Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 15, 2005
BASEBALL: The Blowout Maker

So, A-Rod wins what should have been his fourth MVP Award, and could easily have been his fifth or sixth; he was robbed of the award in 1996 and 2002, and could easily have won it in 2000 and/or 2001. And yet, you will hear endless cries that he is overrated.

Clearly, on the raw numbers, A-Rod had a better year with the bat, finishing ahead of Ortiz in batting, slugging, OBP, games, runs, total bases, steals, and fewest GIDP. He did this while playing in a much less favorable park, as a better baserunner, and as a good fielding third baseman compared to a DH.

Really, then, the whole case for Ortiz is clutch hitting. Now, there are only three hitters I've ever seen who had such extensive resumes as clutch hitters that you couldn't possibly dismiss them as having a real ability to rise to the occasion - George Brett, Eddie Murray, and David Ortiz. But what is Big Papi's real advantage in clutch situations? Gordon Edes noted that "[a]gainst the other playoff teams, A-Rod hit .325 with 13 home runs and 30 RBIs, Ortiz .273 with 9 home runs and 33 RBIs." (h/t David Pinto). That's one way of looking at it; I looked at how the two hitters' production broke down by the games they appeared in, to examine the charge that A-Rod did all his hitting in meaningless situations:

*A-Rod either drove in or scored at least as many runs as the margin of victory in 21 Yankee wins (including a 12-4 win where he drove in 10 runs, and two 3-run victories over the Red Sox). The comparable number for David Ortiz is 24. By contrast, the Yankees lost 13 games by 1 or 2 runs in which A-Rod neither drove in nor scored a run; for Ortiz, the number was 10. Overall, a slight advantage for Ortiz.

*In the 51 games the Yankees won by 3 runs or less, A-Rod batted .310, slugged .545, had a .430 OBP, scored 35 runs, drove in 36, and hit 13 homers. In other words, he contributed very substantially in games the Yankees won and might otherwise have lost.

*That said, Ortiz did have insane numbers in close games. Overall, in 88 games decided by 3 runs or less, A-Rod hit .278/.506/.379 with 50 Runs and 57 RBI - solid numbers, considering that close games excludes the laughers where people run up big numbers. But Ortiz, in 94 such games, hit .296/.601/.393 with 65 Runs and 80 RBI. In 43 1-run games, A-Rod batted .253/.525/.331 with 26 Runs and 29 RBI, but Ortiz (in 42 games) batted .319/.712/.413 with 33 Runs and 35 RBI.

*So, where did A-Rod make his real mark? Well, besides the 51 victories by 3 runs or less, the Yankees won 44 other games by 4 or more runs. Now, they may not be as dramatic as 1-run wins, but blowouts count just as much in the standings, and they mean an awful lot to a team with a shaky pitching staff.

Was A-Rod just hitting with a big lead in these games? I went through the play by play to see how he had hit in his first and second plate appearances in those 44 games, to see how much he had contributed to putting 44 wins in the bank, a good start for any playoff contender.

In his first plate appearance in those 44 games, A-Rod was 21 for 35 with eight homers, 17 Runs scored, and 14 RBI. In his second plate appearance, he was 11 for 37 with 4 homers, 11 Runs, and 11 RBI. Total batting line: 36 for 72, 6 2B, 12 HR, 28 R, 25 RBI, and a batting line of .500/1.083/.576.

So, A-Rod is a dangerous hitter in close games, if not as dangerous as Ortiz or as he is otherwise. But like the young Mike Tyson, he's very, very good at putting games away early. Who can say the ability to win baseball games with ease isn't valuable?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:16 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (44) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Good analysis. A-Rod carried the Yankees all season. Blowouts are not to be dismissed. Scoring early in a blowout puts the team at ease, which is important. It also put me at ease; i would usually go out and water the flowers after an early home run by A-Rod.

Posted by: steve at November 15, 2005 10:15 AM

There is really no reason you would have to do any convoluting evaluations to justify ARod's award. He is the best all around player in the game, and I can't imagine ayone, including Vlad fans trying to justify otherwise. History also never changes. This is just like the fifties.

Then: The best all around player: Mays
Now: ARod

Then: The best hitter: Mantle
Now: Bonds

Then: The pitcher killer who scares you big time: Aaron
Now: Guerrero

Of course, you could make the same argument for Joe, Ted and Stan (except I happen to think Stan was better than Joe, but we are really splitting hairs).

