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Who deserves to win the AL MVP?

Posted by Andy on November 22, 2010

This is a pretty interesting race. Let's start with the top 10 finishers in WAR in the AL:

Wins Above Replacement--all s c a p y
1. Longoria (TBR) 7.7
2. Choo (CLE) 7.3
3. Cabrera (DET) 6.9
4. Beltre (BOS) 6.1
Cano (NYY) 6.1
6. Hamilton (TEX) 6.0
Hernandez (SEA) 6.0
8. Bautista (TOR) 5.6
Mauer (MIN) 5.6
10. Buchholz (BOS) 5.5

Assuming the winner is 1 of these 10 guys, which is a pretty good bet, let's take a quick look at each player and the arguments for and against. These arguments are a mix of stat-based and the possible perceptions of the actual voters, if different.

Evan Longoria, PRO: #1 in WAR, Rays won AL East, disappointing seasons from other Rays (Pena, Upton, Zobrist, Shields) makes Longoria's contributions look better, CON: 22 HR and 104 RBI are low numbers for a power-hitting MVP, even given the offensive decline this year and despite Longoria's career-best OPS+, and he didn't lead the league in anything

Shin-Soo Choo, PRO: Best player on his team despite the presence of Travis Hafner, CON: The Indians are irrelevant to most of the country due to a number of bad seasons in a row and if voters don't like Longoria's 22/104 numbers they aren't going to like Choo's 22/90.

Miguel Cabrera, PRO: despite a shortened season, he still led the league with 126 RBI, plus was also tops in OBP and OPS+, CON: Tigers were not a playoff team

Adrian Beltre, PRO: a major resurgence for a 31-year-old guy, also plays 3B, had a good defensive year overall after a dreadful start, CON: Beltre gets hurt because his last really good year also came when his contract was up, making this year's effort seem tainted to some, and the Red Sox falling short of the playoffs has deflated their players in the eyes of some voters.

Robinson Cano, PRO: career-best season for a 2B from a playoff team, CON: didn't lead the league in anything and is viewed as just one offensive cog in a big wheel (despite having a much better season than Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, or anybody else on the Yankees. Who was #2? Nick Swisher, of course.)

Josh Hamilton, PRO: gets a huge lift from both overcoming substance abuse and his bounce-back from a fairly crummy 2009, won the batting title, plus was tops in SLG and OPS (but not OPS+, interestingly), Rangers made the playoffs for the first time in a while, CON: only a minor one, but Guerrero ended up with more RBI, which might make Hamilton seem less important offensively to some.

Felix Hernandez, PRO: pitching stats so good that he easily won the AL Cy Young award despite a 13-12 record, CON: played for a bad team, bias for some voters against a starting pitcher

Jose Bautista, PRO: surprising 54 HR output (both in this season and for this guy in particular), CON: Blue Jays were just 4th in the AL East despite 85 wins, Bautista's incredible HR total isn't respected as it deserves because of all the 50-HR seasons that came during the steroids era.

Joe Mauer, PRO: another great season from a catcher, just about hitting all his career averages (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS) right on the nose, Twins in the playoffs again, CON: despite being an average Mauer season, it looks like a 'down' year because his HR production went back down and he didn't maintain his incredible 170 OPS+ from 2009, I can't imagine a guy defending his MVP award when his OPS drops 160 points

Clay Buchholz, PRO: a great first full season in the majors, tops in ERA+, 17 wins in just 28 starts, CON: no way is a starting pitcher going to win the MVP with just 173.2 IP

What do you think?



This entry was posted on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 7:30 am and is filed under Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

95 Responses to “Who deserves to win the AL MVP?”

  1. Nice summary of the pros and cons except you give Cabrera credit for playing a harder position (3B) when he didn't play there all year. He's played 1B exclusively for the last few years.

  2. Thanks Steve.

  3. Longoria should really get more MVP attention than he's receiving.

    I think what it really comes down to Josh Hamilton's defense in the outfield. BR WAR has him as a well below average fielding outfielder (-6), while Fan Graphs see's him as a good defensive outfielder +(7.9). There's a fairly large discrepancy between the two WARS. BRWAR has him at 6 and Fan Graphs has him at 8.

    I would give it to Hamiliton partly because of his ability to play 40 games in center which opened up the corner outfield positions.

  4. As a Rays fan, I actually think that Carl Crawford was more valuable to the team than Longoria this season. I'm surprised that he isn't among the list of 10.

  5. I would vote:

    1-Hamilton
    2-Longoria
    3-Cano
    4-Beltre
    5-Cabrera

    Choo's another player that has a big discrepancy between Fan Graphs and BRWAR. He's at 7.3 at BR and 5.6 at Fan Graphs. Mostly it comes down to his defense. BRWAR see's him as a +15 defensive player which seems really high. Fan Graphs has him as a +2.9 defender.

  6. Shouldn't Cabrera be disqualified for cutting in front of Carlos Guillen on the fateful ground ball of Galarraga's (im)perfect game? ;-)

  7. Miguel Cabrera should win the award. Josh Hamilton WILL win the award. My only issue with Hamilton is that he played very little in September.

  8. Thats stupid! of course not

  9. oh,I meant the Galarraga thing.

  10. Detroit Michael Says:

    Missing games hurts Hamilton's case, although that is already reflected in his WAR. Missing games in September doesn't hurt his case any more though because the Rangers were not in danger of losing a playoff slot.

