Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NL MVP

While I was manipulating statistics to expouse a DH for MVP in the American League, I also used my newly created VORP DIFFERENTIAL and LEADING CAST statistics to select an MVP. What I did not write about (since I am on vacation, have a bad head cold, and was very sleepy at the time) was that I had done the stats for the National League teams as well. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the NL MVP was all out-of-whack.

While reading Joe Sheehan's article on Baseball Prospectus that detailed the NL MVP race, he came to the same conclusions that I had in my groggy state the night before (and he seemed as surprised as I was): http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6944. Nice to know it was not only me who was flabbergasted by the choice of Jimmy Rollins as MVP.

Check out who stands out on my list below and who is conspiciously absent.

VORP RANK NAME TEAM VORP DIFF LEADING CAST
58 Eric Byrnes ARI 2.4 89
6 Chipper Jones ATL 28.5 135.3
29 Derrek Lee CHN 4.7 121
36 Adam Dunn CIN 8.3 119.8
7 Matt Holliday COL 23.1 161.9
2 Hanley Ramirez FLO 18.1 157.33
9 Carlos Lee HOU 0.4 116.2
35 Russell Martin LAN 5.8 110.6
11 Prince Fielder MIL 11.9 148.9
5 David Wright NYN 30 146.7
12 Chase Utley PHI 2.7 206.2
88 Freddy Sanchez PIT 2.7 81.4
49 Adrian Gonzalez SDN 15.4 84.9
19 Barry Bonds SFN 28.8 56.6
9 Albert Pujols SLN 51.4 59.8
57 Dmitri Young WAS 11.7 83.1

Forget Hanley Ramirez already, the MVP is overwhelmingly Albert Pujols. That St. Louis team is really, really bad and Prince Albert carried those jokers. Look at how bad those teams were in their Leading Cast points. David Wright, Chipper Jones and Barry Bonds would be the runner-ups for MVP if ithe award was concernd with truly figuring out who was the most valuable to the team. Jones and Bond? Ugh, how five years ago!

Whos is conspiciously absent? The BBWA (note: I drop the last A because I don't discriminate against baseball writers not of America) choice of Jimmy Rollins does not even make my short list because he was not the VORP leader for the Phillies, instead it was Chase Utley. This goes back to my Joe Gordon rule where an MVP has to first be the most valuable player on his team before he can be most valuable of the league. Another great job by the writers, continuing to make a mockery of the awards voting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A-Rod for MVP?

I will never trust the BBWA and their MVP and other award voting. If Ted Williams loses to Joe Gordon (1942) then you know it is a sham. Of course, this season it has been a given that A-Rod is going to win the award since his tremendous first month. But just how do you determine MVP? I mean, it is supposed to be MOST VALUABLE. How the heck do you measure a players value?

Usually, I would say VORP - Value Over Replacement Player (VORP is defined by Baseball Prospectus as: The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

Of course, selecting the top two players by VORP would simply hand the award to A-Rod and Hanley Ramierez (HANLEY???). Obviously, this is not the ideal choice to select an MVP. The MVP has to be the most indispensible player on his team. To try to figure this out, I simply did a VORP differential check. That is, what is the difference between the best player and second best on the team. The larger the difference, the more valuable the player, right?

Well, in the American League, that player was David Ortiz (39.7 VORP DIFF). Uh-oh, too simple. So I decided to see what the leading cast the candidate worked with (composite VORP of the other four players on the team). Well, did that make any difference? Umm, it told me that good teams have four other good players beside their top player. This really juist illuminates that A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez had a great supporting cast, while the Sox supporting cast was very good (and the White Sox and Royals are really, really bad). Check out the chart I put together showing the stats for AL MVP with their VORP RANK (AL & NL) as well as their VORP differential to the next best player on the team, as well as the combined VORP of players 2 through 5 by their offensive VORP ranking.

