Monday, October 03, 2005

Reasons Why A-Rod Should Win the MVP Over Ortiz
1) Ortiz is a DH. People have been arguing that this shouldn’t prevent him from winning the award, and they are right, if his stats had been so head-and-shoulders above anyone else’s. But they’re not (more on that later). And even if they were, which they’re not, baseball isn’t only about scoring runs… it’s about preventing them, too. And Ortiz didn’t contribute to that at all, while A-Rod was one of the best at arguably the toughest position in baseball.
2) A-Rod had a better season statistically. Sure, Ortiz had more RBI’s. But A-Rod led in batting average (by 20 points!), homers, runs, hits, stolen bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. In fact, A-Rod led the league in 4 statistical categories, and was top 2 in 2 others. Ortiz only led in RBI and was top 2 in 3 others. The numbers don’t lie.
3) A-Rod often batted 2nd in the Yankee line-up, which limited his RBI opportunities. Meanwhile, Ortiz batted almost exclusively in the 3 or 4 hole. More RBI chances = more RBI's.
4) The Yanks won their division. The Red Sox came in second. The MVP should follow suit.
5) I hate the Red Sox and love the Yanks.


ben said...


Let's go through this, one by one.

1) Ortiz being a DH shouldn't prevent him any more than Giambi winning it in 2001 (and being AWFUL at 1st) or a pitcher winning it. By most realistic statisical measures (not some awful Zone Rating or Range Factor statistic - in fact, most statisicans will tell you that ZR and RF are poor measures of ability). A-Rod, if you don't remember, was downright atrocious at 3B for the first 70 games of the year, Edgar Renteria-level atrocious. And most baseball people will tell you the hardest positions in the game are the up-the-middle ones - C, 2B, SS, and CF.

Errors and Fielding percentage are such an arbitrary stat - it's different than any other one because it's decided BY a person. An independent entity decides whether or not an error happens. But even by your standard, he's not in the top 10% in FP in MLB at his position, which I would rank as 'best', at least.

2) On the other hand, A-Rod hit .200 points less of OPS with Runners in Scoring Position, .300 points less of OPS with Runners in Scoring position w/ 2 outs, and 20 of his 47 HRs put the Red Sox ahead or tied the game. Ortiz also had a full 100 points more OPS in the month of September when he had THREE game-winning hits.

Ask anyone - they are much more scared of Sheffield at the plate than A-Rod.

3) He had 102 at-bats in the 2-hole. He had a full FIVE-HUNDRED at-bats in the 3, 4, and 5 spots. So don't use that as an excuse. Baseball Prospectus has a stat called "RBI Opportunities", which measures the # of RBIs a player has vs. their chances - using the 520 plate appearances as the standard (as that's what they use to determine the batting champion), we can see that in fact, David Ortiz had 0.1996 RBIs per RBI chance, good for 6th in baseball. A-Rod had 0.1589, good for 50th. So obviously, it's not JUST chances that make up your RBIs - it's what you do with them. (And just so you know, Derek "Mr. November, but I really hit .148 in the 2001 World Series" Jeter ranked 119th, just behind Jason Varitek and just ahead of Royce Clayton).

4) The Yankees and Red Sox finished with the same record. If there was a need to actually determine a champion, they would - but there's no need to - why play another game so that two teams play an extra game that has no real value since they both made the playoffs - even MLB has acknowledged this. They use the tie-breaker of head-to-head because it's easier than playing that extra game.

5) Well, that's just downright silly.

Anonymous said...

A Rod is a A Hole. Hope the Yankees have fun in CALIFORNIA on that LONG FLIGHT Hee Hee. Congratulations Champs.

Brian said...


Let's go through this, one by one.

1) I didn't say his being a DH should prevent Ortiz from winning... I said it should be a factor. Given the closeness in offensive stats, A-Rod's help on defense should be taken into account. Also, the fact that A-Rod was bad the first 70 days means he was that much better the last 90 (and you seem to put so much stock in late-season performance). What matters is how the season balances out.

And whether Errors and FP are arbitrary or not, they are still stats and should therefore be considered.

2) The last I heard (which was Sept. 24, and so it may be outdated), A-Rod had 20 game-winning RBI's to Ortiz's 19. So don't use the game-winning hits argument.

3) Okay, you have stats to back up your argument that refute my claim, so I'll give you this point. But on the flip side, you then have to give A-Rod credit for creating RBI's even when the opportunities weren't there.

4) What does your argument here have to do with anything? All I said was the Yankees won their division, which they did. Doesn't matter that they had the same record... Yanks had a better head-to-head record, and that's what counts.

5) Of course it is.

I appreciate your enthusiasm and hope you won't be too disappointed when Ortiz comes in 2nd.

As for you, Anonymous, I'm sure they did have fun on their long flight to California... they are celebrating their 8th straight division title, after all.

ben said...

Thanks for the response, Brian.

1.) Errors are, as I said, a pretty arbitary stat. They are cherry-picked for the most part by an outside entity. Now, a guy gets 30 errors in a year? Yes, that says something. But for the most part, it's a good idea to ignore them and look at other fielding metrics. And, by most metrics like ZR and RF (which I don't love, and UZR is no longer published so it's not easy to get access to), A-Rod was in fact a pretty below-average 3Bman, as he was last in the AL in Range Factor and 2nd to last in Zone Rating.

Sure, fielding should count for something, but it's really only about 8% of a player value on average according to Bill James.

