Ortiz for MVP: Papi Meter Edition

It’s been the subject of much debate, particularly for me internally. With the Red Sox all but out of contention, can and should David Ortiz — who likely will end up leading the league in home runs and RBI while hitting somewhere around .290 — win the MVP?

The Big Man himself made some good points:

I’m right there, but I’m not going to win it. They give it to Alex one year, even though his team was in last place, so now they can’t play that BS anymore, just because your team didn’t make it. They gave it to Alex that year because of his numbers. But they always have a reason to vote for whatever, so that’s why I don’t worry about it.

I’ll tell you one thing: If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBIs, that’s going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have. …

But they’ll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse. They’re talking about Jeter a lot, right? He’s done a great job, he’s having a great season, but Jeter is not a 40-homer hitter or an RBI guy. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve done for your ball club, the bottom line is, the guy who hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that’s the guy you know helped your team win games.

Don’t get me wrong — he’s a great player, having a great season, but he’s got a lot of guys in that lineup. Top to bottom, you’ve got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be.

Incidentally, Rodriguez’s numbers while winning the MVP for the last-place Texas Rangers: .298, 47, 118. Ortiz will blow those out of the water. Of course, the year before, A-Rod hit 57 HR for the last-place Rangers and didn’t win the MVP.

69 comments… add one
  • The debate continues: Most Valuable Player vs Most Outstanding Player, with the latter being the best stats, period, and the former being the one who contributes to his team’s success the most.
    In the MOP case, we can match up the numbers and make a pretty easy call. With MVP, we must ask the question: If not for Player X’s contributions, where would Team Y be? In Papi’s case, his contributions change nothing for the Red Sox. They’d still be out of contention at this point in the season.
    Everyone points to the A-Rod exception with Texas and I don’t think it is a precedent to hand out the award to players who did not contribute to a successful season. I’m sure there are other examples of non-playoff teams with MVPs, however the award is a player’s contributions to a team and Papi’s numbers should be viewed in that context.
    And what about Manny? His contributions are up there as well and dilute Ortiz’ contributions. At least in the A-Rod case, his numbers were unequalled by his teammates.
    But, I disagreed with A-Rod winning it then and I would be opposed to a similar scenario now.
    Being a full-time DH is another strike against Ortiz, probably more so than where his team finishes. Someone who is on the field for a fraction of a total game can’t be the MOST Valuable Player. And it’s not like Ortiz is all that gifted with the glove. And doesn’t Manny lead all OFs in assists?
    If Jeter should win the batting title AND the Yankees make the post-season, it would be hard to give an MVP award to Papi over Jeter.

    lp September 11, 2006, 12:26 pm
  • Memo to Ortiz: want a little cheese with that whine?
    Seriously, I like Ortiz. But his argument vis-a-vis Jeter makes no sense. Geez, David, it’s not like you have Manny Ramirez hitting after you, or Kevin Youlkis and Mark Loretta in front of you (the “great lineup” point). Oh, right, you do. Jeter hits in a excellent lineup too. Ok. Meanwhile, Jeter plays defense – at a critical position – and plays it at least passably well (by the various metrics, he’s about average or a tick below this year). HRs are only part of the offensive puzzle (OBP and baserunning spring to mind as things Jeter has done better). RBIs are partly team stat. Ortiz has been a great run producer, doing what he’s supposed to do. Jeter has also been a great run producer by doing what HE is supposed to do (one is more about getting on, the other more about driving in). Ortiz has, overall, out-hit Jeter. No question about it. I do not, however, think that he has *outplayed* Jeter when you look at the entire picture (total offensive contribution + total defensive contribution). Taking into account the position a player plays is not “using an excuse” to screw over poor, undervalued Papi. Sorry, but DH =! SS.
    I’m *not* saying that Jeter should win the MVP. I actually think it’s a crazy, mixed up, close-as-hell race with a bunch of guys in the mix (Mauer, Jeter, Santana!, Dye… Hafner and Sizemore too, even though they’ll get unfairly docked for playing on a bad team, and Manny and Papi…). It should and likely will go right down to the wire. The voters will most likely screw up (and it may be that they screw up and give it to Jeter, btw). But not the way Papi thinks they will. HE DOES NOT DESERVE IT THIS YEAR. Nor did he deserve it last year.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 12:31 pm
  • Incidently, you have to put ARod’s 2003 (?) stats into context. Who was his competition that year, and what were their stats?
    ARod did what he did in 2003 as a shortstop, too, and IIRC he was a good defensive SS. On the other hand, those stats were compiled in part in Arlington, so some ballpark adjustment should be factored in (though this may also be true of Papi this year).
    I think ARod won that MVP in Texas simply because nobody else had a very good year and he was far and away the best all-around player in the AL. That is my recollection. I could be wrong, though.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 12:35 pm
  • Hear, hear, Rob.

    Sam M September 11, 2006, 1:16 pm
  • I can’t imagine that the BBWA would take kindly to an open campaign for the award that Papi seems to be launching here (with the kind of backhanded putdown of Jeter’s offensive numbers, without taking into account that they’re different players, hitting in different spots, paid to do different things).
    This is just so out of character for him. I am a huge YF, but have a lot of respect for Ortiz. This seems like something he should have said “no comment” to.