    In terms of impact on the playoff races, there were no AL teams that were close to gaining or losing a slot and hence no AL players who had the opportunity to post clutch performances measured in that way.

  11. Josh Hamilton should win the MVP award because his batting average was 359! That lead the majors! Thats why he should win the MVP.

  12. Josh had 100 RBI and he was injured for one fourth of the year!

  13. Hamilton-1
    Cabrera-2
    Longoria-3
    Mauer-4
    He isn't on there, Cruz-5

  14. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Longoria may deserve the nod a LITTLE more -- his presence was a major difference-maker in Tampa -- but seeing Hamilton get it would not see me raiding the larder for the cooking sherry. But if those two are not first and second in any MVP vote, something needs to be adjusted.

  15. Cano - 1
    Longoria - 2
    Cabrera - 3
    Hernandez - 4
    He isn't on there, Sabathia - 5

  16. I think Longoria will be hurt because the voters won't pay enough attention to position and defense. Same thing hurts Ryan Zimmerman in the NL.

  17. - Longoria, Mauer "seemed" like down years (Mauer definitely not because he already won one and OPS is down) Hard to not give it to Longoria.
    - Choo had a nice season but already won his award (to not have to serve in the military)
    - Cabrera, Beltre, Bautista had great years, but not being in the playoff hurts them (Bautista gets no respect for 50+ HR, probably because of the previous high of only 16)
    - Cano, Hamilton both had great years and DID make the playoffs, definitely in the running
    - Hernandez wasn't even a "slam-dunk" for Cy Young so shouldn't get MVP
    - Buchholz - no pitcher other than Felix should even be up for discussion.

    so it comes down to Longoria, Hamilton, Cano...
    Cano seemed to have it wrapped up until around August or so then he fell off the pace. With Hamilton leading in BA, SLG and OPS, plus matching Longoria's power stats...I would go with Hamilton as MVP.
    1- Hamilton, 2-Longoria, 3-Cano, 4-Cabrerra, 5-Choo

  18. Quck question about WAR that I'm hoping someone here can help me with.

    Fangraphs has a Leaders section where all MLB can be sorted based on WAR. I can't consistently find the similar section on B-R. Where does it exist reguarly? I know that sometimes I can access it on the front page, but I don't think it's always there, so I would like to know what section it "hides" in.

    Thanks.

  19. Hamilton's lack of playing time is probably the biggest con. I'm surprised that wasn't mentioned.

    As for who SHOULD, I say Longoria. What more can you ask for than being the best player on the best team AND the best player in the league? Hard to beat that.

    Who will win? Hamilton. Writers love come back stories. Especially if they involve supposed "All-American" types.

  20. Having spent a fair amount of time looking at historical WAR numbers, it seems to me that b-ref's version (i.e., Sean Smith's) of WAR pretty consistently gives a bit more value to third basemen, relative to other positions, than most other uberstat systems. Therefore when I see Longoria ahead I do have to wonder if that is at least to to some small extent reflective of b-ref's pro-third baseman version of WAR. Fangraphs' version has the order as Hamilton first, then Beltre, then a few guys tied for third, including Evan. B-Pro's WARP1 has Hamilton first, just ahead of Longoria. Bill James' Win Shares system gives the most Win Shares in the AL to Cano and Bautista, with Longoria second on his own team to Carl Crawford.

    Also confusing matters is that after years of being a realtively normal ballpark in terms of run scoring, Tropicana suddenly appeared to be the toughest park in the major leagues to score runs in 2010, which means park-adusted uberstats will give Evan more credit for the same hitting numbers this year than he would have gotten last year for the same hitting numbers. The drop in scoring at Trop this season was so dramatic that even systems that spread park factors over three years will probably see some immeidate visible effect from the one-year drop at Trop.

  21. Since I'm a little bit of a skeptic when it comes to defensive metrics, when trying to decide an award like this, I like to look at the old stand-bys: you know, WPA, OPS+, oWAR, Batting Runs, OW%, and the like. In virtually every category, Cabrera comes out on top. However, most of the time, he's only slightly above Josh Hamilton (with Jose Bautista also showing strongly). Personally, I think that these metrics tell us enough about offense. And you know what else we know? We know that, regardless of what WAR says, Hamilton is a strong defender, as #3 pointed out above. Cabrera's wretched at an easier position, and Bautista's no defensive giant. The way I see it is, if I had to pick one guy, even knowing that Hamilton's going to miss about a month with injury, his contribution is bigger enough with the glove to overcome slight deficiencies with the bat. It's gotta be Hamilton, though I can understand why some say Cabrera, and I have a bit of sympathy for the Longoria argument as well, though I had him third on my ballot (for the Baseball Prospectus IBAs).

  22. Disappointed to see Hamilton the runaway leader in this poll. I truly hope that Andy's opening note on Hamilton ("PRO: gets a huge lift from both overcoming substance abuse and his bounce-back from a fairly crummy 2009") does not actually capture the thinking of any voters, whether here or in the BBWAA. Both of those things are irrelevant to the MVP discussion.

    And as an aside ... Hamilton has been back in baseball for 4 full years now. His recovery from drug abuse, while an ongoing challenge for him, is pretty stale news to me. And I don't think that he deserves any extra credit, in a performance evaluation, for digging himself out of a self-made hole. As a person, yes, I'm moved by his redemption, as I am by the stories of Colby Lewis, R.A. Dickey and others. But as a baseball fan and analyst discussing who had the best year, a player's past means nothing to me.

