BBA Ballot: National League MVP Award, Pt. 2

You guys saw Part 1, right? If you didn’t, here’s a recap:

10. Chris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (6.08 WAR)
9. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (5.93 WAR)
8. Dan Haren, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (6.25 WAR)
7. Javier Vazquez, RHP, Atlanta Braves (6.34 WAR)
6. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres (6.34 WAR)

Now here’s the conclusion of my BBA ballot, rounding out #5 all the way to #1.

5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals (7.47 WAR)

Here begins the top tier of MVP candidates in terms of WAR. This is likely one of the picks that I’ll receive flak for. I doubt anyone else will be voting a player who played for a 100-loss team for an MVP award*, but it doesn’t mean Zimmerman wasn’t deserving. He actually ended up ahead of the player in front of him in the ballot, getting knocked down a peg due to the defense tiebreaker.

* Well, I suspect Adrian Gonzalez will get some love, but the Padres overachieved, while the Nationals were once missing the “o” in their team name on their jersey. There can’t be an MVP from that messed up place, can there?

Zimmerman had a breakout season, the sort of season everyone expected after that first year, when he placed second in the Rookie of the Year voting. Zimmerman was no slouch at the plate, racking up a .374 park-adjusted wOBA that was worth around 26 runs above average for the season. However, his calling card was really defense; Zimmerman posted a Gold-Glove caliber 17.6 runs above average by UZR, and with the way the scouts and fans (in the Fans Scouting Report) glow about his glovework, that value isn’t surprising. He was also solid on the basepaths, gathering 5.6 runs above average despite stealing only two bases. All in all, a 7.5 WAR season is more than deserving of MVP attention, even if Zimmerman did play for one of the worst, if not the worst, team in baseball.

4. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins (7.38 WAR)

Hanley actually came out almost a run behind Zimmerman, but I gave him the nod for having much of his value tied up in a more assured category, offense. Hanley won a batting title this season, the first of perhaps many, while taking over the reins of the third slot for the Marlins. He batted .342/.410/.543, an astonishingly high .408 wOBA after park correction. For the third straight season, Hanley has finished above a .400 wOBA and 40 run above average offensively. Hanley’s baserunning was down a bit this season, but he still accumulated 2.8 runs in his baserunning. The cherry on top for us Marlins fans everywhere was Hanley’s continually improving defense; his 0.3 UZR rating is the best in his career, and after that disastrous 2007 season, he has grown into being an average shortstop in the eyes of both the stats and the fans according to the Fans Scouting Report. While his at-times petulant attitude can get on my nerves, I’m more than happy to have him on my team hitting and manning shortstop, and I’m sure all my fellow Marlins fans would agree.

3. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (7.96 WAR)

Utley was the victim of the last tiebreaker adjustment I made, as he ended 0.4 runs ahead of the next player and was pushed back. It’s a shame that Utley is so underappreciated anywhere outside of Philadelphia; he has essentially been the Phillies’ best player four out of the last five years (including this season) and has received little to no credit in terms of MVP voting or other accolades, while Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins unjustly steal awards from him.*

* Well, technically Howard’s 2006 MVP was right in line according to FanGraphs with Utley’s performance, with Howard outstripping him by a small amount. But Rollins simply didn’t compare in 2007. Also, I promise this is the last I’ll do a Posnanski asterisk.

This year, Utley did more of the usual that Phillies fans have expected. Like clockwork, Utley threw out a spectacular .282/.397/.508, once again displaying power and patience at an up-the-middle defensive position. And about that position, Utley is perhaps the best fielder playing it. After putting up an absurd 20.2 runs above average last year by UZR, he didn’t disappoint this season, notching 12 runs above average with the glove and just barely being passed by Detroit Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco for the second base lead in UZR this season. Utley was also a monster on the basepaths, stealing 23 bases in 23 attempts and recording a total of 8.8 runs above average in baserunning, second only to Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros. Essentially, there isn’t a thing regarding Utley’s game that he does poorly, and that should continue for a few more years. Every time the Phillies and Fish play, I watch in awe one of the best second baseman I’ve ever seen.