    YFinBeantown September 11, 2006, 1:22 pm
  • I wonder if Ortiz’s comments have anything to do with his team falling out of contention. Shouldn’t he be helping his team try and make the playoffs? I mean he acknowledges that if they make it, it would make his case much better and surely lock up that MVP trophy that he yearns so much. You do not see Jeter discussing his MVP chances for a reason.

    Seth September 11, 2006, 1:59 pm
  • This whole issue of “not being in contention” is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately position w/r/t the Sox, right? The Sox were “contending” for the playoffs as late as the end of August, truthfully. Only in the last couple weeks did they seal their own fate. They will finish second, six to eight games away from the wild card. In 2002 the Rangers finished 31 games out of the division lead, 21 out of the WC, and in 2003 they finished 25 games back in the division, 24 back of the WC. The Sox aren’t even close to that bad, all our whining aside. Where would they be without Papi? They would have been out of it in June and likely staring at record comparable to those Texas teams.
    All that being said, I am still not sure that Papi should win the award (I do buy into the position playing criterion somewhat), but it’s not because the Sox weren’t “in contention”. They were, for about 75% of the season.

    SF September 11, 2006, 2:06 pm
  • I have long argued on this site that the MVP should simply be awarded to the player who has the best year, performance-wise. “Value to team” independent of performance has always seemed entirely unquantifiable, and the idea that a deserving candidate might be dismissed simply because the rest of his team does not reach expectation seems absurd. Travis Hafner, it seems, is getting the raw end of this stick; he seems not to be even a candidate, while Justin Morneau (nevermind Jeter or Papi or Dye) is getting strong contention, despite clearly inferior numbers. (If he wins it, he’ll have Johan Santana to thank).
    I’m sympathetic to Papi’s plight here (if not the moaning). One season the award is given to the best player statistically; another year it goes to a team guy. There’s no rhyme or reason, and you can fogive him if he feels he’s been the victim of this arbitratiness.
    All that said, Alex deserved his MVP last year, and there’s a very real argument that Derek Jeter deserves it this year, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s “The Captain” on a division leading team, and everything to do with the incredible offensive numbers he’s put up this year, all while playing the most difficult position on the field, besides catcher.

    YF September 11, 2006, 2:15 pm
  • YF and I have long argued about the MVP, but in this case I am shocked (actually, not at all, unfortunately) that YF would begin to plant the “Jeter should win the MVP” award seeds. Jeter, great year and all, is not the best performing player in the AL. By statistical measures and by YF’s own definition he should not win the award (ok, the season’s not over yet, but let’s indulge). Homer, thy name is YF.
    On almost every other point I agree with YF, though. Does anyone really want to hear a multi-millionaire on a team with, at this point, almost no playoff hopes complaining (in advance of the award not being given to him, which isn’t even determined yet, at that!) about the chance that he might not win an individual award? From Papi, especially, this is disappointing.

    SF September 11, 2006, 2:24 pm
  • Rob, my recollection on the 2003 MVP is the same as yours. There were no other great candidates.
    Seth, I, too, would like to know the context of Papi’s comments.
    Now, I’m fed up with the DH vs. non-DH argument. Claiming someone is less deserving because he primarily serves as a DH is not a reason; it is rationalizing.
    The same would be true if I said that Jeter is less deserving because the Yankees have all of those great bats in the lineup, so how can you single out one person?
    The DH IS A POSITION! Punishing someone for being a DH is rationalizing. Last year, for example, I was much more accepting of those who said they thought Rodriguez had a better season than Ortiz (although I disagreed), than those who threw in the lame DH argument.
    Has anyone ever been denied the MVP because he was a crappy fielder? I say this with much assurance: If Rodriguez were having the same offensive season as last year, no one would be saying he wasn’t deserving of the MVP because he stinks on defense this year.
    Ortiz does what he’s expected to do: He drives in runs and wins games, and he does it better than anyone else in the AL.
    If I voted (and the vote was today):
    1. Ortiz
    2. Dye
    3. Morneau
    4. Santana
    5. Jeter

