Today In Poorly Formed Thoughts

I have a pretty good idea that complaining to SI.com’s Jon Heyman is similar to complaining to umpire Joe West. It’s a futile affair. No opinions will change and the complainer will more than likely leave the confrontation completely unsatisfied, while the other party will only feel emboldened to further disseminate his questionable point of view. Such is the nature of professional trolls.

Earlier this afternoon, Heyman posted a column in which he supplied his readers with his picks for the major MLB awards at the halfway point of the season. For the most part, they’re not horrible selections. I agree with several of his top threes, and even the way he ranks them. The one that I take the most exception with though, is the ranking of his picks for American League MVP.

Heyman chooses Adrian Gonzalez as the AL’s most valuable player and names Jose Bautista as his runner up. Believing that any player has contributed more to his team or baseball in general than Bautista to this point in the season is wrong. Dead wrong.

I’m not writing about a subjective judgment here. Jose Bautista has clearly been the better player. He’s 1.7 wins better than Gonzalez with more home runs, more walks and more runs, and a better OPS, wOBA, and wRC+.

In fact, the only statistics with which Bautista doesn’t have an enormous advantage over Adrian Gonzalez are batting average and runs batted in. I’m prepared to concede that yes, Adrian Gonzalez has hit more singles than Jose Bautista. That is true. And that is why he has a higher batting average.

But as for RBIs, let’s suspend reason for a second and give credence to the idea that runs batted in might be a valuable measurement of a player’s worth, ignoring how important actually having runners on base is to the counting stat, and believing that when presented with the opportunity, an MVP type player should create runs for his team.

After all, that’s the whole reason for valuing RBIs, right? It’s supposed to measure how good a player is when they need to be.

Again, I’m ignoring the fact that throughout the entire history of baseball, there are only a few exceptions, assuming a proper sample size, in which a player has significantly better numbers in one situation versus the rest of their career, but I’ll digress for the purpose of this point.

What RBIs don’t take into account is how many times a player is presented with an opportunity to drive in another player. To use a hockey analogy, only looking at RBIs is like only looking at power play goals, and considering one player who has more power play goals to be better than another player who has less, without looking at the total time that each has spent on the power play, or if the “lesser” player has spent any time on the power play at all, or giving any consideration to who he might be playing with on that power play.

Fortunately, baseball fans can actually look at how players perform with runners on base or with runners in scoring position, instead of merely counting up the number of runs they’ve knocked in when presented with those opportunities. And when we look at this, we will discover that Jose Bautista’s OPS with runners on base is an astounding 1.154, while Gonzalez’s is 1.002. With runners in scoring position, Bautista has still been the better player, putting up an OPS of .978 to Gonzalez’s .971.

The only difference is that Bautista has only had 170 plate appearances with runners on base and 98 with runners in scoring position, while Gonzalez has had 207 and 125 respectively. Being surrounded by better players in Boston than Bautista is in Toronto, has afforded Gonzalez more opportunities with runners on base, and allowed him to accumulate more RBIs. However, Bautista remains a better player in run driving in situations.

However, Heyman never states that this is the reason why he would bestow such honours as his imaginary American League MVP award on Gonzalez over Bautista. The only reason he gives for such a poor decision is that: “His team is in fourth in the AL East.”

I could get into the reasons why a team’s record should have no influence whatsoever on measuring a player’s value, or how taking anything more into account than the individual’s performance is foolhardy, but that would probably take several hundred more words. Fortunately, Heyman doesn’t even put much stock in that reasoning anyway.

How else to explain his choice for the NL MVP: Jose Reyes? Yep, Jose Reyes on the third place Mets who are ten and a half games back in the National League East Division, the exact same amount of games that the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves behind in the American League East Division.

Things I’m immensely proud of: not using a single obscenity in the above writing.

Comments (31)

  1. I read Heymans piece earlier and trust me, I said enough obscene words for the both of us.

  2. John Heyman is a clown. Great article on your part, but it really isn’t worth getting all distraught when, you know, he still hasn’t passed grade 6.

  3. FUCK.

    And yeah, the whole “not in playoff hunt” argument doesn’t fly at the halfway point. 10.5 games with half a season to play is not insurmountable. I’m not saying they are likely to make the playoffs or anything, but to dismiss a player because his team is 10.5 at the All Star break, especially since he chose Reyes, is so dumb.

    Bautista has been better. That’s just it. And the only thing that’s good in Sports Illustrated are the bodies on the swimsuit models.

  4. Bill Simmons in his latest (sports?) blog about movie stars also supported Gonzalez. Red Sox homers (aka Massholes), each and every one of them.

  5. It’s topics like this that should send you back to posting on DJF so you can get your obscenity on.

  6. 10.5 out, with three teams ahead of you and pulling away, is very much insurmountable. They’ll finish closer to 20 back than they will even 5.

    Maybe the Jays will launch a horrible ad to promote Jose as MVP? 2nd is as close as he’ll get.

  7. Heyman tweeted last week that when he’s evaluating the value of a player, he considers both statistical and non-statistical evidence. Using the wrong stats to measure a player’s value, as you succintly describe, is one thing. Using something other than stats is out of this world stupid. Heyman must either never think about what he says or writes, or he and he alone must know of some secret non-statistical formula for measuring a player’s value that he refuses to share with any of us.