Fans see clutch hitting as the big shot in the 8th and 9th as big time, especially in September. Well, ARod was great then, as well as early. FAns see late games as more important. Managers, professional sports managers and coaches, who know way more than we do, understand the win in April is as important as the one in September. The pressure may be greater, but the impact is equal.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 15, 2005 10:17 AM

For me, it comes down to this simple fact:

David Oritz came to the plate 92 times in 2005 in "Close & Late" Situations. His On Base Average was .447 in those spots. Therefore, in 51 of 92 "Close & Late" Situations this year, Ortiz was retired.

Alex Rodriguez came to the plate 90 times in 2005 in "Close & Late" Situations. His On Base Average was .418 in those spots. Therefore, in 52 of 90 "Close & Late" Situations this year, A-Rod was retired.

It's 51/92 versus 52/90. Where's the huge edge in being clutch for Ortiz? I don't see it - probably because it's not there.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at November 15, 2005 10:38 AM

In his first plate appearance in those 44 games, A-Rod was 21 for 35 with eight homers, 17 Runs scored, and 14 RBI. In his second plate appearance, he was 11 for 37 with 4 homers, 11 Runs, and 11 RBI. Total batting line: 36 for 72, 6 2B, 12 HR, 28 R, 25 RBI, and a batting line of .500/1.083/.576.

Minor nitpick. 21 for 35 and 11 for 37 should be 32 for 72 total batting line with a .444 BA.

Posted by: Mark S at November 15, 2005 10:45 AM

Watch out, or you'll be banned from the Sports Guy's links for your blatant NY bias and Bostonophobia.

Posted by: Brad at November 15, 2005 12:09 PM

I think the only really thorough analysis was done by James Click on Baseball Prospectus (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4463 if you pay for the premium stuff). Compared to the expected outcomes with league average players, Ortiz's batting won the most games, at 7.12 above expected. Delgado came in second in the majors with 5.80. A-Rod was a distant second in the AL (8th in the majors) with 4.59 wins above exepected.

For those without access, Click looked at every event and the probability of winning that game at that point. He considers elements such as score, runner situation and scoring context. If you the chances of winning after your AB are better than before, you get positive points. If they are worse, you get negative points. Relatively simple, its the batter complement to the WXRL used for relief pitchers.

Until I see someone argue rationally against that position, I will believe that Ortiz was worth more than 2 1/2 games more than A-Rod.

I am not disputing that A-Rod is the better player (and hitter), he was just not more valuable this year. I would have given A-Rod the Aaron award and Ortiz the MVP.

Posted by: Craig A. Damon at November 15, 2005 12:25 PM

There's a similar analysis at http://www.redsox2000.com, which is a non-pay site and explains things very well.

That author uses overall wins, instead of wins above average. Ortiz wins something like 12 to 8 over ARod. He also factored in ARod's defensive win shares (as you can do this with one offensive stat in units of wins and one defensive stat in units of wins). He also factored in the issue of it being easier to replace a DH than a 3B.

Craig sums it up well.

Steve, you're looking at it in such a ridiculous light (I guess simple is a good word)... OBA in close and late situations? Obviously, not all close and late situations are created equal. And not all times reaching base are equal either.

Posted by: Mike at November 15, 2005 12:37 PM

Win shares? Expected outcomes? Sigh... I must have missed the day that baseball was reduced to some geek sitting at his desk w/ a compass, Busen burner and scientific calculator to figure out who the best player in baseball is. Talk about uninspiring...

Posted by: Bob-o at November 15, 2005 3:36 PM

My bias comes in as a Sox fan and while I have no dispute, of course, that A-Rod is the better all-around ball player but I don't think he is the MVP. He is the most outstanding player in baseball but sometimes the most outstanding is not the most valuable. Despite all his statistics every team he has ever joined has gotten worse and every team he has left has gotten better. While the Rangers were a last place team the year before he joined they finished 1st in the West the two years prior. They are at least a promising club at this point and had much better records the last 2 years. The Mariners won 116 games the year after his departure and the Yankees were in the World Series the year before he arrived.

Clearly this trend cannot be laid 100% at his feet but it is undeniable. His failings as a clutch hitter/player/leader have been magnified in the last 2 years' post-seasons where he has been a train wreck in the last 9 games he has played and the Yankees are 0-5 in clinching situations over those 9 games. Until he does something that actually shows up on a team's bottom line of success count me in the camp that sees him exclusively as an extraordinary stat machine.

Posted by: jim at November 15, 2005 3:38 PM

I've just read the Redsox2000 comments, and can't take it seriously. Aside from the obvious Sox bias, which is OK, we all ahve agendas, I simply think the idea the walk off homer is more valuable than the one hit in the 3rd is absurd. Without the 3rd inning dinger, there is no walk off home run. Does that mean that Reggie's home run in the 1978 playoffs had less value because, at the time, it meant only another run padded to the lead, then suddenly became huge because it was the eventual winning run?

Or looked at another way, the Game Winning RBI was always felt to be "wrong" because it valued 3rd inning rbis the same as 9th inning. Well, the stat did have meaning, becasue THE RUNS ARE INDEED BASICALLY THE SAME. The only difference is in the minds of the sportswriters, most of whom really don't know what they are writing about.Disgree? Feel free, but I recall that Eddie Murray and Keith Hernandez kept winning the GWRBI crowns every year. Once it's an accident, twice coincidence, three times it's enemy action (Ian Fleming).

ARod is, to me, clearly a more valuable player than Ortiz. I compared it almost to Joe and Ted, or Mickey and Willie, but it's not really that accurate. Mick and Ted were better hitters, I mean clearly better hitters than Mays and DiMaggio, but even a Mantle fan such as I wold say he is a better all around player than Mays. But Ortiz is about the same as ARod, not much difference between them, and ARod is a high level third baseman. And he really is the second coming of Willie Mays. For the younger readers who hear bout Willie, yet now seem to hear that Aaron was a better player (hah!), let's set the record straight here: As a fielder, he was Andruw Jones, but with a better arm --Mays had among the best arms, maybe the best, you ever saw. The ultimate 5 tool player-6 if you count brains--OK, ARod is a 5 tool player with some smarts, but not the baseball "Einstein-ness" that Mays, like Joe Morgan, showed. Ortiz is a very good hitter, who has ice in his veins, showed in the Series last year that he really can field and throws (but doesn't), against an all around player. Neither team wins without them, so that makes it a tie in the valuable department, and you have to look at better player then.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 15, 2005 3:45 PM

First, let me agree with everything Jim said. Especially the part about A-Rod being better at baseball than Ortiz, overall. That being said, we are talking 'value', not 'best player'.

Second, nice analysis in general. However, are you really claiming that winning by 4 runs is equally valuable as merely winning? Yes, winning blowouts is nice, but the marginal value of a blowout over a one-run win is almost certainly less then the marginal value of a one-run win over a one-run loss. We're arguing relative weight here, so the argument that winning big is 'also good' doesn't get you very far.

Posted by: Pooh at November 15, 2005 4:17 PM

It kind of feels to me like we are drifting into the hanging chads of sabermetrics, in which we keep digging until we find a method that says Ortiz is better.

Posted by: Jerry at November 15, 2005 4:17 PM

Question for fun:
Are there other historical examples where the league MVP wasn't even the MVP of his own team (Mariano)?

Posted by: Tom Mathers at November 15, 2005 5:23 PM

Maris '61 comes immediately to mind.

Kent in 2000. James, based on Win Shares gives it to Kent, but I just don't see it.

Gehrig in '27, though hard to say, definitively, that Ruth was better.

1914 Braves. Evers probably best on offense, but James & Rudolph pitched a lot of innings. Haven't looked closely at this one.

1931, Frisch. Hafey's numbers are far superior.

As Crank showed last week: Versailles vs. Oliva in '65.

Probably many other examples.

Posted by: Mike at November 15, 2005 5:38 PM

Tom, interesting question, but you'll never get far with arguing closers for MV-anything if you are going by the numbers.

Posted by: Pooh at November 15, 2005 6:42 PM

Huh?
Give the Aaron award to the guy with the better stats AND who plays defense at 3B but give the MVP to the guy who only hits...and even then didn't do it as well as the guy with the better stats, but was better in situations that no one can definitively pin down (a homer against the Blue Jays in the 10th is better than a two run single against the Indians in the 2nd)?