    I'm Bill McNeal September 11, 2006, 2:37 pm
  • Count me amongst those who don’t like the “he’s not playing for a contender” argument. Hafner and Sizemore are on my list. Hafner is now out for the season, though, and thus will miss quite a few games. I think that will likely be enough to knock him out. Had he remained healthy, however… he probably should have won. Note that he, like Papi, is a DH. I adjust for position, but I think even w/o a position, Hafner might have been the best (again, if he’d stayed healthy and productive). The same is not true of Ortiz. Papi is the 2nd best DH in the league, and there are other mashers who play positions (Dye, Manny) who hit just as well and contribute defensively.
    Sizemore is a more interesting case. Important defensive position? Check. Good at that position? Check. Great hitter? Check. That puts him up there with Mauer and Jeter. That he plays for Cleveland just doesn’t matter to me. There may be reasons to pick Mauer or Jeter over him, but that isn’t one of them.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 2:37 pm
  • “This whole issue of “not being in contention” is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately position…”
    Not sure what you mean by “Johnny-come lately”. The award is decided at the end of the year, taking into account the entire season. Races, of all kinds, are decided by who finishes first at the END, not by who leads the longest. I don’t buy into the notion that a team is a true contender that contends for the first 75% of the season and then falters in the most important part of the season. If that’s true then KC and Tampa were bona-fide contenders at some point in the season. PRETENDER is more applicable to Boston.
    The “Where would Team X be..” equation is about being a difference-maker. And in that sense, Papi did not make a difference in the ultimate plight of the Red Sox. You are essentially talking about the difference between ‘out of it’ and ‘really out of it.’

    lp September 11, 2006, 2:38 pm
  • “Jeter, great year and all, is not the best performing player in the AL. By statistical measures and by YF’s own definition he should not win the award”
    I simply don’t agree with those statements. I’m not saying Jeter is a clear MVP as the best player in the league this year, but there’s a legitimate argument to be made that he is, using a combination of VORP, Win Shares, and other statistical metrics. To just dismiss his candidacy, I think, is wrong.

    YF September 11, 2006, 2:39 pm
  • “Now, I’m fed up with the DH vs. non-DH argument. Claiming someone is less deserving because he primarily serves as a DH is not a reason; it is rationalizing.”
    No, it’s not. A DH contributes *nothing* defensively. A player who plays the field contributes defensively, and thus their overall value is more if the hitting is equal. Where it gets interesting is when the hitting is not equal. A DH, in my view, must out-hit a position player in order to be more valueable. How much the DH must out-hit them by depends on the other players’ position, and how well they play that position. For instance, a DH must out hit a slick fielding defensive SS (say, A-Gon) by a LOT, but a mediocre defensive SS (Jeter) by somewhat less. He must out-hit a 1B or corner outfielder by a little. How much, exactly, are “a lot” and “a little” ? I confess I don’t really know. That’s where it gets murky and subjective. Also, baserunning counts for something (although much less than hitting and defense).
    “Has anyone ever been denied the MVP because he was a crappy fielder?”
    Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. I argue, and will always argue, for the way I think things SHOULD be, not the way they’ve been. I mean, seriously, Juan Gonzalez won the MVP. Twice! Ugh.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 2:41 pm
  • You know it’s a tight MVP race when someone like Paul Konerko gets totally neglected, because he’s _only_ hitting .312/.384 with 32 HRs and 103 RBI for a contending team.

    airk September 11, 2006, 2:43 pm
  • Oh, and one more thing, Mr. McNeal:
    You put Morneau 3rd?!?!?!
    Morneau is the 3rd best candidate on his team! Mauer and Santana are more valueable than he is, clearly. Morneau *might* be top 10 in the league, but no way is he top 5.
    And how does Manny Ramirez not even make your list, when Ortiz is #1? He’s out-hit Papi and has at least played the OF.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 2:43 pm
  • I’m conflicted for the same reasons SF is. I’m a MVP literalist (if you want a player of the year award, you already have one — it’s called The Sporting News Player of the Year Award), and the Red Sox clearly are not a playoff-bound team. However, they were a team in contention for the vast majority of the season — not only that, they had one of the top three records in baseball for most of the season. So there is something to be said for the Sox being a second-place team and whatnot.
    What hurt Ortiz more than anything was the 10-day layoff, which did nothing really except allow Ryan Howard to steal all the slugging spotlight. Had Ortiz hit just 3 home runs during that 10-game span, he’d have 51, gotten press for breaking the Sox’ single-season record and kept his name alive. MVP is more about Most Valuable Publicity during the stretch run than anything…
    The only way Ortiz wins it now, in my mind, is 1. He goes on a tear and hits 55 home runs, 2. Jeter funks out while Damon or A-Rod steps up, 3. and/or all the other MVP candidates cancel each other out.
    For an example of No. 3, it seems unrealistic that a Twin will win it because in the nine posts above mine, three different Twins have been suggested. A three-way split vote all but guarantees someone else will win the MVP. A Yankee very well could deserve it, but Jeter is behind Rivera, Wang and probably Damon and Abreu when it comes down to most valuable Yankee (after all, if we penalize Ortiz for the last two months of the season, it seems only fair to reward Abreu for his value to the Yankees the last two months, no?) That said, the New York media machine has thrown its considerable weight behind Jeter (and he is having a great year, no doubt), so he’s become the favorite.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 2:50 pm
  • lp:
    I do think there’s a difference between a team that is in the running until September and a team that is dead in the water in May. Playing with pressure later in the season (yes, August is later in the season) is worth something. Playing with no pressure for 100 games is something else. Excluding this as a partial factor in the voting is limiting.
    That’s also something about this MVP debate that makes me a little nuts sometimes. The criteria for MVP is ambiguous: “value”. YF has in the past stated that he thinks the best player is ALWAYS the most valuable. So by that measure Jeter is not the MVP: he’s simply NOT the best player in the AL, though he is having a stellar season and is one of the best (no shame in that, right?). This is why YF laying the groudwork for his own Jeter-support is somewhat disappointing to me, not that he cares.
    I personally think that value, in the minds of the voters, is absolutely altered by a team’s position and the context of the lineup, fairly and unfairly. It always has been this way, and until baseball establishes a corollary award for “MOP” it will always be this way, hence the definition of the MVP is some sort of ambiguous contextual/decontextual amalgam. If a team has 9 all-stars, then the elimination of one of those all-stars can’t help but have a different effect on the team than if the team has only four all-stars. On the other hand, I do agree with YF who, if I am reading him correctly, believes that a great player shouldn’t be punished just because he’s surrounded by greatness or by weakness. Which brings me back to my annoyance at those who think the MVP only defines one thing, whether it’s being the “best” or being the most “clutch”. The MVP is voted for based on some things very tangible, some things intangible, and if we are trying to predict who might win it we have to factor in all of those things.

