Monday, October 13, 2014

8 comments Jerry Green Says Mike Trout is the 2014 AL MVP, Still Uses Faulty Reasoning

Well, Jerry Green got the AL MVP seemingly correct, but like last time when he got (potentially) the right answer, he used the wrong reasoning again to get there. This is not a shock since Green tends to look at the MVP as the MVP on a winning team, because after all, how valuable can a player be if the players around him aren't very good? Jerry Green thinks that Mike Trout should be the 2014 AL MVP, which is interesting to me considering Trout has put up similar traditional statistics as he did the prior two seasons. Jerry thinks Trout is the AL MVP because the Angels are winning games. That's all that matters to Jerry Green. He just wants his AL MVP to play for a winning team. Because after all, MVP isn't the best player, but is the most "valuable" player and a player's individual value should be determined by the team around him.

The words are most valuable player. Simple words.

And yet, you insist on making it solely a team award. I could not agree more. You are wrong to incorporate so much of a team's success in with an individual player's performance.

MVP — the annual vote fest that so frequently provides contentiousness, contrariness and controversy on the previously noted media outlets. Some years the speculation approaches bloodshed.

Strong disagreement = bloodshed

I have to remember that Jerry Green comes from the time when he could spout whatever opinion he wanted to and there was no public disagreement of that opinion as there is in the Internet age. Jerry is used to feeling his opinion is the right opinion, so when someone feels as strongly about a topic as to disagree with him, then that's bloodshed. Jerry can feel strongly about the AL MVP, but as soon as someone disagrees with his position strongly then there's bloodshed occurring. It's fine for Jerry to push his point strongly, but others can't do the same. 

The standings must be factored into the MVP contests because they indicate the worth of ballplayers.

Exactly. The standings should be factored in, but not factored in more than other factors, because it measures the worth of ballplayers (plural), while the MVP is an individual award. Glad Jerry Green can argue my point without actually knowing he is doing so. 

Plain math. Nothing to do with metrics.

Exactly. If you want to find out which team may have the best group of individual players then look at the standings. If you want to find out which team has the best individual player, look at individual statistics. It's pretty fucking simple. 

Once first place was all that mattered in the baseball summers.

Once black baseball players had their own league where they could play baseball separately from white baseball players. Once sportswriters were friends with players and turned a blind eye to the use of amphetamines. Times have changed. Change with the times, accept it. 

That was before Bud Selig, the lame-duck baseball commissioner, came along with his cockamamie wild-card schemes. Now it’s the playoffs and a variety of standings, every day.

The Wild Card has nothing to do with the MVP race in either league. 

The daily grind happens to be the most alluring part of baseball. To me, anyway.

Two years ago was one of those near-bloodshed seasons in the American League’s MVP electioneering. It was Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout. The Tigers’ Triple Crown champion vs. the Angels’ multi-talented rookie outfielder.

"Someone disagreed strongly with my strong point of view. I'm going to be a drama queen about it now. Poor me for being disagreed with so strongly."

Cabrera’s team finished first in a hectic division race. They won the playoffs for the pennant and advanced to the World Series, which turned into a Detroit flop. Trout’s team finished third in its division race and failed to reach the pennant playoffs.

But, and here is the important point that Jerry Green can't get through his head, the Angels actually won one more game than the Tigers did in 2012. So if Jerry Green likes the daily grind so much then maybe he can realize the Angels won the daily grind by just a hair, it just so happens they play in the wrong division. 

Additional points for Cabrera — above the three hitting titles — for contributing to a first-place finish.

But if the Angels and the Tigers played in the same division then Cabrera would have contributed to a second place finish in 2012. This isn't a matter of who came in first in the AL Central, it's a matter of geography. Geography means the Angels play in the AL West, which means they don't play in the AL Central, which means Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP (based on Jerry's reasoning) because Anaheim is in California and is not a city in the Midwest. If Anaheim were located in Minnesota, then Mike Trout would be the AL MVP using Jerry's reasoning. See how silly this all sounds? 

The award, I repeat, goes to the most valuable player. It is not the best-player award. It is not the most-talented award.

It goes to the player who was most valuable to his team. A player can still be very valuable even if he doesn't play for a team that has won their division. Being the best player on a team of other really good players (you know, like on a team that has a Cy Young Award winner or three), doesn't mean that player is the most valuable player. Jerry Green does a great job of making my argument for me and I do appreciate it. 

Cabrera’s value to the Tigers, simply, was that they finished first in 2012 and again in 2013 because he was the top force on the roster.

