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Poll: 2011 American League MVP

Posted by Andy on September 30, 2011

This entry was posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011 at 7:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

156 Responses to “Poll: 2011 American League MVP”

  1. Paul Konerko didn't even make the list? He had a good season despite being surrounded by Rios and Dunn most of the year.

  2. No Michael Young either? Shame! You have Ian Kinsler and not Young?

  3. Players not making the list? lol

    the list should be five names long, maximum.

  4. Yeah. Blame Johnny Twisto. I had him make up the candidate list, and I added several myself. I couldn't just keep adding and adding. Basically, just about everybody with a WAR of 5 is on this list.

  5. name long, JV.

  6. And Young and Konerko should both be on the list. Young led the league in hits and drove in 106 despite only hitting 11 HRs. Nobody from the Red Sox or a last place team should be on the list. As a matter of fact any team without a winning record does not get a player that's MVP. Throw out Baustista. Peter Bourjus deserves to be on this list but not Young?

  7. Melonogaster's Semen Says:

    LMAO @ Miguel Cabrera 5th, think he's a no-brainer at this point

  8. Twisto kept those guys off the list just because he knows I like them!

  9. The whole Verlander did it on his own narrative is really annoying. Miguel Cabrera!

  10. Michael Young is well on his way to 3000 hits, and he's a seven time all star.

  11. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    This will be a close one, but I am figuring that Verlander will probably edge out Bautista, simply on how his performance has improved his teams fortunes,

  12. Andy you should call this site Baseball Reeference, because I think you might be smoking some and that's why you left Mike Young off the list.

  13. Yeah, I picked Verlander/Verlander, but I could just have easily have gone for Bautista as my personal pick and the actual winner. Ellsbury is the third guy I'd go for as a personal pick -- all three are that close to each other, in my opinion -- but based on past voter sentiment he lost enough MVP voters with the Sox's collapse to not get the actual award.

    This kind of reminds me of the 1987 AL MVP vote when McGwire, Trammell, and Molitor all had good cases (and I suppose George Bell as Curtis Granderson if you want to beat this extended metaphor to death).

  14. I'm really shocked at the lack of support for Jose Bautista. Seriously. Right now, only 26.24% (53 voters) believe he should be the MVP. Only 20,88% (30 voters including myself) believe he will be. Now I don't know why... why oh why... do so many think he doesn't deserve it? Have you really looked at what he's done this year? Check out his WAR, WPA, OPS+... and compare that to Verlander's WAR, WPA, and ERA+. Tell me Verlander's superior after that. While you're at it, note that Bautista leads the world in OPS+, SLG, BB, & HR. You can't seriously tell me that he isn't the most valuable player in the American League in 2011. You just can't be serious.

  15. It really should be between Granderson and Miguel Cabrera, but I'd be surprised if it isn't Verlander. The dominant media story has been how Verlander deserves it but pitchers never win. ....well, since the people who vote are the ones writing that silly story, they will probably vote that way. It reminds me of 2008 when the dominant media story was how an inferior player should win it because hes scrappy and "has heart" and 2006 when a team's third best player won because Jeter is "over-rated" and a mediocre player only famous because he plays in New York.

  16. Having pitchers on the list other than Verlander is a waste. If you are going to vote for a pitcher to win MVP, it has to be Verlander. Fister, Romero, Beckett, Shields, Sabathia, and Weaver shouldnt even be on the list.

  17. #16 but, those pitchers have more WAR than a lot of the position players on the list. I agree there's no way those guys could win over Verlander, but it's not up to me to just present the single-best candidate. That's not the point of this post.

  18. D Forrest Y,

    Bautista is a very nontraditional pick because of the team he plays for. Like it or not, voters don't like to pick MVPs from 4th place teams. I think you'd know it if Bautista was a serious candidate, because those in the media who vote like to justify their non-traditional votes when they make them (see Verlander this year). If people were going to vote for Bautista there would be a flood of stories about why MVPs can play for 4th place teams. We aren't seeing that though. I don't think Bautista has much of a chance. Those inclined to vote for Bautista will probably go for Miguel Cabrera.

  19. @1 and @6 Konerko's WAR is hurt by his baserunning. Negative 9 runs this year. In fact, Konerko may be the worst baserunner in the history of baseball. WAR shows his costing his team 80 runs over the course of his career through his poor baserunning. (BTW, I'm adding up Rbaser, Rroe and Rdp to get these numbers). Would be interesting to know if anyone's even close to him in that regard.

  20. @ 18... yeah Jason, that's pretty much why I don't think he'll win. It shocks me though that so many people even here at BR, don't think he deserves it. Verlander is just closer to an average AL pitcher than Bautista's been to the average AL hitter. I'm not sure if people don't notice (due to the Verlander press hype) or if people don't want to admit it.

  21. @14, well he plays in Canada which hurts. And the team never contended, and people still are getting used to him being a star since he kind of blew up halfway through 2010 at an old age, and people are skeptical. Plus there's the whole "tipping pitches" issue at Toronto home games hanging over his head.

    I also think everyone's afraid to embrace Bautista because they're afraid it'll come out that he took steroids or HGH or whatever, and after McGwire/Sosa/Palmeiro/Manny/Caminiti/etc etc they're not willing to take that risk. That's my guess anyway.

  22. BTW, I voted that Joey Bats deserves it but Verlander will win it.

  23. @18: Except that the "Gotta be on a winner" rules doesn't really hold any more. Pujols in 2008 was on a 4th place team, three of Bonds' four from 2001-2004 the Giants didn't win their division, Sammy Sosa's Cubs in 1998 didn't win their division, the Yankees were second when Rodriguez won in 2007, and so on.

    Granting that it helps, it's much less an issue than it was prior to the 1990s.

  24. Cabrera deserves better than 5th.

  25. Jose Bautista should win it. His stat line looks like something out of a typical Mickey Mantle season.

    As for who will win it, I went with Granderson simply because I don't think enough voters will go for Verlander to give him the award. Hopefully, though, Bautista takes it home.

  26. Paul Drye: But most of the teams/players you cite above were actually in the wild card chase, they just didn't win. I think the voters are OK with players on teams that are playing for's the 3rd, 4th place teams/players that are 15 games out they seem to avoid. There's only been a few that were from teams that weren't in at all..Pujols above, Walker '97, ARod '01. Perception has changes some, but not by much IMO.

  27. The 98 Cubs won the Wild Card, though, so they were indeed a "winner," at least before being swept by the Braves.

    I'm kind of confused at how much hype Verlander is getting for MVP. Cy Young? Sure, I can see that. He was 24-5. The other starters outside of the #5 slot in the rotation were 48-30. The #5 slot in the rotation racked up a 4-16 record. Would they have made the playoffs without Verlander? In the weak AL Central, maybe. Is that a strong enough case for MVP consideration? Absolutely not. I thought we had moved beyond Pitcher Wins as a stat worthy of garnering MVP votes.

  28. Wowbagger,

    Never underestimate the power of memes in MVP voting. Verlander and "why shouldn't a pitcher win?" are this year's memes. Sports Illustrated supports it. Its infectious.

  29. Paul Drye,

    Most of those cases you cite were not actually violations of the "must be on a winner rule". In fact, most of those MVPs played in the postseason. Bautista would be like Arod in 2001. Typically, in these situations you have two things: 1) a player on a losing team for and away outperforming everyone else in the league, 2) no great candidates on winning teams. Neither of these are the case this year.

  30. Timothy P., you really need to brush up on the value of batting average, especially when it comes from a DH / immobile 3b with middling power who plays half his games in Arlington. Michael Young wasn't among the 15 most valuable players in the AL this year. He slugged .399 on the road. Yeah, he had a nice season, but .338 isn't worth a whole lot when you only hit 11 homers and don't walk.

    Bautista pretty much collapsed in the second half, his slugging pct. actually ended up being 9 pts lower than last year, despite the 42 point increase in BA. I wouldn't want to argue that he was more valuable than Verlander. As a Jays fan I'd love to see him win, but I wouldn't have a problem if it went to Ellsbury or Verlander. I don't think anyone other than those three can be justifiably considered for the top spot on the ballot.

