Tru Value

July 28, 2018


We’ve been discussing the concept of "value" in the Willie Stargell thread—to some, "value" means "quality" and to others it means "impact" and to others it means "leadership" and on and on, with all sorts of combinations of these concepts, and more, while to yet others the value in MVP seems so self-evident it’s not worth discussing. It’s a complicated subject on which there is surprisingly little accord, considering how long we’ve had MVP awards and much we’ve argued about them over the decades. You’d have thunk we would have come to some sort of general agreement as to what constitutes "value," but we’re still in the opening stages of such a discussion. What does it even mean to be "valuable," to say nothing of "most valuable"?

I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do have some ideas I’d like to splatter against the nearest wall, the first being: Is "value" quantifiable? That is, if someone has vast statistical superiority is there some point at which he gets the MVP award, and deserves it? Imagine Johnny Statz has a huge year: he laps the league in OBP and SLG, drives in 30 more runs than anybody else, etc. and wins the Gold Glove at a key position. Is he the MVP, no questions asked? If we can quantify his contributions, using WAR or Win Shares or Anything You Like, is there a point at which his total number squelches all discussion? Is there a zone in which discussion becomes possible, and another zone in which it becomes mandatory?

What might disqualify Johnny Statz from the MVP? If his team finishes last in their division, is that a valid DQ point, or is that DQ simply punishing him for his teammates’ weaknesses? It could be argued that weak teammates bolster rather than undermine his case for MVP, since that means he can be pitched around and otherwise neutralized more easily than other MVP rivals.

How about if Johnny has a lousy personality? We all understand that a sunny disposition is said to be a positive factor in MVP awards, but should it be? There are at least two almost entirely separate "personality" issues: how someone comes off in public (to the press, and to fans, which may not coincide but often do) and how someone is said to behave behind closed locker-room doors. Thinking about the latter, aren’t we going on a rumor more than anything else if we try to gauge Johnny’s reputation based on what his teammates are willing to say publically about his private conduct? Is "Everyone here looks up to Johnny" necessarily the truth, or just a convenient way for teammates to avoid controversy?

Or look at the anti-Johnny, whom we can call Johnny Bassler, after that excellent performer in MVP voting who posted consistently mediocre stats. Bill wrote an essay about Bassler, where I think he made the case that contemporaries of Bassler saw something in him that we can’t find in the numbers, and you have to respect what they saw, even if we can’t make sense of it. The contrary view to Bill’s is: if Bassler’s contemporaries jumped off the Empire State Building, would you jump too? In the discussion of Willie Stargell’s qualifications for the 1979 MVP award, there is (at least) a minority view that Stargell won it (or half of it) as a lifetime achievement award, or as a subjective way to honor some Pirate other than Dave Parker, the 1978 MVP, or as an acknowledgement of the Pirates’ team spirit. ("Smells Like Team Spirit"?) In other words, in the view of some, Stargell won the MVP award but didn’t really deserve to: the voters goofed. They didn’t have sufficient data to work with that made their choice clear, and they made the wrong choice. If we are willing to allow for the possibility that 1979 voters made the wrong choice, then why not attribute that same possibility in assessing the voters who felt that Johnny Bassler deserved MVP support?

(Just to be clear, Bassler didn’t win an MVP award or even come within sniffing distance of it. I’m writing this from a Paris café, so no reference books available, but I think Bill’s point was that Bassler got some MVP votes for statistically undeserving numbers. On his worst day, Stargell was a much stronger candidate than Bassler was on his best day.)

Quite honestly, I don’t get the whole "respect for contemporary voters" thinking. Let’s suppose for a moment that the voters of the 1930s regarded, say, batting average as even more important than they did. Suppose that instead of considering it very, very important, as they did, they considered it to be the only important measure of offensive performance. Does this mean that we would have to respect their misguided thinking? Or may we decide that on the subject of batting average, MVP voters of the 1930s had their heads stuck up an anatomically improbable place? There are things that we feel we understand better than people in the 1930s or 1910s or 1970s did, and I don’t get giving respect for things I don’t understand.

It seems just as likely, or more likely, that Bassler benefited from some sort of favoritism than that he was a much, much better player than his numbers indicate. I can easily imagine a small group of sportswriters out drinking one night after a good game by Bassler and trying to top each other with "Oh, yeah? One time earlier this year, I saw Bassler have an even better game…." stories and that drunken night forming the bulk of his MVP support when the ballots were passed around. Or maybe he was just an exceptionally media-friendly sort of dude who helped the writers get their stories, who consistently pointed them in the right direction, was always available for a juicy quote…who knows? Certainly not I.  But to me the possibility remains wide open that Bassler’s MVP votes were just some sort of mistaken perception.

But let’s suppose that Bassler, or Stargell, had an exceptional record of key hits in clutch spots in important games. First off, I’d dispute that there are important games. There are games that seem important, there are games that are important in retrospect, there are even games that seem important at the time and turn out to have been important games, but we can’t escape from the fact that all victories count for one integer in the "W" column equally. If you hit a walk-off HR in an April game that takes place on the West Coast with virtually no TV audience on the East Coast that gets no play in the next day’s press because of some competing news story, isn’t that exactly as valuable as a walk-off HR that wins the pennant on the season’s final day with everyone on the planet tuned into the game? I know we think the second type of HR is far more dramatic, far more exciting, far more satisfying, far more memorable, but does any of this make it mean shit to a tree, as the poet says? If you hadn’t hit that April HR, the pennant-deciding HR in late September would be moot, because you’d finish one game behind where you are without it. Because we think something, does that make it so?

Here's an absurd hypothetical: your righty half of a platoon duo (i.e., one who starts 40-50 games per season) has his typical mediocre year, bats .260 with a little power, but his team is in the pennant race through the final week.  They win their final 3 games, and the pennant, on 3 walk-off pinch hits by this mediocrity, who plays a few innings of good defense as well throughout the final week. Does he deserve any support at all in the MVP voting?

How about if instead of the final week, he plays way over his head throughout September? He still ends up at his typical .260 BA, 10 HRs, sort of numbers but gets clutch hit after clutch hit in almost every victory in the final month.  He has a dozen teammates who put up better numbers over the course of the season, but he has a monster September.

This hypothetical hasn’t happened yet, and may not ever, but if it did, I suspect there would be those who would be angrily insisting that this zhlub was the MVP, that he singlehandedly won the pennant for his team.  If this guy would, over the course of his career, hit walk-off HRs and other clutch hits at precisely the average rate given his other statistics, but managed to bunch a disproportionate number of them into this one September, is that actually something we want to honor? Or are we mistaking the MVP award for the LSOBE award? (Luckiest Son Of a Bitch, Ever.) If we see something that is attributable to luck, or random chance, or a roll of the dice, and we know that on a rational level, are we obliged then to dismiss it? Or to honor it?

A pitcher who lucks out, and gets W after W, despite undistinguished pitching is perhaps a phenomenon that we now view differently (in large part thanks to Bill’s work putting Ws into perspective) than we did in the twentieth century. I used to refer to this phenomenon as the "Tim Tebow effect," though Tebow’s subsequent baseball career has rendered that reference murky: someone pulls out win after win for his team despite putting up terrible stats.  We don’t think much of "pitching to the score" any more, though we continue to recognize that it happens sometimes, positively and negatively. If a mediocre pitcher rattles off a 7-0 September by consistently winning games 5-4 and 4-3 and 10-5, are we inclined to respect him as a big game pitcher and an MVP candidate? Not in 2018, we’re not.

So why would we respect the screwed-up thinking of contemporary viewers in the 1930s who might have viewed him as Mr. Clutch? If I’m content thinking the voters of a decade I’ve lived through made a foolish decision, why am I prevented from contentedly thinking that way about voters from a decade I didn’t live through? We didn’t suddenly become idiots after I was born, did we?

Back to the subject of value: should money enter into the discussion? The way we normally use the word "value" relates directly to money. "Is this valuable?" or "What value would you place on this?" are questions that often have a numerical, dollars-and-cents answer: "Between $20,000 and $30,000, madame" or "That’s $3.87, mac" are reasonable answers to those sorts of questions. Should we consider salary when talking Most "Valuable" Player?

