20 November 2007

AL and NL MVP Voting Problems

National League MVP

Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins won. You know that. Here's something you may not know:

Rollins 162 716 139 212 38 20 30 94 49 85 41 6 .344 .531 .296
Ramirez 154 639 125 212 48 6 29 81 52 95 51 14 .386 .562 .332

Hanley Ramirez had a very similar season to Rollins. Very similar.

He had exactly the same number of hits, and almost exactly the same number of walks and homers, despite getting about 80 fewer at-bats. His batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs, steals, doubles, total bases, at-bats and some other stats were all among the top 5 in the NL, many of them in the top 2 or 3. Rollins waa similar of course, but he hit for a lower average, lower slugging and lower OBP. he walked less often, stole less often, and hit fewer doubles, though he also struck out a little less, got caught a few less times and hit more triples. He hit one more homer, but needed the help of the best home run park in the majors to do it.

Meanwhile, Ramirez outperformed him in most ways, despite playing in a slight pitcher's park. Unfortunately, Ramirez plays for the Marlins, who had the worst pitching staff in the National League, which means they didn't win much, which means that the voters tended to overlook him when considering their ballot.

I'm not saying that Ramirez deserved the award or that Rollins didn't deserve the award. (Actually, I think Albert Pujols or David Wright deserved it more than either of them.) I'm just saying that Hanley Ramirez deserved to finish higher than 10th.

American league MVP Voting Issues

There's been some heat about the fact that two Detroit beat writers voted for Magglio Ordonez first instead of Alex Rodriguez, as I mentioned yesterday. I read a column over on AOL's sports pages that included a snippet of one of the two writers trying to defend his vote, which was laughable. Here's the quote, or some of it, anyway:

"I saw Magglio play every day. What I saw was a player having an MVP year. I have no quarrel with anyone who voted for A-Rod. He also had an MVP year. But with the injuries the Tigers had and the effort and performance I saw from Magglio, there's no question he had an MVP year."

- Jim Hawkins, Oakland Press, Pontiac, Michigan

I didn't think of this when I was harping on the issue yesterday, but the thing I find really funny about this "logic" is that according to Hawkins, seeing Magglio play everyday told him that he was the MVP. That's it. His subjective experience of seeing Magglio Ordonez play baseball was all he needed to decide to vote for him. But the award is a comparative one, an award given for relative value, not an absolute. That's why it's called the MOST Valuable Player, and not, say, the RVP (Really Valuable Player) or just VP (Vice President, which you'll hafta wrest from Dick Cheney's cold, dead hands.)

This, means, at its logical end, that statistics don't mean anything, or at best that the numbers don't mean as much as the subjective experience of watching him play. Of course, in order to do the necessary comparative work to really vote fairly, to really know who the MVP was, Hawkins would have had to see all of the players play, every day (or at least the ones in contention for the MVP award). After getting home from the Tigers' game each night, he should have watched a tape of the Yankee game, right? And probably the Angels' game and the Red Sox game. Maybe Cleveland. Nah. Heck with Cleveland, he would think.

But nobody does that. Nobody has the time. At least I don't. That's why we keep statistics: So you don't have to watch every game. We can argue about the relative merits of various statistics, to be sure, but Hawkins' argument just throws them out on their ear. By his logic, the NY writers who saw A-Rod everyday could justifiably believe that Alex was the MVP, right? To his credit, Hawkins does not debate this, saying, "He also had an MVP year" without realizing that the logic doesn't work there. Two players, technically, cannot both be the MOST valuable, unless they are both equally valuable, right? But Hawkins doesn't even go that far. He just says, basically, that you can vote for whomever the hell you want to vote for, and getting to watch him play everyday qualifies to you be the resident authority on that player's MVP-ness. So there.

By that logic, someone from the Kansas City Star-Telegram could justify voting for David DeJesus or even Tony Pena for the MVP! After all, he saw them play every day! Who would know better than him? Why should he need statistics? Why would he need to see anyone else's game footage? Based on Jim Hawkins' "logic" a vote for David DeJesus would be beyond reproach, as long as it was from someone who saw him play every day!

Man, I hate Post-Modernism.

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1 comment:

JD said...

That's interesting about Hanley and Rollins, nice catch.