19 November 2007

Good News All Around: A-Rod the MVP, Red Sox Getting Lowell

Just a couple of quick notes on the AL MVP Award...

...no surprise that Alex Rodriguez won it. A little surprised that it wasn't unanimous, but then, I shouldn't be. As long as they can somehow justify it, home-town writers will almost always vote for their guy. The two writers from Michigan both listed Magglio Ordonez first, and while Magglio had a great year, A-Rod was better. How much better? About 9 runs worth, according to Baseball Prospectus' VORP metric. When defense is facotred in, A-Rod wins, hands-down: 11.0 WARP to 8.7, as Ordonez is not much of a defensive outfielder. Actually, if you look at all the candidates, Magglio ties with Ichiro with that 8.7, well behind Curtis Granderson (10.4) and Carlos Pena (9.9). Jorge Posada sat just below them at 8.2 WARP, but nobody else was within two wins or so of that.

Incidentally, Magglio Ordonez' player page on MLB.com says that,

"He, his wife Dagly and three children, Magglio Jr., Maggliana and Sophia..."

How big an ego do you have to have to name not one, but two children after yourself? And one of them a girl?! Poor kid. Well, not that poor.

On the other hand, the Red Sox re-signing of Mike Lowell, who until recently had been rumored to have been courted by the Yankees to play either first or third base, depending on whether or not A-Rod returned, might seem like bad news, but it's snot not. Mike Lowell was coming off the second best year of his entire career, and this at age 33, when most players are starting to slow down, or at best, plateau. Granted, he hit that pretty .324 in 2007, and high batting averages sure do look good in that little box at the bottom of the screen when a guy ocmes to the plate, but in reality, Lowell's 2007 wasn't much different from his 2002 season with Florida, when he was 30 years old, and he hit .276/.346/.471 with 24 homers and 92 RBI's.

Both the high batting average and the high RBI total were due to the fact that he played for the Red Sox in 2007. He hit 6th most of the time, though sometimes 4th or 5th, with David Ortiz (AL-leading .445 OBP) in front of him, not to mention Kevin Youkilis (.390), and Manny Ramirez (.388). As for the batting average, that's an easy one: He hit .276 on the road, but .373 at Fenway Park. That's probably on the short list of the most severe home-road splits (Non-Coors Division) in history!

Looking at it another way, how likely is Mike Lowell to continue to produce like that? Well, coming into this year, Baseball prospectus (who pretty good at predicting these kind of things) thought he would most likely hit .269/.328/.432 with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 489 plate appearances. That was his 50th percentile projection, which means the weighted average of the accomplishments of similar players at age 33.

His 90th percentile was .299/.361/.503 with 21 homers and 85 RBIs, but his actual numbers .324/.378/.501 were notably better than those (Though the homers and slugging matched the 90th percentile projections almost exactly). So let's call what he actually did the "95th" percentile. That seems fair. How likely is it that Mike Lowell, after out-performing 95% of the major league baseball players like him in history at age 33, can do the same at age 34? How likely is it that he'll even do better than the 50th percentile for two of the three years to which the Red Sox have signed him, at about $13 million per?

Not very, I'll tell you that.

So be glad, Yankee fans. When Mike Lowell is coming back to Earth next season, hitting .270 with modest power or worse, at least he'll be the Red Sox problem and not yours.

Your problem is to find a firstbaseman who doesn't hit like an old lady.

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