Is someone more valuable because he earns a low salary, and therefore allows his team to sign supporting players who make the team better? Does it enhance a young Albert Pujols’ contributions that he played very well and also presented the Cardinals with no significant addition to their operating budget during his first few years? There’s certainly a little logic to that position, and salary is surely a factor that we can know with considerable certainty (as opposed to "leadership" or "clutch").

But the opposite position is often heard: the most valuable player, in a monetary sense, is that player who is paid the most. A MLB team decides that A-Rod is worth 25 million per year, and A-Rod then puts up some monster numbers and validates the team’s appraisal of him as the best player in the game; isn’t that a clear affirmation of his value?

Such a muddily-defined discussion of "value" leads to a rejection of salary as a consideration in MVP thinking. Since we disagree on whether the highest salary or the lowest is a positive factor in the discussion, we tend to avoid the discussion altogether. But should we?  If there were two strong MVP candidates with almost identical stats and identical results (teams in different divisions, each finishing first with the same record, etc.) but one earned the league-minimum salary and the other was the highest-paid player in history, would that enter into your thinking? If so, which way?


COMMENTS (31 Comments, most recent shown first)


Interesting that you mention the 1984 Tigers, as I was about to do that myself, but in a slightly different way. After they went 35-5, they went 69-53 the rest of the way to end up at 104-58. What I was going to point out is that at some point after they were well into their “slump” after having virtually clinched their flag in mid-May, Sparky was quoted in the newspapers (I’m sure we all remember newspapers) as having answered some sportswriter’s snarky question or caustic comment by saying “A win in April counts just as much as a win in September” or words to that effect, thereby turning the opposite statement (which you mentioned) on its head. And, of course, it turned out that he was right.

The other thing I wanted to point out, on a totally different subject, is that Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, and everyone else from that period had NO chance to accumulate high numbers of MVP shares, because prior to 1931 there either was no MVP at all (in many years), or a player was only allowed to win it once per career in the years when it did exist. I’m sure you knew this, I’m sure everybody knew this, but I still wanted to point it out just in case.
12:34 PM Aug 4th
Steven Goldleaf: Thanks for the clarification. I think most of us would agree that the 'barebone' stats should constitute the majority of the 'score' in determining the MVP. Perhaps a formula can be determined from past voting, something like this: MVP score = A*WAR + B*Team wins + BS ..... where maybe A = 0.9, B=0.1 and BS = ??? Your choice of A is how much you emphasis WAR, B how much you emphasis team wins, etc. I'm sure with more thought the author and readers here could come up with such a formula and maybe even derive the formula constants from past MVP votes...... my simple example would solve the case where players are tied in WAR, then player whose team won the most would be MVP
11:30 AM Aug 1st
And when a team like the 1985 Tigers goes 35-5 in its first 40 games and essentially wins the division by mid May, how do we evaluate the clutchiness of its players as opposed to a team that is playing meaningful games in September? Doesn't the "a win in September is more important than a win in April" argument fall apart when a team runs away with its division from the get go. Or should the MVP voters have turned to Willie Wilson in 1984 since he was the best player on a team that was playing significant games in September (and winning enough of them to eke out a division title, but wait Wilson played rather poorly in September, it appears that the best player in September for the Royals was Steve Balboni (OPS in September of 1.036)), despite the fact that the Tigers won 20 more games than the Royals (not that Hernandez was the right choice either, probably Alan Trammell should have been the MVP)

And if you want a poster child for "the MVP voters were seeing something that just doesn't translate to our understanding of what is valuable", I would put my money on Rabbit Maranville, career MVP share of 2.13 (tied with 2 time winner Hal Newhouser), 87th All time, higher than Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker, among others
10:45 AM Aug 1st
Steven Goldleaf
There is definitely more value in beating opponents inside the division, and more value driving in two runs in the bottom of the ninth when your team is behind by a run than in the first inning of 15-0 blowout. I'm not saying no. What I AM saying is that that value is too often overstated, as if to say "Oh, anyone can drive in two runs in MLB when it doesn't matter" or "Yeah, they won against non-division rivals, but big deal, that's easy." (And THAT, btw, steve, is a "strawman argument"--I invented quotes that no one ever said and attributed them to my adversaries in this argument. And now I will proceed to demolish them.)