2.) Um, A-Rod had 19 Game-Winning RBIs? Where did you see this? It staggers my mind that A-Rod hit .243 with 38 RBIs in the 65 close Yankee games and .549 with 46 RBIs in the 20 blowouts. He had 3.5 times as many RBI / PA in the blowouts. Ortiz' ratio was 1.5. (Defining close games as decided by 1 or 2 runs or in extras; each team played 65 of them; defining blowouts as winning by 6 or more runs; each team played 20 of them).

A-Rod was decidedly MUCH worse in close games than he was in blowouts. The numbers don't lie.

Ortiz, on the other hand, was Ortiz: 288 PA, .321 AVG / .417 OBP / .699 SLG, 24 HR, 62 RBI, 49 R in close games, and 100 PA, .270 / .360 / .639, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 27 R in blowouts. He was REMARKABLY better in close games, the numbers do not lie.

3.) How do you create RBI opportunities when they aren't there? Oh yeah, solo home runs. Giving someone credit for hitting home runs when there's no one on is kind of like kissing your sister.

4.) Whoopie. The Yankees won one more game - maybe we can count that Giambi Steroid-Aided Homer game as the one. They also got to play 10 vs. the Mariners and the Red Sox had to play the A's 10 times. You think the Red Sox couldn't have won one more game against the M's than against the A's? The teams finished, statistically, in a dead heat.

5.) Hating one team and loving another shouldn't influence who you think should be the MVP. To me, the MVP of the league is actually Rivera (and the Cy Young) considering without him the Yankees likely finish 10 back of the Red Sox.

After Pedro finished second in the MVP voting back in 1999 to Pudge, I was pissed off because he was robbed by two NY writers (Murray Chass and someone else), claiming that because he was a pitcher, he shouldn't be considered. Murray was the same guy who openly bitched when Ichiro got the ROY and openly bitched when two KC writers left Matsui off their ballots in the 2003 ROY balloting, claming they were being unfair.

If Ortiz doesn't get the MVP (which, by the way, I don't believe that he will), it's because people completely overrate the defensive side of the game and the value that it brings to a team on a day-to-day basis. A-Rod's numbers this year are staggering, but were built up in a series of blowouts. Ortiz's numbers this year were staggering and were built up in a series of close games.

Tell me, which is more valuable?

Anonymous said...

What's valuable is a girlfriend. You guys are geeks.

Brian said...

What have you been smoking lately? There's a problem with hitting solo home runs or homers with runners on 1st? Yeah, I sure as hell wouldn't want one with my team down 1-0. How dare he do that?

Oh, and the Sox played 10 games against Detroit to the Yanks' 6. How's that for fair?

As for the GWRBI stat, it was on a Fox broadcast, and it's also on your very own Boston

Tommy Himself said...

Ben and Brian; you're making some credible, and obviously well-considered points.

I'd like to throw my hat in the ring, but much of what needs to be said has been already written above.


Ben, you say that Rodriguez padded his stats in blowouts. Did you stop to think that he might be the main reason they were blowouts? And don't blowouts protect the Yankees from exposing their worst weakness -- the middle relief? That's a pretty valuable asset. You could make the converse argument and say Ortiz did just enough to put the Bosox ahead by a run or two in close games, but not enough to ease the pressure on the rest of the team. Like the middle relievers, wounded closer, and the uh, infielders who need to buckle down to protect a slim lead.


I love Ortiz. I think he's an amazing hitter and I get queasy every single time he's on deck.

But... he's got the benefit of sitting on his hands for almost 3 hours every game. That's a respite not afforded position players like A-Rod, who are running, throwing, diving, and even just plain STANDING IN THE SUN, while Papi's on the bench spitting seeds off the Gatorade cooler.

I agree that offensive numbers and not fielding % should drive MVP candidacy. But you can't dispute that it's a two-sided game.

This weekend, I caught some of an Indians game on ESPN. The announcer's were having the A-Rod/Ortiz/but he's a DH discussion, and both agreed that Papi should be MVP regardless of his being a DH. Almost on cue, Tribe 2Bman Belliard booted a grounder. One of the announcer's was quick to say, "See, Ronnie just took his orrible at bat out into the field with him. It's in his head."

But those announcers were fucktards.


Tommy Himself said...

I don't know how those unnecessary apostrophes got in there.

Must be a ghost in the machine.


ben said...

There is absolutely no possible way to say that Ortiz plays both sides of the ball.

That said - it is the "Most Valuable Player". Without A-Rod, the Yankees, imho, are still very much in the playoffs. Without Ortiz, the Red Sox are watching the Indians play the Angels and the Yankees play the White Sox.

I never said that solo- and 1-run homers aren't valuable. They're plenty valuable. But notice I said "RBI Chances". That means a runner on base, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

As for the Red Sox playing Detroit 10 times - despite similar records, I don't think you actually say that the Mariners are even CLOSE to as good as the Tigers. The Mariners have three good players in Ichiro, King Felix, and Sexson; Beltre was a bust and a half.

The GWRBI stat was on a Boston Herald message board. Don't know how much I believe it, but the late/close vs. blowout numbers certainly prove a point.

As for A-Rod hitting well in blowouts as the reason for the blowout, that's an interesting point. But A-Rod had something like 30% of his RBIs in 10 games or something ridiculous like that - that's not a good thing.

And again - ask any Boston fan and they'll say the same thing: A-Rod doesn't scare anyone. It's Giambi and Sheffield that do and that it's Rivera who's the real MVP of the AL.

Jon said...

Hi Brian.

Don't mind my buddy, Ben. I'm not sure he knows when to stop. Heh.

ben said...

Not for nothin', but Ortiz doesn't ground into a double play in the 9th inning as the tying run.

Rough season for both teams. Next year will be better.