    SF September 11, 2006, 2:53 pm
  • Having perused the stats some more, I’d like to alter one thing I said above:
    Hafner wouldn’t have been my choice even if he hadn’t gotten hurt. He’d have been up there, but I’d probably have chosen Mauer over him.
    Hafner: .308/.439/.659. Best hitter in the league. DH. But damn, can he hit. So can these guys, though…
    Manny: .318/.436/.612. Yawn. Another incredible year from Manny. Bad LF, though. Still a great player, and legit candidate.
    Dye: .328/.394/.649. Wow. What might have been if not for that foul ball off his leg in the playoffs? He’s in the mix. RF.
    Ortiz: .288/.402/.633. 2nd best DH in the league, being out-hit by a LF and RF. Some extra credit for clutchness, but it isn’t enough, sorry.
    Mauer: .350/.431/.509. This man is a catcher. This man is, as of right now, my choice for MVP.
    Sizemore: .295/.380/.540. CF, and as far as I can tell, a pretty good one. Wow. Dunno about his baserunning… should check.
    Jeter: .345/.419/.493., plus great baserunning. SS, albeit a mediocre defender. Still, that’s pretty awesome from your SS. Contender, but not the winner as of now, to me.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 2:53 pm
  • One other thing: I don’t see how Ortiz not playing the field can just be eliminated from consideration by Sox and Ortiz partisans. If we are going to criticize a guy like Jeter for not being a good enough fielder, then Ortiz not even taking the field to play a position absolutely, positively has to be a strike against him. The DH is, technically, a “position”, but who are we kidding by trying to create some sort of equivalency between that position and, say, shortstop. Come on…

    SF September 11, 2006, 3:00 pm
  • Bill’s 100 percent right.
    The only time I ever heard defense as a measure of MVP consideration was last year, which means to me that it was an argument of convenience, not a tried and true measure of greatness.
    Mo Vaughn beat Albert Belle in 1995 despite inferior offensive numbers and atrocious defense because of one factor: He piled up the stats in the thick of the Sox’ pennant rwac, while Belle got hot after the Indians wrapped up the division (personality may have had something to do with it, but I think that was before Belle’s various troubles). Defense was not a factor. It never has been. If David Ortiz were a first baseman and was crappy at it (thus costing his team more than if he were off the field entirely), this aspect of the conversation wouldn’t even be taking place.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:02 pm
  • One more thing (ok, I lied about that “one more thing” in the last post): I HATE that pitchers are dismissed because they don’t play every day. “Pitching wins championships” is the cliche. But god forbid a starting pitcher won the MVP…

    SF September 11, 2006, 3:02 pm
  • “pennant race” I should say.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:03 pm
  • SF,
    I believe you are right in that there is a difference between a team that is out of it in Sept compared to May. However, the Sox weren’t playing playoff baseball until September when the Yankees came in and stole the pennant. They were sliding before August. And in the wildcard era, if you’re out of it by Sept 1, you’re really out of it.
    That aside, I agree that there are too many contradictions in the definition and scope of the award. But then again, if it were easy and straightforward, we wouldn’t have such a debate that spotlights so many players at this time of year, when baseball needs it most.
    And Rob, if I’m not mistaken, Manny leads all outfielders in assists. No? Also Dye is a little bit more than just in the mix. He’s one of the leaders for me.

    lp September 11, 2006, 3:04 pm
  • Paul, forget for a second last year’s discussion about MVP. How can defense ability not be a factor in assessing a player’s value?
    The answer is that OF COURSE IT IS. So NOT PLAYING DEFENSE has to hurt a player’s value. Unless of course they are so bad in the field that they would hurt their team, which tells us something about a player’s inherent abilities.
    I love Ortiz, but I fail to see how this fact doesn’t get at least some consideration.

