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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.
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.
@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.
@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.
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.
@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.
@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.
@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
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.
@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
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.
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.
@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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
@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?
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.
@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.
"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.
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.
@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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.