  23. @18:

    Here's what I'd do.
    Click "leagues" on the gray bar at the top of the page.
    In the right-hand column under "League Index," click on "All Major Leagues."
    On the next page, click the desired year in the leftmost column (for example, "2010").
    Then, right above the heading "2010 Major League Baseball Team Statistics and Standings," there will be a gray bar that says things like "AL" and "NL" and "Minor Leagues." Go over to the one that says "Batting [+]" - it's a dropdown, so don't click it. Click on the second item of the dropdown, "Player Value." You can then sort by WAR by clicking on the column heading. Unfortunately, you have to do the same thing for the pitching WAR separately, but I think it does the job. If you really want to see both pitching and hitting (although you'll only see the top ten), you can go to the very first item on the aforementioned gray bar that says "2010 MLB" and click it. Then scroll all the way down the page and click either "Batting Leaders" or "Pitching Leaders." The first thing listed will be the top ten in overall WAR.

    Hope this helps a little.

  24. @23, Dr. Doom, thanks. I'll make a note of that.

    Not to Andy and the other B-R guys, it would be great if you could "simply" add in the WAR option to the Leader's Board. I'm sure this would require a programming change that probably isn't as easy as it sounds, but it would be helpful.

    Thanks.

  25. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think Longoria, Crawford, and Hamilton are all very close for the top spot. My current MVP thinking is to use single-season park factors for batters, which gives Longoria and Crawford a boost in comparison to, say, Robinson Cano, relative to what their raw stats or even their OPS+ would say.

  26. Hamilton's great season for the team who went to the World Series makes him the most deserving candidate who I voted for.More than likely Cano will get the reward because the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates.

  27. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    The field is similar to the 2008 AL, in that there is no one standout candidate, but a number of candidates at different positions with different strengths. I'd go with Robinson Cano, as having the best combination of strong offense at an important defensive position. I'd also like to re-post what I wrote in the NL MVP comments (sorry if you already read it):

    I would also like to comment on what standards the MVP voters use - most of us here see the question of "who is the MVP?" as: "who had the best year in the league?" However, MVP voters put a whole series of qualifiers to the question, "who was the best player in the league?", such as:
    - must be a position player (UNLESS no position player dominates)
    - is on a playoff team (UNLESS a player on a non-playoff team totally dominates, or the team a player is on wins by a large margin - convoluted, huh?)
    - led the league in RBI (BONUS - unless they were not on a playof team)
    - is the player new to the MVP discussion?? (MANY bonus points for being a more interesting story...)

    Frequently, how interesting the players storyline is seems to be more important than the candidate's qualifications to the MVP voters. In short, what baseball writers are best at is WRITING ABOUT BASEBALL, not neccessarily at analyzing player's performances. The exclusion of pitchers from consideration the last 20 or so years is probably the most infuriating aspect of this; Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez almost certainly should have won MVP awards. The lack of understanding of ballpark factors is also aggravating.

  28. Johnny Twisto Says:

    the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates.

    Demonstrably false.

  29. John DiFool Says:

    I've heard very little "buzz" about Longoria's defense from anybody. While glove men having excellent years at the plate have scored MVPs before (Brooks Robinson, Phil Rizutto, Terry Pendleton), their reputation must needs precede them for the writers to reward them-ain't happening here.

  30. @27, Lawrence --
    Your theory about player storylines affecting the MVP vote is interesting. But can you provide some examples?

  31. @25, interesting suggestion, although not sure I'm on board with it.

    Single-season park factors can be a bit problematic. Also not sure there’s a good reason to take a “one-size-fits-all” view of a hitter, by assuming that every hitter is helped or hurt equally by their home park. It would be the same as using single-season UZR to determine the fielding prowess of a player. I think there’s too much noise in the system and too small of a sample size for it be valid. We need to look no further than the new Yankee Stadium to see the problem with the single-season approach. The two seasons of data at the new park is, to say the least, bipolar.

    Yet with that approach, we can drill down further to see if a specific player is helped by a ballpark. Just because the overall park factor suggests one place is more hitter or pitcher friendly, doesn’t mean it treats all hitters the same. A left-handed pull hitter like Bill Dickey was no doubt helped by Yankee Stadium, while the right-handed Joe DiMaggio was greatly hurt. Yet that wouldn’t be reflected in the OPS+ statistics and it’s nothing we’d pick up by looking at the overall park factor rating. Both are treated the same.

    Getting back to this year’s MVP, let’s take Josh Hamilton. Based on his two years where he was the most healthy and had the most playing time, it does appear that Hamilton benefits greatly from playing in Arlington. Yet it also appears that Robinson Cano was hurt by Yankee Stadium, significantly hitting better on the road. This is not new. For the most part, Cano has hit better on the road than at Yankee Stadium (new and old), even though one would think he’d benefit as a lefty. He will get some HR benefit to right, but he’s not a dead pull hitter, hitting to the gaps, so while he gains some to left, he also loses to the other fields. Considering that on average a player will hit about ten percent better at home, Cano has been hurt by Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Longoria wasn’t hurt at all by Tropicana, both this year and overall for his short career. That fits with the idea that players hit better at home.

    Overall, though, I side with Bill James that just because a player can take advantage of his park doesn’t mean it should be held against the player, since not all players can do that. Wade Boggs certainly was helped by the being able to hit the ball of the green monster. Yet that’s not a negative. It reinforces the skill we know he has. Not all players could do what Boggs did.