    SF September 11, 2006, 3:04 pm
  • “Bill’s 100 percent right.
    The only time I ever heard defense as a measure of MVP consideration…”
    Why does what has been done in the past matter so much? What if it’s been done wrong in the past?
    Mo Vaughn winning the MVP, by the way, was a travesty.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:05 pm
  • Paul: Yes, there is an award for outstanding player, but the polarities are reversed between it and the MVP. The POY should be the major award, the team-value award should be the far-less significant trophy.
    SF: Yes, I would stand by the argument that the best player is the most valuable player. We can have an argument about whether Jeter or Papi or Mauer or Hafner is that man (and I really don’t see why you would be “disappointed” by my assertion) based on performance criteria. My position on this has not changed.

    YF September 11, 2006, 3:05 pm
  • Dye is further up the list than Rob gives him credit for, I think… And Manny is a better defender than he gets credit for, as well.
    I think we all agree the problem is you can pick out tons of examples from past voting that seems to invaldate someone’s idea of what the MVP award should be. (My 1995 example contradicting the A-Rod last-place MVP, and Juan Gon’s two awards contradicting last year’s A-Rod selection).

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:06 pm
  • “And Rob, if I’m not mistaken, Manny leads all outfielders in assists. No?”
    That doesn’t mean he’s a good fielder. It’s a point in his favor, but as someone who watches most Sox games (my wife is a Sox fan), it’s clear that Manny has those assists for two reasons:
    1) People run on him b/c his defensive rep is poor and he sometimes misplays balls.
    2) LF in Fenway is, um, TINY.
    He has an accurate, if not particularly strong, arm. He has bad range, though, and that’s more important. Nobody – scouts, or any of the various defensive metrics, rate Manny as anything but a bad defender. Even if you try to adjust for the oddity that is LF in Fenway (I hear that the defensive metrics can be “fooled” by the Monster, and unfairly rate Manny worse than he really is, which makes sense to me).

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:08 pm
  • “Mo Vaughn winning the MVP, by the way, was a travesty.”
    iI don’t know about that Rob. If you saw those Sox teams before Mo finally put life into their lineups, it was clear they were going nowhere. He was the driving force of a division-winning team, and he was hottest when the Sox most needed it. I don’t remember there being any candidates other than Belle, who was one of several offensive forces on that Cleveland team and he didn’t even start hitting until after the Tribe had the division locked. You could certainly make a case for Belle, but the voters — in that instance at least — clearly wanted value over numbers.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:09 pm
  • On defense. Just to be clear, there are plenty of metrics that are position dependent; ie, they take into consideration a player’s defensive contribution, whether positive, negative, or neither. Win Shares, for example, credits defensive performance. So to does, VORP, which measures the value of a player relative to a standard replacement player at his own position. To say that we have no way to quantify defensive value is not accurate (though no system is perfect), nor is it fair to discount defensive performance.

    YF September 11, 2006, 3:09 pm
  • I think we should consider defense. I’m just saying I don’t think it’s ever been considered before. That of course beings up the whole “Who SHOULD win/Who WILL win” question. Horrible defenders — who cost their teams wins because of their defense — have won MVPs before with nary a peep about their inadequate fielding. Ortiz, who costs his team nothing on the field, gets penalized for it. That’s a double standard.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:13 pm
  • No, it’s really not. A guy who can play a position well enough to at least take the field is more valueable defensively than a DH. Seriously, why is this even an argument? A DH provides the least defensive value of any “position” player.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:15 pm
  • I agree. Eliminating defense as a consideration is absurd. It’s part of baseballl. It’s convenient, I would say, especially if you want a DH to win the thing.
    Does the NL have a different definition of MVP, since they have no DH?

    SF September 11, 2006, 3:15 pm
  • I should note that my review above was just the hitters. One more guy is in the mix: Santana. He’s been that good. Dunno if he should win it, but he deserves consideration.
    At least they won’t be able to screw him out of the Cy Young this year.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:18 pm
  • I can’t remember off-hand, but assuming an NL pitcher has won the MVP, did anyone discuss their batting prowess? Just a thought…
    Maybe the argument should be we need a clear set of guidelines for picking the MVP (no fun at all), but while I acknowledge that defense is of great value to a team (where would the Sox be without Lowell-Gonzo-Loretta-Youk on the diamond? I shudder to think), the BBWAA seems to not at all acknowledge this except in the limited and altogether shallow DH-nonDH sense (what about a non-DH with below average defense?).

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:20 pm
  • To echo Rob and SF, the MVP this year is Santana. Without him, the twins are rolling out Brad Radke and his dangling arm, 3 rookies, and my grandmother’s corpse. He has brought them back from their horrendous start to nearly catching the Tigers.
    Hitting is nice, but pitching wins championships. Time for BBWA to acknowledge that.

    YFinBeantown September 11, 2006, 3:25 pm
  • Amen, YFiB!!!

    SF September 11, 2006, 3:26 pm
  • Rob,
    I’m not going to get into a ‘is Manny a bad defender’ debate, as the same debate could be waged over Jeter, utilizing many of the same controversial measures. The assists stat is certainly a point in Manny’s favor in terms of defense. Not every Red Sox LFer leads that category every year. Manny still has to make the plays and he deserves more credit than “Nobody” rating him as anything but a bad defender. Similarly, the notion that people run on him because they think he’s bad (when he’s not) is about as twisted as much of the post-invasion Neo-Con spin on the rationale for the Iraq War.

    lp September 11, 2006, 3:26 pm
  • If my wife has only one job and makes 100K a year, and I have two jobs and make 125K a year, I am more valuable to our family. If my two jobs bring in only 75K a year, she is more valuable to the family. The MVP is the same way. If Ortiz, Hafner or Thome brings home more bacon by DHing than Jeter, Mauer, or Manny brings home with two jobs, they deserve the award. In every advanced comprehensive metric, the DH’s are not hitting enough to outpace the other Jeter, Mauer and Manny’s two-headed outputs.
    The reliance on triple crown stats and OPS may well be who WILL the award but it doesn’t come close to showing who SHOULD win the award. Jeter’s candidacy could not be more statiscally legit. To deny that is pure folly.

    JD YF September 11, 2006, 3:27 pm
  • It seems that MVPs only go to pitchers when there is a dearth of hitting candidates (certainly not the case this year). I mean, Ivan Rodriguez over Pedro Martinez in 1999? Geez.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 3:27 pm
  • “I can’t remember off-hand, but assuming an NL pitcher has won the MVP, did anyone discuss their batting prowess?”
    They should consider it. It’s part of the player’s value. If a pitcher actually hit a little bit (like Mike Hampton did for a few years) and was also a great pitcher, I could see that being a valid tie-breaker between two similar pitchers. It’s worth a lot less than their pitching, though, because a pitcher just won’t have many plate appearances. Even if they hit a ton, they will get so few PAs that the impact should be small.
    I agree that the defensive side of things is applied inconsistently, and that the BBWAA is a bunch of morons, Paul.
    DH’s are not the only ones who should be penalized for their lack of defensive contribution. SS’s are not the only ones who should get extra credit. How well you field your position should factor in as well, obviously. But that would require that people figure out that Derek Jeter and Manny Ramirez are not Gold Glove defenders, which is yet another can of worms.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:29 pm
  • lp,
    I’m not going to get into a ‘is Manny a bad defender’ debate, as the same debate could be waged over Jeter, utilizing many of the same controversial measures. The assists stat is certainly a point in Manny’s favor in terms of defense. Not every Red Sox LFer leads that category every year. Manny still has to make the plays and he deserves more credit than “Nobody” rating him as anything but a bad defender. Similarly, the notion that people run on him because they think he’s bad (when he’s not) is about as twisted as much of the post-invasion Neo-Con spin on the rationale for the Iraq War.”
    1. Neither Jeter nor Manny is a good defensive player. I’m a Jeter fan. He’s not a good defender. Ok?
    2. I’m not getting political here (suffice it to say that I probably agree with you in that arena), but I fail to see how my logic is twisted. For one thing, there were two parts of my argument regarding the assists. For another, do you dispute that players will run on guys they think are poor defenders? Do you dispute that this results in more chances for assists? Why do you think Melky Cabrera has 12 assists? Part of it is that he has a very good arm. But primarily it’s due to the fact that he struggled mightily out in the OF at first, and lots of teams ran on him. He leads the league, by the way. Manny is tied for 3rd, with 7.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 3:34 pm
  • The fact that Manny CAN PLAY LEFT AT ALL is EXTREMELY VALUABLE! It allows your “MVP” to DH everyday! Jeter playing short allows Torre to construct the best offense in baseball! If Manny had to DH, or Jeter had to play third, neither the Yanks nor the Red Sox would be as good as they are. You guys are so hung up on ranking defensive skills (with pretty much no credible evidence to boot) you are failing to notice the inherent value of defensive contribution. Do not isolate and ranks and therefore measure the relative opportunity cost of playing Manny in left over Adam Stern. Measure the overall success of the Red Sox with Manny and Oritz in the lineup versus Stern and Ortiz. Manny’s defense is a huge part of the recent Red Sox success.

    JD YF September 11, 2006, 3:35 pm
  • Thanks to JD, I am no longer needed here.

    YF September 11, 2006, 3:42 pm
  • Rob,
    I don’t think it’s fair to penalize Manny for his reputation (as you’ve interpreted it), especially when he dispels it by throwing people out. That’s what I think is twisted. You’re saying that one of the only reasons he has so many assists is because people think he sucks and try to take second on him. If he were not up to the challenge then you’d have a point along those lines.
    But the fact that he’s cashed in on that and converted a negative perception to tangible numbers which contradict those perceptions should never be used against him.
    Sorry about the Neo-Con comparison. That was extreme, albeit along the same lines of logic.

