Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jon Heyman More Valuable than Tom Verducci, but Verducci Better

There’s nothing that draws out crazy failures in logic like MVP and CY Young voting. I just stumbled onto CNNSI and checked out Tom Verducci and Jon Heyman’s picks, and there’s a whole lotta wrong to be discussed. To be honest, I didn’t follow baseball as much this year as I have in prior years. I had a really busy summer at work and personally. It’s also pretty late and I’m tired. So instead of doing a bunch of research and using numbers to dissect their picks, which strike me as odd, I’ll just try to approach it more high level, with some basic logic.

First, Verducci, who is generally decent. Unlike Heyman, who must have incriminating pictures of someone important at SI.


1. Albert Pujols
2. Lance Berkman
3. Ryan Howard
4. Ryan Braun
5. Manny Ramirez
6. Brad Lidge
7. CC Sabathia
8. David Wright
9. Johan Santana
10. Hanley Ramirez

The guy is just posting his opinion, so just because I think Chase Utley should be on the ballot and he doesn’t have him, I’m not going to throw a fit. But Manny Ramirez played in 53 games. Brad Lidge had a great year. He threw 70 innings with a 1.95 ERA. But I have a fundamental problem with closers being MVP’s unless they are historically awesome.

But here’s my bigger problem. Based on the above list, how is Verducci’s CY ballot not:


Here it is:

NL Cy Young

1. Tim Lincecum
2. Johan Santana
3. Brandon Webb

Verducci tells us the CY is meant to honor the best pitcher in the league, and correctly says that the pitcher with the most wins isn’t necessarily that pitcher. But how the fuck isn’t the best pitcher more valuable than the second best pitcher? How is the most valuable pitcher not one of the 3 best pitchers? And how is the best starter not more valuable than 2 other starters? In my mind, any attempt to reconcile this position is a failure to understand the singular nature of baseball performances. It’s not Lincecum’s fault the Giants suck. He can’t control what the other 4 pitchers do, or what the hitters do.

Similarly, Verducci had Francisco Rodriguez ninth as the most valuable pitcher in the AL, but not among the top 3 pitchers. Aren’t the pitchers who pitch better more valuable?

Now to Jon Heyman.


1. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers. The savant saved the storied franchise, slugging .743 and lifting the Dodger dogs to the NL West title.

Okay, but 53 games? Even if you include all his games in Boston, Pujols still had 147 Runs Created vs. Ramirez’s 134. Ramirez RC number in the NL was 60.9. The Dodgers won the NL West because the NL West sucked. If they were in the NL East, and the Mets were in the NL West, Heyman’s first 4 players are Mets. Why is this so hard?

2. CC Sabathia, Brewers. Carried them with three straight outings on three days' rest, and oh yes, had a league-leading seven complete games.

It’s just a philosophical difference here on Ramirez and Sabathia that’s not worth debating further. Sabathia is more defensible (to be on the Cy ballot), to me. For the rest of them, I’ll just show the list without the explanations because I have the same point that I had with Verducci.

3. Ryan Howard, Phillies.
4. Brad Lidge, Phillies.
5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals.

Pujols just finished his best season. He posted the best OPS+ in baseball (190) since Barry Bonds in 2004. The best by someone not named Bonds in the NL since Sammy Sosa in 2001 (64 homers, .437 OBP). Manny Ramirez’s (highest full season OPS+ was 186 in 2000) was higher in his 53 games in LA. I’m going with the guy who played 148 games in the NL.

6. Ryan Braun, Brewers.
7. Johan Santana, Mets.
8. Carlos Delgado, Mets.
9. Chase Utley, Phillies.
10. Lance Berkman, Astros.

So his CY ballot must be Sabathia, Lidge, Santana?

NL Cy Young

1. Santana. Gets edge over CC for ERA title and for being in the NL all year.

But, in the MVP race…….you had….Sabathia SECOND, and said you could easily have flipped him with Ramirez! Why….here…does being the NL all year mean more??

2. Sabathia. Sheer second-half dominance.

What about the first half? Does that count?

