Anything which goes negative as well as positive is not really a counting stat. In fact, because WAR goes to 0.0 for a player who's as good as an average member of a.325 team while WPA doesn't go above zero until the player is as good as an average member of a .500 team, WAR is more like a counting stat than WPA is.

    In any case, WAR is an imperfect measure of how good a player is while WPA is an imperfect measure of how much a player did to help his team win. Those are not the same thing. If I were a GM deciding who I wanted to pay how much to, what WAR tries to measure is what I'd be interested in. But in casting an MVP vote, I think what WPA tries to measure is at last as important.

  28. Jim Rice had 20 first place votes, 8 second
    Guidry had 8 first, 19 second, 1 third.

    Jim Rice was the only AL player with a 30/100/0.300 season.
    One batter clearly above the rest vs one pitcher clearly above the rest.

    The last 2nd place finish by a pitcher was 1999 when Pedro Martinez received 8 votes (finishing 2nd by 13 votes), but the other 20 were split 7,4,4,4,1 between 5 players. There were at least six 30/100/0.300. Interestingly, 2 Cleveland and 2 Texas players received first place votes.

    1st place votes are worth 14 points, 2nd place votes are 9, 3rd 8.
    Someone said two voters left Martinez off the ballot. He got 112 for his 8 1st place votes. 127 on 18, so 13 points on the last two would have been right in line with the non-first place votes.

    So what do you think, are we looking at a repeat of 1999 with the potential fo a close vote that Verlander might win?

    How many of you would put Verlander in your top 3 or 4?

  29. Bryan Monkhouse Says:

    Not Quite OT - since many comments in this thread refer to MVP > I am at a loss how anyone can possibly say that Bautista and Granderson have had comparable seasons; it's not even close : Bautista has had a much, much better year. To pick one stat, he leads in WAR by over 3. If you try to make an argument for Granderson's defense , you'd have to start by explaining his defensive WAR of -0.4. If you don't like WAR , pick any other stat that attempts to measure total performance -- still a big gap. Bautista vs Verlander -- lots to talk about; vs Granderson? puleeze

  30. ESPN poll

    Of the 70,000-plus who had voted by 9 p.m. Sunday, 42 percent selected Verlander. The hard-throwing right-hander won every state but seven — all, not surprisingly, on the East Coast.

    In Michigan, 92 percent of voters selected Verlander.

    Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez came in second, with 22 percent (and four states); Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson was third (17 percent, three states) and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista fourth (13 percent, no states, though Canada wasn't broken down).

  31. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    The Onion has Adam Dunn for AL Cy Young Award as "he did more for American League pitching than anyone who actually took the mound."

    http://www.onionsportsnetwork.com/articles/baseballs-annual-awards-2011-edition,26098/

  32. @31 I'm sorry, but I object.

    If you can't give the MVP Award to an AL pitcher because he doesn't bat, you can't give the AL Cy Young Award to a hitter who doesn't play in the field.

  33. @20

    Yeah, it's a "sample of a player's talent". Just as a 3/5 game from a .240 hitter is a "sample" of his ability to hit the ball. But does it actually say anything about what he is going to do in the future, or how well his season has been?

    If you want to talk about situational hitting, WPA/LI is the tool to compare players. You disagree with that?

  34. @32 Sorry I take that back. He has 34 starts this year, equivalent to a starting pitcher.

  35. @22

    WPA/LI (not depended on number of chances)
    Verlander - 6.2
    Bautista - 6.7

    That's not a significant difference, either.

    If you want to break a tie between Verlander and Buatista WPA isn't the tool (because you're using it in a way it's not designed to be used) and WPA/LI isn't either (it is designed to compare players, but doesn't show a significant difference).

    And, no, Verlander does not have a better chance of increasing his WPA. He pitches an average of 7.4 innings per GS. WPA (by definition) goes up as the game progresses. This is why, in 2011, half the top 20 in WPA for pitchers are relief pitchers.

    There's a lot of research freely available on WPA and how it should be used. You are using it to say things it's not designed to.

    @27
    As you yourself said, WPA is an imperfect measurement of how much a player helped his team. That's all it is. It is not a way of measuring one player against another (anymore than a guy with 120 RBI in 650 AB is a valid measurement against a guy with 70 RBI in 320 AB).