    I still have Hamilton as the MVP, even if he was helped by his park.

  32. Johnny Twisto Says:

    NYF, I'm taking the "value" part of the award very literally. I realize players are affected by parks differently. For the purposes of an MVP choice, I don't care at all. I want to know how many runs was this player worth, and how valuable were each of those runs. I am sure it's not a "truth" that Yankee Stadium increases scoring by ~25%, but this season there were ~25% more runs scored there, so this season 113 runs created by a Yankee is of the same value as 100 runs created in a neutral park. If Cano actually hits better on the road, well, that makes him incredibly valuable on the road, less so at home, and I just figure how it comes out overall. It took fewer runs to win games in Tropicana this season, so if Longoria and Crawford still managed to hit well there, they helped TB win a lot of games (which they did).

  33. @26, Bill Tuck. I'm with Johnny Twisto @28. Not only is it false, according to a study by Baseball Prospectus, there is evidence that suggests bias AGAINST NY Yankee players winning awards. It's not because the writers have a grudge against the Yankees, it's because the Yankees usually have multiple quality players and are EXPECTED to win, so the bar is a bit higher for them to jump over.

    If the "NY Writers" (and, btw, the NY writers are actually less prone to homerism voting than some other markets) had control over the voting, wouldn't CC Sabathia have won the Cy Young last week instread of King Felix "hiding" in Seattle? The NY writers certainly haven't helped Derek Jeter win the MVP Award, even when there have been compelling years that he could have won, such as 2006. My guess, btw, is if Jeter was on the Twins and Morneau was on the Yankees, Jeter probably would have won the award.

    No need to worry. Cano will finish up in the voting tomorrow, as he should, but he won't win the award. That will be most likely Hamilton. And, also, if it will make you feel better. Most "NY Writers" seemed to think King Felix should have won the Cy Young Award, and also think Hamilton should win the MVP.

  34. This certainly is an interesting set. I voted for Hamilton for a lot of the reasons stated by others (good enough defensively to play 250+ innings in CF, best offensive player on a surprise playoff team being to top two - and his "comeback" story has nothing to do with it). The one serious Con for me would be that he missed so much time in September, but as someone pointed out that by the time of his injury, the Rangers seemed a lock for a playoff spot. From June through August - when the Rangers buried the AL West, Hamilton hit .410, slugged .723 with an OPS of nearly 1200 and an OPS+ of about 220.

    That said,I think Cano might win it- not so much because of the (real or perceived) NY factor, but because he was mentioned as the front runner by a lot of people for most of the season. I think that often voters have made up their mind by the middle of August, and it takes something strong to convince them to change their vote (amazing stretch run by a player, injury to their top pick, etc.). Of course, that works in Hamilton's favor this year as well as he missed so much time in September. We'll see.

  35. @32, I can see the point. The "value" part is the x-factor in many MVP ballots by the BBWAA. Some years, they'll vote for a player with the most dominant statistics, including players on last-place teams, such as A-Rod on the Rangers and Andre Dawson on the Cubs. Other years, they'll alter their voting based on whom they deem more "valuable." That's always been the most fustrating part about the MVP. It's not entirely clear what the BBWAA members are voting on! Yet, some may argue that makes it all the more interesting.

    It is a bit ironic that a Texas Ranger in 2010 will probably win the award because not only was he excellent, but he'll also get some bonus points awarded to him for helping his team win the division. Yet in 2002, another Texas Ranger won the award for helping his team finish in last. I'm sure that point will be lost on @26 Bill Tuck, who probably also forgot that for nine seasons running, 1996 through 2004, the AL MVP went to a player from the West division.

  36. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There are different valid ways of approaching the ballot. I just feel that one's approach should be logical and systematic. If you read some explanations of votes, with cherrypicked stats, you get the sense a lot of people choose a candidate and then derive arguments to support him. There is some room for subjectivity, but for the most part I just want to apply a consistent template to every candidate and see who rates best.

    I see a world of distance between A-Rod '03 and Dawson '87. I don't think Dawson would even make my ballot. The last place team means a little bit to me, but mostly he just was not that great, despite the power numbers.

  37. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    John Autin Says: "@27, Lawrence -- Your theory about player storylines affecting the MVP vote is interesting. But can you provide some examples?"

    Well, Bill James wrote about this in one of his books, comparing the "Win Shares" league leader in each year to whom actually won the MVP. He noted the strong factor of the "new to the MVP discussion" candidates providing writers with good storylines. Want examples? OK...

    2001 - ICHIRO SUZUKI was the first prominent Japanese position player, led the league in batting on a team that tied the MLB record for wins in a year. However (I think) Giambi, A-Rod, and R. Alomar had better years.
    1962 - MAURY WILLS broke Ty Cobb's stolen-base record and led the Dodgers to the pennant, making the narrative how he brought the stolen base back to baseball. However, a number of other people had better years, such as Mays, Frank Robinson, and Hank Aaron, not to mention the guy who was driving Wills in, Tommy Davis.
    2002 - MIGUEL TEJADA - He had a series of big clutch hits late in the season,some of them during their 20 game winning streak, to lead the A's to the division title. However, A-Rod and Jim Thome had better years.