I don't have an issue with Cabrera being the AL MVP in 2013, but the idea the Tigers finished first in the AL Central and that's why Cabrera should be the AL MVP in 2012 is silly. The fact Jerry Green says the MVP is not measured by who is the best player, then gives the award to the best player on the Tigers is hilarious to me. Jerry says the MVP is for the most valuable player, then says it shouldn't go to the best player. Then he says Cabrera was the AL MVP in 2012 because he was the best player on his team.

That being explained, Trout, in less-than-vintage form this season, should nonetheless be a shoo-in for the American League’s MVP award. By acclimation. And for the first time Mike Trout is bound for the postseason.

The Angels are headed toward the playoffs, likely as first-place winner of the AL West or the most proficient wildcard choice.

Trout's team is going to the postseason, that must mean he is more valuable this season and not that the team around him is better than it has been in the past. After all, even though Jerry Green admits Trout has had better seasons when he wasn't the AL MVP, obviously Trout has become more valuable while being not as good of a baseball player because his team is performing better. That makes sense, right? Trout is more valuable this year, despite Jerry believing Trout hasn't performed up to his highest standard. It must be those great clubhouse motivational speeches that Trout is giving and has nothing to do with Jerry judging an individual player on his team's achievements. 

If there is any athlete who might deserve any sort of MVP recognition after Trout, it should be Victor Martinez.

OK, I am a self-admitted purist — I maintain a love of baseball played the old-fashioned way. And Victor is in the Detroit lineup as designated hitter, the scoffed-at DH, with rare games at a field position. And there is the notion that a DH does not deserve any recognition as an MVP.

But wait, Jerry Green is open-minded about a DH being recognized as the MVP because this one time Victor Martinez came through in the clutch. Martinez may be a DH, but his clutchiness is off the charts. Now that's a valuable player!

On the other hand, I was affixed to the MLB Network the other afternoon when the Tigers were playing in desperation against the Yankees. This was the game that was tied 2-2 in the ninth. Viewing from afar, it could be deemed the most important game the Tigers had played all season.

Sure, Jerry Green thinks it's a season-long grind and that's why he hates the Wild Card the lame-duck commissioner installed two decades ago, but this was THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE August. It's a season-long grind, but the season-long grind apparently ends in late August in the opinion of Jerry Green. So there's that. 

Anyway, this is the perfect time for some clutchiness. Who can be clutchy?

Then, Victor Martinez cracked a double to lead off the bottom of the ninth. His hit, in the body of pinch-runner Bryan Holaday, developed into the winning run in the Tigers’ 3-2 victory.

Again, I stress the notion of value.

Value being that Mike Trout wouldn't need a pinch-runner in this situation because he is a better all-around player than Victor Martinez and has the speed to score from second base that Martinez doesn't have? Or value in that Jerry Green chose this one specific at-bat to stand as representative of Victor Martinez's other 500+ at-bats being on-par with Mike Trout's 500+ at-bats?

Trout is the most talent-laden young ballplayer to reach the Major Leagues in some 60 years. My unshakable opinion. The most talented since the 1950s young years of Willie Mays and the great Roberto Clemente. The only young player with similar multiple talents since was Ken Griffey Jr.

But not the MVP unless he wins his division. Sort of like how Roberto Clemente was the 1966 NL MVP and his team came in 3rd in their division? 

But in this strange season, Victor is out-hitting Trout by some 35 percentage points. For some odd reason, Trout is batting below .300, sub-standard for him.

Trout wins the production war — home runs and runs batted in.

RBI's are a product of players being on-base for Trout to drive in, which means RBI's are a product of Trout having a good team around him. Also, it's not odd that Martinez is out-hitting Trout. Victor Martinez is having a really good year. 

And Trout plays glorious defense. He competes with the speed of a sprinter — and seems to get his uniform dirty every game.

Even if Mike Trout has to shit his pants, they will be dirty by the end of the game. Because a dirty uniform means a player has hustled and is more valuable than a player with a clean uniform.

He packs the ingredients to be MVP — with the added points of driving a club to first place, or at worst a wild-card playoff place.

It's funny how Mike Trout isn't having his usual great year, according to Jerry Green, yet he suddenly has become more valuable to a team that is playing better than they were when Mike Trout was having his usual great year. It's almost like other players on the Angels team have something to do with the team's success.

The MVP contentiousness this year is confined to the National League.

A pitcher is required to be exceptional to be considered in the voting for MVP against quality every-day athletes. This was the debate three seasons ago when Justin Verlander was in consideration.