  31. @Timmy... I have to agree about Ellsbury. That choking choker only got hits in 31 of the Sox' last 32 games. 355/403/681 just ain't getting it done. I mean, only 52% of his hits were for extra bases! What a slacker. Totally his fault that he got himself stranded on third after getting there with no outs. And what was he thinking just standing around in center field when he could have been pitching in relief all those games that the Sox gave up late leads?

    I said it before, I'll say it again - come up to the cabin, guys. Nice and peaceful. David Wright is buying the first round. It will be OK.

  32. Mike Napoli!

  33. Well, I tried to be quick and dirty, but still use a statistical measure to do it. I added up the following:

    rWAR (for those who don't know, that's this site's WAR)
    fWAR (Fangraphs)
    gWAR (Baseball Gauge WAR)
    WARP (Baseball Prospectus WAR - the "P" stand for "Player")

    I narrowed the field to four candidates. Here were their scores:

    Verlander - 46.9
    Cabrera - 47.9
    Ellsbury - 49.6
    Bautista - 56.1

    So, by this very simple measure (took me about 5 minutes to think it up and do the math), it's not even close. Bautista all the way. Though, I did vote for Verlander in the second poll, because, as many have pointed out, the narrative seems to already have been written. If he had won his 25th, it would absolutely be over. While I think there's a slight possibility someone else ends up winning, I doubt it will happen. By the way, the most surprising thing from my little "study" was Cabrera came out ahead of Verlander. I didn't expect that, since I thought the WAR differential on this site alone would hold Miguel back. But, you learn a lot, I guess.

    For the record, if anyone's curious, the gap between Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver is 8.2 - which is larger than the gap between Bautista and Ellsbury. So I'd say Verlander's a pretty good bet for the Cy Young, by just about any metric.

  34. @ Dr Doom... LOL so lookin' at those numbers, shows Verlander isn't even the MVP ON HIS OWN TEAM!

  35. In a weird way, Jacoby Ellsbury may have made the case for Justin Verlander all the better.

    In the end, it didn't matter what Ellsbury did. He was magnificent all season and even kicked it up down the stretch...

    The purists often don't like pitchers who go every 5th day to be considered MVP-----but the truth is, had Boston had a Verlander '11, they don't collapse.

    Starting pitchers worthy of mention for awards often have over 1,000 batter/ pitcher confrontations in a season. That's more than any batter has. If you factor in put outs and assists, the position players pick up more ground in the batter/ defender column, but a starting pitcher CONTROLS his game. He also affects the rest of a series/ week by resting the pen, taking pressure off of the team and staff by being that rock that can say: "Today, the nonsense stops."

    Boston desperately needed that. A Verlander could have delivered that where an Ellsbury really could not.

    Mitch Williams said at one point that Boston was 5-19 down the stretch------but 1-19 in that same span when they didn't score 12 or more runs!

    Singular offensive players are more helpless in impacting seasons. A dominant pitcher going every 5th day can actually be more valuable.

  36. Bautista's value in some minds is diminished because the payoff for the team was small/ non existent.

    He also doesn't know what real pressure is to play in games that have something riding on them. It's easly to be loose all year when there's nothing to lose.

    I think it hurts him as MVP.

    Though I do respect what he does while playing in that division.

  37. Mike Young? He wouldn't be in my top 10.

  38. @Doom - that's an interesting measurement, but the 6.5 win gap between Ellsbury and Bautista isn't that large because it's the sum of seven different wins measurements. You'd get a similar margin if you simply multiplied one of those measurements seven times. The mean difference between them is less than a single win, so the gap is fairly close.

  39. Dr. Doom,

    If you add up a lot of things that are not independent of each other you make small and perhaps meaningless differences appear large and perhaps meaningful. You are just counting the same differences multiple times.

  40. I'll offer a wild opinion and say they should not award the MVP in AL this year. There are so many viable candidates that I feel there is no "Most" Valuable Player.

    I'm huge Tiger fan, but Verlander is not the MVP. Definitely CY Young winner.

  41. @38, 39

    I'm aware of how math works. I chose to leave it in larger numbers rather than dividing by seven because it makes the differences appear larger. I could have divided and avoided the "problem" to which you are referring, but thought that this would give a better indicator of the gaps between players. Regardless of whether one divides or not, it becomes apparent that the gap between Bautista and Ellsbury is larger than the gap between Ellsbury and Verlander. Or, in other words, #1 is farther from #2 than #2 is from #5. Personally, I think that's easier to see with larger numbers. And, while I'll agree that these statistics are partially related, they're not completely related. Thus, some measure have Ellsbury or Verlander or Cabrera on top. Overall, though, Bautista is basically one win better than anyone else (well, .9 wins, anyway), if we take a composite look at these different measures of value. It's not even as close as the gap between Braun and Kemp in the NL (which is about a .7 difference). Personally, I think a 1-win difference is pretty substantial, because that's basically the error-bar for WAR in a season, meaning it would be pretty hard to make a case that Ellsbury (much less Cabrera or Verlander) has been more valuable than Bautista, at least if you're going to take a number of different things into account. Basically, I was trying to make the point that things aren't as cut-and-dried as if you look only one place on the interwebs.

  42. Sean-

    Great argument. Outside of looking at total innings pitched, do any advanced metrics account for the depth a pitcher goes into a game and the residual impact this has on the team bullpen?

  43. Wow, love all the homers. There is one MVP award for 350+ players. Lots of players had great seasons, but there can be only one. Mike Napoli? Great season, but MVP? c'mon. Michael Young? Because he lead in singles?

    Also, love the criticism of BR readers. '..that's pretty much why I don't think he'll win. It shocks me though that so many people even here at BR, don't think he deserves it.' you can only vote once!

    I do not think people think he doesn't deserve it, they just think Verlander is more deserving. Same for Cabrera 'only at 5th'. If all vote for Bautista/Verlander, it doesn't mean they think Cabrera is crap.

  44. Dr. Doom,

    The problem ("problem") isn't that you didn't divide by seven, it's that you added a bunch of things that are not independent as if they are independent. So, while the difference may appear larger by doing that, it isn't really a valid thing to do.

    On an unrelated note, how do you know the error bars for WAR?

  45. I don't get all the Michael Young Love/Accolades? Michael Young should get Zero MVP votes.

    This year he was basically a DH/3b/1b who put up an OPS of .854 which ranks 14th in the A.L. overall. He's always been a lousy fielder hence the move this year to him playing 69 games at DH. Also, he plays in Texas which is the Coors Field of the South. He hit 11 HR playing DH/3b/1b while putting up a .380 on base percentage in a great hitter's park, how exactly is that a MVP season??

    BR WAR has him at 2.4 for the season, Fangraphs WAR has him at 3.8 for the season so split the difference and you get about a 3 WAR type player. Young was probably about the 6th best player for the Rangers this year. If you included pitchers, Young was about the 8th-9th best Ranger this year.

    You want an MVP candidate from the Rangers it's Mike Napoli. He hit .320/.414/.631 with 30 HR in only 369 AB!!! Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre are two other better Texas MVP candidates. Even Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton were better than Michael Young.

  46. @41 - we're also aware of how math works.

    Absent your explanation, it IS a problem if you're intentionally trying to make the differences appear larger when they're not actually larger. The numbers themselves don't really explain why you've chosen to do it, and it's unintentionally misleading (or at least confusing).

    Now that you've said what you were trying to show - the relative differences between candidates - it makes sense.

