The Area Writers’ MVP Ballot | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

I already wrote about how ridiculous it was that Casey McGehee (and Corey Hart) were on top of the FSN text-to-vote poll. Essentially the same arguments apply to the following piece of garbage presented by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Miller Park Drunk already beat me to the punch here. The whole post is worth reading, but of particular interest in this space are the statistical arguments that Vince presents.

I don’t want to become all “I’m on the internet and I have blog, look at these advanced stats that prove how wrong this is!” guy because then I’d have to kick my own ass, but seriously Casey McGehee is probably the fifth best player on this team and he doesn’t deserve this award. Let’s look how he stacks up against the other Brewers and you can judge for yourself.

By OPS, a rather simple stat that adds together times on base and slugging percentage.

Prince Fielder .871
Ryan Braun .866
Corey Hart .865
Rickie Weeks .830
Casey McGehee .801

Casey McGehee comes in fifth.

Now if you go by WAR which stands for Wins Above Replacement and is complicated to figure out (I assume), but is meant to be a better judge of value because it includes everything like steals and defense as well as hitting and pitching, the rankings go like this.

Rickie Weeks 6.1
Yovani Gallardo 5.1
Ryan Braun 4.2
Prince Fielder 4.1
Casey McGehee 3.5
Corey Hart 3.4

Again, Casey McGehee is fifth.

There’s more yet – McGehee comes in fifth in HRs and runs scored as well, but we find the true reason that McGehee won the award from the writers in two statistics. McGehee came in second in batting average and led the team in RBIs, two statistics that don’t really tell us much about a player’s skill or a player’s overall contribution to winning, either. McGehee wasn’t responsible for the fact that Prince Fielder got on base in front of him 40% of the time. Batting average misses out on power and discipline, two of the most important facets of hitting.

I would add one more statistic to Vince’s summary, namely WPA – win probability added, the ultimate story statistic. Basically, the statistic measures how much each play contributed to the team winning (or losing) the game. Check out the Saber Library entry on it here in case you’re not familiar with it and would like to know more.

Here are the top five for that statistic:

Ryan Braun 2.72
Corey Hart 2.71
Prince Fielder 2.13
Rickie Weeks 1.66
Casey McGehee 1.44

Again, McGehee comes in fifth. By any objective measure, Casey McGehee isn’t the best player on this Brewers team and he didn’t add the most to the team in 2010. Don’t get me wrong – he’s a solid player, a good asset, and his story of going from waiver claim to meaningful MLB player is extraordinary. It’s just that giving McGehee awards like this minimizes the contributions of the other players on this team, particularly Rickie Weeks, who had a fantastic breakout season and is getting very little press for it.

For whatever reason, though, Rickie Weeks’s performance didn’t fit the narrative that the JS and other writers were going for. Casey McGehee’s did, and he won the award. Of course, this award is pretty meaningless – it only has meaning if we allow it to – but it’s still disappointing to see that the baseball writers in our area simply don’t understand so many basic tenets of the game that they are supposedly experts on.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Michael says: October 18, 2010

    Like you mentioned, this doesn’t mean anything.

    However, one thing I’d like to point out is that Witrado claims to be a bit of a stat enthusiast and regularly links to pieces written by you and other fangraphs writers through the JSonline blog. From what I can tell, he is the one who wrote the blurb about Weeks’ season grade in the JS and only gave him a B, while Hart received an A. For someone who claims to appreciate advanced statistical evaluation of players he spent a lot of time ignoring.

    If I were to rely on one stat to determine a team MVP I would lean slightly towards WPA over WAR, but if you look at both it would be hard to argue against Weeks winning this rather trivial honor.

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