    lp September 11, 2006, 4:05 pm
  • But I’m not penalizing him for his rep. I’m saying that his overall defensive stats are bad, and the assists (last year and this year, anyway) are really the only bright spot. I then added that the assists are in part a factor of what he does do badly, which is really a small thing, all in all. The assists ARE a point in his favor. He still has to make the throws, and he does this with accuracy. Good for him.
    However, last year he had 17 assists… and 7 errors with bad range. That’s not a good LF. This year he has 7 assists and 2 errors with bad range. That’s still not a good LF.
    Further, there is the Fenway factor. LF in Fenway is tiny, because of the Monster. Manny’s range numbers are likely skewed against him because of it, but at the same time, his assists are clearly boosted b/c for him a throw to 2B is a flick of the wrist. To home plate isn’t exactly a long throw either, for a MLer.
    Even if you boost his range factor (or other defensive metrics) to account for the wall, he’s a poor defender.
    Thus, he’s not as terrible as some of the stats rate him. There we agree. But he’s certainly below average. I react to the assists argument rather strongly for a couple of reasons:
    1) Manny had one really good year for assists, 2005. Due to the nature of such things, it was likely a fluke due to three things – the two I mentioned and a third: random fluctuation. Yet this is trotted out as evidence of Manny being a good defender.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 4:27 pm
  • Look, this is not about eliminating defense as a consideration. This is about punishing a DH because he does not play the field.
    It’s rationalizing, it’s convenient and it’s crap.
    LF in Fenway is tough because of the wall. Again, you are rationalizing.
    Mauer as MVP would be sad. Nice .350, but power numbers pale to Morneau’s.

    I'm Bill McNeal September 11, 2006, 4:31 pm
  • By a syllogism I have just painstakingly completed in my otherwise fried brain, I have come to the conclusion that the DH’s contribution on defense is, at the most, equivalent to the worst defender on his team. This is because his slot in the line-up could/should be taken the worst fielder on his team. In the case of the Sox, that’s probably Manny. Ortiz could very well be a good defender (he’s probably not) but that’s besides the point. The Sox have chosen him to fill the DH spot and thus the quantifiable contribution he makes on defense is by forcing his team to play its worse fielder. In other words, if Jeter DH’d all the time, his defensive contribution would be equal to the sum of Bernie and Giambi’s games in the field.
    Ergo, Derek Jeter!

    Nick-YF September 11, 2006, 4:31 pm
  • Ack, I didn’t quite finish my last post on Manny’s defense, but I’ll let that rest. It’s just not that important. The wall does flukey things to the numbers, but it is beyond me how anyone can seriously consider Manny as even average defensively. Enough with the debate, though, as I can see it will never end.
    On to Bill:
    Let’s leave out Ortiz and Jeter, ok? Let’s consider that we are each fans of the Sox and Yanks it is thus difficult to be totally objective. I can tell you all day that I’m not out to penalize Ortiz and you won’t believe me. Fine, let’s go with Mauer vs. Morneau.
    First of all, even if you ignore position, Mauer and Morneau have almost identical OPS:
    .350/.431/.509 for an OPS of .940 for Mauer
    .320/.375/.578 for an OPS of .953 for Morneau.
    I agree with those who argue that OBP is a bit more valueable than SLG. Mauer makes less outs than Morneau, and to me, that makes up the gap in SLG. So I’d call those hitting stats basically dead even. Maybe even a slight advantage to Mauer.
    Then there is the position element. Catcher is a much more important and difficult position than 1B. 1B is generally manned by immobile slugs like Jason Giambi, and there are tons of first basemen who hit a ton. Giambi, Morneau, Konerko. You can put just about anybody at 1B and they can be a decent fielder (Craig Wilson and Aaron Guiel have both played the position well as Yankees, although they are OFers by trade). The same cannot be said of playing Catcher.
    At Catcher, in terms of hitting, it’s Mauer… [massive gap]… Victor Martinez and Jorge Posada. The gap is immense.
    At 1B, Morneau is 2nd behind Giambi in OPS, and Konerko is *right* on his heels.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 4:53 pm
  • Yup. You’re fried.

    I'm Bill McNeal September 11, 2006, 4:54 pm
  • OK, Rob. You win.
    You think about this WAY more than I do.
    (That should only be read as slight sarcasm.)

    I'm Bill McNeal September 11, 2006, 4:57 pm
  • Heh, I think about this far too much, I know. This is what happens when my boss calls in sick. ;)
    Given the slightest excuse to think about and debate baseball, I will.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 4:58 pm
  • fried and right

    Nick-YF September 11, 2006, 5:02 pm
  • Ok. I wanted to measure our respective teams’ candidates by looking at Bill James’ “Stolen Base Runs Created” statistic. This, independent of defensive position, can give us some sense of the difference between Ortiz and Jeter that takes into account some portion of Jeter’s baserunning abilities, particularly his fantastic stolen base percentage this year. For the uninformed the SBRC stat can be seen here:
    and it is the following:
    RC = (H+BB-CS) x (TB + .55SB) all divided by (AB + BB).
    Ok, so I don’t know the ultimate limitations of this stat, but let’s just assume that Bill James is somewhat knowledgable, and that this stat is useful and informative. By this measure (and someone can check my math on these, for sure) the following is learned:
    to date runs created, Derek Jeter: 116.80
    to date runs created, David Ortiz: 128.35
    (in 1999, Jeter’s “robbed MVP year”, his conventional runs created was 149, for reference.)
    This tells me something that we all already knew: Jeter is having an awesome offensive year. It also tells us that no matter how awesome, and no matter what position, and based on this one (limited, of course) statistic, he’s still not as productive as Ortiz offensively, even though Papi doesn’t do anything on the basepaths (I imagine this is a surprise to many people). He is therefore less valuable to his team, measured by this limited but useful statistic. BUT: This is in a vacuum. We don’t live in a vacuum. So from that point you must then consider defense. If Jeter is even remotely capable (which he might be now that he’s attained general mediocrity), then he’s probably a more valuable player than Ortiz, since he allows another player to produce at DH. But I don’t have any clue how to quantify that.
    Look at that: Jeter shown to be more valuable to his team. By a SF. Who’d have thunk it.