    There are a number of others:
    1974 - Steve Garvey (breakout year/ RBI leader; Morgan much better
    1996, both leagues/ NL- Caminiti gets off his hospital bed to lead the Padres; Juan Gonzalez??? - best RBI total on a playoff team who is not named Albert Belle?? - I really can't figure this one out...
    2006 Ryan Howard - emerging young slugger, alternative to Pujols
    1976 - Thurman Munson - scrappy leader of the Yankees' return to greatness, 100+ RBI and .300+ BA

    Ok, that's enough - the writers would rather elect a "new name" than Musial or Mays or Mantle or Schmidt or Barry Bonds or A-Rod again.

  38. Here are my picks:

    1.Evan Longoria

    2.Robinson Cano

    3.Josh Hamilton

    4.Carl Crawford

    5.Miguel Cabrera

  39. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #36/Johnny Twisto Says: "There are different valid ways of approaching the ballot. I just feel that one's approach should be logical and systematic. If you read some explanations of votes, with cherrypicked stats, you get the sense a lot of people choose a candidate and then derive arguments to support him. There is some room for subjectivity, but for the most part I just want to apply a consistent template to every candidate and see who rates best. "

    JT, I was trying to say the above in my #27, but you said it better.

  40. I picked Cano in the preseason and I'm sticking with him. Whereas all of the players mentioned deseserve it, the discrepancy between different WAR calculations renders it, (WAR), useless. Cano should be the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger. Computers are simulations of us, not the other way around.

  41. sorry about typos

  42. I picked Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP. I believe Josh Hamilton is his closest competition for the award. How valuable can Josh Hamilton be if he's sitting on the bench unable to play a quarter of the season?

  43. WanderingWinder Says:

    What about value in terms of monetary value? That's how I've always wanted to interpret it, though it's a much less meaningful award that way.

  44. 36.Johnny Twisto Says -- There are different valid ways of approaching the ballot. I just feel that one's approach should be logical and systematic.
    -----------

    Sadly, judging by the comments I see from the same reporters on how they vote year to year, most do not have a logical and consistent approach. It changes year to year. They pick their candidate, and then they find the stats to support their decision.

  45. Johnny Twisto Says:

    What about value in terms of monetary value? That's how I've always wanted to interpret it, though it's a much less meaningful award that way.

    It's interesting to look at who provides the most bang for the buck, but it really wouldn't be fair to eliminate almost every player with more than three years of service time from the most prestigious award in the game.

  46. Yippeeyappee Says:

    @ 22. Not that I think Bautista deserves it over others here, but the man can defend. I probably saw at least half the Jays' games and enjoyed watching him make many outstanding plays at both RF and 3B, so if he's going to be penalized for defensive play, then no one's been watching.

  47. @26 Bill Tuck,

    "... because the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates"

    Please provide a few examples of this, I am very interested in hearing about the alternate reality in which you reside.

  48. @37, Lawrence -- Thanks for the followup. Of the ones you cited, I think Ichiro is the best example of the "storyline" phenomenon. I'm not quite sold on a lot of the others. One issue is that there is a "storyline" for almost any MVP, even the ones who actually "deserve" the award based on whatever metrics one believes in. Another is that one man's "storyline" is another man's "overestimating the value of batting average and RBI."

  49. @42: The answer is 'plenty valuable.' Texas had wrapped up the division by the time Hamilton got hurt so it's not as though his absence impacted the pennant race. They held him out the last two weeks because they were erring on the side of caution, resting him for the playoffs. I'd say it worked.

    Not that I'm criticizing you choice of Cabrera. That's perfectly valid. I think the top three in some order will end up being Cabrera, Hamilton and Cano and I wouldn't have a problem with any of the three taking it.

    In fact, one thing people are overlooking is that Hamilton's .359 average is mostly a product of his ballpark. Look at the splits for any Texas regular since that park opened; the place inflates batting average. Don't get me wrong; Hamilton had an awesome year and I think I'd actually vote for him. And he did hit an impressive .327 on the road. His .390 average at home is staggering. No matter how good the player, in most parks you're just not going to be able to hit .390.

  50. Autin @ 48, you make a good point with your last sentence there but I do agree with Lawrence. Sportswriters always craft a narrative, facts be damned. Not just with MVP races, but with everything. For instance, in the Tejada example, there's no way he gets that award if Oakland doesn't go on that 20 game winning streak and he doesn't hit all those walk-offs.

    There's also something to the whole "new face" aspect. They tire of voting for the same guys year after year. I know it's a different sport, but this reminds me of when Karl Malone won the MVP over Jordan just because they were sick of giving it to MJ every year.

    Although I believe Votto deserved the MVP, I'm surprised he won so overwhelmingly. Probably has a lot to do with the whole "new face" thing though.

  51. Johnny Twisto Says:

    If memory serves, Hamilton hit over .400 vs RHP. So how did he do against RHP at home? .429/.470/.852, 17 HR in 182 AB. Yikes. In June and July, he batted .507 and slugged 1.014 in 80 home PA vs RHP. And was never IBB'd.

  52. @ 26, Bill Tuck:

    "Hamilton's great season for the team who went to the World Series makes him the most deserving candidate who I voted for.More than likely Cano will get the reward because the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates."

    1) "The team that went to the World Series" has nothing to do with anything. The award is based on regular season performance and the ballot is filled out before the playoffs begin.

    2) Each city gets two votes. It's not like half the voters are from New York. They get two. Texas gets two. Tampa gets two. Two.

    3) I'd like to see your examples of New York writers getting their man in over more deserving candidates. Off the top of my head I can think of:

    - Jeter over Morneau in 2006.

    - Sabathia over Hernandez last week.