3. Lidge. Though tough to leave out Webb and especially Lincecum (18-5, with a league-leading 265 strikeouts) in this year with at least five deserving candidates.

NL Cy Old: Tom Gorzelanny. Ugliest numbers ever, including a demonic 6.66 ERA.

Ugliest ever? Cy Old is lame and doesn't make sense. Wouldn't the Cy Old best old pitcher?


1. Francisco Rodriguez, Angels. An alltime great season with a record 62 saves.

Ladies and gentleman, your AL MVP…..the 4th best closer in the league!

2. Carlos Quentin, White Sox.
3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox.
4. Justin Morneau, Twins.
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox.
6. Joe Nathan, Twins.
7. Joe Mauer, Twins.
8. Jermaine Dye, White Sox.
9. Josh Hamilton, Rangers.
10. Evan Longoria, Rays.

Apparently Grady Sizemore and Alex Rodriguez were not as valuable as any of these 10 players because the other players on their teams did not play as well as the other players on the above teams.

Okay, so his Cy Young ballot must start with Rodriguez and Nathan?


AL Cy Young

1. Cliff Lee, Indians.
2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays.
3. Francisco Rodriguez.

I know that Heyman thinks this makes total sense and that I'm just a geek and he would say that I don’t understand baseball and pennant races and cracker jack and locker rooms and sweat, but this is a giant failure to exercise defensible logic.

I suppose Verducci and Heyman feel that good closers are very valuable, but they aren't necessarily worthy of being deemed the best pitchers, but how can Heyman defend having two starters 1 order in the MVP balloting (Sabathia / Santana) with good separation between them, but then have the order reversed in the CY balloting?


matt said...

I think you can reconcile these idiotic opinions if you view the MVP lists as placing extreme weight on whether a guy played for a playoff team, and lesser weight for a near playoff team.

Though it initially seems inconsistent that Santana appears BELOW Sabathia on the MVP rankings but ABOVE him on the Cy lists, it's explained by Sabathia getting more credit for the Brewers making the playoffs, while Santana gets demerits for the Mets choking on the last day of the season.

Santana was the better pitcher & thus higher on the Cy lists; his team was competitive enough to merit him being part of the MVP conversation; but Sabathia's being on a playoff team vaults him over Santana for MVP consideration.

So it's an argument with a structure of some logical integrity, just based on a foundation of stupidity.

matt said...

Also, it'd be interesting to take a look at the stats at the 54 game point for guys who played their whole season in the NL. I think Chipper Jones was batting like .430 and Chase Utley was on pace for about 68 home runs. The point being: it's harder to maintain a ridiculous pace over the full 162, so unless you're going to evaluate everybody strictly based on their best 54 game stretch Manny and Sabathia should get severely penalized in the MVP voting. It's astounding to me how many analysts don't get that.

Jeff said...

Yeah - I guess I knew that it was the playoff picture that convolutes the voting, but I just can't grasp how much sanity is ignored to get to these types of conclusions.

Firejoemorgan picked up the same Heyman column and actually posted the MVP guidelines, noting that games played is one of them.

Also, I neglected to point out that Pujols plays a great first base, and Manny is pretty not good at everything besides hitting.

Brasil said...

As a diehard Yankee/Derek Jeter fan I was extremely excited for this biography. I am happy to say that I felt the author did a very good job of chronicling Derek's career and I would recommend the book to anyone looking to learn more about this modern day icon as he approaches 3,000 hits.

With that said, I hesitate to recommend this as a "must-read" to any legit Yankee fan. A large majority of the content and stories have been well reported throughout the years and as someone who follows the team religiously I often found myself hoping the book would unearth a new detail to a story I already knew but, on more than one occasion, it did not. I also thought the author missed a few opportunities to go into detail about some of Jeter's more positive baseball relationship's (in particular his best friend Jorge Posada)and instead focused way too much time on his well documented relationship with A-Rod.

Despite my small gripes I did enjoy this book and I happily breezed through as each chapter reminded me more and more about why I have always admired Derek Jeter both on and off the ball field.