  47. @44

    I realize they're not independent. In fact, the idea was to average them. I just didn't do the last step of the math. I was trying to figure out what the "consensus" view of different statistics that all try to measure similar things was. I didn't want statistics that measured different things. Initially, I thought of just taking the WAR measures, but I thought it might be interesting to use some other measures that have similar results, as well, especially since some people give more weight to those than others. Of course I understand that they're somewhat dependent (though not completely, or there would be any differences). If anyone around here hangs out on Fangraphs, a lot of people there think that Ellsbury is the runaway winner, because he is when one just looks at their WAR. Similarly, at Prospectus, there's Bautista at 10.3 WARP, and Ellsbury at "only" 9.0. I just wanted to take a look at what different measures say, and average them - I just didn't do the averaging because I thought the bigger gaps were more apparent. Basically, if we do divide by seven, we see that Ellsbury is slightly ahead of Justiguel Verlanderera, but only barely, and that Bautsita's about 1 win ahead of the pack. I think that's pretty significant. Really, I just don't like that people use only the one "total value" measure available on this site, and assume it's consensus. So I did a tiny amount of legwork to try to find that consensus. I'm not saying this is the way to choose the MVP - I just thought it would be interesting to bring in more than just one total value measure to the table.

    The error bar for WAR, by the way, is something Tom Tango has discussed a couple of times on his blog. He says it's about 1 - or at least that's what he uses. Of course, you could make some arguments for regressing UZR or TZ, or some other things, if you were so inclined.

  48. @46 Nightfly

    Oh! Now I get what you're saying. Like I said above, I've heard arguments from people that we should just look at WAR or (more often, believe it or not) just look at WPA (which completely neglects defense, both for pitchers and hitters) when determining the MVP. Like I said, I wanted to look elsewhere, and basically to show the relative differences between the candidates, rather than assume that the number was a "total value" type ranking in and of itself. Hope that helps.

  49. I firmly believe pitchers should be eligible, but considering their contribution to the team over 162 games vs. a position player's, I'm sorry but you have to be transcendent as a pitcher to win MVP. Verlander's season was great but it's definitely being over-stated. Kershaw had nearly an identical season and may not even win the Cy Young in his league, let alone get any consideration for MVP. In a 7-game series, a starting pitcher is absolutely more valuable because you skip your 5th (and sometimes 4th) starters or even use a guy in relief, so he gets much more of a significant percentage of playing time. Also, if you have a season like Pedro in 2000 with the best WHIP in history, even better than dead ball era and pre-1901 players, and you aren't given the MVP and a victory parade through every MLB city, then a season like Verlander's should not even be close.

    I would put Cabrera, Ellsbury, Granderson, Bautista all before Verlander. Call me a traditionalist on this one, but Cabrera was 1st in AVG, 1st in OBP, 2nd in SLG, and played for a first-place team. The award should be his.

  50. Hey Cheese (#44)... there's two polls up there. One for who you think deserves it (your choice) and one for who you think will win it (who you think the BBWAA will choose). I was criticizing the BR readers who vote that they believe Verlander had a superior season to Bautista, not the ones who think the Writer's won't choose him. I expected more from BR readers than that garabage about Verlander being MVP, that's all. I admit I was wrong, but I thought most readers here, had a really good solid sense of stats. I mean seriously, how can one be 100% sure Verlander is superior when you dive slightly into these stats:

    * Verlander 's WAR vs Bautista's WAR

    Verlander, 8.6 & Bautista with an 8.5. That's so close that it pretty much tells us nothing about the difference between them. I expect that would be clear to anyone even if they don't know what WAR is.

    * Verlander's WPA vs Bautista's.

    Verlander's got 4.919 WPA, but Bautista has a massive 7.978 WPA! Now, this tells us a LOT. This says that Bautista has had a far bigger impact on his team's ability to win than Verlander did. Since WPA can be a negative number, these stats don't favor Bautista simply due to being in more games. Even if it did though... it would still make the point that Bautista was more valuable to his team than Verlander was to his. In fact, Bautista is almost twice as valuable in adding Win Probability. And while Verlander's WPA isn't even the best for a pitcher in the AL this season, Bautista's WPA is the best any AL batter has done in 6 YEARS.

    * Verlander's ERA+ vs Bautista's OPS+

    Verlander had a ERA+ of 170 while Bautista posted an OPS+ of 181. These stats show how far above average a player is. Given that, we see that Bautista was dominating the league much more than Verlander did. In fact, Verlander didn't even lead the league in being above average. If you want to include relievers, Verlander didn't even lead his OWN TEAM in being above average. Two relievers (one being the awesome Jose Valverde) had higher ERA+'s in Detroit. Bautista on the other hand, not only led the AL in OPS+ but he was also more above average than anyone in the NL.

    ...personally, I expected BR readers would've seen beyond the Verlander media hype by now and note those three very important stats. So it was shocking that so many are voting for Verlander.

  51. @12, Timmy -- Don't bogart that joint, my friend!

  52. I generally don't like to see a pitcher as the MVP, But I think Verlander deserves it.

  53. Dr. Doom,

    I appreciate that you want to incorporate as many things as possible into your assessment. I think that wise. The way you did it, however, is problematic. Taking the average of the differences does not avoid the problem of non-independence. If you want to include more in your analysis you want to look at the components of the different statistics that actually are independent of each other (because as you correctly point out, your chosen statistics are not measuring exactly the same thing). I understand that this isn't really a realistic thing to ask of you.

    Given this, it probably really is better to choose the single statistic that you favor to evaluate the players and then argue for why you have chosen that statistic.

    I think Tango's error estimate is an assertion, not an actual measure (though I could be wrong. Hope I am!).

  54. Friendly advice to JimD and anyone else who might be inclined to school Timothy P. (a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known As Timmy) in the wisdom of sabermetrics -- You'd have a better chance of inventing a perpetual-motion machine, or mastering cold fusion. Many have tried; their analytical bones are strewn about the blogscape.

    Timothy is our Merry Prankster. I'm sure that some of his points are meant seriously, but after 2 years, I'm damned if I can tell which ones. All I know for sure is that Timothy loves his baseball, his whiskey and his women, in some order.

    Bless ya, Timbo! :)

  55. @53

    You could be right about the best way to measure difference. Frankly, I don't possess the math chops (nor, frankly, the time) to calculate using my own preferences. Thus, I thought using a "crowdsourcing" type of measure would be a good way to get a more accurate picture than any one measure would allow. I agree, though, that the "real" way to do things would probably be for me to do some research, make a choice, and figure it out. I just think people a lot smarter than I have already figured out pretty good ways to measure it, and I can check their results against one another, so as not to weight any one bias too heavily over another.

    As for Tango's 1-win margin of error, I'm actually not sure how he came up with it. I just remember reading it a few times.

  56. @48 - it helps a lot, thanks! I knew there had to be a reason, I just couldn't figure out what it was at first.

  57. Justin Bailey Says:

    @12 - That might actually be the single worst joke I've ever heard. And I watched Mind of Mencia once!

  58. The Most Valuable Position is definitely the pitcher, that is just common sense. BUT! You cannot win a single game without a batter doing something right.

  59. @58

    You're right about a batter doing something right. But, all i takes is a fluke home run by a journeyman utility guy. Or, the pitcher can walk a batter, and then he can score on errors by the fielders.

  60. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Blame Johnny Twisto.

    Jeez...I don't think I'm responsible for these lists. I don't even recognize half those names. I thought Doug Fister was just an Internet joke. Didn't Ben Zobrist lead the Prussian army?

    Andy you should call this site Baseball Reeference, because I think you might be smoking some


    Verlander had a ERA+ of 170 while Bautista posted an OPS+ of 181. These stats show how far above average a player is.

    They can't be directly compared like that. They're not on the same scale.

  61. I know Bautista had an amazing first half of the season. But did anyone point out in the above comments how much he faded in the second half?

    In August and September, he batted about .260 with only 12 HR's total for the two months.

    Here's his pre and post all star lines:

    299 73 100 15 1 31 65 74 54 . 334 .468 .702 1.170

    214 32 55 9 1 12 38 58 57 .257 .419 .477 .896

    My opinion, the MVP doesn't fade like that at the end of the year.

    Oddly enough, the Blue Jays had a better record during the 2nd half of the season.

    How valuable was Bautista given that his team played better when he played worse?

