Tuesday, April 29, 2014

American League MVP Tournament: Who's In The Best Spot for AL MVP So Far?

So, I'm testing out a new feature for the end of each month in trying to determine who is the head horse in the AL MVP at any given time: I'm going to take the Top 10 players by WAR (per baseball reference and through 4/28/14) and face them off against each other in a tournament style bracket (with the players ranked 1st and second getting first round byes). The criteria is as follows which mixes performance and attempts to factor in particular media biases as well:

Which team is in the best position to make the postseason?

Who has Higher OPS/ERA+

Who has a better Defensive WAR (If two pitchers not applicable, the batter gets the point if matched against pitcher as a bonus point for playing in more games)

What is difference in WAR between player and second best player on their team?

Since the MVP voting has an arbitrary sometimes irrational aspect to it, the tie-breaker will be who I perceive the media to like better between the two players

All numbers referenced found on either the players or their team's baseball-reference page.

Play In Round:

(7) Scott Feldman vs. (10) Max Scherzer

The Tigers are in much better position to make the post season as they are not the Astros 1-0 Scherzer

Feldman has a higher ERA+ (252 - 174) 1-1

Both players pitchers, Defensive WAR not applicable

Difference between them and next best team-mate gives Feldman a 2-1 advantage

Arbitrary voting process gives Scherzer the advantage as he is a well established name with a Cy Young to his record which ties it up at 2-2. Since I think Scherzer is going to be better going forward, Scherzer Advances to the next round

Winner: Max Scherzer

(8)  Scott Kazmir vs. (9) Masahiro Tanaka

Both teams are in strong position to make the post-season but Tanaka gets the edge here as the Yankees have a larger lead in the AL East. 1-0 Tanaka

Kazmir has the edge in ERA+ (239-185) 1-1 Tied

Defensive WAR not applicable

Tanaka has 0.5 WAR advantage over next best pitcher while Kazmir's team-mate Sonny Gray has a higher WAR 2-1 Tanaka

In the arbitrary category, Tanaka wins as his free agent status was one of the biggest stories of the winter and he plays for the Yankees which never hurt award voting.

Winner: Masahiro Tanaka


(1) Mike Trout vs. (9) Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees are currently in first place and the Angels are stuck in the middle of the pack 1-0 Tanaka

Tanaka has a 185 OPS+ to 180 for Trout 2-0 Tanaka

Going Batter vs. Pitcher so Trout gets a free point here 2-1 Tanaka

Trout has a 1.1 WAR lead over the next best Angels batter while Tanaka only has a 0.5 advantage

The arbitrary one is a bit tricky while Trout is the much better player voters have voted Trout second the last couple years as they treat advanced numbers like the boogey monster and Tanaka could get the irrational media advantage due to the east coast media bias but Tanaka has never been in a Subway commercial so trout gets the edge here.

Winner: Mike Trout

(4) Josh Donaldson vs. (5) Sonny Gray

There is no edge for whose team has the best playoff chances as both players play for the Oakland A's.

Gray has a 220 ERA+ versus 150+ for Donaldson. 1-0 Gray

Donaldson gets the batter bonus for going up against a pitcher 1-1 Tie

Donaldson has a 0.8 WAR advantage over the next best hitter on his team while Gray only has a 0.1 WAR advantage over Scott Kazmir 2-1 Donaldson

The arbitrary what would a half-attentive media member person do is pretty close as the Athletics win their games in relative anonymity. Since tie goes to the batter here, Donaldson moves on to the semi-finals.

Winner: Josh Donaldson

(3) Ben Zobrist vs. (6) Jason Vargas

The Rays are in last place, 4 1/2 out of first. The Royals ain't exactly lighting it up but are at .500 and 1 1/2 behind the Tigers. 1-0 Vargas

Vargas has a 277 ERA+ to Zobrist's 144 OPS+ 1-1 2-0 Vargas

Zobrist gets the batter bonus point here. 2-1 Vargas

Zobrist has a WAR of 0.8 better than the next best Rays hitter versus Vargas' 0.6 advantage over the next best pitcher 2-2 Tied

This is another case where both players play on teams that are ignored by the media but since Zobrist plays in the AL East and at least plays against the Red Sox & Yankees, he gets the irrational media point.

Winner: Ben Zobrist

(2) Martin Perez vs. (10) Max Scherzer

The Rangers are one game behind Detroit while the Tigers hold a 1 game lead. 1-0 Scherzer

Perez has a much better ERA+ (301-174) 1-1 Tie

Perez has a 0.8 WAR advantage over next best Rangers pitcher while Scherzer has a 0.2 advantage 2-1 Perez

With the irrational media vote, Scherzer would get the bump and tie-breaker and moves on to the semi-finals.

Winner: Max Scherzer


(1) Mike Trout vs. (4) Josh Donaldson

The A's are off to the better start, giving Donaldson a 1-0 lead

Trout has a 180-150 advantage in OPS+. 1-1 Tied

Trout has a 0.7 to 0.4 advantage in dWAR 2-1 Trout.

Trout has a higher WAR versus his team's second best hitter (1.1 to 0.8)

Winner: Mike Trout

(3) Ben Zobrist vs. (10) Max Scherzer

The Tigers are in better position for post-season play so far. 1-0 Scherzer

Scherzer has the OPS/ERA+ edge (174-144). 2-0 Scherzer

Zobrist has a higher WAR advantage versus the next best hitter/pitcher on their team (0.8 to 0.2) 2-1 Scherzer

Zobrist gets the free batter point 2-2.

Scherzer gets the media bias point as he is Miguel Cabrera's teammate.

Winner: Max Scherzer


(1) Mike Trout vs. (10) Max Scherzer

The Tigers are in better position to make the playoffs 1-0 Scherzer.

Trout has the OPS+/ERA+ edge (180-174) 1-1 Tie.

Trout has the higher WAR advantage over next best team-mate 2-1 Trout.

Trout gets the batter point and wins.

AL MVP Pick as of 4/29/14: MIKE TROUT