  36. "Does Verlander's '11 Match Guidry's '78?"

    I'll say not quite. I can't find much to distinguish them on performance alone, so I give the slight nod to Gator on two grounds:

    1. Turmoil: The Yankees were the reigning champs, but chased the Red Sox all year, with the owner fuming and feuding with his manager.

    2. September: He threw 2-hit shutouts against Boston in consecutive starts -- in the 3rd game of the "Boston Massacre" (pulling the Yanks to just a game behind, allowing 2 singles in the 1st and no hits thereafter), and the opener of a 3-game home set the next weekend (ensuring that the Yanks would emerge from that series in 1st place). He got rocked in Toronto, but then won his last 3 starts, all on 3 days' rest (after getting 4 all year) -- a 2-hitter against Cleveland that kept the Yanks 1 game up; a 3-1 4-hitter over Toronto, again maintaining that slim lead; and finally, the playoff, where he wasn't dominant but was strong enough to carry them to B.F.D. and hand the ball to Gossage with a 4-2 lead and 8 outs to go.

    I know Verlander has had the pressure of lifting up the back end of the rotation, but it doesn't amount to what Guidry bore.

  37. @21 Ed,

    I think part of the difference in the era+ comes from each respective team's defense. The '78 Yankees were a very good defensive team and gave Guidry a +7 in Rdef or Defensive Runs. The Total Zone views the 2011 as a slightly below average defense team and gives them a −2 Rdef or Defensive Runs.

    I think WPA also factors into this version of WAR so it's possible that this version views Verlander pitching in more "clutch" situations than Guidry did in '78.

  38. It's interesting Fangraphs version of WAR see's Guidry's '78 season as 9.3 WAR and Verlander's 2011 as 7 WAR.

    Fangraphs WAR doesn't even rank Verlander as the best pitcher in the A.L., it has C.C. Sabathia as a 7.1. Roy Halladay ranks the highest in their version with a 8.5 WAR.

  39. @ 14
    "I also look at the hitters and don't see the domination you typically get from an MVP. Bautista, Granderson, Cabrera, Gonzalez, I just don't see historic domiation on a competitive ballclub."

    The Blue Jays would have a much better record in the pathetic excuse for a division known as the AL Central.

  40. Yes, WPA/LI is better for the purpose than simple WPA.

  41. Johnny Twisto Says:

    a 3/5 game from a .240 hitter is a "sample" of his ability to hit the ball. But does it actually say anything about what he is going to do in the future

    An MVP vote has nothing to do with what the player will do in the future.

    If you want to talk about situational hitting, WPA/LI is the tool to compare players. You disagree with that?

    Maybe. If a player is given more high-leverage opportunities, I'll agree it has nothing to do with his own ability, but it does offer him the chance to be more valuable.

  42. Hmmmm, upon further reflection, it surprises me to see so much Verlander love for MVP. He should finish a medium-close 2nd to Granderson.

    Mr. Verlander has been damn good, stirring debate, but once you get past the "uniqueness factor", the Grandy-man's numbers and spirit are just too impressive. Especially those runs scored. ....And... Ya gotta factor in the tight A.L. East: The Yankees truly might've finished third behind Tampa/Boston without him.

    And Guidry was better, by the way.

  43. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Fangraphs version of WAR

    They try to isolate fielding from pitching by using FIP/DIPS stats (K, BB, HR). Their pitching WAR doesn't even consider actual runs allowed, so there could be major discrepancies between the two.

  44. I take back my 40. I think I was confused about which is WPA and which is WPA/LI. In measuring how important hwat a player actually did was, you have to include context. That's full WPA, right? Dividing by LI to equalize opportunity is getting rid of exactly what makes WPA appropriate for an MVP discussion.

  45. These numbers raise another question for me. Would the Bird have won the CY over Palmer in '76 the way it is evaluated today?

  46. Do my fellow Yankee fans really think that Granderson (as opposed to whatever corner outfielder they'd be playing if they didn't have him) has been worth more than Sabathia (as opposed to whatever pitcher they'd have in their rotation)? Grandy's had a damn fine season, but I don't think he's even the team MVP, let alone the league MVP.

  47. @45 Mike T,

    I was about 10 years old in 1976 and for the longest time I just assumed that Fidrych won the '76 Cy Young. I only learned that Palmer actually won it about 5-7 years ago.

