Blog Entry

How do we really define 'value?'

Posted on: September 23, 2011 8:41 pm

By Matt Snyder

As the end of the 2011 baseball season is now less than a week away, it's becoming more and more clear that the MVP debates are going to include a healthy amount of "value" discussion -- much more than in previous seasons. Throw out the stats because how you define who should be allowed to be MVP tells you who to vote for this season. The best position player in each respective league is playing for a team that hasn't been in contention for the playoffs for a majority of the season. If you believe pitchers are eligible to win the award, well, you have your AL vote, too. If you believe the MVP has to be a position player from a team in contention, again, the field is rather limited (well, I guess you'd have to pick between two teammates in the NL).

So with so many others giving us their definition of value, I figured I'd outline mine.

If I had an MVP vote in the American League, I'd vote for Jose Bautista. His Blue Jays entered Friday night 16 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and nine behind the Red Sox in the wild card. At 79-77, they're most certainly not a bad team, but they've been out of contention for the entire second half.

If I had an MVP vote in the National League, I'd vote for Matt Kemp. His Dodgers are 11 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They're 9 1/2 games behind the Braves in the wild card. At 78-77, they're most certainly not a bad team, but they've been out of contention for the entire second half.

Now, this is where the dissenters start calling me every name in the book -- because heaven forbid we ever actually respectfully disagree with someone's opinion. The argument will include fallacies like the Blue Jays and Dodgers suck (no, they really don't) and that it's easier to play in meaningless games (no, it's really not). We'll also hear about how "if you removed (Bautista or Kemp) from the (Blue Jays or Dodgers), they'd still not be a playoff team. Just like they aren't a playoff team now."

But you know what I'm going to counter with? Bautista and Kemp are actually more valuable than players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Braun because the supporting cast is bad. For example, the Red Sox were 89-73 last season and Ellsbury only played in 18 games. This season, they'll probably be a small handful of games better, but they also added Adrian Gonzalez. There are far more moving parts because every season is full of complexities, but this a simple way of saying the lineup is loaded and that losing only one guy doesn't handcuff that team. But what if the Blue Jays didn't have Jose Bautista? Would they be even close to .500? Nope. What about the Dodgers without Kemp? They'd be left trying to win every fifth day (when Clayton Kershaw pitches) and otherwise getting their teeth kicked in.

If you're really going to argue that Kemp and Bautista are more "most outstanding player" types than MVP types, you're going to have to tell everyone why a player absolutely carrying an otherwise mediocre offense isn't valuable. If you're going to argue it's easier to put up the kind of numbers these guys have because they aren't in playoff contention, you better argue that if you put Bautista in right field for the Yankees or Kemp in center for the Brewers, they'd somehow be worse players because now they're having to face pressure (nevermind the better protection in the lineup and extra RBI opportunities they'd have).

Also, the argument that it's easier to play in games for a team not in the race is farcical. You know what this argument is? An invented one by fans of teams that are headed to the playoffs. Sorry, guys, it is much easier to show up to the ballpark in a good mindset and play a game when the game actually matters. In a mental game like baseball, that matters. Playing meaningless games makes it more difficult to stay as focused as necessary for each at-bat. Think about the three Monday-Wednesday games next week for players on the Twins, for example. They've got to be ready to close the book on 2011, but still will be professionals and play games.

It's going to be interesting to see how the MVP voting falls in each league, as it's more about defining criteria than picking a player. Tigers' ace Justin Verlander deserves consideration, as does Ellsbury, alongside Bautista in the AL. Like I said, the only debate is what valuable means to you. Kemp has some company, as the Brewers' Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols of the Cardinals and the Reds' Joey Votto could all figure into the mix. Still, it feels like the first-place vote is defined by definition of value. Kemp gets the vote if you don't care about the team being in contention, and if you do, it probably is between Braun and Fielder.

The beauty of this vote is we don't have to agree (hey, I'll be happy if Braun wins, because that's who I predicted would win back in March). It's a subjective award and the criteria of "value" is pretty vague. I respect those who think the MVP has to come from a team in contention, but I just wanted to lay out something I've been thinking about ... that great players surrounded by bad supporting casts are actually more valuable. Just be open-minded and think about it.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:32 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:10 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 8:25 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

Stunning write-up. Numerous handy critical information these. So i'm mailing this method to somewhat of a friends and family!

Since: Oct 17, 2010
Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:35 am

How do we really define 'value?'

Braun & Fielder carried a team. How about duel MVP since between the 2 have almost all the top stats.

Since: Oct 8, 2008
Posted on: September 25, 2011 7:53 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

When there is a season when a guy's number are so superior to all others then despite the team record you can give him the MVP, but this year there are many others that put up comparable numbers to Kemp (Braun, Pujols, Justin Upton) and also to Bautista (Granderson, Cabrera, Gonzalez) so the TEAM records should come into play.

In all honesty why isn't anyone talking about Justin Upton.  Where are the D-backs without him?  Kelly Johnson batted .200, Chris Young was good but not Great, they lost Stephen Drew.    Then look at Michael Young.  Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz missed a ton of time, he played anywhere they asked him to.  Napoli was inconsistent early, Andrus and Kinsler started slow and their pitching isn't much to talk about.   

