Monday, November 12, 2007

My Awards 2007

Earlier today, Ryan Braun and Dustin Pedroia were named the 2007 NL and AL Rookies of the Year. Do I agree with these picks? How do I feel about the other candidates? Read on to find out!:

American League MVP: Alex Rodriguez
There's really no comparison. A-Rod hit 314/422/645 in over 700 plate appearances while playing an adequate third base (although the latter is debatable). He sported a .338 EQA and led the league with 96.7 VORP. Here's how he compares to the rest of the league (bold indicates league leader):
A-Rod: 314/422/645; .338 EQA, 54 HR, 95 BB, 3 FRAA, 96.7 VORP
Magglio Ordonez: 363/434/595, .335 EQA, 28 HR, 76 BB, -4 FRAA, 87.8 VORP
Jorge Posada: 338/426/543, .322 EQA, 20 HR, 74 BB, -4 FRAA, 73.4 VORP
David Ortiz: 332/445/521, .339 EQA, 35 HR, 111 BB, 0 FRAA, 86.2 VORP
Ordonez can nearly match A-Rod's offensive output, but not quite; and we should also consider a) that A-Rod plays a more valuable defensive position, and b) Yankee Stadium hurts A-Rod more than Comerica Park hurs Maggs.
David Ortiz can match, or even possibly exceed, A-Rod's production. But Ortiz doesn't have quite as many plate appearances, and of course he had zero defensive value.
No arguments here, and I think A-Rod will win handily.
Here's my top 10:
1. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
2. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers
3. Jorge Posada, New York Yankees
4. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
5. Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers
6. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
7. Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
8. C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians
9. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels
10. Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians
National League MVP: David Wright
Except for the more intellectual analysts like Rob Neyer and Keith Law, Wright's name has gotten little or no mention in the mainstream media. So it's up to me to prove Wright's case. I'll save some time by just showing you the criteria I used to make my decision.
Here's Wright compared to the other candidates:
David Wright, NYM (325/416/546, .329 EQA, 11 FRAA, 30 HR, 94 BB, 604 ABs, 81.1 VORP)
Jimmy Rollins, PHI (294/344/531, .290 EQA, 11 FRAA, 30 HR, 49 BB, 716 ABs, 66.1 VORP)
Prince Fielder, MIL (288/395/618, .324 EQA, -16 FRAA, 50 HR, 90 BB, 573 ABs, 69.1 VORP)
Matt Holliday, COL (340/405/607, .318 EQA, 14 FRAA, 36 HR, 63 BB, 636 ABs, 75.0 VORP)
Chase Utley, PHI (332/410/566, .321 EQA, 8 FRAA, 22 HR, 50 BB, 530 ABs, 68.8 VORP)
The only argument that can push Rollins, a vastly inferior hitter, past the other people on this list is his defense, baserunning, and "hustle." As for hustle, you can throw that right out the window; hustle is great, but it's better when you're backing it up with something. If it were a photo finish between these guys, maybe then I'd give Rollins extra credit for showing up early at the ballpark and passing the butter without being asked. And as far as being an everyday player, note that when you take walks into account, Rollins only has about 60 more plate appearances than Wright. That's a significant number, but no enough to bridge the gap in batting.
As for defense and baserunning, Rollins is good, I grant you. But so is Wright, and Rollins's edge is once again not enough to bridge the huge gap in VORP.
So yeah, if you believe in fairies, wishing on a falling star, and the magic of good intentions, then Jimmy Rollins is your MVP. Otherwise, it's a close race between several other guys, with David Wright the guy I would pick.
It is pretty close between Wright and Utley, and I wouldn't get too upset if Utley won (he won't -- Rollins will). But Prince Fielder, home runs and happiness aside, doesn't cut it. Sum up his offense, and he's even with the other guys (look at the EQA). Which means that, overall, he's not nearly as valuable, since he's a first baseman (Wright plays third, Utley second, Rollins short) and he's a dreadful defender at that. Kudos to Prince and all, but he shouldn't win the MVP.
Matt Holliday gets a big atta-boy, but he's not the MVP. VORP is actually kinder to him than I would be. EQA sees through the Coors Field effects, and although his defensive numbers are good, everything I've seen and heard suggests that this is an aberration.