What I think is that, because these elements have a slightly greater significance, we place emphasis on them out of all proportion to the smallness of that significance. A guy who drives in 90 runs can be fairly considered better at driving in runs than someone who drives in 95 if the last 5 runs he drives in come in crucial spots against the league's best closers in late September matchups with division rivals, no doubt about it. My point, however, that there's a limit to how much we want to count those five final RBI.

When your guy is only 5 RBIs behind the other guy's total for the year, sure. But when the numbers shake out as 90/100, or 90/110, or 90/135, I really don't give a damn any more about the "clutchiness" of your guy's RBIs. He lacks the body of work over the entire season (just speaking of his RBIs here) which is what the MVP award is based on.

And in the non-strawman section of this post, I want to say that I think some people DO believe that 90 RBIs CAN be more valuable than 135 RBIs, certainly more valuable than 110, if they are hit in the clutch, and THAT is what I'm disagreeing with.
7:10 AM Aug 1st
Thanks, astros. As I said, it was from memory, and mine is increasingly fallible. Still, Trout's season OPS was .963 in 2012, so "over .800" is a significant dropoff.

Anyway, that was my perception at the time, and it's why I wasn't particularly offended at Cabrera's MVP. That, and I don't take WAR all that seriously. The Triple Crown had nothing to do with it--in my mind.
10:46 AM Jul 31st
Steve161: I think in 2012 Trout had an OPS of over .800 in September and the Angels had a better record than the Tigers, but Cabrera WON THE TRIPPLE (sic) CROWN!!!1!1!
9:17 PM Jul 30th
Interesting discussion - as author mentioned, same one we had/have on Bill James 'Stargell' article. As I commented there, statistics are a filtered few of a player. And like all filtering, you cannot reconstitute the entire signal (player) from his stats. If all you have are the stats, then you have to consider other sources of info to reconstitute the player and contemporary opinion should be used, and so should wins/losses. Now, how much of the total player is revealed by the stats? I dunno, that's a subjective question. IMHO I would use stats to a large extent to determine who was the best player but if the stats are close then you have to go to wins/losses and contemporary opinions as tiebreakers. And I would emphasis wins/losses more than contemporary opinions. As is often quoted from an NFL coach: "We play to win the game" ..... separate question: has anybody ever studied if good/great players have better stats on poor teams? Did teams really pitch around Ernie Banks or did they just throw it in and say, what the hell, let him jerk one out, we'll beat these bums anyway. Or did Banks see easier pitching - teams adjusting pitcher starts based on competition. Could be interesting study...
5:05 PM Jul 30th
addendum - tiebreaker rules on who gets home game

Home-field advantage is determined first by head-to-head records, then by the higher winning percentage in intradivision games. If a further tiebreaker is needed, it's the best winning percentage in the last half of intraleague games.

4:42 PM Jul 30th
Just in case somebody in the comments hasn't made this point. Not all games are of equal value since 1968. Clearly a win vs a division foe is more important than a win against a non-division foe because a division win means that one of your direct competitors also got a loss. Inter-league play is the same, more important to win against team in your league than to win against a team in the other league you handed a loss to a competitor against you in wild-card race.
3:32 PM Jul 30th
A baseball season is 162 games. I don't believe that anybody, not even the most dedicated of professional athletes, can maintain a maximum level of commitment over a full season, without any fluctuation in his level of performance. There are too many variables: his physical state, his life off the field, the atmosphere in the clubhouse...Athletes are not machines, not even Albert Pujols in his prime.

