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.

Pitchers to Avoid in 2017

As we get ready to say goodbye to the 2016 fantasy baseball season, some already have, I begin to look at the 2017 season. With that I thought I would write a quick post on some starting pitchers that as of right now I will be avoiding in 2017. Below are my four pitchers to stay away from, unless they remedy their injury concerns during the offseason.

Danny Salazar, SP Indians

Danny Salazar once again is being shut down due to an arm injury. Based on my recollection he has been shut down this season for issues related to his shoulder, elbow and forearm in 2016. All areas that make me think of Tommy John since they all can be related to a serious elbow injury.

Gerrit Cole, SP Pirates

Another pitcher who has been shut down for the season is Gerrit Cole. Cole started the year off injured, was shut down not long ago because of an arm issue and that issue seems to have come back. Though his early season problems were not arm related I am steering clear of Cole next year unless something happens in the offseason to change my mind.

Lance McCullers, SP Astros

Like Cole, McCullers started the season hurt. He got off to a very late start in 2016 because of that injury and there were many who were scared his big jump in workload in 2015 would lead to issues in 2016. They may have been right as he has been on the DL twice this year and may or may not finish the regular season on the DL. His issues in 2016 have consisted of shoulder and elbow pains, not a good thing for a starting pitcher and a player that should be avoided in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

This is probably the most controversial name on my list. There is no doubting that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, but to me he has a huge red flag. In 2014 Kershaw spent time on the DL because of a back issue, 2015 a hip issue sidelined him and this season the back is back. Yes, he is pitching again in 2016, but unless he does something to get his back issue taken care of in the offseason I won’t be drafting him. Now, that is not because I think he will for sure be hurt. It is because the price you will have to pay for him is too high based on the ongoing injury concern.

Two Start Pitchers for Week 24

colepittsburgh
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.

Where Analysts Went Wrong in 2016

Clayton Kershaw
By Barbara moore from Springfield, USA (CLAYTON KERSHAW Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Every year analyst put out their projections of where they see players finishing for that season in fantasy baseball. They use past history and their own thoughts on which players will improve and which will fall off. Some players like, Mike Trout or Madison Bumgarner, are somewhat easy to predict as they are very consistent. Others, however, can be extremely difficult. In this post we will look at three players that most if not all analyst got wrong. Players that for one reason or another did not live up to analyst expectations.

Bryce Harper, OF Nationals

After an amazing, MVP, season in 2015 everyone had high hopes for Bryce Harper. Many analysts had him as the top ranked player in baseball. After a season of 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 112 runs, 125 walks and a .322 batting average it was no wonder we expected him to be such a high end player. As we wrote about earlier this season, to see that post click here, we may have over-hyped him. He had only had one season of those great numbers and we may have put too much in to that one season as this season has not compared to that one. Harper is hovering around the 20th ranked player in fantasy baseball this year, still a very good player, but nowhere near where we expected him to be. There have been rumors that he has been playing hurt and with a .255 batting average and only 23 home runs in 2016 we hope those rumors are true. At least that way we would have an explanation for why he is not what we thought he would be and would help us decide what to do in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

Every season Clayton Kershaw is ranked at the top of all analyst rankings and that is well deserved. He never lets owners down as he has been consistently the best pitcher in baseball year after year. Even when he is not number one Kershaw is never far behind. 2016 was no exception as most every analyst had him ranked as the top pitcher and most had him in the top 5 of all players for fantasy baseball. He should have given owners wins, strikeouts, elite ERA and WHIP and just as many innings as any other pitcher out there, but then something went wrong. On June 30th he went on the disabled list, something that analyst could not predict, and has been out ever since. He is near a return now, but with so much of the season gone it is highly unlikely he will finish anywhere near where he was drafted. Even with the injury he still ranks 32 overall and 4th amongst pitchers. While playing he amassed a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 Ks and 11 wins in 16 starts and 121.0 innings. He was on pace for what could have been his best season in his career, but will fall far short of that.

Andrew McCutchen, OF Pirates

Prior to the 2016 season when fantasy baseball owners heard the name Andrew McCutchen they thought elite outfielder and a player you would love to have on your team. That was not the case for this season. McCutchen has fallen and fallen far in rankings. As the season started the narrative was that he is just a slow starter and that he would turn it on and reward those owners who held on to him, but that has not happened. In 2015 McCutchen finished ranked 32nd overall, dropping 17 spots from where he finished in 2014. Maybe analyst should have looked at that drop in more depth, but we didn’t, we ignored it and he was a consensus top 10 player coming in to this year. Currently he has a .253/.331/.420 slash line which compared to his career line of .293/.382/.487 is a big disappointment. With only 19 home runs and a mere 6 stolen bases to go with his 58 RBIs and 68 runs he is ranked 101st overall in 2016. There is no explanation for why he has fallen so far from what he was and we still don’t know if this will be the norm for him moving forward. None of that matters to those who own him this season though as all they can do is wonder what could have been if he lived up to his expectations.

Others we could have included in this post; Prince Fielder, Carlos Correa, Shelby Miller, Jose Bautista or James Shields.