This one was pretty clear cut coming into the award announcements today – Josh Hamilton was a shoo-in to receive his first MVP award. Our premonitions were correct, as Hamilton won the award and picked up 22 of the 28 first place votes in doing so. In our SweetSpot voting, there was even less debate, as Hamilton received all but one of the 19 first place votes, with the other going to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
After seeing this comparison from Rob Neyer’s post earlier today, I’m not so sure it was as clean cut as we made it. Here are the WARs of the top 5 candidates from the AL, listed by fWAR, bWAR, and then the average.
Evan Longoria: 6.9 / 7.7 / 7.3
Josh Hamilton: 8.0 / 6.0 / 7.0
Adrian Beltre: 7.1 / 6.1 / 6.6
Miguel Cabrera: 6.2 / 6.9 / 6.6
Robinson Cano: 6.4 / 6.1 / 6.3
The difference, as it almost always is with position players in these two metrics, comes down to how they rated in UZR (fWAR) and TotalZone (bWAR). Longoria rated as a +11 fielder by UZR and +15 by TotalZone (and also somehow picked up 4 runs in batting, of which I’m not sure why. Park factors? Difference in linear weight values?) Hamilton rated as a +8 fielder by UZR and as a -6 fielder by UZR (and again, there’s a 6 run difference in batting, this time favoring his FG numbers). Since I take the company line and I have a better idea of how FanGraphs numbers work, I’m apt to lean towards the numbers used at FanGraphs, particularly for hitting, and that’s why I favored Hamilton and Beltre over Longoria.
That said, any vote for Longoria or Beltre could certainly be justified, as both had fantastic seasons and if they were outclassed by Hamilton, it wasn’t by much. However, Hamilton’s offensive season was simply too impressive – possibly better than BBWAA runner up Miguel Cabrera, according to FanGraphs’ numbers. Throw in the consensus that his defense in CF is decent if not good, and I simply couldn’t choose anybody else over him.
My ballot: Hamilton, Beltre, Robinson Cano, Longoria, Jose Bautista, Carl Crawford, Cabrera, Francisco Liriano, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez. The full voting follows: