Stupid Voters

Sure, maybe I said Democracy works. But not when only 30 people have a say. And they can’t even agree on what they’re supposed to be saying. (Best player? What is value? Does the team have to make the playoffs? Do you count just stats? Which stats? Is most Home Runs or RBI best value?)

That’s why the MVP (and other award) voting is so ridiculous (I’ve touched on this previously). Someone actually put Jeter 6th on his ballot. While its OK to think that someone else was the MVP of the American League (this year’s was an interesting and legitimate debate) to think that he wasn’t in the top two or three is ridiculous. There should be some protection for voting irregularities. If one person’s vote egregiously deviates from the mean, then that vote shouldn’t count. A person (particularly is a cumulative point vote context, where there are points for second and third place on down) shouldn’t be able to skew the voting so badly by clearly (and I’m not accusing bad faith, necessarily) underestimating a candidate.

That said, Jeter deserved the MVP. Even Rob Neyer (no Jeter lover, by the way) thinks that Jeter deserved the MVP. And Neyer’s a statistician. He looked at the stats (a lot of different stats, not just Home Runs and RBI) and found Jeter to be the best and most valuable. Every stastistic has some inherent flaw. For instance, Jeter haters, who have no allegiance to Morneau other than he beat out Jeter, will point to Morneau’s 130 RBI. But that’s misleading. Jeter batted second in the lineup all season. He clearly had fewer opportunities for RBI than Morneau. His job is to get on base and get into scoring position. With a batting average of .347, an on-base percentage of .417 and 34 stolen bases (against only 5 caught-stealing, better than 87% – by comparison, Jose Reyes was 79% this season) he did his job. And, in fact, Bill James has a statistic that measures the total impact, called Runs Created. Accounting for all the various ways hitters can get on base, advance runners (or themselves) thereby drive in or score runs, Jeter led the American League in runs created. Kind of reduces the impact of Morneau’s advantage in RBI. In fact, Jeter led the league in two other “value” metrics: Value over Replacement Player and Win Shares. That’s right, “overrated” Jeter, who “gets too much credit for intangibles” and “didn’t deserve the Gold Glove” did three things better than anyone else in the league: Create Runs for his team, create wins for his team and provide his team with a better player at this position than anyone else at any other position. For a division-winner. (Go ahead, make the Yankees stunk in the playoffs argument. Because Jeter hit .500 in the Detroit series. I thinkthat argument strengthens the case, even though it’s irrelevant, because this is a regular season award.) To me, that’s makes a clear and convincing case for the MVP.

Of course, if you’ve got an anti-Yankee bias, and you’ve got the notion that Jeter’s overrated (or the stupider notion that “he’s not even the best shortstop on his own team”) you can’t admit what the statistics and facts show. So you make all sort of bad arguments and machinations to twist Morneau into being a better MVP candidate. And you vote Jeter 6th. And you are, of course, wrong.

Update: The Idiot is Joe Cowley, from Chicago. Some background: he is the same guy who was suspended and lost his vote for a year for embarassing the Chicago Chapter of the BBWAA by completely leaving Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells off the ballot in 2003. This guy also has a history of ridiculous voting, completely deviating from the pack. The year A-Rod won the MVP in Texas, Cowley voted him 5th.

Mike and the Mad Dog interviewed him yesterday (11/21) and they killed him. It was clear from the things that he was saying that this guy voted completely without sense. The only explanation for his voting was anti-Yankee and anti-Jeter bias. Listen to the interview here.


14 responses to “Stupid Voters

  1. Typical Yankees fan skewing reality. People don’t dislike Jeter; rather, they dislike the bend-over-backwards for Jeter attitude of Yankees fans.

    Some quick points to rebut some of your arguments – note, though, that I did not research my rebuttals as I am too busy with work to do so:

    1) Jeter batted 2nd on a team with a good lead-off hitter and Cano batting 9th – Cano who got on base a lot this year. Don’t tell me Jeter couldn’t get rbis because he batted 2nd.

