Who is the most valuable player in the game? This year, the BBWAA chose Justin Morneau in the AL and Ryan Howard in the NL. To most serious fans—nevermind Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols—those choices were way off base, and have prompted a good deal of discussion about the overthrow of the current voting system. But to what? Well, it turns out baseball already has an “mvp” scoring system in place. The Elias Sports Bureau actually ranks every player in baseball, and these rankings are then used, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to determine what category players will be placed in when they are free agents. So, in fact, baseball has a scientific system for determining player value, and it is one that the League and the PA have both agreed to. Sounds like a pretty good solution, right? Probably. The catch: Elias does not, at least to my knowledge, publish the formula by which they arrive at their ranking system. (I could be wrong on this.) Moreover, the system grades players on their previous two years of play, so the current rankings are for combined 2005 and 2006 performances. These are minor issues; the system, presumably, could be rejiggered so it ranks by single year performance, and the criteria published. This might not eliminate controversy entirely, but it least it would establish a fair, open process.

Interestingly, as noted in an earlier thread, the first time MLB tried to impose a stratified classification system on the players—with pay corresponding to class level—the players revolted, quitting the National League en masse to form a new league, the Players’ League, which lasted for one glorious season in 1890 before it was reabsorbed into the NL after a vicious public battle. The quick rise and fall of the PL is recounted fully in Spalding’s World Tour which would makes a fine stocking stufffer, in our opinion.

Oh yeah. We should probably let you know who Elias thinks are baseball’s MVPs. The results may surprise you. A lot.

MVP 2005-2006

Johan Santana: 96.569
Vladimir Guerero: 95.278
Michael Young: 94.156

Top Yanks:
Mariano Rivera: 92.667
Derek Jeter: 91.558
Bobby Abreu: 89.444
Alex Rodriguez: 87.013

Top Red Sox:
Manny Ramirez: 93.750
David Ortiz: 93.333

Albert Pujols: 100
Chris Carpenter: 97.222
Roy Oswalt: 96.487
Jason Bay: 96
Matt Holiday: 95.111

The complete list is here.

2 comments… add one
  • The problem, as I see it, would be that if MLB adopted such a formula and published it, it would become nothing more than another statistical race, winner determined after each team’s final regular-season game, like any home run or batting average contest. That wouldn’t be nearly as fun, and I think it ultimately would hurt the popularity of the award.
    Incidentally, J.D. Drew: 85.111, seventh among outfielders and first basemen in the NL, and good for what would have been eighth-best in the AL — better than Jermane Dye, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, etc. Considering the time missed in 2005, that’s particularly impressive.

    Paul SF December 3, 2006, 2:21 pm
  • Ya, no transparency is my big beef.
    Of course, Matsui and Sheff also missed tons of time in 2006, so it’s not hard to see..
    Derek Jeter is pretty high up there it seems, considering the position he plays, and actually is better than 3B’s. That part is odd..

    Lar December 3, 2006, 2:30 pm

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