Debating this year’s MVP and Cy Young winners


I just want to start the postseason-awards debate by breaking down the pros and cons for the top-three candidates for the MVP and Cy Young awards in each league.

Curtis Granderson is having an MVP season. (blog.stack.com)

American League MVP

The candidates:

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox

.346 batting average, 85 runs, 38 doubles, 3 triples, 20 HRs, 97 RBIs, 1 stolen base, .408/.549/.956

Pros: Leads the AL in batting average, second in RBIs, third in OBP, fourth in OPS and fifth in slugging. Gold Glove defender, as well, having committed only three errors at 1B. Team is 78-50 and tied for first place in AL East.

Cons: Has the luxury of playing in a loaded lineup, getting protection from all over the place and getting more RBI chances than the other candidates. Against the Yankees, Rays and Tigers, is hitting .173 (19 for 110) with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 29 games.

Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees

.281 batting average, 115 runs, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 35 HRs,  98 RBIs, 24 stolen bases, .375/ .594/ .969

Pros: Leads the AL in runs, triples and RBI, ranks second in home runs and slugging, third in OPS, eighth in BBs and ninth in SBs. Has scored 24 more runs than second-place Jose Bautista. Has been the best player on a first-place team that has been beset by injuries with Alex Rodriguez missing 45 games and Derek Jeter 23. Also plays a Gold Glove center field, having committed three errors this season.

Cons: Ranks 32nd in average. Hitting just .194 (21 for 108) in 30 games against the Red Sox, Rays and Tigers.

Jose Bautista 3B/OF Blue Jays

.318 batting average, 91 runs, 20 doubles, two triples, 36 HRs, 80 RBIs, six stolen bases, .459/ .652/ 1.111

Pros: Leads AL in home runs, BB, OBP, SLG and OPS. Second in runs and seventh in average. His 1.111 OPS is 131 points better than second-place Miguel Cabrera’s .970.

Cons: Doesn’t play for the Red Sox or Yankees.

The winner: Granderson. He has a chance to lead the AL in runs, triples and home runs, something that has never been done. And throw in a possible RBI crown. He has meant more to his team than the other guys.

Prince Fielder is swinging for the NL MVP. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

National League MVP

The candidates:

Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers

.305 batting average, 80 runs, 30 doubles, one triple, 28 HRs, 100 RBIs, no stolen bases, .415/ .561/ .977

Pros: Leads the NL in RBI, fourth in home runs, second in OBP, fourth in SLG, fourth in OPS, second in BB, seventh in runs. Is the most feared hitter on a team that is 10 games in front of the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

Cons: May split votes with teammate Ryan Braun. Has hit only six home runs in 39 games since the All-Star break.

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers

.322 batting average, 79 runs, 26 doubles,  three triples, 29 HRs, 95 RBIs, 33 stolen bases, .394/ .569/ .962

Pros: Ranks third in NL in home runs, RBIs, slugging and stolen bases. Fourth in average, fifth in OPS and seventh in OBP. Has an outside shot of becoming just the fifth member of the 40 HR/40 SB club. Plays a stellar center field. Hits in a pitcher’s park on an offense that gives him little support.

Cons: Similar numbers to Ryan Braun’s, whose team is in first place. Dodgers are 59-69 and 10.5 games out of first in the NL West.

Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers

.328 batting average, 90 runs, 31 doubles, four triples, 25 HRs,  85 RBIs, 28 stolen bases, .399/ .586/ .985

Pros: Leads the NL in runs, slugging and OPS. Second in average, fifth in RBI and OBP, eighth in stolen bases and ninth in home runs. Team is in first place. Should join the 30 HR/30 SB club.

Cons: Hits in front of Fielder, giving him some of the best protection in the game.

Winner: Fielder. Braun may have the better all-around numbers, but Fielder is the heart and soul of that team, and without him, Braun’s numbers would suffer.

