A Deeper Look at Deciding the MVP

 

Every season there is much debate about who should win the MVP award in the American and National Leagues. There are many out there who think that the award should go to a player on a contending team, while others say that is not the case. We decided to look a little deeper and share our opinion on the subject.

The official rules for voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the MVP award look like this: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team. As you can clearly read in no way does the strength of the player’s team come in to the rules of voting. There is no mention of games won, a team being in playoff contention or anything else regarding the team a player plays for. So, why is it that so many people in the media and around the water cooler feel that the MVP needs to be on a contending team?

Does a player on a contending team play harder than one who is not? Or do opposing teams not give their best against players on non-contending teams? Of course not, so why care what the team’s performance has been for an individual award.

With all that being said there really is no argument in my mind as to how the MVP should be chosen. It is simple, use Wins Above Replacement or WAR. By definition WAR is a measure of how many wins, or how much value, an individual player brings to a team over a replacement level player. Higher the WAR, the more valuable that player is to their team. It’s a measure that takes team record and performance out of the equation and is strictly based on the individual.

Now that we have established how he MVP awards should be decided it’s easy to see that the National League MVP is Kris Bryant with a WAR of 7.3 and the American League MVP is Mike Trout with an MLB leading WAR of 10.0. Neither of these players isn’t already in the discussion for MVP, which just adds more credibility to the argument that WAR is the measure of who should be MVP.

On a side note, if you don’t realize it Mike Trout’s WAR of 10.0 is somewhat historic.

If you need more proof, then just look at the runner-ups in the AL and NL; Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. Both of them are also in the MVP discussion. Or maybe we should look at last year’s MVPs and where they fell in WAR. Bryce Harper lead MLB in WAR and Josh Donaldson was 5th. Not convinced yet? Ok, 2014’s MVPs Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout were number one and two in MLB WAR.

Yes, there will be plenty who say I am oversimplifying the MVP award by using one stat as the deciding factor, but those people are just behind the times and don’t realize stats rule baseball.

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Hitters to Avoid in 2017

Yesterday we highlighted pitchers that, due mostly to injury concerns, we will be avoiding in 2017 drafts. Today we thought it only fair to pay attention to the other side of the game and name some hitters we won’t be drafting.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

There is a big hole in the outfield when it comes to quality fantasy players, one of the slimmest crop of usable players in a while. Even with that we will be avoiding Yasiel Puig. It is highly probably Puig will be traded in the offseason and a lot of people believe it will be to the Brewers, we agree with that by the way. Even if that happens and opens up his playing time we still believe he is too risky. He has not shown that he can be consistent nor stay healthy. He won’t go high in drafts likely, but still we want to stay away.

Jay Bruce, OF Mets

Again, we know there are not a lot of great outfielders to choose from, but Jay Bruce is not someone you want next year. Since his trade to the New York Mets Bruce had been horrible. In 36 games he has a slash line of .192/.271/.315, with only 4 home runs. Question has been asked is he trying to prove too much to his new team or is this simply regression to the mean for him. We believe it is that latter. Last time Bruce his over .250 was in 2013 and it is clear to us that his hot season in Cincinnati was not the new norm for him, but just an extended hot streak.

Jose Bautista, OF Blue Jays

Maybe we should have tried a little harder to find players outside of the outfield, but it is just where we found players we don’t want for 2017. Jose Bautista has his lowest batting average since 2005 when he hit .143. Next year he will be 36 years old and has progressively been showing signs of aging with declining performance and increasing time injured. He is still valued by most fantasy players as a high end option, but is not returning what you have to pay for him. He is likely going to finish the regular season with his first sub-25 home run season since 2009. If he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park, isn’t hitting for a good average and isn’t driving in 100+ runs then he just doesn’t provide enough value for where he will be drafted.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

Finally, a non-outfielder and probably a pick that has you scratching your head. Daniel Murphy has been a major break out star in his age 31 season and has given owners plenty to celebrate. However, is it really something he can do again next year? We predict that many fantasy owners will be drafting Murphy in the first three rounds and he will not return that value. It is very unlikely that at 32 Murphy will be able to repeat his 2016 season. He has made it known that he made changes to his batting stance to increase his power production, but even if that sticks next year he will more than likely fall off in batting average as he has his highest BABIP since 2008 at .350 that is not going to be repeated. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2017, but not worth where you will have to draft him.

There are without a doubt a lot more players that will be on our do not draft list for 2017 like Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Mark Trumbo and Billy Hamilton, but we didn’t have room to talk about them all here. Be on the lookout during the offseason however for more on why these players won’t be on any of our fantasy baseball teams in 2017.

Should David Price be in Consideration for the AL Cy Young?

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By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If you haven’t been paying close attention you probably have no idea who the Cy Young favorites are in the American League. I don’t blame you as there really is no clear cut choice. Of the contenders the two most likely to win it are Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber. Others who have received honorable mention have been Danny Duffy, Aaron Sanchez and Michael Fulmer. One name though that should be in consideration is David Price. Yes, the same David Price who through the first two months of the season had a 5.11 ERA.

