Quick Look at the 2012 AL MVP Race

This is a good year for baseball. Infield flies aside, there was a lot of excitement down the stretch in the Pennant Race. To top it off we had the first Triple Crown Winner since 1967.

The strange thing is that people don’t think that Miguel Cabrera is the Most Valuable Player in the American League. They are saying that Mike Trout deserves that honor.

Well, let’s throw the MVPP statistic at this problem and see what happens.

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A Stat for Baseball’s MVP

Why create yet another stat? As discussed previously, the purpose of the MVPP (MVP Percentage) stat isn’t to measure the Best player. The purpose of this stat is to measure and find the most Valuable player. In any year, it is simple to point to the best players. Finding the most Valuable, that can be tricky.

This stat is designed to be calculated from values that most people can track down over the internet. That means I use very common stats in the baseline. I will publish all my adjustment numbers and how I got them if I create them.

Disclaimer time: This stat currently focuses on hitters. I have worked out way for pitchers, but it needs more data run through it to check its validity. So any critiques that complain about ignoring pitchers will be sacked.


The Initial Calculation

We need a rate stat as a starting point. Actually, we need to determine the percent of runs a player contributes to their team. They can do that by either scoring or driving in a run. Let’s start by adding Runs and RBIs (Runs Batted In) together. Yes, these numbers don’t tell the whole tale, but hang in there.

These numbers are partly based on opportunity and the people hitting around you. They are also based on playing time. A Valuable player needs to be someone the team can count on. A player that doesn’t play everyday is less Valuable to me than one who does.

MVPR = Runs + RBI

Ok, now what about that team context? This helps players on bad teams and those on teams that just score less runs. Teams that don’t score well provide less opportunity to accumulate Runs and RBIs. It also helps determine on each team which players are more Valuable. Let’s divide what we have by the Total Runs Scored (TRS) for each team.

       (Runs + RBI)
MVPP = ------------

Now we have our base stat.

The Adjustments

Ok, lets address the weaknesses a little. Let’s multiply the previous number by the OPS. For those that don’t know, OPS stands for “On-base-percentage Plus Slugging-percentage”. This is a quick little stat that measures offensive performance in a quick manner. Good ones start to approach 1, depending on the era. This makes it a nice little multiplier.

       (Runs + RBI)
MVPP = ------------ * OPS

Well, we have OPS in there, just one little problem. We still need to add the adjustment for the ballpark. Remember, half of the games are played on the road which have a neutral impact. When we calculate the adjustment, let’s add one to the baseline ballpark adjustment and divide by two. This will give us an average. We will call this the Ball Park Adjustment, BPA.

        (Runs + RBI)
MVPP = ------------ * OPS * BPA

Now let’s adjust for their position. It is hard to reach a universal agreement on how to adjust for a position. A quick and dirty approach is to compare the offensive numbers for a given year by position. We will call this the Field Position Adjustment, FPA.

       (Runs + RBI)
MVPP = ------------ * OPS * BPA * FPA

How about winning teams versus losing teams? The key here is not to put too much weight on this while keeping it simple. We should also reward teams that finish in first with a .600 winning percentage over those that finish second with a .600 winning percentage.

Take a team’s Win Percentage and add 0.50 to it. If the team is leading their division, add another 0.05 to it. This gives us a nice little multiplier hovering around 1. We’ll call this number the Adjusted Win Percentage, AWP.

       (Runs + RBI)
MVPP = ------------ * OPS * BPA * FPA *AWP

That’s it! It looks daunting, but that is why we have Excel and this site.

Next we’ll look at the 2012 MVP race in the AL.

[Brought to the future from 2002 with some updates, such as renaming the stat from MVP% to MVPP]

Determining Baseball’s MVP Award

Back in 2002, I stood-up a little website with a focus on baseball. I was particularly driven to try and come up with remedy’s to what I saw as some of the biggest controversies at the time.

Below is the lean-in post for Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Award. It is a slightly edited extract from the website. I’ll be adding more posts in quick order.

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Will Melky Cabrera’s 50 Game Suspension Work

In case you missed it, Melky Cabrera was suspended this week for 50 games for using a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED). To his credit, Melky didn’t try and make excuses, he just accepted the suspension.

My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.

Unfortunately, Melky’s suspension has opened up a can of worms that needed to be opened eventually. As I write this, the San Francisco Giants are only half a game out of first place in their division and one game out of the second wild card playoff slot. ESPN currently puts their chances of making the post-season at 47.9%. The question has begun to be asked, if Melky, arguably the best player on the Giants behind Buster Posey (who is excellent), hadn’t been cheating would the Giants be in contention?

To put it another way, are the Giants going to benefit from Melky’s cheating? Should they? Is 50 games even enough given that he could play this post-season if the Giants play more than 5 games?

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Separation of Sport and School

Recently the University of Florida announced that they were planning to cut their Computer Science program. This is a travesty for education and the university, but this is not the point of this post.

Steven Salzburg contributed an article to Forbes titled University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm. He raised several important points and then ruins the article with this paragraph,

Meanwhile, the athletic budget for the current year is $99 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year.  The increase alone would more than offset the savings supposedly gained by cutting computer science.

He then throws in, Now, I’m not saying that UF has chosen football over science, but with the headline and the above paragraph, that is exactly what everyone is reading. If you read the comments, he does state that the title might be unfair, but the title has not changed and the comment is unlikely to be read by most.

Here are the important facts that are glossed over:

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Fixing the BCS

I blogged back in November about adding the simple rule of only allowing conference champions play in the BCS title game. That would have remedied the situation we had this year where LSU is the official SEC champion and Alabama is the National Champion.

There are several issues with what happened. They are:

  • Who is the real SEC champion? We have an official champion, but I feel the conference now has a split title.
  • Is the SEC really the best conference? By not beating another conference in the championship game, that is a fair question.
  • If only conference champions can play, who should LSU have played?

People can argue that the BCS achieved its goal of matching number one versus number two. Of course, that isn’t the true goal. That is just the means to the real end, identifying the best team in the nation and having a true National Champion.

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Adding One More BCS Rule

Right now, there are two debates raging about the BCS. The first is about streamlining the BCS system and only worrying about a title game. I’m torn on that idea, but really don’t care enough either way to debate at this time. The other is this nonsense about an all-SEC National Title game.

Keeping in mind that being an Auburn grad, I am very pro-SEC , let’s look at the sheer idiocy of this concept.

When matching two teams from the same conference with each other, you aren’t creating anything unique for the bowls. In fact, you are re-hashing a debate that has theoretically been settled. One team is the conference champion, the other is not. Do we really need another game that will bring the title of the conference champion into play? This is even more ridiculous when talking about conferences with either a full round-robin schedule or a Conference Championship.

Which bring us to the other issue, How can you be the National Champion when you aren’t even your Conference Champion?

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