Justin Verlander is closing in on the AL Cy Young. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

American League Cy Young

The candidates:

Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers

19-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .187 BAA, 212 Ks, 45 BBs, 9.1 Ks/9, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, including no-hitter

Pros: Leads the AL in wins, Ks, WHIP and BAA, second in ERA. Leads the league averaging 7.5 IP per start. Tossed a no-hitter May 7 against the Blue Jays and has come close two other times, 25 of  28 starts have been quality starts. Team is six games up on the Indians for first place in the AL Central.

Cons: Lost a game to the Mariners this season.

CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees

17-7, 2.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .245 BAA, 184 Ks, 47 BBs, 8.4 Ks/9, three complete games, one shutout

Pros: Second in wins, third in Ks, sixth in ERA in the AL. Averages 7.3 IP per start. Pitches for the Yankees. Team is tied for first in the AL East.

Cons: 0-4, 7.20 ERA, 1.72 WHIP against the Red Sox this year. Ranks 20th in BAA and 11th in WHIP. 3.63 ERA in seven games since the All-Star break.

Jered Weaver, RHP, Angels

14-6, 2.10 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .207 BAA, 158 Ks, 42 BBs, 7.6 Ks/9, four complete games, two shutouts

Pros: Leads the AL in ERA and ranks second in WHIP, third in wins, third in BAA and eighth in Ks. Averages 7.3 IP per start. Team is 70-59 and just 3.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Is 2-1, with a 1.86 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in four games against the Rangers this year, 23 of his 26 starts have been quality starts.
Cons: Verlander is just better this season.

Winner: Verlander. Has been the best pitcher in baseball this year and should win the award easily.

Will Clayton Kershaw keep pace to earn the Cy Young in the NL? (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

National League Cy Young

The candidates:

Roy Halladay, RHP, Phillies

15-5, 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .248 BAA, 182 Ks, 23 BBs, 8.6 Ks/9, seven complete games

Pros: Second in wins, third in Ks, fifth in ERA, fourth in WHIP in NL. Leads the league in complete games and averages 7.3 IP per start. 7.9 Ks/BBs ratio leads the NL. Team is 83-44 and best in baseball.

Cons: Hard to choose one guy from a team with Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) and Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.71 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) also enjoying great seasons.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers

16-5, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, .211 BAA, 207 Ks, 48 BBs, 9.8 Ks/9, four complete games, one shutout

Pros: Tied for the NL lead in wins and Ks. Second in WHIP and BAA, third in ERA. Averages 7.1 IP per start. Is 7-1, with a 1.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in eight starts since the All-Star break.

Cons: Team is 59-69 and 10.5 games out of first in the NL West.

Ian Kennedy, RHP, Diamondbacks

16-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .232 BAA, 154 Ks, 49 BBs, 7.7 K/9, one complete game, one shutout

Pros: Tied for the NL lead in wins, eighth in WHIP, ninth in Ks, 11th in BAA and 12th in ERA. Is 7-1, with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in eight starts since the All-Star break. Team is 70-59 and 2 games up on second-place Giants in NL West.

Cons: Not a big name, so voters may ignore him.

Winner: Kershaw. Across the board, having a better season than any other pitcher in the NL this season, and as we learned from Felix Hernandez last year, team success isn’t that important.

Feel free to add your own thoughts to the debate in the comments below.

comments

11 Comments

Your email address will not be published.

  1. I love RBI for Fantasy Baseball, but RBI doesn’t show that they “can” drive in runs, it shows that they “did” drive in runs. Given a small enough sample size, any player can appear to be clutch or even to choke, but on a long enough time line the actuality of their stats bears out.

    How many more RBI would Kemp have than Fielder if Braun was batting in front of him? And then would Kemp be the MVP?

    The voters are starting to understand these values. That’s how Felix won the Cy Young last year – because people are starting to get that “wins” are for teams and there are better ways to measure a pitcher than how the team did around him.

  2. To some, Matt Kemp preventing the Dodgers from becoming the Astros might be considered more valuable than Granderson helping the Yankees increase their wild card lead.

