Congratulations, Tom Ruane,
SABR’s Chadwick ward winner
THE REAL MVP?
By John B Holway
But Tom has once more descended into the depths of Project Scoresheet and emerged with the names of the men who actually provided their teams with the winning runs, scored and batted in, in the most winning games. I call them BW – Batting Wins. In a 5-4 victory, it takes one run, scored or batted in, to earn a BW. In a 5-3 victory, it takes two. In a 5-2 game, it takes three etc.
That winner’s name is Eric Hosmer of Kansas City, who put 30 wins on the board for the tournament champs.
Donaldson actually finished tied for #31.
I have been compiling this for over 40 years, or since 1944, when I was 14 years old. And 2015 follows a long pattern: The writers often say one thing, but the actual numbers say something quite different.
If the concept is valid (and Tom himself is not sure it is), the MVP should have been Hosmer, who helped put 30 victories in the bag for the tournament champs, compared to only18 by Donaldson, who tied for #31 in BW.
Donaldson had the traditional numbers, which the writers usually go by, including more than twice as many homers and the league-leading RBI total. Of course the writers knew nothing about Batters’ Wins:
Donaldson 42 123*
Hosmer 18 93
Obviously you want Donaldson on your computer league team and Hosmer on your green-grass team.
But wait a minute. This year, thanks to Gabriel Schechter, we have a new insight that may help explain the difference. “Why,” he asked, “don’t you show the number of one-run games each team plays?”
I smacked my forehead with my fist and knocked myself heavily to the ground. When I came to, I could only quote Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady:” “He’s got it! By George, I think he’s got it!”
Hosmer’s Royals won 23 one-run games, which is near the average league. But Donaldson’s Blue Jays won only 15, which was tied for lowest in the league. It’s hard to win a lot of BW’s if most of the scores aren’t close.
The team rank in 1-run victories:
Los Angeles 35
Tampa Bay 26
Kansas City 23
New York 23
If Hosmer or Donaldson had been Angels, both would have won more games. But the Angels would have had less one-run victories and more two- or three-run victories. Likewise, without Donaldson, Toronto would have won more one-run games, because he’d given them more lop-sided victories.
So does an individual help the team, or does the team help the individual? Obviously the answer is yes and yes. Each one helps the other. A few years ago Baltimore set a record for one-run victories, and Adam Jones led the league in RBI. Each couldn’t have done it without the other.
2015 A.L. Batters’ Wins
BW 1-Run Rank
1. 30 Eric Hosmer KC 23 24
2. 27 Jose Abreu CHI 29 21
27 Chris Davis BAL 25 17 HR king
4. 26 Mike Trout LA 35 2 WAR king
25 Kendrys Morales KC 23 0
25 Ian Kinsler DET 26 21
25 Albert Pujols LA 35 0
7. 24 Adrian Beltre TEX 27 0
24 Kole Calhoun LA 35 0
9. 23 Shin-Soo Choo TEX 27 0
23 Jose Altuve HOU 21 10
23 Avisail Garcia CHI 29 0
23 Prince Fielder TEX 27 13
13. 22 Delino DeShields TEX 27 0
22 Elvis Andrus TEX 27 0
22 Nelson Cruz SEA 28 6
16. 21 Erick Aybar LA 35 0
21 Adam Eaton CHI 29 0
21 J.D. Martinez DET 26 15
21 Kyle Seager SEA 28 0
21 Robinson Cano SEA 28 0
21 Melky Cabrera CHI 29 0
23. 21 Lorenzo Cain KC 23 3
24. 20 Mitch Moreland TEX 27 0
20 Alex Rodriguez NY 23 28
26. 19 Brian Dozier MIN 21 0
19 Jose Bautista TOR 15 8
19 Brian McCann NY 23 0
19 Brett Gardner NY 23 0
19 Adam Jones BAL 25 0
31. 18 Trevor Plouffe MIN 21 0
18 Josh Donaldson TOR 15 1
18 Mookie Betts BOS 20 19
18 Evan Longoria TB 26 0
35. 17 Ben Zobrist OAK-KC – 0
17 Anthony Gose DET 26 0
17 Rajai Davis DET 26 0
17 Xander Bogaerts BOS 20 0
17 Mike Moustakas KC 23 21
17 Manny Machado BAL 25 4
41. 16 David Murphy CLE-LA – 0
16 Alcides Escobar KC 23 0
16 Michael Brantley CLE 15 28
16 Jason Kipnis CLE 15 16
16 Logan Forsythe TB 26 0
16 Ben Revere (PHI)TOR – 0
47. 15 Billy Burns OAK 19 0
15 Nick Castellanos DET 26 0
15 Eduardo Escobar MIN 21 0
15 Rougned Odor TEX 27 0
15 Gerardo Parra MIL-BAL – 0
15 Victor Martinez DET 26 0
15 Stephen Vogt OAK 19 0
15 Miguel Cabrera DET 26 11
15 Alexei Ramirez CHI 29 0
15 David Ortiz BOS 20 28
15 Seth Smith SEA 28 0
Adrian Beltre TEX 27 7
Edward Encarnacion TOR 15 10
Kevin Kiermeyer TB 26 17
Carlos Corea HOU 24 24
Mark Teixeira NY 23 28
There are at least two ways to measure batters’ value:
1. Look at the game as a whole: After the final out is called, which batters made the difference between winning and losing?