    2) Runs Created sounds like an irrelevant statistic. Seems to me that it’s easier to create more runs on a team that scores more runs. I.e., a player on the Yankees is (a) more likely to drive in runs because more players ahead of him get on base, and (b) is more likely to score runs because more players behind him have the ability to drive him in. Let’s find a similar stat that uses some kind of percentage of your team’s runs and rbis. (You may do this now and prove Jeter is still king of very good (not great) baseball players) – if you do, all the power to you.)

    3) Enough with the Jeter batted .500 in the Detroit series garbage. He played well in one game – one game boosted his stats. Granted that his hits in that game were important but it was one game. He didn’t have a good series. A series requires more than one game.


  2. note, though, that I did not research my rebuttals

    A shame, really, because you’ve invalidated your argument a priori.

    But I’ll respond, nonetheless, for the benefit of my readership.

    As to your second point, first: If you’d have taken the time to click the link I provided to Runs Created, you’d have noticed that neither Runs nor RBI are part of the calculation. Therefore, your critique of team-based performance enhancement is simply wrong. Runs Created measures many things that contribute to scoring runs, including total bases, double plays, sacrifices, stolen bases, hits, walks, etc. It measures how effectively a player gets on base and advances runners. It has nothing to do with runs scored and rbi.

    As to your first point: there are statistics for that as well. While your argument is entirely speculative (about the impact batting behind Cano and Damon has), I can provide some concrete numbers. (Then again, when one is such a virulent Jeter hater, you’ll probably ignore such statistics as well.) Morneau had 33 more RBI (130-97). However, he also came up with more people on base. In fact, this season, Morneau came up with 469 people on base, Jeter only 444. So, it seems you were wrong about that. Discounting homeruns, to obtain a statistic called “Other Batted In” (or RBIs other than yourself) the 33 point difference drops significantly to 13 (96-83). Wow. Shown as a percentage, Morneau drove in 20.5% of the batters that were on base when he came up, to Jeter’s 18.7%. A difference of only 1.8%. Certainly a much closer assessment than just saying Morneau had 33 more RBI.

    So, factoring in that Jeter had an advantage for Runs Created, and the RBI differential drops precipitously as a function of RBI Opportunity, and restating Jeter’s advantage in Win Shares and VORP, I will restate my original assertion that Jeter deserved the MVP.

    I will also go so far as to call this statement: Typical Yankees fan skewing reality. People don’t dislike Jeter; rather, they dislike the bend-over-backwards for Jeter attitude of Yankees fans backwards because it seems it is you (and other idiotic Jeter haters) who are bending over backwards to ignore all the statistics and metrics that show that he actually deserved the MVP this year. Who’s skewing reality?

  3. Note: Idiotic refers not to my friend Kenny, but the idiotic voter who put Jeter 6th on the MVP ballot.

    He, who so much as admitted that in the most important series of the season (when the Yanks swept 5 from the Sawx) he had no idea what Jeter did. He, who voted in an MVP vote without knowing what he was voting about.

    He, is an idiot.

  4. I think a lot of what you said is right. I’m not a huge fan of these “win shares” or “value over replacement player” statistics. But that’s a whole other debate.

  5. I’m listening to it now. I dislike the Yankees more than most but I think this writer is a complete moron. He contradicts himself over and over – it’s actually kind of funny to hear the WFAN guys go to town on him.

    As I understand it, Cowley would only vote for someone if he was on a team that was good but not great. Because if the team is too good, one player’s contribution is diminshed by his teammates and if the team isn’t good enough, the numbers are “freakish” and ultimately don’t translate to the team’s overall success. Sounds pretty dumb to me.

    As the WFAN guys put it, to vote Mourneau or Santana or Ortiz over Jeter is one thing; to put Jeter in 6th for the reasons Cowlet cited is foolish. I think that anyone who put Jeter in 6th place in the MVP balloting this year doesn’t deserve to vote in the future.


  6. Just some exposition on the RBI Opportunity stat:

    Of Jeter’s 444 Runners on Base when he batted, 212 were on first, a close to 48% rate. Meaning that only 52% were in “scoring position.” Of Morneau’s 469, 212 were on first a percentage of 45, giving him 55% runners in scoring position.