Did I read that correctly?

Folks, they all count.

Posted by: RW at November 15, 2005 9:57 PM

I think "best player" and player with "most value" are different things that cannot always be summed up by pure statistics. Kirk Gibson won in 1988 with stats that probably would be considered a tick below Darryl's (D had far more HRs, RBIs, much might slugging and OPS) but Gibson brought something to the Dodgers beyond pure stats that made them win. Albert Belle had freaky weird stats in 1995 back when hardly anyone posted those kind of numbers but he came in second because he was such a phenomenal train wreck of a personality in and out of the clubhouse. If you just talk stats, aside from it being tedious, you don't get at necessarily what happens on the field. Do you want Scottie Pippen or Dominique Wilkins? Do you want Dan Marino or Tom Brady? To me A-Rod has not demonstrated that certain quality that makes his teams better. Obviously he makes them good by the virtue of his play but in many cases there is more to the came then someone's OPS or whatever.

Posted by: jim at November 16, 2005 11:33 AM

Jim, you're post shows the flaws of such a line of reasoning: Belle "was such a phenomenal train wreck of a personality in and out of the clubhouse," that he only led his team to a 100-44 record. If he wa a better guy they'd have won 103? Is that your point?

Posted by: Mike at November 16, 2005 11:53 AM

Mike,
Did you even read what I wrote? My point is that stats do not necessarily make the entirety of the MVP. Belle's stats were, by the standards of time, video-game like and his team came in first but he did not win the MVP. He lost to Mo Vaughn who had a very good year but who was also seen as something more than a very good hitting, average fielding first baseman. Hell, the reason the Angels blew all that money on him was because they thought he would bring that quality of "winning-ness" to a franchise that at the time sorely need it. They didn't know he was going to step on the dugout steps fielding a pop-fly and then eat himself out of playing shape while not giving his all in re-hab.

My point has been consistent in that just because someone has the best stats does not mean they are necessarily the most valuable player.

Posted by: jim at November 16, 2005 12:24 PM

I did read what you wrote, and I stand by what I wrote.

I don't care what the sportswriters "think" happened. I'm asking you what, exactly, did Mo bring to the Red Sox that Belle did not bring to the Tribe that year? And if what Belle lacked was so egregious as to justify his losing the MVP vote to an inferior player, how did his damaged team manage to win so many damn games?

Don't you see, Jim, your view is not about "Valuable" vs. "Best" or any such distinction, whetever the hell it actually means. Your view reduces it to a popularity contest. Mo Vaughn was a cool dude, no one argues. Albert Belle's a dick. No one argues there either. That's why Vaughn beat Belle. Period.

Posted by: Mike at November 16, 2005 12:38 PM

I don't think that was entirely the case and it certainly was not the case in '88 in Gibson vs. Strawberry. In the case of Belle there were no doubt some voters who voted against Belle but from what I have read and know about the situation there were at least equally as many that voted for Vaughn because of "intangible elements" he brought to the Red Sox. That does not make it a popularity contest it makes it a contest about what people see and feel about baseball. Kirk Gibson could have been replaced by another 25 HR 79 RBI guy and the Dodgers very well could have tanked. Apparently the feeling was that he could have been replaced by a more statistically productive Strawberry and the Dodgers would not have been better for it. I don't think those sorts of judgments make the voting a popularity contest. I also don't think it happens every year. Some years the best stat guy is the MVP, probably most years.

A-Rod to me is a guy who piles up stats yet nothing seems to come of it in relation to what his teams do. This year is a matter of splitting hairs between 2 very good ball players on 2 very good teams. The distance between these 2 players and everyone else is significant. Either one to me is an OK choice. I know that from a team and organization perspective David Ortiz the last 2 years has meant more to the Red Sox than A-Rod has to the Yankees. Does that make him more valuable? Hard to say. I do know that stats alone don't always make the man. Certainly the MVP vote is about 1 regular season but when I see A-Rod play in the play-offs I don't see the MVP of baseball. I bet others see that too and it lends a bias to their vote. I think a guy name Bonds went through this as well back in Pittsburgh.

Posted by: jim at November 16, 2005 1:15 PM

No. The Gibson-Strawberry case it was different, but just as silly.