  62. @60 J Twisto ....I'm not comparing them directly, I'm using them to compare how Verlander wasn't as dominant among pitchers as Bautista's dominance was among batters. Basically, Verlander was 70% better than the avg hurler & Bautista was 81% better than the avg batter. Which shows Bautista to be more above average this year than Verlander. I think that says a lot and shows Bautista to be more valuable in this aspect.

  63. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Verlander led the league in IP, while Bautista was 23rd in PA.

    The average SP also has an ERA+ under 100 (this season, 97).

  64. @60

    Yeah, he only had a .419 OBP and .896 OPS in the second half. What a bum. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the leg injury he suffered right before the break. If his season OPS had equaled his second half OPS, it would have ranked 8th in the AL. Just awful. But wait! The MVP award isn't just a second half award. It's a full season award! And NOBODY was better over the course of the full season than Jose Bautista.

  65. Sorry, I meant @61.

  66. @ 63 Twisto... I'll take your word for it, but I have always read that 100 ERA+ = avg pitcher. so that would add 3% to Verlander, making him 73% better than the average pitcher?

  67. I think Verlander will win, mainly because no hitter stood apart from the other hitters. Also, all the leading hitting candidates have major knocks against them (Bautista cooled a lot post-AS break, Granderson struck out A LOT).

    I can't believe anybody would vote for Granderson actually. Yeah, his R and RBI totals were great, but he hit only .262 with 169 strike outs. Would that be an AL record for an MVP? (Sosa struck out 171 times in 1998 -- but with 66 home runs.)

  68. Is .262 legit? I'm talking about Granderson....I think .262 is too low.

  69. Take it for what its worth but to me in the end the most important number is the pitchers actual win loss record. You can make numbers work to your own personal bias depending on how creative we can be with the sabermetrics. In the past 140 seasons, Jason Verlander's 2011 won loss percentage for starters with 95% games started and 25 or more decisions is 12th overall! That includes every league not just the AL. Ian Kennedys 2011 season ranks 8th overall for the past 140 seasons. I don't usually give much support to a pitcher being an MVP but i Verlander is deserving. And maybe Kennedy deserves more consideration in the NL.

  70. I "think" that is 😀

  71. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I have always read that 100 ERA+ = avg pitcher.

    Yeah, the league ERA+ is 100. But starters have higher ERAs than relievers. So if you were to just compare Verlander to other SP, his ERA+ becomes 175. (I'm not saying that's necessarily the right thing to do, just another way to look at it.)

  72. @ Doug (#69) ...I think some wins cold be credited to the pitcher, but seriously not many. Think about it... Verlander's no hitter, would've been 0-0 tie at the end of the 9th if Verlander's teammates didn't score the runs. Now tell me Verlander deserves a victory for that performance. As good as it was, I don't see the logic for assigning him the W. He didn't even come up to bat.

  73. @72: You're confusing two different stats -- pitcher wins and team wins. Even though they're both called "wins", they're not the same thing.

  74. I'm just surprised a higher proportion of people think Verlander will win it than think he should win it. Who voted "eh, another undeserving pitcher taking the award from a deserving position player."?

  75. Twisto... if we're going to tweak the stat, that's fine with me, but then we have to do it for Bautista too. Since we'd have to remove non-starting pitchers to bring Verlander's ERA+ up to 175 (which still doesn't equal Bautista's 181 dominance) who do we remove from the OPS+ equation? Pinch hitters? Non-starters? Rookies? Batters with less than X plate appearances? I'm not even sure what would make sense here, since most batters don't get near the plate unless they're good hitters, so removing the bad batters wouldn't be like removing the relievers (due to them having better ERA's) from the equation. I guess we'd have to remove some of the better batters? Which ones? I'm not sure how to make that change fairly.

  76. Paul (#72) ...of course I'm confusing pitcher wins with team wins. What's the difference?

  77. @68 - yeah, .262 is accurate. At least according to this website.

  78. I would be surprised if anyone other than Bautista, Granderson, Ellsbury, or Verlander won- but I think Cabrera, Pedroia, and Adrian all deserve it more than Granderson- probably CC and Weaver too.

  79. People will vote for Bautista instead of Granderson, even though Granderson had more runs scored and more RBI, the two most important stats in baseball. They'll say that Granderson played for a better team and had more RBI opportunities. But check it out: you can go on Baseball Reference and find out exactly how many baserunners were on base during every player's plate appearances, along with how many plate appearances they had. So if you add the plate appearances and baserunners, you'll get the absolute maximum number of RBI a guy could have if he homered every plate appearance. Then, divide their actual RBI total by that number and you get a sort of RBI percentage. Granderson's "RBI percentage" is much higher than Bautista's, even if you don't count Bautista's 24 intentional walks. Granted, Bautista had higher slugger and on-base percentage, but percentage stats only indicate what you could potentially do, while runs and RBI indicate what you actually did.

  80. I think it's a toss-up between Bautista, Ellsbury, and Verlander for who SHOULD win. Bautista was the best hitter, Ellsbury was darned close to the best hitter while playing a premium defensive position well, and Verlander was very dominant (albeit lucky with the low BABIP). I voted Ellsbury because I prefer his overall package to Bautista's, especially when there's enough fuzziness in stats like fWar and rWar that there isn't a distinct difference between the two's performances.

    For me, the Sox collapse does not diminish Ellsbury's case. He played out of his mind this September. Really, his great season and month highlights the catastrophic nature of the meltdown (which was, of course, mostly pitching related). By that same logic, I don't subtract any points from Jose.

    I think Verlander will win it because Miguel Cabrera is the most deserving position player on a playoff team, but the big pitcher has been a much bigger story.

  81. @79

    I can't tell if you're being serious or sarcastic. This has to be satire, right? Right?!

  82. Granderson struck out more times this year than Dave Kingman ever did in a single season. Cabrera, meanwhile, struck out 89 times. Bautista, 111 times. Cabrera hit 82 points higher than Granderson. Bautista, 40 points.

    I just can't see Granderson being the MVP. I guess it would be Cabrera among position players.

    This is why I think Verlander will win MVP. None of the batters stand out from the others like he does among pitchers.

  83. Don't forget there is a little award called the Hank Aaron award. Not to be confused with the most valuable.

  84. Robinson Cano Says:

    I am the MVP.

  85. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Twisto... if we're going to tweak the stat, that's fine with me, but then we have to do it for Bautista too.

    Well, like I said originally, I wouldn't make the direct comparison between ERA+ and OPS+ at all, because they're on different scales. The denominator in ERA+ is the individual's ERA, whereas in OPS+ it's the league OBP and SLG. Verlander's ERA isn't really 70% better than average, it's that the league ERA is 70% higher than his. I don't even know what a 70% "better" ERA would mean.

    Then you throw in the inexact nature of park factors. These numbers won't even be the same next season, because the multi-year park factors will change and so will all the numbers based on them. So all in all, I think you're making too much of 180 vs 170.

    That said, it is true that, both historically and recently, a 180 OPS+ has been more impressive than a 170 ERA+. But again, that ignores the fact that Verlander's 170 came in more playing time (relatively speaking) than Bautista's 180. I think the ability to stay on the field matters in an MVP debate. Bautista wasn't brittle, but he missed 13 games, while Verlander led the league (the majors, in fact) in IP.

  86. Besides, Cabrera matches, is better, or comes very close to Bautista in every batting stat.

    Also, I like the recent post where it shows that despite the 'only plays every 5 games' knock, that starting pitchers actually face more batters in a season then a batter gets PAs, thus having more overall impact on the season. There is a reason pitchers are eligible for the MVP. It is not a hitting award per se.

  87. What's amazing to me is the comparison between Verlander's stats and Kershaw's. Kershaw was nearly equal to Verlander in all ways except for a slightly higher WHIP (.977 to .920), pitched fewer innings (233.1 to 251) and had almost as many strikeouts (248 to 250). Of course, Kershaw pitched mostly against the weak NL West, but Verlander threw a lot against the weak AL Central. Kershaw's era+ is close (163 to 170), ERA is better (2.28 to 2.40), and had fewer walks (54 to 57). Yes, Verlander deserves the Cy Young, and so does Kershaw. But with such similar seasons, how is it that no one is talking about Kershaw for NL MVP? Is it only because the Tigers made the playoffs? Is the MVP award not really an individual award, but instead some weird sort of individual award given to the best player on a good team?