    I think what hurt Fidrych was his relatively low K total. I think he had something like 97 k's that year.

    I think he would have definitely won it in 2011 with all the advanced metrics available.

    Fidrych was a media sensation back then before most houses even had cable t.v.! There was no ESPN, no direct tv, no mlb network, no internet, etc. Imagine the attention he would receive if he pitched in 2011 with all the technology we have today?

  48. Ditto Fernando in 1981.

    But it might not have been as exciting for either phenom now. Part of the excitement was that you simply couldnt/didnt see those guys on the internet or ESPN all the time. You had to wait for the rare "Monday Night Baseball" with Cosell or a Saturday afternoon gm with Don Drysdale!!!

  49. 1978 is actually a great season to bring up, if not for any other reason than to answer everyone that has said something similar to this:

    "If (fill in pitcher name) did not win the MVP in 19__ , then Verlander should not get it this year."

    Guidry's season outmatches Verlander's for the reasons that have already been stated in previous posts. But Verlander deserves the MVP this year, while Guidry did not deserve it... because Jim Rice had the season he did. Rice's 406 total bases is the only time in the past 74 seasons that an American League ballplayer topped 400.

    Just because Rice kept Guidry from earning some extra hardware and a steroid fueled season for Ivan Rodriguez did the same to Pedro does not mean that Verlander is not deserving both awards he has coming to him this year.

  50. @42, Shping -- I'm not talking up Verlander for MVP, but you can't make an MVP point for Granderson by saying "the Yankees truly might've finished third" without him. Even though Detroit may win the division by 12 games, where would they be without Verlander?

  51. Is that because of Granderson's 5.2 WAR that some dont like him? Are we that confident in that stat alone, that his deficit there overlooks all the others? -- the runs, OBP, hrs, etc?

    And it just seems that I recall quite a few Granderson highlights this past summer where he won some games singlehandedly. Sorry that's so subjective. If i didnt loathe the Yankees so much, i'd scroll thru box scores and look it up. But that's just my gut feeling: Verlander has been huge, but Granderson slightly more huger and "valuable".

  52. ...especially in that tight and competitive A.L. East. I think that does matter, too. It may be unfair, but it does matter.

  53. ...and by unfair, i mean unfair to Verlander in this case, since he obviously cant control the level of competition in his division, and it's not his fault the A.L. Central is weaker than East, but that's just the way it goes. Only a couple games might make the difference in the East and Wildcard, and you can't simply can't say that about the Tigers division.

  54. For pitchers, to convert WPA to the same .325 replacement level used by WAR, I guess you could add WPA + (.175 * LI * IP/9). That would give a WPA over replacement level.

    For batters, you have to both adjust the replacement level (Rrep) and account for defense and everything else other than batting. (Rbaser, Rfield, and Rpos) You could take WPA + ((Rrep *LI) + (Rbaser + Rfield + Rpos)) * (WAR / RAR). I'm not sure I've got the use of LI right for batters, but it should be at least close.

  55. Of those mentioned as candidates using the formulas above:

    Bautista 9.7
    Verlander 9.5
    Sabathia 7.2
    Cabrera 6.8
    Gonzalez 5.8
    Granderson 5.5

  56. Under any criteria how can you say Bautista is having a better season than
    Granderson?

    The power numbers are comparible but Granderson is a superior fielder as well as a base stealer.

    With that said the two cancel each other out and if Verlander wins the triple crown how can you not give the MVP to him?

  57. Chris Maurer Says:

    Verlander's '11 campaign includes a May 7 2011 no-hitter; this final stat pushes him above Ron.

  58. Can people stop talking about Granderson as an MVP candidate? His WAR is 5.2, which isn't even in the top 10 in the American League (Verlander is second to Bautista, 7.9 to 8.3, respectively).

    Granderson has had a nice year but:
    (a) 41 homers playing half your games in Yankee Stadium is not so impressive, Bautista would probably have five or six more at least if he played there;
    (b) he is batting .260 with over 160 strikeouts.

  59. #58, I mistyped, Granderson is batting .268

  60. OK, I get that sabermetrics has shone the light on players that normal counting stats normally wouldn't but there is NO WAY IN HELL that Jose Bautista is the AL MVP.