About Dryden and [i]The Game[\i]: I couldn't agree more. Incomparable. I can't think of another book that even comes close.
6:47 AM Jul 30th
The pressure on professional athletes is this: produce or lose your livelihood.
Every game, whether it be in April or September, is a battle for survival among the fifty players involved.
Now there may only be a couple of players on each team who are on the bubble - who are at immediate risk of demotion to the minors or being released. But on most teams, there are seven or eight guys who, if they have a terrible month, risk falling into that bubble category. And there are another seven or eight who know that with two months of sub-par production, they could end up in bubble land.
The pressure of a pennant race pales in comparison to the pressure of this dog-eat-dog, day-to-day competition for playing time in professional sports.
Ken Dryden describes this well in his book, The Game (far and away the best written book by an athlete I've run acroos). It was an account of his 1978-79 season with the Montreal Canadiens. At this point, Dryden had been an NHL all-star six times, won four Vezina Trophies (best NHL goalie) and four Stanley Cups.
And after two less than stellar games Dryden was in a sweat about losing his place as the number one goalie.
(And make no mistake: coach Scotty Bowman would have yanked him in a heartbeat if he felt he had a better chance of winning with Bunny Larocque.)
This is the real pressure on pro athletes, every dam one of them.
You want to take a few days off during the season?
See in the minors, buddy.

5:18 PM Jul 29th
Steven Goldleaf
It strikes me as an ego thing, this heavy emphasis on late September games: "It's more important because I'M paying more attention now." Get over yourselves, would you? These guys are busting their butts all season long, it's just that YOU have better things to do than pay peak attention to all 162 games. But they all still count the same, no more, no less.

Well, exhibitions less and post-season game more. But you have to get to the post-season first and you do that game by game, not, "Hey, it's mid-September, let's start trying hard now, guys, ok?" That's fiction. They're trying hard all season long, and if they're not, then they're not going to have anything to play for when September comes around.
4:11 PM Jul 29th
Steven Goldleaf
Oh. You're misusing the rhetorical term "straw men," then. I'm giving you hypothetical examples, which is a whole different matter. A straw man is a mischaracterization of an opponent's argument for the purposes of demolishing something he never said. Very different, as it involves actual malice and deliberate misstatement of the opponent's argument.

I'm taking issue with the whole idea of pressure games and clutch, which I think is wildly overstated. I literally believe that if one really thinks that regular season games at the end of the season count more than early season games, then they should be counted as two victories or four or one-and-a-half, but they don't because 1=1.

A game in May is exactly as important as a game in September. Exactly. Precisely. Not one iota of difference. These guys are pros, and I'm quite sure that managers in May are reminding any player who doesn't try his damnedest to win a game that these May games count as much as September games. In a sense it's a professional perspective to play your hardest facing a tough opponent in May. The dumb fans are laid back, not booing you over every called strike you take, and there aren't as many of them, or of reporters analyzing each game closely, as there will be in September, but because these games count for exactly as much as games that will be scrutinized, the pros have to bear down and take every win they can possibly get, precisely because they want to win enough games early that they're not backed into a corner in September. They have to supply the pressure that appears to be off them in May, again for the exact reason that a win is a win is a win.

You may be thinking that games early in the season are exhibition games, and count less , or not at all in the standings, but that's incorrect. They do count. Honest. You can look it up.
4:03 PM Jul 29th
That's why I say you're throwing straw men at us. It's not about those extreme cases, where somebody has stunk all year and suddenly has two good weeks. It's about two guys who have had outstanding seasons, one of whom has delivered when the chips were down. The most recent example I can think of is 2012, when Miguel Cabrera beat Mike Trout for the award. Their numbers were actually quite similar, though Cabrera won the Triple Crown, but a lot of people thought Trout should have won it because of his superior WAR, on the order of 10-7. But (this is from memory) Trout had a very ordinary September and the Angels missed the playoffs, which was the decider for me.
1:59 PM Jul 29th
I would have Thomson in the bottom 5 of my 10 man ballot. He had a solid season. Heck they based a MASH episode on the 51 season and Bobby Thomson's home run.
11:49 AM Jul 29th
The argument never is that one win doesn't equal one win, in its simplest form.

The argument is and always has been about performing in those games that the pressure to perform is the most difficult.

There is no argument that performing in a scenario 1 a 19-3 win in April; is equal to performing in scenario 2 a game that is 3-2, Sept 30th, bottom of the ninth game and you lose and you're out of the pennant chase.