    SF September 11, 2006, 5:16 pm
  • SF broke that down perfectly. That was such a magnanimous gesture on his part that I’m close to tears.

    Nick-YF September 11, 2006, 5:18 pm
  • *applause*

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 11, 2006, 5:21 pm
  • Hey, we’re more concerned with the truth here at YFSF than we are with magnanimity, but that’s neither here nor there.
    oh, and there were WMDs in Iraq, too. I just can’t prove it… ;-)

    SF September 11, 2006, 5:26 pm
  • Good thinking SF. You can just go to thehardballtimes.com for all the Bill Jamesian stats, including win shares which is a flawed (but honest and still hugely useful) attempt to combine the advanced runs created formula with defensive production.
    According to THT’s runs created, through 9/10, Jeter had created 122 runs (second in the AL to Hafner’s 124) and Ortiz is tied for 4th with Dye and Thome with 111. Adding defense into this analysis, Jeter has some cushion on Papi.

    JD YF September 11, 2006, 5:35 pm
  • And another thing: look at the Runs Created per Game stat at Hardball Times: Ortiz produces at a rate of 8.4/game, while a certain artifically enhanced lug down in the Bronx produces at a rate of 8.9/game. How many SFs would EVER want to admit that he of the bizarrely active pituitary is more productive than Ortiz, on any level?

    SF September 11, 2006, 5:51 pm
  • Frankly, SF, that makes me question the validity of the stat. Is it just because he only walks and hits home runs? Or is it because he’s coasting in on his output from earlier this year?
    I know batting average is an overrated stat, but someone whose average is .249 (boosted by April and May, the only two months in which he’s hit above .260) — I have a hard time beliving can be that valuable.

    Paul SF September 11, 2006, 6:11 pm
  • So does this mean you are no-longer disapponted with me, SF?

    YF September 11, 2006, 6:44 pm
  • In 1998 Juan Gon (45 147) won the MVP, but Griffey with 10 more jacks (56 146) placed 4th behind Nomar and Jeter. Texas was a little over 10 games over .500 and 1st, and Seattle about 10 under .500 and 3rd
    Ortiz is not the MVP

    Seth September 11, 2006, 7:07 pm
  • No, I will always be disappointed in you: you are a Yankees fan, and therefore suffer from a fatal flaw that I cannot undo despite all my powers of good. Also, I am disappointed that you didn’t do all that math and therefore I had to…
    Paul: I only present that one stat to show that there’s a whole wealth of information out there that fleshes out players beyond one dimension, not to say that it’s the end-all of measurements. With Jeter, however, it’s fair to say that there are many measurements which one can use to explain a legitimate position backing him as the MVP. But you have to admit: Giambi is an on-base machine (batting average can be like wins for pitchers, not telling us the full story of a hitter’s usefulness).

    SF September 11, 2006, 7:31 pm
  • Am I the only SF who thinks the possibility of Jeter winning another Gold Glove will be the bigger travesty? Jeter is a consistent, professional hitter playing an important role on a playoff contender. I’ve personally seen several occasions of him coming through in the clutch for the Yanks and yelled at the TV every time. He may not be the MVP, but he deserves to be in the discussion, easily. Personally, even with the non-validity of the voting for Gold Gloves (see Palmeiro, Rafael), it is the area in which he would be extremely undeserving (see Gonzalez, Alex also Uribe, Juan, also Betancourt, Yuniesky), and the award he could win that would be most likely to get my blood a-boilin’.

    Quo September 11, 2006, 9:10 pm
  • …here’s the deal: you have a handful of great players having great years, who have contributed in different ways to the success of their teams, and no clear definition of what makes a player “most valuable”…I’m a yankee fan, but I happen to like ortiz…but given the quality of the other candidates, another winner wouldn’t give me any heartburn….

    Anonymous September 11, 2006, 11:21 pm
  • Jeter’s response:
    “I don’t have to do it in his lineup,” Jeter said. “I’m not thinking about winning the MVP. I’m just thinking about winning the division. No one’s focus here is on individual awards. We’ve got something to play for.”
    I don’t really think that needs any comment.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) September 12, 2006, 8:24 am
  • …wait ’til next year papi…

    dc September 12, 2006, 9:04 am
  • …and change your nickname to “big babi”…

    dc September 12, 2006, 9:34 am

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