Two things gave Gibson the '88 MVP over the more deserving candidates: Straw's teammate, Kevin McReynolds received 4 first place votes. With the additional 40 points he might have earned had they not gone to Big Mac, Straw would've won. That is, of course, conjecture, but worth noting.

The other reason: Gibson freaked out at Jesse Orosco for putting shoe polish in his cap at spring training. Every dopey sportswriter acted as if this moment won the division for the Dodgers. I would offer Orel Herschiser's pitching as a better reason, but that's just me and I didn't have a vote that season. Or any season.

Funny thing is, Orosco's shennanigens are just the type of thing that the sportswriters used to offer as a reason for the '86 Mets' winning ways. As opposed to their league leading OBP, SLG, ERA and all that other extraneous "stat" stuff.

Gibson's victory looks good in retrospect due to his Roy Hobbes post-season. Plus, although not as good as about 3 or 4 other guys that season, he was good and had a good career.

But make no mistake, the sportswriters gave him the award because they wanted to. Gibby was seen as gritty and gutsy, and Darryl as unfocused and lazy. True, untrue? I have my opinion but I won't bother spelling it out. Because it's opinion.

I have no doubt, however, that via an objective analysis, Straw was the more valuable player that season.

Posted by: Mike at November 16, 2005 1:40 PM

Straw got robbed in '88. And yes, McReynolds was a big part of that, as was the fact that the Mets blew the division open early, sleepwalked for half a season, then turned on the jets down the stretch. Made them look sleepy, even though they won 100 games, all of which counted at the end.

Posted by: The Crank at November 16, 2005 1:49 PM

I'm a little late to this discussion, but I wanted to touch on a few things mentioned earlier. First off, I'm the Sox fan who did the ARod/Ortiz analysis over at RedSox2000.com.

Win shares? Expected outcomes? Sigh... I must have missed the day that baseball was reduced to some geek sitting at his desk w/ a compass, Busen burner and scientific calculator to figure out who the best player in baseball is. Talk about uninspiring...

Actually, it was an Excel spreadsheet and large quantities of coffee, but whatever. Anyhow, all I tried to do is to put what fans witnessed this year (both players' excellent hitting, Ortiz' numerous clutch hits, ARod's defense) in numerical terms so that there's some basis for comparison.

Does that mean that Reggie's home run in the 1978 playoffs had less value because, at the time, it meant only another run padded to the lead, then suddenly became huge because it was the eventual winning run?
Or looked at another way, the Game Winning RBI was always felt to be "wrong" because it valued 3rd inning rbis the same as 9th inning. Well, the stat did have meaning, becasue THE RUNS ARE INDEED BASICALLY THE SAME.

I'm not sure which '78 playoff game you're referring to Daryl (I checked the box score/PBP data at Retrosheet and nothing seems to fit), though I'll be glad to look at it and provide the WPA results. As far as the concept of a game-winning RBI goes, I think it's a pretty useless stat. If you hit a walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th, that is a GW RBI, because you really did ensure a win. Otherwise, you have to look at how your chances of winning are improved at the time of the RBI, and that is the essence of the WPA approach.

Posted by: BosoxBob at November 16, 2005 5:11 PM

small question:
I thought blowouts were a good thing. less stress on pitchers (especially older staffs like the yankees). does arod get no credit for that?

Posted by: grr at November 16, 2005 9:46 PM

What I find odd is the suggestion that Ortiz could raise his production level in close games. That would suggest that he isn't concentrating or trying as hard in other situations and that strikes me as a funny argument for why he was a more valuable player than someone else.

Posted by: Richard at November 16, 2005 11:56 PM

As opposed to the argument that winning big is more important than merely winning?

Posted by: Pooh at November 17, 2005 3:53 AM

I'm late to this conversation but have to comment on the goofy 1995 MVP vote. Writers chose Vaughn over Belle for the same reason Kirby Puckett is in the Hall of Fame. Belle was considerably better than Vaughn and in a strike shortened season carried that team to a hundred victories and was the first player with 50 homers and 50 doubles. However, Vaughn (like Puckett) was a good guy and willingly gave charming interviews whereas Belle if he spoke to reporters at all did it grudgingly and with a scowl.

Posted by: LargeBill at November 17, 2005 9:10 AM

The arguments for Puckett in the HOF are stronger than Vaughn's for 95 MVP.