VORP RANK NAME TEAM VORP DIFF LEADING CAST
17 Vladimir Guerrero ANA 26.2 116.2
28 Brian Roberts BAL 10.2 100.4
4 David Ortiz BOS 39.7 148.1
31 Jim Thome CHA 22 55.4
20 Victor Martinez CLE 1.2 138.6
3 Magglio Ordonez DET 20.5 191.7
134 Mark Grudzielanek KCA 6.1 43.3
45 Torii Hunter MIN 9 92.1
1 Alex Rodriguez NYA 23.2 199.6
65 Jack Cust OAK 1.1 85.4
16 Ichiro Suzuki SEA 32.2 112.3
13 Carlos Pena TBA 21.6 125.4
50 Michael Young TEX 10.3 99.2
47 Alex Rios TOR 7.4 108.6

I said it before, and now I have manipulated the statistics to show what I want them to show: DAVID ORTIZ, MVP!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Awards and Lowell

Two words for the Red Sox front office: Pedro Feliz. 1. He is a gold-glove caliber third baseman; 2. He hit 20 home runs for the Giants last season; 3. He is younger and cheaper than Mike Lowell.

There, I said it. Send over the tar and feathers later, but I think that over the next four years that Feliz will produce more than Lowell. His comparable players at this stage of his career: Tim Wallach, Charlie Hayes, and Chris Sabo. His projections over the next five seasons are almost equal to Lowell's. He is a free agent, and he will cost about half as much. Let Mike get his four years somewhere else, Pedro is my man.

* * *

Let me touch on the joke that is the awards voting: no Gold Glove for Curtis Granderson? Or even Coco Crisp? Torii Hunter and Ichiro getting them for past performance only diminishes the award. Well, at least no one was stupid enough to award another to Jeter.

As far as MVP, why is it such a given to give it to A-Rod? Someone explain how the Red Sox win anything without David Ortiz? And this bologna about A-Rod having a season that cannot be matched by anyone? Phaw. He had a great first couple weeks, that is all. To the numbers!!!

EQA: Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. (from BaseballProspectus.com unless otherwise noted)
A-Rod: .339
Papi: .337
Or, practically identical for all intents and purposes.

WARP: Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season.
A-Rod: 11
Papi: 8.2

OPS: On-base percentage plus slugging--a simple breakdown of batting stats (yeah, this is my definition)
A-Rod: OBP: .422 SLG: .645 OPS: 1.067
Papi: OBP: .445 SLG: .621 OPS: 1.066

Yeah, I can see how A-Rod is such a slam dunk for MVP. The Yankees see him as so valuable, they will plug Wilson Betamit into third base and still win 90+ games next year. Take Ortiz out of the Red Sox batting order and see how they do. Old Purple Lips was no better than Big Papi this season, and certainly no more valuable. Who are these writers who form their opinions on these awards without even looking at what each player did? These morons made their picks in early May and mailed in the rest of the season. Great work, BBWA.

* * *

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stepping it up

My sexy webmaster/wife gets on my case every time I rip on the Former God of All Sports Bloggers, Bill Simmons. What she doesn't realize is that its always constructive criticism. It's like watching watching Diasuke Matsuzaka pitch: you know he is capable of dominating every appearance, but it frustrates the hell out of you when he goes out and has one of those seven run meltdown innings hat he had so frequently last season. That's Simmons to me: he SHOULD be the best; he WAS the best; and I sit there and read the crap that pops out sometimes and wonder what is going on.

Then, he is the only voice in the wilderness and writes this that made me stand up and applaud after reading it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/071109&sportCat=nfl

That is the requirement I have for great writing: if I read it and say: Damn! I wish I wrote that! then I consider it great sports writing.

