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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We Should be Talking about Rick Porcello More

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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

Recently we wrote a post about why David Price should be in the conversation for the AL Cy Young. Though we still think that to be true, there may be an even better candidate on his same team. Even Price seems to think so.

Rick Porcello is having an amazing season that not enough of us are talking about. Porcello has a 21 – 4 record, a 3.08 ERA, 0.978 WHIP and 174 strikeouts to 29 walks in 210.7 innings. This has been by far the best season if his career. He has a career low ERA and WHIP and has matched his career high in complete games for a season.

So, why is it that he hasn’t been mentioned much as a candidate for the AL Cy Young? There are likely a few reasons. First, he is overshadowed in Boston by David Price and David Ortiz. It’s hard to be a candidate for the Cy Young when you are not even considered the best pitcher on your team. Second, he is not a dominant strikeout pitcher. Currently he is not even in the top 10 in strikeouts even though he is tied for second in innings pitched and only has 7.4 K/9. Third, he is Rick Porcello and many just don’t believe he is really this good.

Reality is that Porcello has to be talked about more. He leads AL pitchers in wins, third in EAR, first in WHIP, tied for third in complete games, first in strikeout to walk ratio and he plays in the pressure cooker that is Boston, MA. If Porcello does not figure in to the AL Cy Young voting then something is wrong with the system.

Two Start Pitchers to Avoid

Michael Pineda delivers a pitch in the first inning.
By Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Rather than try and predict which potential two-start pitchers you should try and use this week we thought we would simply tell you some of the fringe pitchers to avoid.

Robert Gsellman, SP Mets

Many will look at the match-ups Robert Gsellman has this week, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and think they should add him. That is a trap. Thought Gsellman does look like he has easy match-ups he has struggled against both those teams already this season. In his previous starts again the Braves and Phillies he went 11.0 innings and gave up 8 earned runs. Do not fall for the match-ups, avoid him this week.

Matt Boyd, SP Tigers

Matt Boyd was supposed to be a two-start pitcher last week and that didn’t happen, not a surprise for this time of year. Now Boyd is scheduled for two starts this week, facing the Twins and Royals. Because I am doubtful that he will actually make two starts I would advise you stay away. A one start Matt Boyd is not worth it if you have a better option available. Especially since Boyd faced Minnesota his last time out and lasted 3.7 innings and gave up 7 earned runs. Even if he had two starts this week he is likely in for rough outings as he hasn’t fared well against Kansas City either this season.

Other two-start pitchers you should avoid; Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Joe Musgrove, Edison Volquez and Matt Garza.

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.

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.