After Price’s last start in May on May 29th he had an eye popping 5.11 ERA, an 8 – 3 record and 79 strikeouts in 68.7 innings. Why was the ERA eye popping? Because David Price was supposed to be an ace this season and not be sub leaguer average in ERA. He got off to a horrible start in 2016 by giving up 5+ earned runs in four of this first 11 starts. He seemed off and he noticed it. Teammate Dustin Pedroia noticed it too and told Price he wasn’t bringing his hands up as high as he use to, at least that is the story we were told.

If that was the difference or not I couldn’t tell you, but what I do know is that something changed after May. From July 5th on Price has had an ERA almost two runs lower than that 5.11 with a 3.21 ERA. He has only had two games since then where he has give up 5+ runs, half as many as he had in the first two months of the season and he has continued his above average strikeout rate. Looking at his last nine games he has been even better with a 2.47 ERA.

Why though should he be considered for the Cy Young? Even with the horrible start Price got off to he has managed to get his season long ERA down to 3.87 and if the trend continues it will only get lower. He has won 15 games, pitched 197.7 innings and has 201 strikeouts. He is an innings eater going 7+ innings in 17 of his 30 starts. No his ERA is not down to Kluber’s 3.05, yet, but he won’t finish the season far from that number if he keeps up what he has been doing.

When thinking about who should be the Cy Young I ask myself this question, all things being equal if I had one game to win who do I want on the mound? For me I would choose Price over Kluber or Verlander with Kluber being a close second and Verlander a distant third.

Two Start Pitchers for Week 24

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By Johnmaxmena2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

With the 2016 season coming to a close soon and rosters expanded finding quality two-start pitchers who are available is becoming more and more difficult. Especially when you take in to account that this time of year managers are known to throw in a random starter at any point during a week that could push a pitcher out of a two start week. Below are out picks for two-start pitchers the week of September 12th.

Miguel Gonzalez, SP White Sox (8% Owned)

Former Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is lined up to face Cleveland and Kansas City in the upcoming week. And though the Indians are a touch match-up the Royals have been up and down offensively. He may have a hard time getting a win facing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy, but he should give you good enough ratios and innings to have a shot at the win in both games. Over his last 9 starts Gonzalez has pitched extremely well with a 2.38 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. One of his best starts in that span was his last one against the Tigers where he tamed them to the tune of 6.3 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks and 0 earned runs. If he can hold down that offense, then he may have a shot to keep Cleveland’s power bats at bay as well.

Matt Boyd, SP Tigers (50% Owned)

Overshadowed in the Detroit Tigers rotation by Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander has been the well performing Matt Boyd. Acquired from the Blue Jays Boyd took a while to get going this season, but is now firing on all cylinders. He will face a lack luster hitting Twins lineup to start the week and then go to Cleveland to face the always dangerous Indians. Both teams he faced before in 2016 and over three combined games against these two rivals he has pitched 16.7 innings and given up 10 hits, 5 walks and only 3 earned runs (all came in one game against Minnesota). Boyd’s season totals are not overly impressive but since July 9th he has had a n outstanding 2.56 ERA with a 1.154 WHIP. If he can keep his walks down, like he has so far against these two advisories this season, then he has a chance to put up good numbers in a week where two start pitchers are not easy to find.

There are some other, young, desirable options for two start pitcher in the coming week like Jose De Leon and Lucas Giolito but with the way schedules fall and the time of the year it may be hard to trust that both of these pitchers get their two starts.

Waiver Wire Add, Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk came in to the 2016 season with a lot of hype coming off of a break out season in 2015, but we soon found out that past performance doesn’t always lead to future success. Grichuk started the season with a .206 batting average and eight home runs in 62 games, with a horrible .276 OBP and .392 slugging percentage. This lead to him being demoted to Triple-A to try and find his swing. After being recalled on July 5th he lasted another 22 games before his second demotion of the season. This wasn’t the last we would see of him in St. Louis, but by this point many fantasy owners had already give up on a repeat of 2015 and some may have considered him a bust.

Randal Grichuk
By Minda Haas Kuhlmann on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Nine games later Grichuk was recalled again on August 11th. Since then he has been a man on fire. His triple slash line since the promotion is .341/.356/.886. He has five home runs, seven doubles and a triple. To go along with those numbers, he has 11 RBI and 7 runs. He has been hitting the ball well and playing daily for the Cardinals and has begun to give fantasy owners new hope. Though he still doesn’t walk enough, one walk in 12 games, and strikes out way too much, 15 K’s in 12 games, he is putting the bat to the ball and raised his contact rate to 70%. Currently Mike Matheny has been batting him in the 7th or 8th spot in the Cardinals lineup, but other than Matt Carpenter there is no one in St. Louis’s batting order that would stop Matheny from moving Grichuk to the top third giving him even more fantasy value.

Grichuk is owned in less than 50% of all CBSSports.com leagues and should be owned moving forward in at least 70% of leagues. Don’t forget he came in to 2016 owned in 89% of leagues and has already moved up from his lowest ownership percentage of 30% quite a bit. If he is on your waiver wire, make sure you pounce while you still can.

(Players to drop for Randall Grichuk: Giancarlo Stanton, Max Kepler, Andrew Benintendi, Josh Reddick, Michael Saunders.)