Some highlights regarding the Patriots and Colts review by Simmons:
It's one thing to have incompetent officiating for a football game; it's another thing to see nearly every call and non-call benefit the same team. In 60 minutes of play, only one borderline call went against the Colts -- a holding penalty on their second-to-last drive that erased a 25-yard Addai run. The final tally for the Colts: four penalties, 25 yards. We haven't seen homefield advantage work that well since Hitler invaded Russia.
OMG! LMAO! (OK, no more teenage IM comments in my blog, I promise.) Seriously, simply a great line about the homefield advantage.
Was everything that "happened" (for lack of a better word) in Indy just a one-time deal? Was it just an elaborate coincidence the Patriots couldn't buy a single break for the entire game? Was the NFL unveiling a new way of evening the score against New England because a $500,000 fine and the loss of a No. 1 pick weren't enough? Did the league decide no NFL team could conventionally stop the Pats, so they'll have to play against opponents AND referees for the rest of the season? Does the NFL have a hidden trigger much like the one used in the "Madden" video games, when everything starts going against your team as soon as it becomes clear there's a chance for an undefeated season?
The questions raised are exactly how I felt during and after the game. Was there any reason it was played out like that? Does Belichick have naked pics of Goodell with Ray Lewis? Do the referees have a reason to hate the Patriots? Can we please make sure no one compares the Patriots to the Yankees? The Yankees outspend EVERYONE. The Patriots have the same limitations as EVERYONE else. The fact the Patriots traded for a soon to be all-pro wide receiver within their division for a second-round pick (ooh a seventh rounder as well, let the fins fans be sure to point out) and sent a fourth round pick for a guy the worst team in the league was trying to give away and NO ONE ELSE wanted does not make them a juggernaut outspending everyone else. It makes them the bad guys because they OUTSMARTED thirty-one other teams. And they hate them for that. Look at Eric Mangina over in Jersey: from appearing in the Sopranos to being a couple of losses from begging Belichick for a job coaching the defensive backs. Somehow this will be the Patriots fault.

But if you're a fan of the Patriots, you've never felt as passionately about them as you do right now. The same "us against them" mentality that galvanized the coaches and players ended up galvanizing the fans as well.
Amen, Brother Simmons. Welcome back to the Boston mentality and congrats on your second child. Now start writing about how great Ray Allen is and no one realizes how good he really is and how he, Pierce, and Garnett are probably the best meshing of superstars since Worthy, Magic, and Kareem.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Who, what, where and when are the buzz-words that permeate the hot-stove league this winter. Since the Sox expect to be fairly quiet if they can re-sign Mike Lowell, I guess we need to see who is going to make some noise this winter. With Joe Torre in la-la-land and Willie Randolph on the hot seat in New York (Flushing is Frying?), it looks like these two major market teams from the senior circuit who both just came up short in 2007 are going to drive the trade and free-agent market.

First off, the A-Rod Derby (or, Slappy McHamburgerHelper extricates himself far from the fickle Fenway faithful): Expect him to land at one of these two teams. They have the cash and they both desperately have the need. Anaheim should be an option if only because Vlad Guerrero is going to collapse carrying that team, but Bill Stoneman has been reluctant to pull the trigger and spend Arte’s money. Eighty-five to ninety wins and a loss in the first round is good enough in the Big A, I guess.

While the Dodgers have a need for a veteran power bat, few expect them to act. With Joe Torre campaigning for him, it can only be a public relations coup for A-Rod to land in the lap of Dodgerdom and trade tarnished pinstripes for Dodger Blue. The Dodgers are likely in the market for experienced power hitters, and since they refuse to trade anyone in the farm system--and Nomar is Washout spelled backwards--they so desperately need an A-Rod or another power infusion. If not him and LA decides cash is better to keep than youngsters, do not be surprised to see Miguel Cabrera end up in Los Angeles next season as part of a mega-deal with cash-consious Florida. The Dodgers have the prospects to part with and the money to pay him. The Latino market there is a great fit for the fickle Cabrera, who is no doubt fed-up with the Florida payroll constraints as well.