  88. If Player A and Player B have identical statistical seasons, but Player A's team makes the playoffs, clinching their division in early September, whereas Player B's team barely sneaks in by winning the Wild Card on the last day of the season, the MVP award would be given to Player B every time. Is this fair? Is this how the award should be perceived? Because then it is no longer an individual award, it is instead a fusion of a team award and an individual award. By this logic, the award should always go to a player on a team that barely makes the playoffs, since his team would not have made the playoffs without him. Tough luck for those players who play on crappy teams or awesome teams that win 100+ games.

  89. Kemp and Braun are better candidates in the NL.

  90. If all things are equal, the player going to the playoffs will win. Is it really that hard?

  91. In your example, if all things equal, I wouldn't say that the team just barely getting in would be a factor either way as both would be in the playoffs. In that event, I do think the overall strength of the team would factor in, including split votes, as the award is 'most valuable' and a player isn't that valuable (comparatively) if he is on a stacked team vs. the other player who potentially had a better contribution to the team's success.

  92. * '...overall strength of the team who clinched early...'

  93. Not that I'm anti-WAR or anything like that but with certain players it has to be understood that WAR either over or underrates them. WAR should be used as a guideline statistic to single out players who clearly don't deserve the award being given and to evaluate "ties" between certain similar players. Only looking at one statistic, whether it is valuable or not never gives you the full picture.

  94. Don't forget, there are the Cy Young and Hank Aaron awards for overall prowess regardless of standing, etc. We are talking about the MVP.

  95. ^ How is someone on a last place team, for example, the most valuable in the entire league for that season?

  96. Because he brought the most value to his team and it's not his fault that his team blows. Being a GM isn't part of the criteria.

  97. For the Michael Young haters, I never said anything about batting average, he led the league in hits. He had 41 doubles and 106 RBIs. He has moved positions because he is a team player, this year he moved for Beltre and in the past he has moved for Kinsler and Andrus. He gets low lightsabremeter numbers because he is a 5' 10" DH that does not hit for power. He gets about one walk less a week than the great Adrian Gonzalez, so what? He is not a terrible fielder as some foo above opined, he has a gold glove in his trophy case. He is consistently voted by his peers as one of the most underrated players in baseball. And JA, I drink Scotch. You can call it Scotch Whiskey, but don't call it whiskey, big difference! And I never smoke marijuana, pot is for hippies and the unemployed.

  98. "Don't forget there is a little award called the Hank Aaron award."

    Exactly, emphasis on little. The Hank Aaron award carries no weight and no one cares about. Can you name the winners of this award recently? No, just like everyone else.

  99. Just using the WAR statistic as an example, the player with the highest WAR in the league is clearly the most valuable, since he brought the most wins to his team. Verlander and Bautista are virtually tied (8.6 to 8.5), therefore their value to their teams are nearly identical. Another site ranks their WAR differently, with Bautista having 8.3 and Verlander only 7.0, but both far behind Ellsbury with 9.4. This is because the position player has a great impact on his team by how well he plays defense. True, the pitcher faces more batters than the position player has ABs. That should be factored in. I know there are more factors than just WAR and defense, I am only using that as a fairly reliable gauge of value to the team, with the definition of "value" being how many wins that one player is worth. Therefore, a player on a last place team can certainly be more valuable than a key contributor to a playoff contender.

  100. Pitchers have their own award, the Cy Young. Only in extreme cases of utter dominance should a pitcher ever be considered for MVP. Verlander's season was impressive, but not MVP worthy. Compare him to Kershaw or Halladay, or even Sabathia in terms of WAR, and he's not that much better. He just happened to have gotten pretty good run support and has more "wins" than those other guys. R.A. Dickey and Tim Lincecum had pretty damn good years, too, but they finished below .500. I thought last year proved that pitchers could be dominant without having gaudy W/L records with Hernandez winning the CY, but it seems like a lot of people have forgotten about that.

  101. Interesting that Verlander scores highly on the list of potential MVP candidates, yet CC Sabathia does not. Most advanced metrics do show that Verlander was the best starter in the league this year, but that the gap between Verlander and Sabathia is not that large, but is masked by fautly traditional stats.

    Considering that the Tigers played in a division with virtually no competition (none actually), and that they won by 15 games and there wasn't even a single other team in the division playing above .500, then it's entirely fair to question the *V* in MVP as it relates to Velander when compared with other players. I do believe the Tigers would have won without Velander if for no other reason the entire division sucks. Would the Yankees have won without Sabathia? Highly unlikely. We might have had a third team, the Yankees, in the Rays-Red Sox mix on the last day of the season.

    Perhaps this is a case where Verlander is the Cy Young winner, but Sabathia is the more deserving pitcher for an MVP vote.

    For the record, I wouldn't vote for either Verlander or Sabathia for MVP. I just have seen a lot of faulty logic from people trying to justify their potential votes for MVP. I figure I'll throw more questionable logic into the fire.

  102. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Considering that the Tigers played in a division with virtually no competition

    And yet they had just a 2-game lead on this no competition in mid-August.

    I love Sabathia but he's no MVP this season, the way the Red Sox kept beating him up.

  103. One of the biggest reasons Kershaw's season isn't as impressive as Verlander's is that he pitches in the National League. He gets to pad his stats against opposing pitchers. Heck, I think Halladay has at least a strong a case for NL Cy Young given the difference in ballparks.

  104. @102, The point I was trying to make (perhaps poorly presented) is that the *V* in MVP is the secret sauce in nearly every person's selection for MVP. It's the quicksand of attempted MVP justification. Things such as:

    The Red Sox have three legitimate MVP candidates, which means none can be valuable enough to be the league MVP, or;

    No Red Sox can win the MVP because they collapsed and didn't make the playoffs (which means on Tuesday Ellsbury was a legitimate MVP candidate, but by the end of play on Wednesday he no longer was), or;

    The Yankees can't have the league MVP because they have a $200 million payroll, or;

    Jose Bautista can't be the MVP because his team was never in contention, or;

    Jose Bautista can't be the MVP because his second-half wasn't as strong as his first half, or;

    Starting pitchers can't be the MVP because they don't play every day, or;

    Curtis Granderson can't be the MVP candidate because he strikes out too much (or more than Dave Kingman, as someone noted above), or;

    Add in 100 other reasons.

    MLB has never attempted to provide greater clarification on what qualifications they expect from the winners of the award, or exactly Valuable means. They have done that on purpose because of the debates and arguments it causes.

    Bautista is the A.L. MVP.

  105. Picked Verlander myself, but I think his last start re-opened the door for Bautista (for reasons Cliff Corcoran pointed out in Sports Illustrated a couple of days ago).

  106. It's actually logical to assume that players on good teams ("pressured teams") hit better than players on bad teams ("no pressure"). The reasoning is actually very simple:

    1.Poor hitting looses games
    Therefore, losing teams have poor hitting
    2.Losing teams have worse hitters on average
    Therefore, players for losing teams hit worse on average

    After all, if hitters didn't hit poorly, the team wouldn't be poor at hitting, and therefore losers.

    1. Good hitting wins games
    Therefore, winning teams have good hitting
    2.Good teams have better hitters on average
    Therefore, players on good teams hit better on average

    After all, if hitters didn't hit well, the team wouldn't be good at hitting, and therefore winners.

    Of course, this logic only works on an average basis.

  107. @87, Wowbagger: "how is it that no one is talking about Kershaw for NL MVP?"

    First, your post contains plenty of evidence that Kershaw was not as good as Verlander: An edge of 18 IP is not trivial; that's about 8% more than Kershaw. He has a 4% edge in ERA+ and a 6% edge in WHIP.

    All that (and some other things) adds up to a substantial edge in WAR by the B-R method, 8.6 to 6.9. Fangraphs finds a much smaller edge for Verlander, but still, you're not going to find much stat support for a case that Kershaw was as valuable as Verlander.

    Second, it doesn't really matter how Kershaw compares to Verlander, because he not competing with Verlander; he's competing with guys in his own league. Roy Halladay has a solid edge on Kershaw by either WAR method, and Cliff Lee is just a hair behind. Kershaw is likely to win the Cy Young Award because of the pitching "triple crown," and because some voters still hold Wins and (unadjusted) ERA supreme.

    But among the folks discussing it here, those who put the highest value on WAR and the like would say that Halladay had a better year than Kershaw. And those of more traditional bent would say that Halladay's similar raw numbers, plus doing it for a playoff team, put him above Kershaw in the MVP race.

    And of course, Matt Kemp wins the WAR by either method. If Kershaw's not the MVP of his team, he can't be the MVP of the league.

  108. Strikeouts for batters are no different that regular outs, and are better than grounding into a double play, so having a lot of strikeouts shouldn't be considered a negative. Most of the all time leaders in strikeouts are in the Hall of Fame.

  109. @106 -- For some reason, I want to listen to Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic right now.

  110. By the way, you can vote more than once in this thing.

  111. @109 - well, I've never met Napoleon Lajoie, but I plan to find the time.

  112. @108 - well... yes and no. Strikeouts have a lot of value for pitchers, for example. Logically speaking, that means that they MUST have some drawback for the hitter as well. That value has to come from someplace.

    Let's fiddle about with some numbers as a hypothetical:

    Player A has 600 plate appearances. He walks 80 times, and hits 10 sac flies, and in the other 510 at bats, he has 150 hits (40 db, 4 tr, 22 hr). His slash lines are 294/383/518, a healthy season.

    Player B has 600 plate appearances. He also walks 80 times, and hits 10 sac flies. In the other 510 at bats, he has 122 hits (36 db, 2 tr, 17 hr). That makes his slash lines 239/337/422, a middling season.

    The only difference between these two players, as you no doubt can tell, is in the strikeouts. Player A whiffed 80 times, but B went down on strikes 160 times. Otherwise, they have the exact same average on balls in play, .349, and even the same number of bases on balls in play, .614. And that's the drawback. In order to match A's production, B would have to hit nearly .430 on balls in play. It's just an awful lot to overcome. That alone is a major reason to consider strikeouts a consequential negative.

  113. @103, yes NL pitchers get to face pitchers, but they also get pulled in games sometimes for a pinch hitter when they could have continued. An AL pitcher is only pulled when for pitching reasons.

    Also it sounds like the Rangers fans at game 1 are drinking the same cool aid as old Timmy. It sounds like they are chanting MVP when Michael Young is hitting.

  114. @108, you are making a typical mistake, yes a strikeout is (almost) the same as any other out, but a ball in play does not always result in an out. If you know the result of the ball in play would be an out then the K doesn't matter, but you don't know that. The ML BABIP is .295 so every K is taking away a chance for a hit. Yes it also increases DP chances, but most ABs do not occur with a DP in order.

  115. @114, but the overall point stands. It's pointless to worry about a strikeout as opposed to a popup to SS. Matt Kemp is the NL MVP. He struck out 159 times. He struck out 170 times last year. He's a high strikeout player and that should have no bearing on his MVP chances

  116. It shouldn't negate his MVP chances, but it does lower them. If someone has identical statistics, but fewer Ks, then that hypothetical player would be the MVP. Since Granderson's other numbers aren't breathtaking, they don't make up for his high number of Ks.

    Strikeouts are not the same as any other out. A groundball out can advance a runner. A deep flyout can advance a runner. A *dropped* flyball lowers the player's average, but of course raises his OBP, and gives his team a runner.

    The only advantage a K has over a typical groundball is, as you note, there's no GIDP (or triple play for that matter). But neither Cabrera nor Bautista grounded into 169 double plays.

  117. @115, you are still missing the point, you cant compare a strikeout to a popout, you have to compare it to a generic ball in play, which has more value than a strikeout including GIDPs.

    Now the thing that is lost with Ks is that in reality they are acceptable because usually in order to hit for power you need to K a lot. It means with 2 strikes you are taking those big swings, and when the slider comes you strikeout, but if a mistake pitch comes you hit a HR. That is the real reason Ks don't matter. Looking at Grandy, with 2 strikes he had 169 Ks but also 20 HRs, 10 doubles and 2 triples. So yes he could have easily reduced those Ks and tried to just make contact and he would have a raised his .191 AVE with 2 strikes, but I don't think the trade would be worth it is you traded those 32 XBHs with 2 strikes for say 50 singles.

    "If someone has identical statistics, but fewer Ks, then that hypothetical player would be the MVP. "

    This is ridiculous, if 2 players have identical stats then Ks don't matter

  118. There is no logical, rational argument for a pitcher to win the MVP. That is the purpose of the Cy Young Award. Yes. It is that simple. I am particularly frustrated w/ people who access sites like this which provide greater statistical insights into players and pitchers than naked stats like Wins, ERA, RBI and Batting Average. And, yes, there is a difference between a player and a pitcher. Most Valuable Player (not Pitcher) goes to an everyday player & Cy Young Award goes to the league's best pitcher.

  119. @117, actually I think you were missing my point. Based on your response to Ken, we seem to be agreeing.

  120. If you strikeout too much it will show up in your overall batting line. Grandy strikes out a lot, but he still put up a .918 OPS, good for 6th in the AL. So he is slugging enough with 2 strikes to cancel out those Ks. He is not striking out too much.

    Now look at Mark Reynolds, 37 HRs and 196 Ks. With 2 strikes he only hit 11 HRs and 12 doubles, far worse than Granderson with 30 extra Ks. This shows up in his overall batting line and he put up an .806 OPS. This is still good so you cant just look at the 196 Ks and say they are too much, but you could say that he would because a more valuable hitter if he reduced his Ks, but I don't think you can say the same about Granderson.

  121. @118, since when does a pitcher not count as a player? Infact, in the first year of the MVP award it was handed out a pitcher, Lefty Grove in the AL. I think that shows whoever thought up the award did not make any distinctions between pitchers and everyday players.

    I would argue that there is no logical, rational argument that a pitcher MUST be disqualified from winning the MVP. The only arguments are the ones you listed,
    1) its called most valuable PLAYER not pitcher, which is not based on any logic, just semantics.
    2) the pitcher has the Cy Young, it is that simple. Again, not based on any logic. As the wise Jeffrey Lebowski once said, "Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

  122. @107
    You made my point for me. Substitute Halladay for Kershaw, then: How come nobody is talking about Halladay for MVP? Or Lee? These guys are arguably the best pitchers in their league, the same as Verlander is in his league, so how come there's not as much talk about them getting the MVP as there is for Verlander? Simple: because, for all the hoopla over Hernandez winning the Cy Young last year with only 13 wins, people (even people on this site, surprisingly enough) still can't get over the fact that Verlander got 24 wins. Which means people can't get over the now-established fact that pitcher W/L is an almost meaningless statistic. If you looked at Lincecum's stat line, you'd say, "Wow. He had a good year." But if you looked at his W/L record, you'd say, "Wow. He was below average." ?????? That doesn't hold up. Verlander Cy Young? Absolutely. Verlander MVP? No way.

  123. miguel cabrera might remain baseball's most under-rated player today.

  124. @106 Substitute "pitching" for "hitting" and I think you might be on to something.
    How else would you explain the weak-hitting Rays this year, or last year's Giants?

  125. @121
    This is obviously my terminology. I define a player as someone who plays the field AND swings a bat. A pitcher is a one dimensional "player" who appears in but a fraction of his team's innings.

    Your point about 1931 conspicuously omits the nonexistence of a Cy Young Award at that time. 1956 saw the inauguration of the Pitcher's Award.

    As far as your disputing my claim regarding logic, semantics do not, by definition, preclude logic. It is quite logical to assert that there be a difference between an MVP candidate who plays generally 90-95% or more of a team's innings and a pitcher who, at tops, appears in 15-17%. In 1992 Dennis Eckersley won the Cy Young while pitching in 80 of 1447 innings. That is 5 1/2%. That's not even 1 inning for every home game they played.