I can see Kemp winning it, but Baustista only leads in OBP and Walks because he has no protection in the lineup.  He doesn't lead the league in RBI's (with 43 homers?).  

And I disagree, when losing a game by getting caught stealing doesn't affect the results of making the playoffs you are more apt to try to steal bases down by 3 in the 9th, where you won't do that when you are in a penant race.  You are more apt to swing for a homer, when if you K to end the game doesn't hurt your changes as much to make the playoffs because you are out of it.   


Since: Jul 20, 2011
Posted on: September 25, 2011 5:17 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

Manny Ramirez had 165 RBI in 1999, even though, like Sosa, was juiced up to the eyeballs! hehe

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: September 25, 2011 4:56 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp deserve the MVP awards. They mean the world to their respective teams, while all the other candidates seem to have a great supporting cast--unlike Kemp and Bautista. Kershaw could even win the Cy Young, so maybe voters will shy away from the thought of their being a Dodgers sweep of the two biggest awards.

Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: September 25, 2011 2:57 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

Bautista a joke?
Take another look at Bautista there champ. 
He is SO much more than just HR. Aside from being 1st in HR, he is 1st in OBP, 1st in walks, and 1st in OPS. He is BY FAR the best hitter in MLB.
Nothing against Michael Young...I love the guy, but hes not even close to being in Bautista's class.

Since: Jul 23, 2011
Posted on: September 25, 2011 2:45 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

Perhaps the MVP award is misnamed. Andre Dawson won the MVP while playing for the last-place Cubs. That would imply that the award is really for the best stats. Then again, Kirk Gibson won in 1988 with mediocre stats, but there was no denying he infused a not-so-great-on paper Dodgers team with a winning attitude that carried them to a world championship. This year, there is no one whose sheer will carried a team. So I give the award to Kemp. Even without anyone decent hitting behind him to protect him, his numbers are stunning. Add in all the stolen bases to turn singles and walks into doubles and then scoring runs to his RBI's and HR's and average, he has had a season far better than anyone else in the league.

Since: Sep 2, 2008
Posted on: September 25, 2011 2:30 pm

How do we really define 'value?'

There is the WAR valuation statistic, what is it for each of the players you mentioned.  I have never seen the formula so I could do the analysis myself, but THAT would give you a value.  It is a replacement value of each player if he were replaced in the line up with a generic performer and the difference in wins.
There is the other valuation analysis, that put the player in each position in the line up and use his stats to generate what effect his stats would have and add them up for another valuation stat.  Hr's in #1 position not as important as #4 and visversa SB in #4 not as important than the beginning of lineup, etc.

Try hitting or pitching when you are losing, have no momentum, etc.  That is tougher than having something to play for.  The game is, like many sports, more mental than people think.  Being totally into the game and alert versus just going through the motions of getting through the season takes it's toll.  So, I agree being on a losing team is harder to put up good stats.

I also want to make the point that what is said above about having a good or great line-up around you makes for a much greater opportunity for better stats. Obviously if there are more men on base there will be more RBI chances.  To be leading the league in RUNS scored like Kemp on a weak, poor RBI and scoring team is a miracle, probably unheard of.  Tommy Davis of the Dodgers in 1962 with the solid pitching and low scoring Dodgers had the only comparable season when he lead the league in hitting and had 153 RBI's and excluding Steroid Hammerin' Sosa, has the most RBI's in a season since Joe Medwicks Triple Crown season on 1937.  Davis had 63 more RBI's than his next highest teammate!  Kemp has more than 50 more than his next.

Kemp has 24% of his teams homeruns, Braun and Fielder have 18% and 20%, Kemp has 20% of the teams RBI's, Braun and Fielder 16% and 17%, Runs, Kemp 18%, Braun 16% and Fielder13%.  So you want a value, add those percentages up and you get Kemp with 62, Braun 50, Fielder 50, large advantage KEMP.  Add stolen bases and Kemps in his own planet, even though Braun has good SB stats.  So like the message says, Kemp has created more wins than anyone else, and making a team win is what it is all about, if you have any help makes for a higher standing, trying and doing what ever possible is all an individual can do.  

Saying that, scoring runs when nobody else on your team has even 70 RBI's means he scores by shere determination and other talents which brings me to the other major point besides nobody mentioning he leads in RUNS scored.  He is 2nd in stolen bases, OVER 40 of them.  Braun is the only other MVP candidate that is even close to Kemp, but far behind, with 31 SB's.  Kemp is only the 13th player to have 40 SB and 30 HR's. and only 3 HR's from being only the 3rd with 40-40.

Kemp may not get the Triple Crown, but he is just shy of it.  But another stat that astonishes me is that he leads the league also in Total Bases, and that is never mentioned.

I used to be a fanatasy baseball player, but it took so much time to do it right I neglected too many other things I quit, but I was only just one strike out once from winning the big $3,000 prize once, so I know through my own stats analysis how to rate a player, especially when you had salary parameters that had to be taken in consideration.  This league could care less what team you played on, pure stats, what the guy did on the field, what he generated with SB being a point category.  KEMP would be one of the highest point generators of all time with the season he is having all around, nobody really even comes close. 

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