The Cy Young is the trophy that goes to the best — not always the most valuable — pitcher.

Trying to decide which pitcher is the best pitcher in the AL/NL and how that pitcher who is the best pitcher in the AL/NL is not the most valuable pitcher gives me a little bit of a headache. 

We go back — it is the most valuable player award — and Verlander was the most dominant player in the American League. Pitchers do happen to be ballplayers. Again my perhaps singular opinion.

But what if a pitcher is the most dominant player in the American League, but he plays for a team that isn't very good? The pitcher was dominant in all of his starts, but his team wasn't very good. Does this make him not a valuable pitcher, but the best pitcher in the American League? How could this pitcher have improved his value? By having the players around him hit the baseball better than they did or have the other pitchers in the starting rotation be better at pitching? That sounds a lot like judging an individual player for an individual award based on his team's performance.

And for that reason, this year’s MVP in the National League is Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers are running away in the NL’s West Division.

And of course Kershaw becomes more valuable because his team has better hitters and other starting pitchers in the rotation. Kershaw's individual value is increased because the value of the players around him is increased. In a race for an individual award, it doesn't make sense to base a player's individual value on the players around him, but fuck it, that's how it's always been done. 

Kershaw is dominant in his league — more dominant than the only other possible National League candidate, Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is an awesome basher. He leads his league in home runs and runs batted in.

Stanton’s value to the Miami Marlins is that he has carried a rinky-dinky team to .500 respectability.

But if Mike Stanton were really valuable he would carry his team to a first place division title. Because obviously, if Clayton Kershaw pitched for the Miami Marlins then he would carry the team to first place with his awesome pitching abilities. Obviously this would happen. 

But first place is worth points. Kershaw’s Dodgers are destined to finish in first place. They are the best team in baseball, because of Kershaw.

(Punches a wall until his hand is bloody)

Or...the Dodgers are destined to finish in first place because they have a huge payroll and can afford to employ good baseball players like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp Zack Greinke, Hanley Ramirez, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Josh Beckett (who hasn't pitched poorly this year) that make up a good baseball team. But yes, the difference in the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers is the presence of Clayton Kershaw on the Dodgers team and how he brings more value to the team compared to the value Giancarlo Stanton brings to the Marlins. That's it. That's the difference in those two players. 

Gosh, here out on America’s Pacific rim, the homers are yelling about a Los Angeles-only World Series, pitting the Dodgers and Angels. Hollywood vs. Disneyland.

And the two obvious MVPs. Kershaw vs. Trout.

A natural matchup!

I like Jerry Green's conclusion, but I hate how he gets there. I just want baseball writers to stop using team metrics to determine the individual value of a player for the MVP award. Apparently this is too much to ask.


franc said...

just a bad argument. why are these guys so prone to philosophizing about the difference between "best" and "most valuable"? the last thing i need to see/read is a tedious discussion about words coming from linguistically challenged sportswriters.

Bengoodfella said...

Franc, it's a hard difference to understand I think for some. Who is the most valuable player in the AL? Who added the most value to his team? I see how a player who didn't make the playoffs could get the MVP award, but that's not often how it goes.

Chris said...

I never like these end of season MVP winner/loser columns. I may be in the minority but unless a player from my team wins it I really don't care who is MVP. It's a nice accolade and worth mentioning but it's not a big deal to me.

franc said...

ben, i totally agree. but can you see a player from a non-playoff team in the nba winning the award? it happens in baseball, but i don't think it happened since the merger in the nba. if ever.

Snarf said...

I mean, NBA more than 50% of teams get into the postseason and individual players/superstars have far more ability to impact their team's W/L record than any individual player in baseball.

I think we're comparing apples and oranges here.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I write about them a lot for someone who doesn't really care about them much. They are just awards. I just like dissecting the arguments for one player or another. Otherwise, it's just an award to me.

Franc, I think I agree with Snarf on this. In the NBA one player can have a much bigger effect on his team than in baseball. I won't say only players from playoff teams in the NBA should be the MVP, but one player has such a huge effect on his team's success in basketball, it's a little easier to justify a guy giving it to a player whose team made the playoffs.

Chris said...

I always like your breakdown of the MVP columns. Especially the baseball ones because it usually is either complaining that another player didn't win, or it disintegrates into a debate about metrics in baseball.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I like writing them though I don't care for the awards. If it weren't up to me, there would be no postseason awards, just because I generally find them to be boring. They do produce fun discussions and a lot of material for this blog, so I shouldn't complain too much.