    In the end, we will have to agree to disagree. But, I find it absurd that a pitcher who appears every 5th day can qualify for 2 major awards and a player who plays every single day could get zip. That defies logic.

  126. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There is some discussion above about RBI and RBI opportunities. I'm pulling my RBI matrix back out for some season-end comparisons. What this does is calculate how many RBI the average player would get, given the exact same base/out situations. In theory, this should perfectly normalize for what types of RBI opportunities a player saw over the season. Keep in mind that it does *not* account for any good things a player might do which do not directly lead to an RBI, but do help lead to runs scored later in the inning.

    Bautista is +28 RBI compared to average
    Granderson is +42

  127. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I’m late to the party.
    But for those who don’t care for the traditional stats (wins, losses, ERA) I’ll throw this out there, with no opinion, just something for the crowd to chew on.
    I put these numbers into the play finders for pitchers in a single season since 1920.
    >250 IP
    >250 SO
    >150 ERA+
    <.999 WHIP
    Just 10 names come up. That’s pretty special. Verlander is # 10.
    7 of those above mentioned pitchers pitched between 1963-1973 (three in ’68 alone). The ’73 season was accomplished by an NL pitcher, so no DH there - and the two other post-73 members (besides Verlander) of this ‘club’ were NLers. So no pitcher has ever done this against a DH.
    No season from Maddux, no season from the Unit, Pedro, Clemens, Fellar, Ryan, Santana, Schilling, Palmer, Guidry… no Halladay.
    Short list.

  128. Richard Chester Says:


    Didn't we go through this exercise yesterday?

  129. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Johnny Twisto,

    Just an observation, but Grandy had 21 RBIs his last 33 games. Not a bad average, works out to 104 RBIs per 162, but he got those 21 RBIs in just 7 games. In his last 27 games, just 12 RBIs, and those came in 5 games.
    His slash over those last 27 games was .186/.301/.340.

  130. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Yes Richard, but it was real late in the thread and I wasn’t sure anyone but you or Topper heard it (which is a funny way of explaining a written correspondence). And since Verlander is pretty polarized on this thread I thought I’d give some perspective, which doesn’t exactly translate into value (one of those players on the list, McClain is ’68, only had a 5.2 WAR [which is one of my chief complaints on WAR]).
    I also looked at the individual teams and the season they had. If you remember there were 10 players but 13 seasons. Look how their teams faired and you can guess their value and question WAR.
    Justin Verlander 2011 DET finished 1st
    Sandy Koufax 1965 LAD finished 1st
    Sandy Koufax 1966 LAD finished 1st
    Sandy Koufax 1963 LAD finished 1st
    Mike Scott 1986 HOU finished 1st
    Vida Blue 1971 OAK finished 1st
    Denny McLain 1968 DET finished 1st
    Bob Gibson 1968 STL finished 1st
    Tom Seaver 1973 NYM finished 1st
    Dwight Gooden 1985 NYM finished 2nd (98 wins)
    Luis Tiant 1968 CLE finished 3rd
    Tom Seaver 1971 NYM finished 3rd
    Steve Carlton1972 PH finished last (highest WAR for a modern pitcher)
    Since all the above mentioned stats are somewhat neutral to your teams W/L, there are certainly a lot of 1st place finishers. (the Gooden season was a fluke, most years 98 wins gets you 1st).

  131. @127 writes...No season from Maddux, no season from the Unit, Pedro, Clemens, Fellar, Ryan, Santana, Schilling, Palmer, Guidry… no Halladay.

    It doesn't tell us anything about the season Verlander had in comparison with other greats, but it does tell us a lot about arbitrary data points.

  132. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The point I was trying to make (perhaps poorly presented) is that the *V* in MVP is the secret sauce in nearly every person's selection for MVP. It's the quicksand of attempted MVP justification.

    Sorry I missed your point. Yes, you are right that the nebulous nature of "value" probably increases interest in the award, and I have no problem with that. I think the annual discussions are fascinating. Though it does open the door for some truly skewed interpretations of "value." Ah well, it learns us to separate the wheat from the chaff.


    Strikeouts for batters are no different that regular outs

    Come now, let's be honest. They're no different from most outs, but not all.


    By the way, you can vote more than once in this thing.

    You could, but that would seem a rather lame thing to do. (Unless you've honestly changed your opinion in the past 24 hours and want to record a new vote.)


    His slash lines are 294/383/518, a healthy season. .... his slash lines 239/337/422, a middling season. ... The only difference between these two players, as you no doubt can tell, is in the strikeouts.

    NO! The difference is 150 points of OPS. No one would ever argue that a player with the second line had a better season, no matter how many times he struck out. The point is that, *all else being equal*, strikeouts are only marginally worse than other outs. If player 2 had the same slash line as player 1, but struck out twice as much, it doesn't change his value very much. If the strikeouts prevent him from producing at all, that's an entirely different issue.


    A *dropped* flyball lowers the player's average, but of course raises his OBP

    It does *not* raise his OBP. But it should.

  133. @122: you need to come off the 24 wins. No one has explicitly stated that as the reason they voted for him. The difference between Verlander in the AL and Kershaw in the NL is simple:

    Verlander is 1st in WAR and there is no clear batting MVP.
    Kershaw is 3rd in WAR, there are clear batting MVP choices ahead of him, and he isn't even necessarily the top NL Pitcher this year.

  134. John Autin Says:

    @122, Wowbagger -- I didn't make your point for you. I addressed what you said @87, i.e., that people should be supporting Kershaw for MVP as they are Verlander. What you said @122 is something else.

    If I understand you correctly @122, your point there is that Verlander's MVP support indicates that people still overvalue a pitcher's wins and losses.

    Because Verlander is a legitimate MVP candidate by both the WAR test and the pennant-race test regardless of his actual wins, your case would presumably have to focus on counterexamples of pitchers who also were at or very near the top in their league in WAR, and did it in the context of a pennant race, but didn't have a spectacular W-L record and didn't get much MVP support. That's a tough combination to find.

    None of this year's NL pitchers meet the first part of that standard, because Matt Kemp has a hefty lead in WAR over any of them.

    Zack Greinke was the 2009 AL WAR leader but placed 17th in the MVP vote. But I'll say that was entirely because Greinke's team was out of the race by June. His record was 16-8, but he wouldn't have gotten many MVP votes if he'd gone 22-4.

    Roger Clemens was the 1997 AL WAR leader -- but, he had a pretty fine 21-7 record, and he didn't pitch in a pennant race.

    Pedro Martinez was 2nd in AL WAR in 2000, with more WAR than the MVP (Giambi). But (1) the Red Sox missed the playoffs, (2) Pedro did place 5th in the MVP vote, and (3) nobody got screwed worse than A-Rod in that vote, since he led the league in WAR and made the playoffs, but placed 3rd in the voting.

    Can you find some better examples to support the claim that Verlander's MVP support is based on people overvaluing his wins?

  135. Going about it from a process of elimination standpoint it would seem that although Verlander, Cabrera, Bautista, and maybe Ellsbury deserve the MVP more than Granderson he will win it because of factors keeping other players from winning it.
    Those factors being:
    Verlander: Will split some votes with Cabrera and will lose votes because of voters who won't consider starting pitchers.
    Cabrera: Lose votes to verlander because they are teammates. Also lose votes because of his perceived loss of power from last season (-8 HR, -21 RBI)
    Bautista: second half was significantly worse than first half, played on a team that had no chance of making the playoffs.
    Ellsbury: Played for the Red Sox, despite almost carrying them to 4 of their 7 September wins.

  136. @ 127- If your point is that 170 ERA+, 0.920 WHIP, 250 K, 251 IP, 8.6 WAR is better than Pedro's 2000 season of 291 ERA+, 0.737 WHIP, 284 K, 217 IP, 10.1 WAR, then we'll have to agree to disagree.

