Thursday, September 20, 2012

The AL MVP



The MVP is an award to celebrate a truly spectacular season by a player in his league. It is an individual award that is often heavily and erroneously weighed against a teams overall record. This has some merit in a close race between 2 or more close candidates where voters/fans are looking for an edge to distinguish them. In such a situation the final team records can serve as a final tiebreaker. However, some seasons defy such simplistic and erroneous logic. Justin Verlander of 2011 is a prime example of rewarding a truly out of this world performance. A more accurate way to interpret the award is to give it to the most valuable player regardless of team record, but ensuring that the winning player is the actual MVP of their own team. 

The Baseball Writers Association of America determines the annual winners of this award and presents the following guidelines:

Dear Voter:
There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1.  Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2.  Number of games played.
3.  General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4.  Former winners are eligible.
5.  Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.
Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.
It surprises me that so much confusion comes about every year for voting on this award when the rules have not changed since their inception in 1931. Earlier today Doug Miller at mlb.com gave his thoughts on the race. I created a list of competitors over at fangraphs to help compare the leaders.


Player G H HR R RBI OBP WAR
A 126 580 167 27 118 0.395 9.4
B 147 641 190 41 101 0.398 6.8
C 147 628 170 30 91 0.371 6.4
D 143 600 175 33 90 0.355 5.9
E 138 592 149 42 98 0.358 4.9
F 139 594 139 40 88 0.382 4.1
G 149 643 171 30 95 0.336 4.1
H 145 670 200 15 93 0.366 3.5


To aid you in your objective opinion I have excluded the names next to the stats, but will post them below. Traditionally voters tend to reward power and offensive production (which is why I highlight the offensive numbers here, the Fangraphs link does include their defensive metrics). However, as we have seen with they Cy Young award voting in recent years some voters are starting to look more seriously at advanced sabermetrics. If this trend continues into MVP voting then WAR value might carry more weight as it also factors in defensive impact. However you vote, I hope you keep the guidelines of the BWAA in mind and vote based on individual merit rather than team standing. So who has your vote?

A - Mike Trout, CF Angels

B - Miguel Cabrera, 3B Tigers

C - Robinson Cano, 2B Yankees

D - Adrian Beltre, 3B Rangers

E - Josh Hamilton, CF Rangers

F - Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Blue Jays

G - Adam Jones, CF Orioles

H - Derek Jeter, SS Yankees