  61. Come on. This is not the age of Walter Johnson,

    Verlander won more games than anyone else in this century. What arguments do you need against him?

    So many 'traditionalists' clinging into outdated ideas... Wake up! This is the 21st century, whether some people like it or not.

  62. I should have added "Anyone else in this century, in one single season'. But Verlander was solid in the previous years too, and could have won in one previous year.

    It is fitting that he wins the MVP this year since there are not comparable hitting performance.

  63. @1:

    Am I going to be the only person to express surprise at the first comment on here, which is that Sabathia has a better FIP and xFIP than Verlander.

    I find this to be fairly shocking, since Verlander's actual ERA is 0.72 better than Sabathia's.

    And, because Verlander has a way better K/9IP and way better BB/9IP.

    It would appear that Sabathia's combination of giving up fewer homeruns than Verlander (15 vs. 22) is part of this.

    But the other part of this is that Sabathia gives up nearly a hit per inning (223 in 230), while Verlander is having an almost historic season in this regard, allowing only 166 hits in 244 innings.

    FIP, of course, considers this to be a contribution of the defense around Verlander. However, Brad Penny, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have all allowed WAY more than a hit per inning, which leads me to believe that Verlander's low hits-total is really his own attribute.

    This, of course, is rare, and usually low-hits totals bespeak an excellent defense, but the Tigers do not have an excellent defense in 2011.

    Sometimes, as in the case of Nolan Ryan (each and every year) a dominant power pitcher is just hard to hit.

    Thus, I suspect, the FIP and xFIP comparison may be misleading.

    As someone who likes FIP and xFIP a lot, I find this to be troubling.

    Thoughts?

  64. In regards to #49 -Jim Rice as a right handed batter was aided significantly by Fenway as have many players in Red Sox history. 1978 split numbers for Rice: Home .361-.416-.690 Away: .269-.325-.512. Not even comparable. Babe Ruth at home, Jim Fregosi on the road.
    Guidry should have won the MVP that year.

  65. @61:

    There is an irony to what you say:

    "Verlander won more games than anyone else in this century. What arguments do you need against him?

    "So many 'traditionalists' clinging into outdated ideas... Wake up! This is the 21st century, whether some people like it or not."

    When it comes to measuring the value and performance of starting pitchers, reliance upon win-totals is perhaps the most outdated idea of all.

  66. @63

    FIP and xFIP are flawed, particularly in the case of a pitcher like Verlander, who throws so hard that even a guy like Juan Pierre can hit one out if the stars align properly. People keep pointing to JV's "aberrant" BABIP this year. It's not. He simply isn't giving anyone anything to hit. When hitters do get the bat on the ball, it's usually a weak ground ball or a pop out. Almost nothing he's done is a product of the Tiger's defense, which is adequate at best ('cept AJax, of course).

    I hate to say it, because I like their site, but the WAR calculations at Fangraphs are suspect.

  67. @58/59:

    Granderson's splits:
    Home: .265/.364/.577 with 21 HR in 311 PA
    Away: .270/.378/.560 with 20 HR in 348 PA

    So his season is not just some Yankee Stadium fluke.

  68. Guidry in a landslide over Verlander, just based on 16 complete games vs 4 for Verlander, 9 shutouts for Guidry vs 2 and an era a full half run better. Not even an argument

  69. @66, Lily -- I have an honest, non-rhetorical question:

    In your opinion, why is Verlander so much harder to hit this year than in the previous 2 years, when he had virtually the same K rate but allowed significantly more hits?

    2009-10 -- Fanned 25.6% of batters faced; allowed a .236 batting average.
    2011 -- Whiffed 26.0% of batters faced; allowed a .190 batting average.

    That's a 24% decline in batting average. But meanwhile, his HR% is up more than 30%.

    Is there an explanation of the change in Verlander's performance this year versus past years that can cover both of those things?

  70. Versus last year, the BA for right handers has dropped 10 points, for left handers 60 points. Plus #1 and #2 hitters batting averages have dropped dramatically. He's faitly consistent with the 3 to 6 hitters between 2010 and 2011, but he's given up more homers, 10 vs 17 in about the same number of plate appeances.

