Monday, February 11, 2008

Best of the Rest?

Neyer recently offered his take on it, with "the rest" of course referring to the National League which only had 3 representatives in the top 10 for win shares last year (with 1 of them, Miguel Cabrera, jumping ship soon after). David Wright was his answer for the best player in the NL in 2007. And by using the vague, qualitative word "best" he prevented anyone from proving him incorrect.

I hardly ever discuss who should win the standard seasonal awards because they themselves are so arbitrary and inexact, but at least with MVP there is somewhat of a working definition in place. The MVP each year is basically the most productive player on any winning (preferably playoff) team with players missing significant stretches of the season automatically eliminated. Also bonus points for September contributions. For what it's worth I would have voted for David Wright for MVP last year under these guidelines and think he would have gotten more support if his personality was more selfish.

But the best player in the NL last year? How can one even define such a thing. I know what Neyer was thinking, he was thinking Wright was a top 10 offensive producer, produced the most down the stretch, and also played great defense at third base (playing defense makes you more of a baseball player don't you know). Then he confused himself by forgetting most solid doesn't equal best. I for one don't live in la la land where Sir Albert Pujols isn't the best player in the National League. Was he the most productive player last But the guy was injured. A guy playing on one leg with one functioning arm with an OPS 997 has to be the best, right? I guess not though if someone helped their team more than Pujols did.

Did Neyer mean the most productive guy? Well no, then he would have said OPS-leader Chipper Jones. But does most productive mean the best stats or the most at-bats, because David Wright only was better than Chipper Jones last year because he was able to walk to the plate about 75 times more. For one I find it hard to vote against guys with the best stats, I don't think you should give awards for showing up to work, you should get them for succeeding. Under those rules Geovany Soto clearly was the best player in the NL last year, with a nod to Josh Phelps. That's silly though I know, those guys hardly played at all. If we add a reasonable minimum at-bat number of 500, then Chase Utley was the best. But look how many stars are in the Phillies lineup, shouldn't best at least be most important to their team? Then hooray the answer is Barry Bonds.

What's my point for Neyer? Stop bragging about David Wright leaving a message on your answering machine and start writing about stuff that's quantitative (ie worthwhile). What kind of sports nerd doesn't use math in their arguments? A smarmy one whose opinions are now self-proclaimed gospel, that's what kind.

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