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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Monday, November 28, 2011

Awards Season Explanations, Part 3

So, I didn’t quite get this up before the MVPs were announced, but I still want to explain my voting. And so I shall. Let’s jump right in. (The first two explanation articles can be found here and here.)

AL MVP-1. Jose Bautista

2. Jacoby Ellsbury - This was the hard part, really. The two were more or less equal, with each one bettering the other in different categories. Ellsbury was the better fielder (at a harder position), Bautista was the better hitter (while playing multiple positions). Ellsbury led the AL in fWAR (9.4 to 8.3), while Bautista led in bWAR (8.5 to 7.2). In both of those cases, they were 1-2 (with Verlander tying Baustista in bWAR; however, I trust fWAR for pitchers a little more, and I have already explained my reasons for not voting for him repeatedly).

In the end, I went with Bautista for 2 reasons: first, a lot of Ellsbury’s value came from his fielding, which was suddenly improved. Fielding stats are both less certain than hitting stats and more prone to random fluke fluctuation, meaning that we can be much more certain of Bautista’s value. Second, Bautista played about two dozen games at third base. While Ellsbury did play the harder position (center field is definitely harder to play than right, although it’s similar in difficulty to third base), WAR (both versions) accounts for position difficulty; it does not account for versatility. So, I felt comfortable using that as a sort of tiebreaker. Really, though, both were fine choices, and would have made fine MVPs (the next five players or so would also be decent choices, although I don’t think any of them had as good a claim to the trophy as these two).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Great 2011 Awards Cheat Sheet

Well, Award Season has more or less wrapped up. So, for some reason, I decided to create a giant summary of the winners, listed by awards and voting block. No, I don’t understand how my mind works either.

In any case, the results in question are from myself, the General Chapter voting of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, the full Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and the Baseball Writers Association of America (aka, “The Official Awards”). As an added bonus, I’ll throw in some commentary on the results, because what good is an awards summary without remarks containing varying degrees of sarcasm?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pitching Triple Crowns: Where Do Verlander and Kershaw Rank?

So, first off, congratulations to recently-named Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. Both were deserving winners, and this piece is not meant to disparage their seasons in any way (because I know that, if enough people read this, at least one person will think that it is). Rather, it more sprung from my curiosity about pitchers and the MVP.

After comparing Verlander’s Triple Crown season to the previous few, I decided that I might want to take a more in-depth look at how his season compared to other Triple Crown winners (and yes, this is partly related to why I’m not a big fan of Verlander winning the MVP). I figured the best way was to do a straight up comparison bewtween his season and the seven other Pitching Triple Crown seasons that have followed Dwight Gooden’s 1985 (and yes, it is now seven, with Kershaw’s PTC).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Awards Season Explanations, Part 2

With MLB wrapping up the major awards over the next week, I was planning on finishing explaining my ballots. (Part 1 of my explanations can be found here.) I figured that it should be quick; after all, the first part I did had five awards, and I wrote that reasonable quick. But the MVP ballots are long, and I could either delay the NL Cy Young until after the award is announced, or break up the series further. So, my thinking on my NL Cy Young ballot, plus a public service announcement about something exciting coming up.


NL Cy Young-1. Roy Halladay

2. Clayton Kershaw

3. Cliff Lee-I feel like these three more or less had to be the top three; it was merely a matter of arranging them. Both Baseball-Reference WAR and Fangraphs WAR agreed that the order was Halladay-Kershaw-Lee. But Kershaw did win the pitching triple crown (which is one thing I hope to write more about, hopefully by next week). So, I was somewhat pre-disposed to put him first. But, everything I looked at seemed to indicate that Halladay was the better pitcher by a slight margin. Halladay made one fewer start than Kershaw, but threw one third of an inning more. Kershaw had 248 strikeouts to Lee’s 238 and Halladay’s 220 (first, second, and tied for third, respectively), and a 9.57 K/9 Innings (to Lee’s 9.21 and Halladay’s 8.47). But Halladay has both of them topped in BB/9 innings, with 1.35 to Kershaw’s 2.08 and Lee’s 1.62. Halladay also led the group in HR/9 innings, .39 to .58 (Kershaw) and .70 (Lee), despite the fact that Kershaw played in a better pitcher’s park. Their ERA’s were close as well, with Kershaw leading Halladay and Lee 2.28 to 2.35 and 2.40. But playing in a pitcher’s park hurt him; ERA+ put him second (163) to Halladay (164), with Lee and incredibly close third (161). Really, they were all incredible, but it seemed like Halladay consistently edged out Kershaw while playing in a better hitter’s park, leading to this order.

4. Ian Kennedy

5. Cole Hamels-Again, my down-ballot spots are less rigid. Kennedy seemed like a good fourth place, and I was split on whether to try and slide Carpenter into the fifth slot. In the end, I went against it, which is totally the opposite of what I did on my AL Rookie of the Year ballot. So yes, my philosophy on the final ballot spots fluctuates quite easily.


Now, for an announcement. The project for this site that is currently taking up my time is this Baseball Past and Present idea. Basically, it’s just what it sounds like (if you clicked the link, then came back); Who are the 50 Best Players who currently aren’t in the Hall of Fame? My ballot currently stands at 42 players, with 12 more fighting for the last 8 spaces (and I actually am being very deliberate with these final picks). I feel like this may lead to numerous future updates; there will be at least one, to be sure. Keep your eyes open.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Awards Season Explanations, Part 1

So, this being awards week, I would finally like to go over some of my picks that I made a while ago for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance voting.


First, the Rookie of the Year Awards.

AL-1. Dustin Ackley-The rookie leader in fWAR in the AL was actually second place Michael Pineda, at 3.4, followed by a 3-way tie between Ackley, Brett Lawrie, and Ivan Nova (Desmond Jennings was also pretty close). However, Pineda and Nova played full seasons, while Lawrie played in only 43 games, and Ackley played in 90 games. 43 games didn’t seem like enough, but 90 games is just over half the season. Ackley’s WAR seems surprising, but he did it in a number of ways; about .9 WAR came from his batting 117 wRC+, meaning he was about 17% better than the league average hitter (going off of wOBA). About .1 WAR came from his base running and .2 from his fielding, meaning the rest came from the fact that he did all of that while playing second base. In any case, I decided his 2.7 fWAR in 90 games was impressive enough in a large enough portion of the season.

2. Michael Pineda-See above

3. Zach Britton-he was pretty close with 2.5 fWAR, and I wanted to vote for an Oriole.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Post in Which I Try and Emulate Ken Tremendous

There are several articles I’ve been meaning to analyze. One’s older, but it’s about the MVP races. Those are coming up, so I think it’s still relevant. The other covers the recent World Series, but it’s fairly new, so I’m also calling that one relevant.

We’ll start this week with the one that will become irrelevant sooner, and if I get time, go on to the MVP one later (or something else awards related; I’ll play it by ear). Bill Madden of the New York Daily News thinks there are too many teams in MLB right now, and the 2011 World Series showed why.