Speaking of EQA, none of the players I've mentioned so far led the league in EQA. They were all close, but this fellow actually paced the NL in hitting, all told:
Chipper Jones, ATL: 337/425/604, .340 EQA, -3 FRAA, 29 HR, 82 BB, 513 ABs, 76.0 VORP
Chipper won't win the MVP, and I don't think he should, but is he really getting the appreciation he deserves? He missed time due to injury, but not so much as he has in recent years. He's still an elite offensive player, but he's not going to top 150 games or play a good third base. But he's a lot better than people think. One writer suggested that a way to give Scott Boras a stroke was to make the case that Alex Rodriguez is just the AL version of Chipper Jones. That's not quite true, but the two are close enough that it pokes a big hole in Boras' theory of A-Rod as one-of-a-kind.
And let me address Hanley Ramirez. VORP suggests that, considering that he plays shortstop, he was the most valuable hitter in the National League. Ramirez hit 332/386/562 in a very tough hitter's park while playing an elite defensive position. In most years, that's an automatic MVP.
Except that Ramirez is a terrible, terrible defensive shortstop. Is that enough to knock him down a peg? I think so. I'm not going to dismiss him like so many others have, but consider this: VORP takes defensive position into account, but it does not account for how well you play the position. WARP does take defensive skill into account, though. Viz:
WARP1: D. Wright (10.6), M. Holliday (9.7), C. Utley (9.3), J. Rollins (9.2), C. Jones (9.1), H. Ramirez (8.9), P. Fielder (6.8)
This puts Fielder's MVP case into perspective. I still don't see what the stat sees in Matt Holliday, except perhaps his odd defensive numbers. Regardless, David Wright is still a clear winner.
1. David Wright, New York Mets
2. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
3. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
4. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
5. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
6. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
7. Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies
8. Miguel Cabrera, Florida Marlins
9. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
10. Mark Teixeira, Atlanta Braves
AL Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia
As I see it, this case comes down to Sabathia .vs. Beckett. And while there are a lot of considerations to take into account, here's the most important point: Sabathia threw 241 innings (leading the league) to Beckett's 200.2. Granted, in the postseason, the Indians may have regretted riding Sabathia so hard, but during the regular season, 40.1 innings is a lot, especially when two candidates are otherwise pretty close. ERA-wise, Sabathia leads (3.21 to 3.27), but that lead is nullified when you take into account Fair Run Average (Beckett leads 3.47 to 3.55). Beckett had a better strikeout rate, whereas Sabathia had a better walk rate.
I wouldn't cry if Beckett won the award, but I keep coming back to that 40+ innings. That's a lot, and I think it outweighs Beckett's slight edge in effectiveness.
Some other notes: Johan Santana has an off year and still finishes 3rd in my rankings . . . John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar are both better than people appreciate . . . Erik Bedard may well have won the award had he stayed healthy. He still makes the top 10 list.. . . I keep asking this question: where is the love for Javier Vazquez?
1. C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians
2. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
3. Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
4. John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels
5. Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics
6. Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians
7. Erik Bedard, Baltimore Orioles
8. Kelvim Escobar, Los Angeles Angels
9. Javier Vazquez, Chicago White Sox
10. Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
NL CY Young: Jake Peavy
This one wasn't nearly as difficult. Peavy walks away with the pitcher's Triple Crown -- leading the league in wins (19), ERA (2.54), and strikeouts (240). And in most categories, he led by a fair margin. He plays in the friendliest pitcher's park in baseball, but he's still the NL's best pitcher, hands down.
Notes: The Braves' duo of John Smoltz and Tim Hudson were great this year, but I'm not so confident they'll continue that surprising nature next season . . . Giants fans don't need to panic: Matt Cain is here.
1. Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres
2. Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks
3. John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves
4. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
5. Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
6. Brad Penny, Los Angeles Dodgers
7. Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds
8. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
9. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
10. Jeff Francis, Colorado Rockies
AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia
This was a pretty close race, as no one was excellent, but several people were pretty darn good. I guess you could say that I took the easy way out with Pedroia, the everyday player on the World Champions (and the guy who won the thing, as it turned out). Pedroia's challengers aren't hitters; the best non-pitcher rookie other than Pedroia was Brendan Harris of the Devil Rays. Delmon Young, amassed his counting numbers just because he managed to make it to the ballpark every day without falling down a manhole. I have Young ranked 12th among AL right fielders; he hit 288/316/408, sporting a 26:127 BB:K ratio and some "I'm still learning" numbers defensively.
