The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Science Redux

I’m a bad man. In response to Olney’s craziness from the beginning of the year, here are Curtis Granderson’s 2015 totals: 91 BB, 151 K.

This, Buster, is why we do not jump to conclusions based on 37 PA. Now you look like an idiot.

December 1st, 2015 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, and snubbery

There’s a bit of a brouhaha going on in the internet baseball world, and that’s because Josh Donaldson won the AL MVP in a landslide over Mike Trout. Some people — such as my old friend and comic foil Jeff Passan — have gone so far as to compare Trout’s lack of MVPs with Ted Williams’. This is a bit silly; Williams finished fourteenth in MVP balloting in 1940, behind no fewer than five Detroit Tigers, very much including the legendary Dick Bartell, who played below replacement level that year. That’s a snub! Williams in 1941 set the only modern-era over-.400 BA mark — the single stat sportswriters obsess over — and lost out again. In 1942, Williams lost out again, this time to the obviously inferior (but very good!) Joe Gordon.

What’s happened with Meteor Mike, then? Is it equivalent snubbery? Well, in 2012, he lost to Miguel Cabrera, a player he was obviously massively superior to. There’s a snub! Oh, wait, except that 2012 was the year Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, huh. Even as jaded and SABR-y as I am, it’s really, really hard for me to lambaste sportswriters too much for awarding their MVP votes to the first guy to win the Triple Crown in a half-century. So never mind that. 2013, then? Cabrera again, and this time it seems like a legit snub: in fact, the comparison between Trout and Cabrera is eerily similar to 1942-era Williams and Gordon, so I’ll give you that one. In 2014? This time, Trout was snubbed so badly he won the MVP in a massive landslide, taking every single first-place vote. Every one. I am at a loss to think of a single thing that makes a campaign of snubbery seem less likely than does the alleged snubbee getting every single vote.

That brings us to the present day, and Josh Donaldson. Here’s the MVP voting for 2015. The alleged snubbery is evidently based on the fact that Mike Trout’s WAR was higher than Josh Donaldson’s, which it was: by 0.6. That ain’t much of much, and, though it may get me banned from Internet Dork Kingdom, I’m compelled to point out that the MVP is not the WAR crown. Here’s the catch, and why I think a vote for Donaldson is entirely defensible: not all wins are equally valuable.

Now, obviously, every win is worth one win. I don’t mean to say otherwise. But some wins are more valuable to the team than others. Without Trout’s 9.4 wins, the Angels go from winning 85 games to winning 76 games, and go from third place to… third place. Clearly that is about as unvaluable as nine wins can possibly be. Without Donaldson’s 8.8 wins, however, the Blue Jays go from 93 wins to 84 wins, and fall into second place and also miss a wild card berth by a game. Donaldson’s 8.8 wins were clearly of immense value to the Blue Jays, as they spelled the difference between a division win and sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV.

So am I saying that the MVP must come from a winning team? Surely not. What I’m saying is that, in a very, very close race — and 0.6 WAR does count as pretty damn close — it makes sense to consider not only the player’s performance in a vacuum, but also the impact that performance had on his team’s fortunes. There is no injustice, and no snubbery, in choosing Donaldson over Trout.

December 1st, 2015 Posted by | Baseball | no comments