    The additional HRs are to RHB. HRs have gone up in the #5 and #6 slots. Even though the batting average is down dramatically for LHBs, the HRs are the same both years-9.

    His first 3 inning performance (45 runs last year vs 25 this year) primarily because he's doing so much better vs #1 and #2 hitters. (are they mostly LHB?)

    Why would he be doing so much better vs left handers?

  71. How many PAs? How many extra hits would he have to have given up to make his performance against lefties no better than last year?

  72. Last year 109 for 474 in 528 PA 0.230 BA 9 HR vs LHB
    This year 82 for 482 in 524 PA 0.170 BA 9 HR vs LHB

    Last year 81 for 360 in 397 PA 0.225 BA 5 HR vs RHB
    This year 84 for 392 in 414 PA 0.214 BA 13 HR vs RHB

    Last year the #1 batting slot hit 0.291, this year 0.183
    Last year the #2 batting slot was 0.220, this year 0.148
    This contributes to his significant drop in runs scored in the first 3 innings.

    Last year the #5 and #6 slot hit 2 HRs, this year 9

    He has pitched 20 more innings
    He's had 21 fewer line drives, 18 fewer hits
    He's had 37 fly balls, but only 2 more hits.
    Overall 24 fewer outfield hits
    8 fewer infield hits.

    Last year 18/292 infield hits.
    This year 18/296 infield hits.

    20 fewer hits by left handers up the middle.

    Looks like fewer line drives, more fly balls.

    He only faced 13 more batters this year in 20 extra innings.

    The major factors I see are he's doing much better vs left handers. He's getting the #1 and #2 batters out more often, therefore fewer runs in the first 3 innings. Fewer line drives, more fly balls. Fly balls in 2010 14 HR/223 AB. In 2011 22/260, but the BA and OBP dropped. And fewer hits by LHB up the middle.

  73. @67. It's also not a fenway factor too. He only has 1HR in fenway this year in 30 AB's. He's just a good power hitter in any park.

  74. @Mike L: OK, I know this thread isn't about this, but Clemens' "drop-off" in from 1993-1997 is highly exaggerated. In '93 he did have an off-year, but was still a slightly above-average pitcher. Many pitchers have had similar years in the middle of their careers for a variety of reasons. In '94 was as good as ever and led the league in ERA+. 1995 was not as good, but he still had a 117 ERA+. In 1996, despite a losing record, he pitched to a 139 ERA+, better than at age 26, and about equal to age 25.

  75. I would suggest the following is a good argument for Verlander winning the MVP: on May 29 the Tigers were 25-26, and today they are 89-64. Over that time, Verlander, as a starting pitcher, has 22 consecutive decisions, going 20-2. In this case, that win-loss number is a meaningful way of assessing his impact on team wins and losses. Verlander up to that point was 4-3 with a 3.42 ERA and since is 20-2 with a 1.75 ERA, 171 Ks in 165 innings.
    Up to that point, Detroit had been 5-6 in his starts, since then they are 20-2. He is the primary reason they are 20-2. For instance, 12 of those wins have come following a loss. Also, the approach to using the relief staff is also managed by Verlander's performance, and the expectatio of 8 innings and a lead (Valverde has 13 saves in Verlander starts). Since then they are 44-36 in games Verlander does not start (Doug Fister shout out right here...). Its a .500 club without him. In short, I would suggest the everyday players with strong numbers have had less of an impact on wins, when looked at game to game, win to win, and overall winning percentage, than Verlander.

  76. Curiously enough, on May 28 of 1978, Guidry pitched the front end of a double header. On May 29 of this year, Verlander pitched the back end of one.

    From that point on, Guidry went 19-3 in 26 starts with a 1.75 ERA, with a .188 BA against. Verlander has gone 20-2 in 22 starts with a 1.75 ERA, with a .188 BA against.

    Guidry had the better start to the year than Verlander did this year.

  77. despite WAR, somehow Pedro's 1999 year has to be near the top of this list, it's insane, 23-4, 2.07, 313 strikeouts in 213 innings, only 160 hits and 9 hrs and 37 walks, 13.2 Ks per 9, 8.36 K to BB ratio, 243 ERA+, .0923 WHIP

  78. Guidry clearly had a better year than Verlander. 16 CG, 9 SHO vs. 4 and 2.
    That to me is the clincher.
    Verlander does deserve the MVP and I believe he wins it based on a perfect storm scenario.No other offensive player from a contender has separated himself from the pack and the best offensive player is on an also ran.
    This shouldn't matter but it does to the voters.
    Also, surprised no one has mentioned Ellsbury.

