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]