    - Sabathia over Greinke last year.

    - Wright over Rollins in 2007.

    - Piazza over Kent in 2000.

    - Jeter, Williams, O'Neill, and Tino splitting the award during their four championship seasons from 1996-2000.

    Oh, that's right, none of those ever happened.

    In actuality, the Yankees' only MVP in the last 25 years has been a very deserving Alex Rodriguez, who had already won an MVP before he went to New York. Their only Cy Young winner in the last 30 years is Roger Clemens, who had already won it five times before joining the Yankees. The Mets have never had an MVP. Their last Cy Young winner was Doc Gooden in 1985.

    I know Twisto already responded to this with the simple dismissal it deserved, but I couldn't resist.

  53. Twisto, at the end of this season I had actually noticed that Hamilton had both torn it up at home this year and torn up righties and wondered about the very split you just provided: vs. righties at home.

    My question is, how did you find that info? On the players splits pages, I don't see anything about a split within a split, like vs. lefties at home, or away games at night, or with men on base in the 1st inning.

    How did you get the split within the split?

  54. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Use the Event Finder tool for splits upon splits upon splits. It's a really amazing tool which I've not played with nearly enough.

    I can't see how to link to the entire results page (which shows the composite stats as well as other subcategories you could take the splits for) but here is the list of his 80 PA: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/u8Xuw

  55. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #48/John Autin Says: "@37, Lawrence -- Thanks for the followup. Of the ones you cited, I think Ichiro is the best example of the "storyline" phenomenon. I'm not quite sold on a lot of the others. One issue is that there is a "storyline" for almost any MVP, even the ones who actually "deserve" the award based on whatever metrics one believes in. "

    OK, fair point that I may have exaggerated a little to make a point. Let me trot out the oft-maligned 1987 NL award - Andre Dawson essentially signed a blank contract when the owners colluded after the 1986 season, then he went on to lead baseball in both HR and RBI. There had to be at least fifteen/twenty NL players who had a better year (if you sort by WAR all the NL players that got an MVP vote in 1987, he finishes second-to-LAST), yet the writers couldn't resist the great narrative, could they?? This wasn't like Ernie Banks in 1958-1959, when he had a very strong case as MVP. He was the big story, they voted him the MVP.

    If not Dawson in 1987, how about Maris over Mantle in 1960, or Don Mattingly over Brett and Rickey in 1985?? Both fresh new faces, not the already-known stars.

    I'm still waiting for someone to explain how Juan Gonzalez beat A-Rod in 1996 (he had the lowest WAR of any AL player to get an MVP vote)...

  56. Carlos Sanchez Says:

    Think Carefully.......
    Miguel Cabrera
    Number 1 in RBI
    Number 1 in OBP
    Number 2 in AVG
    number 2 in SLG
    Number 2 in Runs
    Number 2 in TB
    Number 3 in HR
    Is there any doubt who will be the AL MVP?

  57. Thanks for the response, Twisto. I was a bit confused on what to do, but now I see that after you pick a year and a category, that box with all the info is basically like a giant menu with stuff to pick from. I don't know how I never discovered that before. Thanks.

  58. @55, Lawrence -- Thanks for replying again.

    Dawson '87 certainly could be a case where the storyline was a big factor. But I'm not sure. It could have been just the fact that he led the league in HRs, RBI and Total Bases, all by a decent margin, in a year when every other legitimate candidate had some significant drawback. (Ozzie Smith hit no HRs; Jack Clark missed a month; Darryl Strawberry's team had a disappointing year; Will Clark had just 91 RBI; Dale Murphy had a bad team and he'd already won it twice.)

    Another thing that makes me question the influence of storyline in the Dawson vote is the AL MVP vote that same year. You won't find a much better storyline than a shortstop not known for his run production, suddenly thrust into the cleanup spot for the first time in his career, coming up with a .343/28/105 line and leading a late-season charge that wiped out a 3.5-game deficit in the final 8 days. Meanwhile, Bell and his team simply vanished in the final week; Bell went 3 for 27 (all singles) with 1 RBI and no runs, as the Jays lost their last 7 games in a row, 4 of them to Detroit, including a season-ending, division-clinching sweep. If storyline was a big factor in voters' minds, how could they pick George Bell over Alan Trammell?

    I agree with you that storyline is often a factor. I'm just not sure that it's so easy to say which votes were influenced by which storylines. The other examples in your last post -- the "fresh new faces" of Mattingly in '85 and Maris in '60 -- could also be chalked up to the age-old obsession with RBI. Mattingly (who wasn't an entirely fresh face, having won the batting crown in '84 and placing 5th in that MVP vote) and Maris (who was an All-Star with KC in '59 and hit 28 HRs in '58) both led their league in RBI. As did Juan-Gone in '96 (as you said, still one of the most unfathomable votes in history, even though A-Rod lost by just 3 points).

    Also, in Mattingly's case, the storylines of Henderson and Brett seem more compelling: Rickey exploded onto the NY scene with 146 runs, 24 HRs and 80 SB (first 20/70 season in history, and broke the Yankee record for SB that had stood for 71 years). Brett had his first 30-HR season and carried the Royals to the division title with a phenomenal final week; in 6 games, he hit .450 with 5 HRs and 11 RBI (half his team's runs total). But Mattingly had 145 RBI, and that got him the hardware.

  59. Another example of a storyline MVP vote would be Jimmy Rollins, who guaranteed the Phillies would win the NL East in spring training, then proceeded to win the MVP when the Mets fell apart in September.

