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Awards 2009: MVP and Cy Young

November 30, 2009

Albert Pujols was by far the Most Valuable Player in the National League in 2009.

Well, I’ve already covered the gold gloves, silver sluggers and rookies of the year for 2009- so now all that’s really left are the MVP and Cy Young Awards.  I briefly thought about covering the “Manager of the Year” award- but to be honest, I’m not particularly interested in looking into it.  I can’t think of a way I can effectively evaluate the managers, aside from looking at the difference between the team’s expected win percentage and their actual win percentage.  And I’m not convinced that is the best way of going about it.  I also believe that a manager’s impact on his team’s effectiveness is somewhat limited.  If you give a manager a team of above-average players, they’re going to perform at their talent level regardless of who their manager is.  Perhaps a few individuals will see a slight increase in production, but for the most part the impact is small.  But I could be wrong, for all I know.  I played long enough to know that it didn’t have an effect on me, but it could be different for others.

But I digress.  The methodology I’m using is the same in my last post, where I combine offense (linear weights), baserunning (equivalent baserunning runs), defense (UZR) and a positional adjustment (based on UZR). Pitchers are evaluated by tRA, a batted ball DIPS statistic.  Also, pitchers will be excluded on the MVP ballot.  Perhaps we should just re-name the award the MVPP (Most Valuable Position Player).  The Cy Young is reserved for pitchers; and I believe the MVP should be reserved for position players.

National League Most Valuable Position Player:

1. Albert Pujols, +61.6

2. Chase Utley, +54.3

3. Hanley Ramirez, +50.0

Pujols comes to no surprise- everyone knew that he was undoubtedly the best position player in the National League and perhaps all of baseball this year.

American League Most Valuable Position Player:

1. Ben Zobrist, +60.4

2. Joe Mauer, +57.6

3. Derek Jeter, +35.4

I’m having something of a crisis here.  Zobrist, by my ratings, provided more value than Mauer did.  How is this possible?  Quite simply, it’s all a matter of defense.  Mauer has an edge of +15.3 runs over Zobrist offensively.  Zobrist has a +26.4 UZR, and Mauer saved about +5.5 runs based on very simple catching statistics.  That being said, the edge most likely goes to Mauer due to aspects of catching that we simply haven’t quantified yet.  And if I were to give a personal vote, I’d go with Mauer.  But I’m giving objective awards here, so the MVPP goes to the player with the highest rating (and I do feel better knowing that the difference between the two is 2.8 runs, though, which is smaller than FanGraphs’ gap of 4.1 runs).  Both Zobrist and Mauer had fantastic years, and it’s a shame to see Zobrist come in eighth in the MVP voting.

National League Cy Young Winner:

1. Tim Lincecum, +53.3

2. Chris Carpenter, +38.9

3. Dan Haren, +35.9

There was a lot of hullabaloo over the Lincecum selection because he only won 15 games, while Carpenter and Wainwright won a few more.  I’m not going to argue the merits of wins and losses in pitcher evaluation because…well,  it’s been talked about to death.  This isn’t to say that Wainwright didn’t have a good year; he most certainly did.  He comes in sixth behind Javier Vazquez and the extremely underrated Ubaldo Jimenez.

American League Cy Young Winner:

1. Zack Greinke, +68.2

2. Justin Verlander, +46.2

3. Roy Halladay, +44.3

This one was a definite no-brainer.  Greinke had one of the most dominant years in recent memory, and he was by far the most deserving Cy Young candidate out there.

Well, that about wraps up this short series.  I realize that this post is a bit shorter than the other two, and I apologize for that- this time of year is especially hectic for me and I’m low on energy.  Hopefully I’ll have some good material coming up soon- I’ve got some things in mind, and I’ll see where it takes me.

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