    Jeter knocked in 4.7% of the runners from first, 22.6% of the runners from second and 46.5% of the runners from third. Morneau’s numbers are 9.4% from first, 20.2% from second and 45.7% fro third. Meaning, that accounting for runners from first (which Jeter had a higher percentage of) Jeter did a better job of driving in the runs that were in scoring position when he batted (borne out by his .381 average with RISP, as compared to Morneau’s .323)

    Interesting, no? Jeter plays the more valuable position (a .900 OPS from a shortstop is far more valuable than a .934 OPS from a first baseman, hence the gap in VORP), is a better RBI producer than Morneau (adjusted for opportunity and his huge advantage in the Avg w/ RISP) and “created” more runs, when factoring for everything that goes into scoring, including getting on base and advancing runners.

    I’ll say it again, Jeter was the MVP, and deserved the award.

  7. Personally, I’m not sure if I think that an MVP voter should go into that depth of statistical analysis when deciding on who to vote for.

  8. Personally, I’m not sure if I think that an MVP voter should go into that depth of statistical analysis when deciding on who to vote for.

    Ela ma? (So then, what?)

    I think it’s unfair to limit a “statistical” analysis to “130 RBI,” especially when, as I pointed out, there is so much more to understanding the true relevance of the statistic.

    If you are advocating an intuition-based decision, that’s fine. But then you are getting into a gray area, where intangibles matter, and you’re asking, without looking at stats (and that’s hard) who meant more to his team.

    Considering that the Twins had Mauer and Santana who also were in the MVP running, and there was nobody else on the Yanks who merited consideration, then clearly Jeter mattered more to his team, as well.

  9. While I think that stats should play some role, the reason that only daily beat writers get a vote is that they are tuned into the day-to-day ups and downs and intangibles that aren’t necessarily recorded in stats. I’m not saying that Jeter wasn’t deserving. There are planty of reasons to assume that his ups and downs and intangibles were MVP-worthy. But, as a side matter, stats can help inform a voter but he should rely significantly on his vast day-to-day knowledge of the league

  10. Excellent, excellent post. A few points though.

    1) Jeter was second in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position. He also hit better with runners on, so the RBI difference is illusory.

    2) Jeter was second in baseball in a Baseball Prospectus stat called WARP3, which basically does the same thing as win shares, but is adjusted for all-time. In fact, Jeter had a better WARP3 last year than both Ortiz and Arod.

    3) There are a few different ways to measure runs created and ESPN’s version puts him third, behind Ortiz and Sizemore. But your point still holds.

    4) People fail to understand how much more valuable a good SS is than a good 1B. But as a pure offensive hitter (meaning if Jeter was also an average defensive 1B like Morneau) he was still a better as measured by a number of offensive statistics including EQA mainly because of the huge gap in OBP between the two.

    5) I think one could make a good argument for Mauer over Jeter, but Morneau is just a terrible pick.

  11. the reason that only daily beat writers get a vote is that they are tuned into the day-to-day ups and downs and intangibles that aren’t necessarily recorded in stats

    Not sure this right. There’s no reason to think that the Yankees’ beat writers know any the rest of league any better than the national media. In fact, you get a skewed, home-team bias, and you end up with idiots like Cowley, who cover the Chicago teams, but really have to vote between Morneau and Jeter. The problem is, they’ve seen Morneau much, much more, and they’ve missed the most important games Jeter played (against the Red Sox). In order to compare players, they have to be informed. Just covering one team day-to-day does not make them informed.

    If they are going to inform themselves with statistics, then they ought to do completely and accurately, by looking at RBI as a function of opportunity, and not just an absolute number. By looking at contributions aside from Home Runs, like OBP, SB, fewer GIDP and so on.

  12. Allowing beat writers to vote for these awards is ridiculous as long as those writers vote from their “gut” while using illogical criteria. People can disagree over the meaning of value, but any definition that does place an overwhelming emphasis on numbers is frankly invalid.

  13. Is this the same Joe Cowley who pitched for the Yankees in the mid-80s? Maybe he didn’t get along quite well with George Steinbrenner.

  14. Pingback: On A-Rod, Jeter and the Yankees « The Noy G Show

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