  79. @77 That's a lot of IP that Pedro didn't pitch and the bullpen had to, compared to the other pitchers on the list.

  80. he only started 29 games, that's why they're missing

  81. actually compare it to Clemens' 1990 year, he started 31 games, Pedro pitched in 31, 29 starts, it's just as good, and I agree it's a joke Clemens didn't win the Cy that year

  82. i believe that WAR looks at the quality of the batters against a pitcher. This may have cost Guidry more for not having to face the Yankees line-up in '78 compared to Verlander this year. Though the AL Central isn't the strongest division offensively. So it's Adam Dunn's fault if Verlander doesn't win the MVP.

  83. Actually Dunn has a higher BA than 6 of the teams Verlander has faced including two in the AL East, even collecting more hits than Toronto. He has hit 1 HR, one of 7 by the White Sox, the only team to have more HRs than games vs Verlander. On the other hand, Verlander struck him out more times than any other batter he's faced.

  84. @74, Kirk-far be it from me to defend Clemens. Never liked the guy, including when he was on the Yankees. My only point was that, given how competitive he was, if he had a great year juicing, he would have continued it for the next for the next four years, and while the next four years weren't bad, they weren't at his career norms. So, I think he began to juice afterwards (if he juiced, it's all in the "alleged" category)

    On the other hand, I am a big Guidry fan, and I do think he was slightly, but definitely better than Verlander. The complete games, the shut outs, the somewhat better qualitative stats, it's not a giant edge, but it's there. The poster who talked about Verlander's No No-good point, but Guidry had a couple of two hit games, and a complete game 4 hit shut out in which he struck out 18. And he pitched in intense pressure for the last half of the season. No knock on Verlander at all.

  85. Guidry didn't play in the era of closers. Talking about his complete game total for comparison is rediculous. Valverde's ERA+ in the 9th compared to Guidry probably favors Valverde. The idea that Verlander should be penalized for fewer complete games than Guidry discounts the fundamental change in baseball that happened in between: Relievers now have better ERA's than starters. Detroit has one of the best closers so there's even less reason to push Verlander to 9ip.

    Here's some quick math on the subject. Guidry in '78 pitched 16.2 IP in the 9th and Verlander '11 has 4.0IP. Guidry also had 2 extra games played at time of post, averaging a little over 7.2IP per game.Deducing 15.1 IP for the 2 games less and the 12.2IP less for not pitching the 9th, Verlander's total of 244IP is very similar to the 'adjusted' guidry '78 number of 245.1 IP. That means both saw almost exactly the same workload in innings 1 through 8.

    Verlander left after 8IP 10 times this year while guidry left only twice. It would be interesting to compare Valverde's ERA in those 10 appearances Vs Guidry's in his 8. Considering Guidry had to be pulled in the 9th before the CG four times while the Tigers went on to win 9 out of 10 where Verlander left, I'm going to estimate Valverde's been better this year than Guidry was, in the 9th, in 1978.

  86. oh, and Verlander's 4.0IP in the 9th were all not save situations (though I'm sure they would have let him pitch the 9th on his no-no bid anyway) and most of his 8th inning departures WERE save opportunities. Just putting that out there too.

  87. Mosc. The Yankees had Gossage and Lyle who were pretty darn good and had 36 saves between them. So there were bullpen options. I'm not sure penalizing Guidry for his seven more shut outs because of Valverde stepping in for Verlamder is entirely fair. That's like penalizing batters for home runs in the late innings because you could have pinch hit for them.

  88. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'm going to estimate Valverde's been better this year than Guidry was, in the 9th, in 1978.

    Guidry pitched 17.2 IP in the 9th inning and allowed 2 ER and a .336 OPS.

  89. @ 52 In that daunting AL East, Verlander has an ERA of 2.97 this year, while Sabathia's (not facing his own Yankee team, course) is 3.79 against the East.

    @63 I agree completely with your post - I've watched the Tigers a lot this year, and they are not a good defensive team. Jackson is great in Center, Peralta is solid at SS, most of the rest of the team is horrid to average at best. I think it's laughable that fWAR thinks Sabathia is equal to JV this year.