  60. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    As a Mariner fan, Beltre needs to give back that money he robbed from them.

  61. @56, Carlos Sanchez, I am thinking very carefully and there is no doubt who will be the MVP: Josh Hamilton.

  62. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Maybe BR can initiate the "Guy With The Best Stats Award." Wouldn't even need to bother to watch any games to vote.

  63. if the vote is for over-all BEST player and most impact , Cabrera but it seems to be all about a good player on playoff team . Its sad that a season like Cabrera had ,1 of the best single seasons ever by any1 wont be awarded!!

  64. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #58/John Autin Says: "@55, Lawrence -- Thanks for replying again. ...I agree with you that storyline is often a factor. I'm just not sure that it's so easy to say which votes were influenced by which storylines. "

    John, you make some valid points. I 'd reply that while the writers' storylines, such as "new to the MVP race" and "fresh new faces" are not always the dominant factors, they are frequently ONE OF the factors, combined with the traditional Triple-Crown stats and the outcome of the playoff races.

    As Johnny Twisto stated upthread, the problems is that the writers decide on a candidate and then cherry-pick his stats to support his MVP case, instead of looking at the numbers first to see who the best candidates are.

  65. #56, that is what the Hank Aaron award and the Silver Slugger awards are for. No where in the definition does it say the guy who has the best stats is the MVP. It's gone to contact hitters like Ichiro, for most of the time it goes to power hitters, it's gone to Starting Pitchers, it's gone to Closers.

  66. 62: I assume this means you watched all 162 games the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers and Rays played and from doing so you can tell us who is most deserving of the MVP. So who gets it?

  67. jpmusselboro Says:

    Andy writes: "CON: Beltre gets hurt because his last really good year also came when his contract was up, making this year's effort seem tainted to some, and the Red Sox falling short of the playoffs has deflated their players in the eyes of some voters."

    Why does everyone insist on repeating this talking point? It just isn't the case. Beltre's contract was up LAST YEAR, before he signed a 1-year deal with the Red Sox. His slashline for his contract year of 2009: .265/.304/.379.

    So the notion that he only plays well in contract years is silly and easily falsifiable, and yet people never get tired of reciting it.

  68. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, it is true that his last really good season was in a contract year. But I agree that the implication was that contract years spur him to play better. Of course, being in a park that kills right-handed power didn't help him the last few seasons.

  69. Please Texfan, Cano isn't even in your Top 5? Pretty obvious you have Yankee-envy. Cano was clearly top 3, and no, I don't think Cano should win it....again, Yankee-envy can be smelled from coat to coast.

  70. Please NYfan, Hamilton wasn't even in your top 5? He too was clearly top 3 and voting Cano 1st and leaving Hamilton out of Top 5 smells of Yankee-bias and then some!

  71. Beltre was injured in 2009. What we do know is that his two huge years came in contract years and that he's had numerous other non-contract years that stunk. True, yes, one contract year also stunk, but he was limited by injury. I think it's a perfectly valid point.

  72. Bill Tuck Says:
    November 22nd, 2010 at 1:12 pm
    Hamilton's great season for the team who went to the World Series makes him the most deserving candidate who I voted for.More than likely Cano will get the reward because the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates.

    This is one of the biggest misperceptions out there Bill --in fact, it could easily be argued being Yankee the last 30+ years has hurt far more often then it has helped. Yes, once upon a time being a Yankee helped a lot for awards, but you really have to go back to pre-1975 at least!!!

  73. And the winner is...

    Josh Hamilton!

    (I figured since I announced Votto on the other thread, I should announce Hamilton on this one.)

  74. Bill Tuck @26, More than likely Cano will get the reward because the New York writers usually get their man in, often over more deserving candidates.
    ------------------

    I know you've been beat up, deservedly so, by numerous posters over the past day, from Johnny Twisto to NYF to Tmckelv and Matt Y, and no doubt others, but now that the vote is out and Hamilton is the winner, and Cabrera is second, and Cano is third, we can further see the nonsense in your suggestion.

    Not a single NY writer gave Cano a first-place vote. Yet we can be pretty sure that the first-place vote for Jose Bautista came from a Toronto reporter, and you can bet that the Detroit writers voted for Cabrera, as did the Texas writers for Hamilton. NY reporters may actually be more even-handed than reporters from other markets. Just a thought.

  75. Josh Hamilton represents the 6th time a Ranger has won the award and the 5th since 1996. That seems a lot for a team that just made its first WS appearance, doesn't it?

  76. @70, Matt Y Says: Please NYfan, Hamilton wasn't even in your top 5? He too was clearly top 3 and voting Cano 1st and leaving Hamilton out of Top 5 smells of Yankee-bias and then some!
    --------

    I agree. You missed the joke. I had wanted my note to nest right below TexFan @13's note as a repsonse to his absurd ballot, but left my computer for a second and another note popped up between. Since he left Cano out of his top five, and then even tried to insert Cruz, I followed the format of his serious Texas-biased ballot and created my own fake New York-biased ballot. All in good fun, at least on my side.

  77. @74, "we can be pretty sure that the first-place vote for Jose Bautista came from a Toronto reporter, and you can bet that the Detroit writers voted for Cabrera, as did the Texas writers for Hamilton."

    Oh, really? Have you seen the ballots? Or are you an expert on MVP voting patterns by city?