  8. It’s also interesting (and perhaps hypocritical?) that in a separate article that lists “the 70 first-half heroes of baseball” he has Bautista penciled in at number one, with Gonzalez at number three.

  9. Haha, it at least would be a justifiable opinion (though still stupid) if he didn’t have Jose Reyes as his NL MVP.

  10. Jose Bautista leads the league in OPSRBIS, he should bet he MVP.

  11. c’mon. Nobody really thought anybody would let Jose Bautista win the MVP, did they? He could be player of the month for July, August, and September, and he still won’t win.

    The disparity in OBP between Gonzalez and Bautista is ridiculous, due to Bautista walking 70 times compared to Gonzalez’s 30. If pitchers threw to Bautista like they did to Gonzalez maybe his average would be around .350 too.

  12. Dear Heyman,

    Jose Bautista is a W.A.R. Hero.

    FACT

  13. War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’…

  14. His logic doesn’t even make sense in his AL ballot. I mean, if Gonzalez is more valuable than Bautista because he plays on a 2nd place team, shouldn’t Granderson (his pick for 3rd) be more valuable since he plays on a 1st place team?

    Its going to be really upsetting if Bautista ends up with 60+ home runs, 120+ walks, the best OPS in the league and doesn’t win because the Red Sox are a stacked team.

  15. The Corcoran article that Mr. Wenn and IMW posted is definitely worth the read. He does a great job of explaining that a player’s value is absolute, regardless of the team he plays for. I mean, that’s exactly why WARP and WAR exist right?

  16. Ok, this is me being Al Pacino, Keanu, and the rest of the cast of a 90′s movie…

    I would say Gonzalez has been more important to the Beaneaters than Bautista has been to Toronto, while Bautista has been the better player. My reasoning is this … if Boston has a player of average ability coming to the plate in the situations Gonzalez has been in, they lose more runs than Toronto would with an average player in Bautista’s spot. Therefore, if you replace each with an average player, Boston will have suffered more.

    Now, that said, you have to get into a debate about whether it’s an award that is supposed to go to the best player or to the most valuable to his team. One sounds more like what the award is titled.

    Now, tear this apart if you will.

  17. Tim, if Jose Bautista breaks Roger Maris’ record (60+ home runs) and DOESN’T win the MVP, I think there will be a full scale rebellion.
    I’m not always the biggest fan of stats that aren’t “counting stats” (looking at you WAR) because they depend on weightings which I may or may not agree with. Having said that, only an idiot would see that Bautista has more HRs, extra base hits and a higher OBP and conclude that his fewer RBIs somehow indicate that he’s the worse player.
    On another note, can someone explain to me why ‘park ratings’ for stats like xFIP etc change? Reading Corcorans article, the part where he says that SkyDome has become a home run park stuck out to me, because the Dome hasn’t ‘become’ anything since it was built in 1989. Hasn’t it just become a park for a team full of more HR hitters?

    • @Ray – Park effects take into account the rate at which home teams hit home runs on the road compared to home and vice versa.

      Changes to the internal construction might increase it, not to mention the added condos when the roof is open. Even changing weather patterns over time.

      Historically, the Dome has more years where it played as a good hitters park than not. But you are right, it is an inexact science.

  18. Agreed, Bautista is the games best right now. No question. Check my site for my thoughts and stats to prove it.

  19. Sometimes I like arguing from a nonsensical point of view.

  20. has anyone won the mvp with their team not making the playoffs??

    bautista has been the mvp, but the red sox will (should?) make the playoffs, so gonzalez would get it

    i don’t agree with it, but thats how it works in the crazy world where jeter gets gold gloves

  21. DC, ARod did it in Texas, for one.

    For me, if a lot of the stats are close or sawed off, I have a hard time giving it to the guy who is 10+ games out – it is a lot easier to pile up stats free of the pressures of a pennant race or expectation. Saying AGon is tops over Bautista is ridiculous is, to me, ridiculous.

  22. A few more reasons Bautista is clearly more valuable: plays a more demanding defensive position; plays another more demanding defensive position, giving added flexibility to the Jays; plays in a less advantageous hitter’s park; is a clubhouse leader, bridging the cultural gap between Latin & American players; is a better baserunner; contributes a greater proportion of his teams’ total offensive output.

    Put that in your pipe & smoke it, Heyman!

  23. This is why Parkes has his own blog with TheScore. Good shit.

  24. Why is Andy Pettitte taking a picture of Jose Bautista? I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with this Clemens trial…

  25. @ gerald

    just because he plays a more demanding position(s), doesn’t mean he plays them well. gonzalez is a good defensive 1B. Jose is a bad defensive RF/3B.

  26. The funny thing about Heyman is that no one respects anything he says/writes, but Heyman himself. He doesn’t seem to understand that the whole world is laughing at him, because he tends to dismiss everyone’s opinion that does not match his own.

  27. How many times did you have to rewrite this to take out the swear words?

  28. @eric

    1) my point was that Bautista’s positional value was higher than Gonzalez;
    2) It takes less to be a good fielding 1B than a good defensive RF or 3B as 1B is at the bottom of the defensive spectrum, and
    3) the data is a great deal more mixed than you acknowledge – Gonzalez may be better for his position than Bautista, but it’s not that big a difference: this season Gonzalez is 7 runs better by UZR, but 10 runs worse by +/-

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