    You are not going by what the award is called. You are defining the word valuable to somehow relate to the team’s record. There is no mention of team performance in the description of this individual award.

    Runs are based entirely on what happens with your teammates (other than homeruns) – all that other stuff is covered under on base percentage and slugging percentage (which aslo covers homeruns). And those are all factored into WAR.

  3. To some, Matt Kemp preventing the Dodgers from becoming the Astros might be considered more valuable than Granderson helping the Yankees increase their wild card lead.

    You are not going by what the award is called. You are defining the word valuable to somehow relate to the team’s record. There is no mention of team performance in the description of this individual award.

    Runs are based entirely on what happens with your teammates (other than homeruns) – all that other stuff is covered under on base percentage and slugging percentage (which aslo covers homeruns). And those are all factored into WAR.

  4. To some, Matt Kemp preventing the Dodgers from becoming the Astros might be considered more valuable than Granderson helping the Yankees increase their wild card lead.

    You are not going by what the award is called. You are defining the word valuable to somehow relate to the team’s record. There is no mention of team performance in the description of this individual award.

    Runs are based entirely on what happens with your teammates (other than homeruns) – all that other stuff is covered under on base percentage and slugging percentage (which aslo covers homeruns). And those are all factored into WAR.

  5. Well, we don’t know if the Yankees would be as good without Granderson this year. What we do know is that the Dodgers are in last place with or without Kemp. And while it is not his fault at all that his team isn’t that good, he just isn’t the most valuable player this season. I am just going by what the award is called.

    The Cy Young is a whole other argument. A pitcher can win the MVP but a hitter can’t win the Cy Young. A different award needs to be given solely to the best hitter of the year.

    Ah, but runs do become relevant when a player like Granderson can get himself into scoring position via a double, triple or stolen base, therefore making it easier on his teammates to plate him.

  6. Runs are irrelevant, but I don’t think RBI is. RBI is useful as it shows that a player can drive in the runs and can be clutch.

    Some players simply have split numbers where they can’t hit with runners on or in scoring position.

  7. • WAR is not an end-all. But it factors in defense and base-running – which are part of how “valuable” a player is. That’s why Fielder drops so low. He is BAD at defense and base-running (decreasing his valuable-ness).

    • Team standings should not matter. Why is it Matt Kemp’s fault that Ned Colletti built a bad team? Also by your argument, since Granderson’s Yankees would still be essentially where they are, he cannot be the MVP.

    • Runs and RBI became irrelevant when people realized that the batter has nothing to do with whether someone is on base before them or hits well after them.

  8. Yeah, Ellsbury has been amazing this season. The one guy that I kept wavering on was Upton. His line up is terrible and he is possibly the best defensive right fielder in the game. Braun and Fielder could win the dreaded co-MVP too.

  9. I am not a SABR metrics guy. There a lot of variables that go unaccounted for. If WAR is one of the current stats that you are referring to that measure a player’s value then Ben Zobrist (6.2) is more valuable than Fielder (4.2) and Miggy (4.4). So is Alex Avila (4.9).

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=6&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0

    Team standings should factor into a most valuable player award. Matt Kemp is having a great year, and may be the ‘best’ player this season. But how valuable is he to a team that is in last place? If he drowned in the Wrigley Field troughs tomorrow, his team wouldn’t be any worse.

    Since when did runs and RBIs become irrelevant?

    I went back in time once, it was magical. Billy Beane was there, promising World Series titles.

    Use your SABR wizardry and create a list. I bet it resembles my old school list.

  10. Batting average? Runs? RBI? Pitcher wins? Team standings? I feel like I’ve
    gone back in time.
    Just a heads up: there are a lot more recent and more accurate ways to measure player value.

  11. I agree with three of four. I think Braun gets the nod in the NL.
    Also, I think Ellisbury has been the MVP for the Red Sox and has been the main reason the Sox kept on winning despite Gonzalez going into the crapper. He at least should have been included among your nominees.

DON'T MISS