Not to ruin my premise here, but speaking of big-market chokers who need the ultimate choker on their team, the Phillies should be in the mix. If Scott Boras has a hint of humanity and compassion in his soul (and there are no signs there is any) he would keep A-Rod far from the Phillie Phanatics roaming Veterans Stadium and looking for fresh blood. I doubt Slappy McHamburgerHelper (aka the Purple Lipped Bandito) has to call Terry Francona to learn that much.

The Mets will also go hard after Horsehead Posada, who just may be ready to move to another borough. Posada makes sense (can anyone justify bringing in Paul LoDuca?), and he gets to give the Yankees the finger on his way across town. Whether he takes Mariano Rivera with him wherever he ends up is a moot point because Rivera is going to get his money from the Yankees. He may have to dump a couple relatives in the pool, but he will get his cash.

Expect the Mets to pull off a big deal or three for starting pitching if anyone still loves Lastings Milledge because that staff sucks (and that includes a healthy, back to 2005 levels, Pedro Martinez). Suddenly, Julian Tavarez looks good to the Mets as an option in the rotation. Bleed Omar Minaya dry, Theo!

Also, any big market team is automatically in the running for the next wave of talent from Japan. With the Big Two in Boston (Matsuzaka and Oki-Doki) as well as Akinowa performing well on the cheap in Tampa (for once I will be nice and leave the Yankees horrible Japanese pitching pick-up out of this discussion), expect many teams to begin picking through the wares and looking at players such as outfielder Kosuke Fukodome (what a great name: we played the Dragons at the Fukodome last week; all the fans told us to Fuko at the dome.), as well as closer extraordinaire Masa Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek humor in a sports blog is dangerous territory), and starter Hiroki Kuroda. Expect the Dodgers or Mets to grab at least one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Keeping the Big Schill

Well, sanity prevailed. The Red Sox did not throw $13 million guaranteed to their #4 or 5 starter, and the Big Schill kept his legacy intact by staying in the place of his greatest triumph(s). Kudos to Curt Schilling for realizing that the difference from playing for the Boston Red Sox and playing for the Philadelphia Phillies is a horse of a different color. And kudos to the Red Sox front office for covering their rears by only guaranteeing $8 million and making him earn the other five by getting his fat ass in shape and staying healthy.

Curt Schilling is synonymous with the 21st century Boston Red Sox and I am glad he is staying. Unlike a certain team in the Bronx, they did not embarrass themselves by slobbering all over him and begging him to come back like the way they have been handling the Andy Pettite situation.

I'm back, Baby!

Bender old man, you took a fine time to leave the blog running on empty...as Bono once said on the ZOOropa video live in Sydney Australia 1992 (I always stay up to date on my cultural references): off with the masks, on with the show:

The Sox won the World Series.

Jonathan Papelbon is the newest New England regional media-darling -- it will be a brawl between Dunkin Donuts and Honeydew to see who gets him to sell coffee to us all.

Curt Schilling is back for less than $13M per season.

Mike Lowell still may return.

Miguel Cabrera could be on his way to Boston for a king's ransom in young pitching.

Someone in the Bronx Zoo let A-Rod out of his cage. My guess is they find him in Flushing.

Joe Torre screws Grady Little out of a managerial position again!

The Patriots beat the Colts to go to 9-0 despite a +100 yard differential in penalty yards.

Is there anyone left still debating the decision to sign Donte Stallworth and trade for Randy Moss and Wes Welker?

Someone take away my baseball bat if I get within 50 feet of my first two picks in fantasy football: Shawn Alexander and Cedric Benson.

The Celtics are 2-0.

Ray Allen, as I have been telling everyone under the sun, is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad man!

Kevin Garnett is better than advertised.

James Posey and Eddie House look like perfect fits for the C's.

The Bruins are actually back to pre-strike level of play: entertaining, scrappy, and falling short in the end. A seven seed and first round loss looks like a distinct possibility!

BC is number...uhh, just call it a freefall.

The Revs are in the Eastern Conference championship again. Sustained brilliance!

Is that it? Am I caught up on everything? OK, time to push ahead into another glorious winter of New England Sports.

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