    @ 69 Verlander has gotten smarter as he's gotten older. He's learned that he doesn't have to strike everyone out, but rather pitches more to contact, and moves the ball around the plate more than he has in the past. He's added a change-up this year that is outstanding, and with a 95+ fastball, a top notch curve and the aforementioned change, guys are off balance against him. As someone who's watched most of his starts over his career, I can tell you he's matured as a pitcher, and is definitely better than he's been in the past.

  90. Guidry vs Verlander

    We know pitch counts are now used to keep a pitcher from pitching 9 innings, so the 16 CG is a function of the 70s. No one has completed 16 games in the past 25 years. I think it would be best to focus on other differences. The 9 SHO is significant; Verlander only had 6 starts with no runs allowed. At best he would have 6 SHOs if they didn't take him out early. Guidry had a significantly lower ERA, he kept runs off the board better than Verlander, that's why he had the shutouts. The advantage of Guidry boils down to runs allowed.

    Guidry pitched 273 innings, 259 walks and hits, 61 runs (earned and unearned), 13 HRs
    Verlander pitched 244 innings, 222 walks and hits, 68 runs (earned and unearned), 22 HRS

    Normalize to 9 innings
    Guidry 9 innings, 8.7 BB+H, 2.0 runs, 0.4 HR
    Verlander 9 innings, 8.3 BB+H, 2.5 runs, 0.8 HR

    A big chunk of Verlander's runs were a result of a home run. 33 of the 68 runs scored against Verlander were off of the 22 HRs. He was scored upon in 27 games. In 9 games all the runs were driven in by HRs. That home run differential is a significant factor in the reason why Guidry had a better year.

  91. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think it's laughable that fWAR thinks Sabathia is equal to JV this year.

    I don't think laughable is the right word for it. Look, no one has figured out how to neatly remove the effects of fielding from pitching stats. FG tries to do it by just focusing on the fielding-independent pitching stats. I don't agree with their approach, but I can't say it's "wrong." You've seen a lot of Verlander and you "know" he's been better than his K/BB/HR numbers indicate. That's fine, but how do you apply that to the other 400 pitchers in the majors?

    The fact is that Verlander's BABIP is about 90 points lower than Sabathia's this season. The way that FG approaches things, Verlander doesn't get credit for any of that difference. He probably deserves credit for some, but all of it? Over the previous 3 seasons, Sabathia's BABIP was 15 points lower than Verlander's. Is Verlander suddenly *that* much harder to hit this season? And Sabathia easier? Verlander's current BABIP is lowest for any pitcher with at least 200 IP since 1992 (Schilling, .230). He definitely has something to do with that, and his defense probably not that much, but most of it is likely random variation.* Should a statistic trying to isolate pitcher performance account for that? I think it's a matter of opinion.

    * If you don't agree, what do you expect Verlander's BABIP to be next season?

    Verlander has gotten smarter as he's gotten older. He's learned that he doesn't have to strike everyone out, but rather pitches more to contact, and moves the ball around the plate more than he has in the past. He's added a change-up this year that is outstanding, and with a 95+ fastball, a top notch curve and the aforementioned change, guys are off balance against him.

    You've certainly seen him much more than I, but I've been a big fan of his since watching him as a rookie, and I know he had a great change then. Maybe he's refined it, or is throwing it more often, but it's not a new pitch.

    As for pitching to contact, batters are making less contact than they used to (76% of swings, compared to 80% in '05-'08), and he's throwing more pitches per PA than he used to (4.07, highest of his career, vs 3.83 through '07).

  92. @26: The player with the most RBI/AB in the major leagues this year isn't Bautista or Granderson. Oddly enough, it's not even a position player, but rather a National League pitcher.

  93. @90 At the time Guidry pitched, CGs were valued. Guidry succeeded in saving the 5-man bullpen so the Yanks would be more likely to win the day after he pitched, as well as the day he was on the mound. It makes sense not to criticize Verlander for not doing the same, but Guidry's CGs were extraordinary and valuable. They are a valid and necessary part of evaluating his season.

  94. @93 Yep.