Anyone who's played sports has some idea of pressure; but can only imagine what a professional athlete goes through.

it is absurd to try and convince people that scenario 1 and 2 are equal in terms of performance demanded.

7:51 AM Jul 29th
Steven Goldleaf
I'm not arguing that late-season games DO influence MVP voting, steve; I'm questioning whether they SHOULD.

At least as much as they do. I don't doubt that my Player B will receive strong support for the MVP award; I'm questioning if that support is reasonable, or fair, or appropriate.

Let's say Player A that virtually carried his team to wins in April and May and June, while Player B is struggling and costing that team games (which is what those numbers suggest). Is that not a type of pressure? Supplying much of your team's much-needed offense when no one is stepping up to the plate? Without those early victories, the team would be no position to compete in the stretch run but because they are, and now Player B is performing, suddenly Player B's performance is more valuable?

Look at the scenario someone else laid out, Bobby Thomson's W-O pennant-winning HR. Let's say that on September 30th no one in his right mind would have suggested Thomson for 1951 MVP, but because of the timing involved, would you now make Thomson a candidate because of that one HR? How about if Thomson had a final week of W-O HRs after a mediocre season? Does that hot week wipe out a season of struggles? How about if Thomson had gotten hot for the final two weeks after a terrible season? See what I'm saying? You can't designate certain games as being bigger (other than emotionally) than other games because you don't get 1.3 or 1.4 wins when you win a game in late September. You get 1 win, same as in any other month. So you feel all sorts of jazzed, but it's only 1 win.

The heat wave broke as I was leaving Paris--I got in one nice walk around the city in good weather before I left. It's such a great city to walk around.
4:49 AM Jul 29th
Steven, what I'm arguing is based on the notion that part of being an MVP is performing under pressure. Part of the pressure arises from knowing the standings and what is required to advance or maintain one's position in them. That's why late-season games can count for more in determining an MVP.

Hope your transatlantic flight was a good one, if there is such a thing.
4:17 AM Jul 29th
It’s good to remember that some players have unusual skills or shortcomings that serious followers of the game could notice — even in the 1930s — even though they might not have been able to describe just what they were seeing.

For example, being “a good guy in the clubhouse” likely matters less today than lots of fans think, because today’s players are pros and fans reflexively think back to their experience in school sports. You don’t need to motivate modern players: money (and all the people who want their money) do that just fine.

But that wasn’t always true, not in 1910, not in 1930. Back then, you still had the long grind of the season — but without sports medicine and without air conditioning. You had train trips. You had a lot of alcoholics in the game. You had some players, too, who might be hard to get along with: there's no one in the game now who’s like Rube Waddell, and probably no one like Ty Cobb, but I can see how spending a day locked in a room with either fellow might get on someone’s nerves. (The 1905 A’s, to pick one team, had Waddell, Chief Bender and Gettysburg Eddie Plank: a nice front of the rotation, but what did they talk about on those long train trips?)

Being able to patch that sort of thing up was a skill; it resulted in wins. It’s a skill we don’t much need now, but I can imagine needing it then.

There’s other stuff, too. What was that extra brain in Mathewson’s arm about? OK: partly, he was educated and well-spoken and that was an anomaly, but that can’t be all. I expect that “smart” players back then, in part, were players who already knew what just about every MLB player knows now: what this pitcher throws, what we did against him last time and the time before that, whether he started us with a fastball or a curve, what he likes to throw behind in the count. Lots of players back then wouldn't know, but if you had a player who did, that could result in wins. We have ipads and bench coaches and clubhouse computers now, but I can imagine needing it then.
4:26 PM Jul 28th
I believe Don and John said it better than I ever could. I believe in questioning the vote, but I also believe that there are some things we will never find out, so we also have to consider what the people who saw them play said. How much of each is the question we have to answer.
3:34 PM Jul 28th
I just wrote a fairly lengthy comment, which the system ate. What it boiled down to is this:

We can't fault voters in the past for making decisions based on the information available to them. And we can't be too smug about "getting it right" now on the basis of information available to us, but *not available to them.* We make the best decisions we can with the information available to us. That's the best we can do.
1:00 PM Jul 28th
In another generation most folks looking at Gibson's mvp won't know anything about its context, and so will not understand that a huge part of what earned it happened off the field. We do, those of us who watched it happen. That's why we need to give some credence to those who voted for Bassler.
12:19 PM Jul 28th
Steven Goldleaf
Yes, bearbyz, let's talk Dawson's MVP. Am I allowed to say it was a foolish choice because I was following baseball closely that year, but someone who wasn't born yet and is now in this late 20s has to defer to the wisdom of the voters because they were there and he wasn't? May I claim that the voters in 1987 lacked information about the importance of OBP that we now have up the yin-yang? There must be limits to "deferring to the contemporary voters," mustn't there?
BTW I'm about to get on a plane across the Atlantic, so silence from me at some point just reflects no wifi for 8 hours.​
11:45 AM Jul 28th
However, I think when you watch a player play for a few seasons they had even more information then we will ever have.
11:38 AM Jul 28th
It is ironic when they voted for a last place player in 1987 (Andre Dawson) they made a poor choice.

Your win probability become more important at the end of a game (at least you get a higher score) key hits at the end of the season (in a pennant race probably do become more important. Probably the biggest home run of all time was Bobby Thomson's. When he hit the home run he changed the chances of winning the pennant from 29 percent to 100 percent according win probability.
11:35 AM Jul 28th
Steven Goldleaf
And please let me know what some of my strawman arguments are.

You've only committed one logical fallacy in your reply below, albeit a big one: begging the question. Your answer presumes the precise premise I'm disputing, that 1 W does not = 1 W.
10:51 AM Jul 28th
Steven Goldleaf
And by "excuse Player B's terrible first-half" I mean of course "vote for player B as MVP over Player A.)
10:35 AM Jul 28th
Steven Goldleaf
steve161--it seems as if you're claiming that a victory in September really does count more than one in April does. Here's a hypothetical (imagine that these two play for the same team, and all else is equal, defense, leadership, etc.):

Player A: first half, .350 BA, .450 OBP , 550 SLG
second half, .300 BA, .350 OBP, .500 SLG


Player B: first half, .200 BA, .300 OBP, .400 SLG
second half, .400 BA .450 OBP, .550 SLG

Clearly player B has better stats "when it counts" (according to what I take your argument to claim) but player A has better overall stats. Would you really excuse player B's terrible first half of the season because those games didn't count as much? As I say, because the last few games SEEM to count more, because we're watching them more attentively, doesn't actually make them count even a tiny bit more than the first few games. I just don't see how you get around "A W is a W." Some Ws are more equal than others? That's the reasoning that Orwell rightly mocked in Animal Farm.
10:29 AM Jul 28th
Steven Goldleaf
Perhaps you can explain the question I raised, that of why it's perfectly valid to contest Stargell's MVP, or Dawson's or Zoilo Versalles' or Terry Pendleton's or Kirk Gibson's or anyone else's whom we saw play, and whom we may (or may not) think the voters screwed up on, but MVP votes from before our own personal time are sanctified. Is there a thing such as TOO MUCH respect for past voters' opinions? I'm not saying I'M so much smarter than they were, Manushfan, I'm saying that we have information now that they lacked then. I bow to no one in my respect for voters (of all kinds) from the past, but that doesn't they never made mistakes in things that we frequently make mistakes in. That seems highly improbable to me.
10:15 AM Jul 28th
You respect the current opinion because they, you know, actually saw the player(s) in question play, talked to the others who did same, and therefore had more info at hand, that's why. It's not always RIGHT, but you are wrong to just ignore it because you think you're smarter. You might be, but I'd not bet on it.
8:32 AM Jul 28th
Sweeping aside the numerous straw-man arguments in this piece, I make the following assertion:

The argument that a victory in April has the same value as a victory in September, while trivially numerically true, assumes that the standings are unknown, or in any case not a factor to be considered.

The standings are part of the mental environment of a game, thus they impact the mental state of the players. The standings are devoid of meaning in April, but they are crucial in September. Performing in September is therefore seen to count for more than performing in April--and rightfully so.
6:47 AM Jul 28th
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