Puckett played some killer D, had huge moments in the WS, and was a good, but not great hitter. The sum of the parts, however, makes him a marginal HOFer. The two WS wins strengthen the case.

Also, because he retired just as he was entering the decline phase of his career, he lost the opportunity to pad his stats with pretty looking, yet not-so-meaningful, hitting numbers. He would've had 3000 hits without trying if he played til 38 or 40. He's just as valuable as Molitor or Sandberg, or a few other guys that entered without debate.

Posted by: Mike at November 17, 2005 9:52 AM

Objective versus subjective analysis is why it is the MVP and not the MOP. Value is objective. It can be quantified in statistical ways but there will always be the interpretation of the viewer/buyer/consumer, etc. as to what the value of any individual item (or in this case, ballplayer) actually is.

I look at A-Rod and see stats but I also see the teams he is on, for whatever reason, win less when he arrives and win more when he leaves. That gives me the impression that the value of his stats is less than their paper-bound appearance. Many great players have similar histories. Maybe he should take up golf or tennis or boxing. I see his stats and realize their significance and I see him play when it matters and I see the Yankees go 2-7 with him hitting well under .200 with an RBI in the playoffs. It takes away from what I consider to have value for a team.

Posted by: jim at November 17, 2005 11:37 AM

A few comments on Strawberry in 1988:

I recall once, he hit a foul pop that probably could have orbited the earth, it was so high. Anyway, a clear out in the bigs, it didn't clear second base. When they caught it, Strawberry was already on third--I happened to watch himm run the bases, and he looked kind of lackadaisical. He wasn't, just very smooth, huge strides, and covered 90 feet more than most other players. He hustled hard and didn't look it more than people give him credit.

He really did get robbed of the MVP. I do think that McReynolds got some votes since he did play well the second half of the season. Straw however, was the only Met who hit that year at all, something Davey Johnson kept saying in the press. Then again, Gibson and McReynolds were white, and I always felt race intruded on the vote.

Also, my usual complaint, sportwriters have no clue. Hernandez was never considered to be a viable candidate in 1986, and he was easily the MV Met; same with Darryl in '88.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 17, 2005 1:35 PM

I seriously doubt that Kirk Gibson won the MVP because he is white. 2 of the previous 3 and the next 5 NL MVPs were black. I think people who make it look it easy like Darryl did (especially that incredible swing) often get a bad rap for not hustling, working hard, etc.

Posted by: jim at November 17, 2005 1:56 PM

"I see his stats and realize their significance and I see him play when it matters and I see the Yankees go 2-7 with him hitting well under .200 with an RBI in the playoffs. It takes away from what I consider to have value for a team."

Are you familiar with the concept of small sample size?

Posted by: Richard at November 17, 2005 4:56 PM

Are you familiar with the concept of "you don't get very many chances"? On top of that he has many years worth of sample sizes where he leaves and the team improves and he arrives and the team gets worse.

Posted by: jim at November 17, 2005 5:21 PM

Which team is it exactly that got worse when ARod arrived? Was it the Mariners, who went from being an awful team the year before to a playoff team his first year? Was it the Rangers, who improved a few games in the standings the year ARod arrived there? Or was it the Yankees, who repeated their 101 win total the year ARod arrived there?

Again, which one is it exactly?

(Not that I think this means anything. Team results swing randomly +-15 games every year, so even if there's only one roster change, the effect of that change will be hidden by noise)

And what exactly is this "you don't get many chances concept" anyway. Does it mean that when you don't have enough information to reach any kind ofconclusion, you take the results of a few coin flips, create some other data, and make the assertion you wanted to make before looking at the data in the first place?

I guess if you're given a coin for ten seconds, flip it three times, and it turns up heads three times, you'll assert that the coin is designed to come up heads because because that's all the chances you had to flip the coin.

Posted by: Greg at November 17, 2005 9:00 PM

"Despite all his statistics every team he has ever joined has gotten worse and every team he has left has gotten better"

The Yankees have went from 101 to 101 wins when A-Rod joined the team.

Posted by: josh at November 18, 2005 11:47 AM

I didn't read all the way down, Greg obviously just said what I said only better. Why is it that people have such a hard time admitting they're wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence?