As for the pitchers, there's about half a dozen decent candidates, starters and relievers. And if I were a brave man, I might have cast my (symbolic) Rookie of the Year vote for one of these guys:
Brian Bannister, KCR: 3.87 ERA (4.14 FRA), 165 IP, 34.9 VORP
Jeremy Guthrie, BAL: 3.70 ERA (4.41 FRA), 175.1 IP, 38.2 VORP
But instead, this pitcher took the #2 slot on my AL ROY ballot:
Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS: 4.40 ERA (4.27 FRA), 204.2 IP, 37 VORP
Looks like a pretty close comparison, right (Look especially at the FRA rather than the ERA). The thing that made up my mind was this:
Bannister, KCR: 44 BB, 77 K
Guthrie, BAL: 47 BB, 123 K
Matsuzaka, BOS: 80 BB, 201 K
There are a million other numbers we could look at, yes. But I think that Matsuzaka, with the significant advantage in innings pitched and strikeouts (especially considering that his ERA isn't as unsightly as it looks), is the man here.
1. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox
3. Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles
4. Brian Bannister, Kansas City Royals
5. Rafael Perez, Cleveland Indians
NL Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Boy, I spent a lot of time thinking about this one. Yes, I'm very well aware that although Tulowitzki is an excellent shortstop, he's not that much of a hitter -- especially considering Coors Field. And I'm also aware that Braun is a potent offensive force that would make Tulowitzki look like Rafael Belliard.
But the defensive gulf between the two players is huge. Tulo is so good -- and Braun is so bad -- that this is one of those rare cases where a significantly superior offensive player is felled by his horrible defense.
I could understand voting for Braun (and I'm not gnashing my teeth that he won the award), but I think that, all things considered, Tulo was more valuable, especially -- and this is important -- because he racked up nearly 200 more plate appearances. That's a lot.
1. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
3. Hunter Pence, Houston Astros
4. Manny Corpas, Colorado Rockies
5. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
AL DHL Delivery Man of the Year:
1. J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners
2. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
3. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
NL DHL Delivery Man of the Year:
1. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
2. Takashi Saito, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox
Push-button manager? Not really. Even though it wasn't a surprise that the Red Sox won, that doesn't mean that Francona was some innocent bystander. I think he's going to be winning for some time to come.
1. Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox
2. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels
3. Eric Wedge, Cleveland Indians
NL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks
It seems too easy for me to pick the guy whose team was the most unlikely winners. But there were several signs that Melvin was indeed pushing the buttons that drove the team to its unlikely division title.
1. Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Manny Acta, Washington Nationals
3. Lou Pineilla, Chicago Cubs
AL Executive of the Year: Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians
Shapiro becomes the first repeat winner of this award, having taken it home in 2005 as well. His plans came to fruition this year with a postseason appearance, and every indication that they'll be back for the next 2-3 years. Cleveland is another franchise that deserves an award for the entire organization.
Cashman had a very good year, as he asserted his youth plan and even avoided making any big, entangling free agent deals . . . well, except for Roger Clemens, but I doubt he had much say in that. Cashman, when left to his own devices, seems to be a very able GM and having survived for so long under the New York spotlight and under the thumb of multiple Steinbrenners, he's earned his fair share of recognition.
I was tempted to put in Theo Epstein as the #3 man, but then I think of Julio Lugo, Joel Pineiro, and the $50 million+ bid on Daisuke. Those weren't his decisions alone, but he does bear a good deal of responsibility for him. I'm actually not as down on the J.D. Drew deal as some people are, but it still can't really be called a positive mark on his record.
1. Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians
2. Brian Cashman, New York Yankees
3. Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers
NL Executive of the Year: Kevin Towers, San Diego Padres
I believe that there's just one award given for both leagues, but here I'll just split it up for both leagues, because .. well, because I can.
Hey, I'm not his bigest fan, but a lot of the other candidates had at least one big blot on their record. Gillick did a pretty good job of pushing the Phillies into the postseason, but then you also have to account for Adam Eaton. Byrnes gets a nod, even though the Diamondbacks' revival was due to a great number of people. Towers did a pretty good job, cobbling together spare parts (Bradley, Ensberg, etc.) to make something happen. The Kevin Kouzmanoff trade paid off, relatively speaking, as did the Greg Maddux signing. The only real personnel move that didn't work out was the pick-up of Marcus Giles. And even then, Giles' disappearance was hard to predict, and he cost very little anyways.
1. Kevin Towers, San Diego Padres
2. Pat Gillick, Philadelphia Phillies
3. Josh Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks.
And in my next entry, the 3rd Annual Whiz Kid Awards
(exclusive to this web site ... I think . . . )

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