    As I said, and it sounds like you agree, I thought it would be best to focus on other differences in comparing Verlander vs Guidry, but, as you saw, I still considered the Shutouts in the comparison.

  95. Fwiw, Guidry was tied for 7th in the league with his 16 CG, Verlander is currently tied for 4th with his 4.

  96. @75

    Detroit is 2nd in the league in winning percentage.
    When Verlander pitches, his team is 25-8.
    When he doesn't pitch, they are 64-56. That winning percentage would be sixth in the league, but still lead the division.

    Why doesn't his team do better when he doesn't pitch?
    ANSWER: His team is average or slightly below average in most pitching statistics even when his numbers are included.

    How do they have a winning record without him?
    His team is #4 in most batting statistics. The 3 teams typically ahead of them are the other 3 playoff teams.
    They are #5 in Runs Scored-Allowed differential.

  97. @96

    Verlander has the highest winning% in the AL.
    Scherzer and Porcello at 0.609 have the best winning% in the AL with 162 IP and an ERA greater than 4.30
    Penny is the only pitcher in the AL with 162 IP and an ERA over 5.00 with a non-losing record (10-10).

    I would say the everyday players (hitters) are doing quite well carrying the other 3 primary starters. The other starts have been divided between 6 players. The most recent is Fister going 6-1 in 9 starts with a 2.12 ERA.

    Scherzer: Team record in starts: 19-12
    Porcello: 19-10
    Penny 15-14
    Combined 53-36 0.596 Still higher than their 0.582 team %

  98. @ 91 I much to prefer to look at what actually happened as opposed to their interpretation of what they think should have happened.

    Verlander has more wins, fewer losses, a better ERA, better WHIP, more strikeouts, fewer walks, more starts, more innings pitched.

    I appreciate what fWAR is trying to do, but all the above point to Verlander being a definitively better pitcher in my book. They're basically saying Verlander has been extremely lucky, and Sabathia somewhat unlucky, and therefore they're equal this year. The actual results paint a much different picture.

    As to what I would expect Verlander's BABIP to be next year ... I would suspect it would be higher than this year, but below league average. Athlete's performance goes up and down from year to year in most every sport. I think Verlander is a special pitcher who's had a special year - much the way Ron Guidry (I choose him because he and Verlander were the original basis of the post) had a career low babip in 1978.

  99. One huge difference is the realignment of divisions. Verlander's Tigers have a 13 game lead, and are the only team above .500 in their division. Meanwhile, if Guidry had gone 24-4 and not 25-3, the 1978 Yankees don't make the postseason.

  100. @99

    Your point is this.

    Guidry had a better year because he won 25 games for a team that won their division by 1 game and Verlander is on a team that leads their division by 13.

  101. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I much to prefer to look at what actually happened as opposed to their interpretation of what they think should have happened.

    Oh, I agree. I think the FIP stats are better for projecting forward than determining what actually happened. The problem is in determining what did happen which the pitcher was responsible for. I'm just not sure how much credit to give Verlander for his low BABIP. But, I guess it's a choice between crediting him, or his fielders, or both. I do agree the players on the field should be credited for what actually happens, even if it's an anomalous result, rather than waving that stuff away to the luck fairy.

  102. @100 It's fuzzy how much "better" is the same a "more valuable". 99's point is that the year was more valuable, which is a matter of definition about which reasonable people will disagree.

  103. @102

    My opinion is that Guidry had a "better" year and I make that decision independently of the team record, because I see ERA and HRs allowed as the significant difference between the two.

    I choose not to agree or disagree with a statement that Guidry had a "more valuable" year, based on his impact on a close race.

    I will not judge Verlander's potential for an MVP award in 2011, based on the fact that Guidry had a "better" year or "more valuable" year in 1978 and did not receive one.

  104. It is very good that now we are looking at other net Performance evaluations, Fangraphs, & arguing which system might be more accurate, rather than assume one system is the only one one or better with no consideration of anything else/why.

    How much BBIP play vary due to pitcher performance is a big open question. Many think only FIP are meaningful, & only knuckleballs effect BBIP averages. This seems extreme, but I don't know how much is chance.

    The quality of competition must also be considered. I agree with Charles' reasoning, Guidry was at least a little better. Verlander could get & deserve the MVP, as could Bautista. Fangraphs loves Elsbury, & he should be considered.