Posted by: josh at November 18, 2005 11:51 AM

Josh,

A) I'm not fully rational on this subject (I'm not sure whether I hate A-Rod or love Papi more, but both are significant).

B) My main point in this thread is that I think counting A-Rod's ability to help in blowouts as a plus when compared to Papi's 'clutch' stats is bunk. I'm not saying that Ortiz is a better player. All I am saying is that 'the intangibles' are clearly in Ortiz's favor. Is that enough to overcome Rodriguez's superior numbers? That depends in large part on how you define MVP, and I think reasonable minds can differ, though if I were objective...no I can't even bring myself to say it.

Posted by: Pooh at November 18, 2005 1:30 PM

Pooh --

I don't think anyone says that the "ability to help in blowouts" is important. What folks are saying, however, that A-Rod's ability to *cause* blowouts is.

There's nothing about the big hit in the bottom of the 9th that makes it "better" than a grand slam in the 1st that puts the game away early.

Your "intangibles" are just that: incapable of being precisely identified, or of being appraised at an actual or approximate value.

Posted by: Mike at November 18, 2005 2:46 PM

Rangers were a first place team back to back years one year prior to his arrival and they stayed in dead last for all 3 of his years there. Immediately upon his departure they became a team that played better than .500 ball. The Mariners won 116 games (a MLB record) the year after his departure. The Yankees were in the World Series the year prior to his arrival and in back to back years have enacted the biggest choke-job in the history of baseball to losing in the first round.

Actually his first full season with the Mariners was 1996. He only had 142 ABs in 1995. The Mariners won the division in 1995 and came in 2nd in 1996. Sorry.

To me this is not a super-compelling resume. Hey, if you like Dan Marino, Dominique Wilkins, George Scott and a million other guys that's fine. Until one of his teams does something that they were apparently capable of doing without him I will just consider him a stat guy.

Posted by: jim at November 18, 2005 3:20 PM

By "you don't get a lot of chances" I mean that careers are short and play-off appearances are not guaranteed and if you suck as badly as he has in his past 3 post-season series then you run the risk of being seen as, well, Mr. April as one prominent owner might say. This isn't coin flipping. Baseball is not just about who has the best stats and if you don't think little things and intangibles matter than you either didn't play baseball, don't care that much about it or really don't know the game that well.

Posted by: jim at November 18, 2005 3:27 PM

Mike,

A fair point, though when we start getting into issues of causation (correlation does not prove, blah blah blah), you lose me a little. Does A-Rod perform better in blowouts or do the Yankees blow people out when A-Rod performs? Classic chicken-and-egg stuff.

Further, you can't simply define intangibles as immeasurable and then declare them unimportant because they are not quantifiable. That's just circular. (As an aside, is it possible that they are quantifiable, we just haven't found the right metric yet?) You can't seriously be arguing that things such as 'leadership' and 'chemistry' do not matter, can you? I'll grant that the importance of these intangibles have been vastly overrated in the past, but have we perhaps gone too far the other way?

This is all getting very meta-gameish, I realize. I'm also not saying that even given these intangibles, Ortiz should have won (actually, I am saying that, but I recognize that my own bias is fairly strong in this case), merely that some consideration should be given to factors outside the pure numbers.

Posted by: Pooh at November 18, 2005 7:29 PM

Pooh-

You know what's kinda funny? Ortiz's & A-Rod's offensive numbers are pretty close. We all agree that A-Rod's a little better on the OPS/OPS+ side of things, Ortiz a little better in the R+RBI department. Slight ballpark advantage for Papi, maybe better surrounding cast for A-Rod.

So why did A-Rod win? For lack of a better term, the Intangibles! Yet Red Sox fans/The Sabermetrics-are-for-geeks crowd/A-Rod Haters all cry, "But what about the intangibles?"

A-Rod won because he plays defense, and does it well, and he's fast and athletic. Papi's clutch-hitting is great, but does it overcome his fat, slow, no defense-playing reality?

Not sure there's a point to this, just noting it out.

Posted by: Mike at November 20, 2005 8:33 AM

Mike,

I don't think we're actually disagreeing. If David Ortiz was named Travis Hafner and played for the Indians, I'd hardly be raising a stink. I'm invested here...

Posted by: Pooh at November 21, 2005 2:02 PM
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