  137. @134, John A.: I firmly believe that a player's team, or his playoff chances, should have little to no bearing on that player's MVP chances. Therefore I disagree with one of your criteria for Verlander deserving MVP consideration. I'm not saying he shouldn't be considered, just that he should be considered solely on his performance, not his team's. That wasn't part of the criteria they came up with when they created the award, so I'm not going to add it. Another site has Verlander nearly 2.5 WAR behind Ellsbury, and 1.5 behind Bautista. I know there are different ways to calculate WAR, so I'm not putting all my stock in BR's method. That means there are different ways to measure value, and other players, according to other measures, are much more valuable than Verlander. Also, if you were to take the W/L record out of the picture, Verlander has had a great season, no doubt, but it's not head and shoulders better than a handful of other pitchers this season. That's my point. Halladay, Lee, Kershaw, and Sabathia, while having inferior years, are not far behind Verlander at all. I know we're now comparing different leagues, but if we're going to say that the best pitcher in one league deserves MVP consideration, then why aren't we saying the best pitcher in the other league deserves it, too? Sabathia even has a higher WAR according to the other way of calculating WAR. Do I think Verlander deserves the CY? Yes. Does he deserve MVP? No. That should go to Ellsbury, due to his season-long combination of power, production, speed, and defense, not to mention tearing the cover off the ball in September. And I'm a Yankees fan saying this.

    Final point: if Pedro Martinez in 2000 didn't win the MVP with his *sick* numbers, then Verlander doesn't deserve to, either. Pedro's 2000 is just about the greatest single season by a pitcher that I can think of, especially when you consider the era he did it in, and he didn't win MVP.

  138. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Wowbagger, as has been stated numerous times, Pedro 2000 is not eligible for the 2011 AL MVP.

  139. "Your point about 1931 conspicuously omits the nonexistence of a Cy Young Award at that time. 1956 saw the inauguration of the Pitcher's Award."

    And the first Cy Young winner, Don Newcombe, also won the NL MVP.

    "It is quite logical to assert that there be a difference between an MVP candidate who plays generally 90-95% or more of a team's innings and a pitcher who, at tops, appears in 15-17%."

    I have been pointing this out for a while and appears to be getting some publicity this season with all the Justin Verlander talk, but he has faced 969 batters this season whereas Dustin Pedroia led the AL with only 731 PAs. So Verlander is involved in more ABs than a position player and their playing time difference is not as much as it seems by just looking at games played.

  140. Johnny Twisto, thanks for twisting my last point and ignoring everything else I said.

  141. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I didn't twist your point at all. Everyone keeps comparing Verlander to what various pitchers did in the past. None of those are relevant in the slightest. If Verlander was more valuable than Ellsbury and Granderson and Cabrera and whoever this season, he deserves the MVP. If he wasn't, he doesn't. Who cares whether he is as good as Pedro Martinez a decade ago? This vote is not a referendum on the past.

  142. @JT - I think you only got half my point. I wasn't saying B was better than A - I was saying that *when they made contact* they were equally-productive, but B hurt himself and his team by making much less contact than A. I intentionally leveled off their babip and their slg-bip (that's ugly, sorry): that's what "all else being equal" meant in terms of the experiment. It meant that A's superior ability in making contact got him 28 more base hits, a bunch more xbh, and in all likelihood helped his team score more runs and win more ballgames. (My rough estimate is that his production results in nearly three more WAR.)

    As mentioned later in the converstaion, a guy who can mash despite high K levels might not be the same player if he didn't swing all-out and risk the strikeouts; it makes the flip side of the experiment a little less cut-and-dried. Otherwise, though - if player B matched A's production despite the extra 80 K's, how much better would he produce if he put those balls in play, even at a lower success rate?

  143. Michael Young is less than half as valuable as Ian Kinsler. Giving him an MVP vote would be a joke.

    Most MVP votes are a joke though. Anyone ever look at the 1985 NL MVP voting?

  144. Also, Young whined like a little baby for months when he was asked to move positions. And he's a horrible fielder.

    Look up things like stats and articles before you pronounce Young as some underrated, team player. He's one of the most overrated, selfish players of the past 25 years.

  145. Drew @ 143 Jon Heyman already says he has Young at # 8 so I can say Young will DEFINITELY get at minimum one vote.

  146. And @ the guy who says Verlander is one of ten with 250 IP, 250 K, 150 ERA+, WHIP under 1:
    Roy Halladay is the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball with four consecutive seasons of 200 or more strikeouts and at most 40 walks. He continued that streak in 2011.

  147. Miguel Cabrera is clearly the most valuable Tiger this yar and should be the AL MVP for all the same reasons made by the Verlander bigots wishing to re-twist their value-added pretzel. He's arguably the best hitter in baseball this year. I suggest you compare his numbers to AL and NL MVPs over the last ten years (Should we discount Bond's steroid era numbers)?

    Jose Valverde is the 2nd most valuable Tiger and should be preferred over Verlander for exactly the same reasons (49 saves in 49 opportunites dwarfs 24 wins, partcularly when Jose save d14 of Justin's 24 wins). Compare Valverde's numbers to Dennis Eckerly's CY/MVP year in 1992 (51 saves) and Willie Hernandez CY/MVP year in 1984 (34 saves). No one has mentioned Valverde as a legitmate CY or MVP candidate?

  148. My point in #147 is the Tigers had the Justice League (three superheroes ) performing for them this year by any and all measures - personal stats, team value and pennant points. Why are we having this ridiculous argument that Verlander's performance (and value) so overwhelmed Valverde's and Cabrera's that he deserves BOTH the Cy Young and MVP awards and they deserve nothing?

    Did they not play in the same games for the same pennant winning team. Where is the conversion chart that says 24 wins is more valuable than 49 saves and offensive stats of 344 BA/30 HRs/111 Runs/105 RBI/1.033 OPS ?

    It seems to me the Tigers season is best explained by acknowledging they have arguably the two best pitchers and the best hitter in the American League. Why are posters pretending otherwise just to award Verlander TWO trophies?

  149. Saves aren't so valuable in and of themselves. Relievers shouldn't win unless they pitch 125 innings, get 3-inning saves, and strikeout 12 per 9IP.

  150. "Saves aren't so valuable..."

    How did you determine saves are not so valuable.? If not, why do managers remove pitchers like Kershaw and Verlander for the Guerras and Valverdes? Answer: because the probablity of winning INCREASES. Fifty years ago, complete games had more value than saves. That is now reversed.

    Why did Eckersly (1992), Bedrosian (1987), Hernandez (1984) and Fingers (1991) win CY Youngs. Why did all but Bedrosian also win MVP?

  151. Oops! Fingers won CY/MVP in 1981, not 1991....

  152. I seems you Verlander bigots are giving him bonus points for sitting on the bench and cheerleading Valverde and Cabrera during the 128 Tiger games that he didn't play in.

  153. That's not really an argument.

    That's like me saying, "Well, since the really bad fielding Jeter's won some Gold Gloves, then really bad fielders should be in contention for Gold Glove awards."

    The voters are perpetually misinformed. They see 45 to 50 saves and immediately throw a guy Cy Young votes. 45 3-out saves in low leverage situations are meaningless. Valverde was worth one win this season; I'm sure there are 25+ starters with virtually zero MVP consideration who were at least worth that much.

  154. Don't get me wrong; Valverde's been great in high leverage situations. He's in the top 10 for all pitchers this season, and has had a solid relief pitching year. A valuable player, especially in the role he has, maybe good enough for top 12 CY consideration and top 25 MVP, but there's no way he was MORE valuable than everyone else in the league, including of course Verlander.

  155. A Military Veteran Says:

    Pitchers are not MVPs, they are CY winners. Big difference, If pitchers played every day, every other day, or even every two days, and could hit. Yes MVP, but they do a great job for 7 or 8 innings, then give way to the bullpen, and forget about extra innings they are a fan then, they are showered or in the club house by the 11 or 12th inning.

    MVP should be Speed and Power, and players with at least 30/30 numbers. 30 homers and 30 stolen bases, 300 plus Batting Average, a high OBP. That Boston Center Fielder is a good one for example.