2. Look at each clutch situation as it happened: Which batters came through when it was needed, even though the score at the end may have been a blow-out by one team or the other? I call these TOGARS (Tying or go-ahead runs). Gabriel calls then Clutch RBIs and has some fascinating data on these over the last 60 years, which he’ll share with us.
To me, there’s a fundamental question:
What is “value?” And what is Most “Valuable” Player? Was Joe DiMaggio valuable to the Yankees, who were winning pennants by up to 19 games? They’d have won without him, but he was voted MVP twice anyway.
Often the award is really the MEP (“Most Excellent Player”) or MPP, (“Most Popular”).
I suggest we change it to “Player of the Year” and be done with it.
Next week: The National League
Teddy on the Tube
The Smithsonian channel has been running a series on great players – Aaron, Ruth, and Gehrig, so far. Ted was featured Sunday night. It will be repeated, so watch for it.
Suggestion: Turn the volume off. The first three had some ivy tower professors I never heard of comparing Babe to Greek mythology and Gehrig to Arthurian knights. The Williams program was much better.
They do have some sensational images, still and film that I hadn’t seen before.
It’s a big world –
Outside the Stadium
Page 1 of the Washington Post cries out that 31 people were killed by bombs in Brussels. On page 8 of the same paper, a tiny headline at the bottom of the page, says an American general apologized for killing 41 people in a hospital in Afghanistan. If we are not outraged when we kill them, why are we outraged, or even surprised, when they kill us?
Ask Questions. Question Answers
Hank Aaron’s homer into the Polo Grounds bleachers was on June 18, 1962. Hank wrote in I Had a Hammer: “Among (my 45 homers) was the longest ball I ever hit. It came against Jay Hook of the Mets at the Polo Grounds, and it landed to the left of the clubhouse in the center-field bleachers, about 470 feet from home plate.
Aaron’s #714 came on his first swing of the 1974 season, against Jack Billingham on April 4, and #715 came four days later off Al Downing.
In I Had a Hammer, Aaron also discusses his single-minded pursuit in 1973. With the hate-mail pouring in, a nasty divorce behind him, and having passed Mays for #2 in ’72, Hank was going all-out for Ruth in ’73. He just missed. (Bill Deane)
Thank, Bill. That nails it on the PG homer and the date he tied Ruth.
Here are Hank’s average home runs per 550 at bats after 1969:
Age hr hr/550
1969 35 44 44
1970 36 38 41
1971 37 47 52 up 27%, lifetime best
1972 38 34 42
1973 39 40 56 up 33%, new lifetime best
1974 40 20 32
His lifetime average was 34 per 550 at bats.
His previous life-time high was 1962 at age 28, with 45 total (or 44/550)
A divorce may very well explain the dip in 1972. As I say below, off-field experiences should be suspected in otherwise unexplainable on-field “slumps.”
How do we explain Hank’s numbers at the ages of 37 and 39? Did league home runs jump 27% and 33%?
“Trying harder” doesn’t persuade me; he himself ruled out amphetamines, and I don’t understand the relevance of home/road differential. In 1973 his road hr/550 was 48, far above his lifetime average for all home runs. What else is left? I smell steroids.
But it’s a personal judgment, and every person must make his own. I respect yours, and I hope you respect mine.
Sex and Baseball
An enlightening article, John. Thanks. (Bob Reising)
Fascinating. If I had been better at baseball, perhaps I could have been badder. (Chip Martin)
In 1946 Ted Williams was 5-for-34 in Yankee Stadium, (not 1-for-20). But he did have 15 walks in 49 plate appearances, giving him a .408 OBP. Paul Haas.
(Thanks for the correction. I re-checked it, and Ted was 0-for-14 in his first two series. Then on August 9 he went 1-for-3, and the next day exploded with 3-for-5, including two home runs. That must have been the series his wife accompanied him. Either he got a good night’s sleep the night before, or he erupted in an explosion of sexual frustration. After his 0-for-14 start, he finished with 7-for-20, giving him a 7-for-34 and .206 overall.
Ted batted .342 for the year. But if we deduct that 0-for-14, he would have hit .355 and beaten Mickey Vernon for the title by two points. So that lady may have cost him a batting championship. Must have been some gal! Or – who knows? – maybe she was an employee of the Yankees.
As a rookie in Boston when the older guys told him of their adventures, he listened in panic. But he soon got over it.
That girl in New York cost him one point in his lifetime average. And I’m sure she wasn’t the only one. He probably could have beaten Cobb lifetime if he had been a eunuch.
I didn’t read anything on Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich. Bob Bowen.
Bill Deane points out two errors: Burt Hooten should have been Hooton, and he was not an Angel, he was a Cub.
Bill is also positive that it was Hank Aaron – not brother Tommie – who hit a ball into the center field stands in the Polo Grounds. So I asked the Hall of Fame. A check of The New York Times of all ten Aaron homers – nine by Hank and one by Tom – couldn’t confirm any of them, but they are still checking.
Bill and Paul have generously agreed to fact-check future issues while Gabriel is on leave.
“It was a love story,” said Fritz. “It wasn’t anything dirty.”
“I had a good marriage,” said Mike. “I wanted a great one.”
Said Yankee owner Dan Topping: “We may have to cancel Family Day this year.”