(Note: The one thing I don’t like about Utley? He crowds the plate like he owns it, then he’s shocked when pitches on the inner half get called for strikes as he backs away from them desperately. It’s annoying.)

2. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals (7.92 WAR)

Pujols actually came in third place in this ballot by pure WAR, but I docked Utley a bit for defense. Not that it matters much, because I honestly think either player would be a deserving winner, but it was difficult to deny King Albert the throne this season. Pujols put up yet another ridiculous offensive year, sporting a .327/.443/.658 batting line, good for a .453 wOBA after park adjustment by my calculations. He slugged 47 home runs, two shy of his career best, and recorded his second-straight season with over 100 walks with 115 total. He also received more respect than anyone not named Barry Bonds has earned this decade; 44 of those 115 walks were intentional. He had twenty fewer intentional walks than strikeouts this year, maintaining his prestige as one of the few sluggers of our time that did not strike out much either. Pujols was solidly average in the other categories, including his baserunning (-0.2 runs), which was more than could be said regarding the other two first basemen, and defense (1.2 runs), which was surprising coming off of two seasons in which he was the best defensive first baseman in baseball. And perhaps a lack of those defensive runs according to UZR are perhaps what ultimately cost Pujols the title of MVP in my ballot.

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, San Francisco Giants (8.54 WAR)

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Enjoy your vote, Lincecum. It may be the only one you get.

Yes, my vote for the NL MVP goes to a pitcher that Albert Pujols could easily bench-press. Tim Lincecum ended up about half a win or so ahead of Utley and Pujols in my calculations, and I was perfectly OK with awarding him the honor of the NL MVP. Don’t get me wrong, King Albert’s season was an excellent one, and if and when he is crowned the MVP, both by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the real BBWAA, I’ll be more than happy to say “he’s the MVP,” because his season was MVP-worthy. But by my calculations, Tim Lincecum provided more for his team than the remaining four players in the upper tier of candidates, and with that he is the most deserving candidate for the MVP.

Congratulations, Tim Lincecum, you have the Marlin Maniac’s vote for National League MVP. It’s probably the only first-place MVP vote you’ll get, so enjoy it.

So to recap, here’s the final ballot:

10. Chris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (6.08 WAR)
9. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (5.93 WAR)
8. Dan Haren, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (6.25 WAR)
7. Javier Vazquez, RHP, Atlanta Braves (6.34 WAR)
6. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres (6.34 WAR)
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals (7.47 WAR)
4. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins (7.38 WAR)
3. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (7.96 WAR)
2. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals (7.92 WAR)
1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, San Francisco Giants (8.54 WAR)

Just for fun, and since I did them anyway, I’ll post the list of National League players I had with over 4 WAR on the seeason. WAR shown to one decimal place, though the accuracy there isn’t much to brag about either.

First, here are the position players:

Now, the pitchers:

I do have some changes in mind for the future. In the future, I will reevaluate how I plan on doing pitcher WAR, particularly with the aim of potentially going to the method used in Rally’s WAR database, that being the use of actual runs allowed with a team defensive adjustment prorated for the number of balls in play allowed by a pitcher. In addition, I’ll continue to work on determining my own wOBA weights so that I can include ROE data that isn’t counted by FanGraphs. However, other than that, I was very happy overall to see the results that I got, especially after the initial start I had. I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s MVP awards and can’t wait to try this all out again next year!

Topics: Albert Pujols, Baseball Bloggers Alliance, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Tim Lincecum

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  • http://www.cardinal70.com Cardinal70

    You aren’t the only one to vote for Zimmerman. However, you do have an “only” to your credit so far! :)

  • Michael Jong

    Daniel,

    Oh I don’t doubt it. I was the only guy who voted Dan Haren for Cy Young consideration, I doubt he’d get an MVP count. But hey, that’s my process, and I think Haren had a great season.

    And I’m also under the suspicion that I was one of the few people who didn’t vote Pujols on top. And you know what, I can live with being the loner in the BBA!

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