The meaning of valuable

Baseball awards are a funny thing. Everybody seems to have a different definition of what each award means. Should the rookie of the year award go to a pitcher or a position player, and how do you compare the two? Should wins or WHIP or ERA or even more advanced stats be used to determine the Cy Young winner? Just what does the valuable in MVP mean?

To me, the easiest way to avoid the main problems associated with the MVP award would be to change the name to the MOP (most outstanding player).

Joe Mauer won the MVP this year and he did it almost unanimously. But if he hadn’t led the Twins to their improbable playoff berth, would he have won the award? We’ll never know, but when it looked like the Twins would finish out of the playoffs, there sure was a lot of noise about how “a player can’t win the MVP if his team didn’t make the playoffs!” If the award were the MOP, that wouldn’t have been a concern.

No matter though. The Twins made it and Mauer won the award.

But still, what does valuable mean? If you look at Mauer’s stats in terms of the money he earned, he did not represent the best value to an American League team in terms of dollars spent. (If you accept Joe Posnanki’s intriguing argument that Mauer’s actually worth $30 million per year, then maybe you can make a case.)

No, based on numbers calculated by Canadian Business, in terms of dollars spent per performance, Toronto’s Adam Lind led the Major Leagues in dollars spent per RBI and per total base. He also led the American League in terms of dollars spent per run created, per home run and per hit.

Admittedly, Lind’s value is so high because he’s not yet arbitration eligible, but that’s not the point. The point is that valuable is a very subjective term. There’s no point in getting your knickers in a knot because some Seattle-based writer voted for Miguel Cabrera. No, I don’t understand why he did it, either. But who knows how that guy defines valuable?

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6 thoughts on “The meaning of valuable

  1. Good post. Value is a funny thing. Interesting that Canadian Business magazine uses numbers like RBI while ignoring important factors like defense and position.

    Focusing on RBI is like awarding Car Salesman of the Year to the guy that tacked on the most floor mats to his sales, not the guy that sold the most cars.

    • I don’t know if you took a look at their pitchers value charts, but they used such great stats as innings pitched, games played (not pitched), ERA and hits. Based on those metrics, Rookie Romero and Shawn Camp are the Jays’ most valuable starter and reliever.

      For the hitters, you’re right about RBI, defence and position. I was just impressed that they included runs created. And total bases, while not perfect, was a nice touch, I thought.

  2. I think the entire CB list showcases AA’s new plan. Draft and sign players that contribute at $400,000 per year (pre arbitration) vs signing players in free agency. Building a young core will take time but as that list shows, there is a significant cost savings.

    • That’s a plan I can get behind. Let’s just hope they give him the money to lock up a few of these guys long term (and hope that they work out better than Wells and Rios).

  3. I’m from the school of thought that they probably should either change the name of the awards or change the requirements for them.

    I’ve always thought that handing out Gold Glove awards to pitchers is pointless (since they field 10 comebackers every season).

    And there are so many MVP throwaway votes given towards pitchers that maybe it should just be limited to position players. Besides, hitters can’t qualify to win a Cy Young so why should pitchers be up for MVP?

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