    I'll guess that you don't realize how bigoted your statement sounds. In the process of defending NYC from a false accusation, you have exhibited the NY-centric arrogance that fuels the (often misguided) attitudes of non-New Yorkers towards our fair Gotham.

  78. @75, "Josh Hamilton represents the 6th time a Ranger has won the award and the 5th since 1996. That seems a lot for a team that just made its first WS appearance, doesn't it?"

    Maybe so, but 4 of those last 5 MVP Awards came in years that Texas won its division (1996, '98-99, 2010). The 5th came in one of A-Rod's typical monster years; he led the AL in position-player WAR 2 of the 3 years he spent in Texas.

  79. LJF @75 Says: Josh Hamilton represents the 6th time a Ranger has won the award and the 5th since 1996. That seems a lot for a team that just made its first WS appearance, doesn't it?
    -----------------------

    Clearly that east coast and NY bias at work again. Didn't realize it was that many. They've had some good hitters helped by a very hitter-friendly park, and MVP voters like offense.

    Today's factoid. When the Rangers traded A-Rod to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and then-minor-league-infielder Joaquin Arias, they selected Arias over another Yankee minor leaguer. A second baseman named Robinson Cano. Bad choice.

  80. Hamilton as a runnaway winner is odd to me. I would have picked Longoria.

    I think Hamilton gets a lot of love in this vote for reasons having nothing to do with baseball. It's sad.

    I have no problem someone voting him anywhere from #1 to #8. It was really close all around. I'm amaxed though that he wins such a landslide.

  81. @77, John Autin – You’ve made some assumptions about me that are not correct, including where I call home.

    Bigoted is an emotionally charged word, and should be reserved for true cases of bigotry, and almost never used online unless trying to incite what used to be commonly referred to as a flame war. There is nothing outrageous about my opinion that suggests I'm utterly intolerant toward any specific group of people, which I'm not. I will not take your flame bait and will gently step away from the computer keyboard. Please try not to make false accusations and be a little less strident in the future. Have a good evening, John.

  82. I agree with Mike's complaint against John (although I agree with John's general point). I just wanted to step in and encourage both parties to drop it at this point.

  83. @82 ... but, of course, Andy. : -)

  84. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Although I have issues with the ease with which Hamilton won the MVP vote, I would like also to take issue with DougV.'s "having nothing to do with baseball" comment.

    Hamilton is a MAJOR fan draw for those "non-baseball issues"; and is in fact a great ambassador for the game -- making his value o the Rangers that much higher. And after all, this award IS called the "Most VALUABLE Player" -- and value comes is many ways.

  85. Agreed. Also, why would it have been so outlandish for Mike to have read about which ballots came from which cities? It's not like it's a secret ballot.

    It amazes me how much people get worked up over pro-NY vs. anti-NY debates. So many otherwise rational people seem to have such an insane inferiority complex when it comes to New York.

    (Although from what I can tell both parties in this case seem to be NYers).

  86. OK. I will clarify in reply to Frank C.

    I meant nothing to do with baseball on the field. And I think it is wrong.

    I don't see how being a fan draw makes you an MVP. I don't see how being currently off drugs and alcohol makes you a fan draw either but that's another matter.

  87. The true conversation pieces in regards to this blog is how different the MVP voting was from the WAR standings. Delmon Young in 10th at 0.8! Choo in 14th at 7.3. Vlade in 11th with 2.1..... Minny also had Thome getting some love for his half season of dominance......I have to admit, WAR aside, Delmon in 10th has me scratching my head.

    Also, in the NL, how is it that Heyward and CarGo have essentially the same WAR? At least the voters can tell the difference.

  88. @85, I think ballots are blind unless the reporter reveals how he voted. yet you're right, there is nothing outlandish about what he said. I am from NYC so perhaps I'm less sensitive to the whole thing.

    who ever voted in new york did not vote for cano, so they were hardly homers, meanwhile at least one detroit reporter said he voted for Miggy (which is a fine) and there is confirmation (link below) that the vote for Bautisata did come from a Canadian reporter, so @77 was offbase, imho.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/great+Gonzalez+giveaway/3876746/story.html

  89. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The BBWAA revealed the first place votes on the AL CYA, so they could publicize that info for any award without the individual voter choosing to reveal it.

  90. JT can you post the AL CY list? I did not see it.

  91. Johnny Twisto Says:
  92. Thanks JT.

  93. Thanks, Johnny Twisto @89. I didn't see the Cy Young ballots, although I did see if for the MVP.

    Andy, here's the link for yesterday's MVP voting. Same thing. Scroll to the bottom and you'll see which reporters/city voted for which candidate.

    http://bbwaa.com/2010/11/2010-al-mvp/

  94. @81, MikeD -- I apologize. Everything you said there is right, and I'm sorry. Mine was a dumb, knee-jerk post ... and to top it all off, you were 100% right about the MVP voters from Toronto, Detroit and Texas. Bad day all around for me.

  95. @85, Fritz -- In response to a post of mine (I believe), you asked: "why would it have been so outlandish for Mike to have read about which ballots came from which cities? It's not like it's a secret ballot."

    You're right, but that was not my point. It seemed to me from Mike's wording that he was predicting who voted for whom ("we can be pretty sure that..."). I don't know if Mike had seen the vote breakdown or not; by now, of course, we know that he was right.

    I'm not going to say anything else to defend my post, because I was wrong and I've apologized to Mike. I just wanted to respond to your question.