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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Awards Explanations, Part 2

Again, these are a little late, but I’ve been busy these past few days. The original ballot can be found here, and Part 1 can be found here.

In the AL, I went Trout first. I wrote about my take on the Cabrera-Trout issue just before the end of the season, and the final games did nothing to change my opinion. Trout actually overtook Cabrera in OPS+ (171 to 165) and tied him in weighted Runs Created (wRC+) at 166. In the meantime, he ran and fielded much better than Cabrera at an equally-difficult position. Really, the only way you can argue for Cabrera while remaining totally intellectually honest is to severely penalize Trout for playing in 22 fewer games, to the point where you actually believe that not playing for the Angels subtracted value rather than just providing a net-zero. For reference, Fangraphs had them at 10.0 (Trout) and 7.1 (Cabrera) WAR.

I considered putting Cano second over Cabrera too, actually. Both versions of WAR had him above Cabrera, thanks to his 150 wRC+ and 149 OPS+ while playing stellar defense at an up-the-middle position. I decided that might be to controversial, though, and chickened out, in part because some of Cano’s value came from a random uptick in his fielding stats. Still, at 7.8 WAR, that’s a reasonable gap. I think you could definitely argue for Cano second.

Last year’s AL Cy Young, Justin Verlander, posted similar numbers to his MVP campaign. However, he lacked the shiny wins total, probably costing him the repeat Cy Young award. The top 3 were pretty clearly Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and David Price, though.

Verlander-238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, .72 HR/9, 2.64 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 6.8 fWAR
Hernandez- 232.0, 8.65 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, .54 HR/9, 3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 6.1 fWAR
Price- 211.0, 8.74 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, .68 HR/9, 2.56 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 5.1 fWAR

In the NL Cy Young race, RA Dickey was just a hair behind Clayton Kershaw in most advanced metrics, but knuckleballers have a history of being underrated by those same stats. Most of these advanced numbers try to explain away variation in batted balls, but knucklers have in general defied those expectations. So, with two pretty similar pitchers, it seemed fair to give the tiebreaker to the historically-underrated one (although, to be fair, looking back, this could have very easily gone to Kershaw; this is the one award where I might have regrets about my voting).

In the NL MVP race, I went with Buster Posey. My thinking generally held from my first look piece, And I decided the near-tie in value should probably go to the catcher, given the difficulty in filling the position.

Relievers of the Year Fernando Rodney and Craig Kimbrel both had incredibly historic seasons. Jim Johnson and Aroldis Chapman were great, but neither could quite live up to either’s dominance in my mind. Each also led their leagues in WAR, although Chapman made it close with his innings lead over Kimbrel.

Of the first four awards, it looks like I went 2-for-4

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