Sportswriters: when you make an argument, it's cool to back it up with evidence. It just is. It gives you more credibility. It makes people think you're a conscientious writer who's paying attention. And sometimes, it validates the headline of your article (which I'm aware is often written by an editor. But still.)
For example, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune just wrote a column called Why Morneau, Not Jeter, Deserved the MVP
. I will now document for you how many sentences in this column explain why Morneau, not Jeter, deserved the MVP.I am brainless. I have no clue. I attend about 150 major league games per year but never watch a pitch. I have clubhouse access four hours per day, but I'm too busy twiddling my thumbs to glean any insight from the players and coaches.
Not a good start. Joe starts off on the defensive, complaining about people who complained about his MVP choice. That's four sentences of sarcastic crying, zero sentences of evidence (unless you count the oblique appeal to authority that he's talked to players and coaches and therefore he knows better than you).
In other words, I was one of 28 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America entrusted with an American League MVP ballot. If you spent time in the blogosphere this week, perhaps you read about morons like me.
More crying, this time specifically about the blogosphere. Hi Joe! Six sentences, no Morneau explanation.ESPN.com called Justin Morneau a "laughable" choice for MVP. Foxsports.com called his selection "downright criminal."
I mean, those aren't really even blogs. Those are big mainstream sites. Maybe they're onto something, Joe. Eight sentences.My ballot went like this: 1) Morneau, 2) Derek Jeter, 3) Frank Thomas, 4) David Ortiz, 5) Joe Mauer, 6) Jermaine Dye, 7) Travis Hafner, 8) Carlos Guillen, 9) Jason Giambi, 10) Johan Santana.
We're getting warmer. That's some information, at least. Frank Thomas, by the way, finished 22nd in the AL in VORP, a purely offensive stat. You may be aware of the fact that Mr. Thomas also does not happpen to play a defensive position. I'll count this list as one sentence, so that's nine so far.
Look, I welcome any and all criticism. Just don't assume I didn't give this a shred of thought beyond home runs and RBI.
More defense. I particularly enjoy the "Look, I like
it when you criticize me" defense in the first sentence. (These are the tenth and eleventh without Morneau info.)I looked at OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). I looked at month-by-month statistics, averages with runners in scoring position and two-out RBI.
Here we go! The meat of the argument! Here's where Mr. "I have four hours of insight-gleaning clubhouse access every day" convinces us all! Oh. Uh oh. These statistics aren't great. They aren't great at all. OPS vastly overrates SLG over OBP. Averages with runners in scoring position? Two-out RBI? Yeesh. I don't think those stats should even crack the top ten of numbers you look at when determining which player is the most valuable. Two-out RBI?
Also, by the way, Mr. Christensen, what were the results of your looking at OPS and looking at two-out RBI? Not gonna tell us? Cool. I don't read newspapers for information.
I'm pretty sure saying "I looked at OPS" doesn't count as evidence, so we're on a sweet 13-sentence data-less streak here.I had conversations with coaches and players from around the league, many off the record. Let there be no doubt: The Twins themselves felt Morneau was their MVP.
I've been thinking about it, and I don't think this is a very good way to pick your MVP. Let's perform what our good friend Hans Christian Orsted would call a gedankenexperiment. Say there's a fictional professional baseball team with two really good players on it. One of the players -- we'll call him Player Shithead -- is a real shithead. The other one is a seriously awesome, totally sweet dude -- we'll call him Player Dickface. Now say one year Player Shithead totally outplays Player Dickface. I mean, on the field, he's clearly more valuable -- 13 more points of EqA, 2 more wins by WARP3, plus he plays a more difficult defensive position considerably better than Player Dickface. But that same year, Player Dickface keeps being the same seriously awesome, totally sweet dude and
he buys all his teammates Bentleys for their birthdays. Meanwhile, Player Shithead lamely sends his bros birthday E-cards -- that is, if he even remembers, that shithead.
The point is, everyone on that team picks Player Dickface as their MVP. Because of the Bentleys and stuff. But I think Player Shithead should be the MVP because he's a better, more valuable baseball player.
These two sentences are the first Christensen's written that even approach something resembling evidence for Justin Morneau. Since they're so crappy, I will count each as half a sentence, making him one for fifteen.He gave them the run-producing presence they had sought for years, and his transformation changed the team's entire season.
Ugh. Doesn't matter what the Twins did last year, or in 2001. Doesn't matter. Half credit. 1.5 out of 16.Eventually, my top choice came down to Morneau and Jeter. Morneau had the statistics, especially over the final four months.
Wow. There you go. Morneau had the statistics. Morneau had the statistics
. It's as simple as that, you bloggy eggheads! Blogheads. Eggblogs. No elaboration necessary. No explanation of how, why, or in what way Morneau had the statistics. Can't fit that in this column, what with the thirteen-sentence whiny prologue.
We've been over this before, but I'll type out here what I think some of the relevant statistics are.Jeter WARP3: 12.1
Morneau WARP3: 8.6Jeter Win Shares: 33
Morneau Win Shares: 27Jeter VORP: 80.5
Morneau VORP: 52.0Jeter EqA: .324
Morneau EqA: .315Jeter RC: 138
Morneau RC: 121Jeter FRAR: 39
Moreau FRAR: 16Jeter WPA: 5.98
Morneau WPA: 4.46Jeter OBP: .417
Morneau OBP: .375
(By the way, I'm counting "Morneau had the statistics" as part of Christensen's argument. See how generous I am? 2.5 out of 18.)
I also believed if you took Jeter away from the talent-rich Yankees, they still win the AL East. Take away Morneau, and the Twins don't make the playoffs.
Right -- because the Blue Jays and the Red Sox were terrible, Justin Morneau deserves the MVP. You know what, Christensen? I'll give 'em to you. 4.5 out of 20.Finally, I wrestled with the "homer" factor. Was I picking Morneau simply because I cover the Twins? Quite frankly, I might have listed Santana in the top seven, if I hadn't listed two other Twins so high.
These sentences have nothing to do with the discussion of whether Morneau was better than Jeter. Your objectivity should be a goddamn given. 4.5 out of 23.Let's just say I felt better when the 27 other ballots drew similar conclusions. I know most of these writers very well, and I can assure you they agonized over their choices just like me. Criticize us all you want, but I believe these awards are in very good hands with the BBWAA.
Thanks, I did criticize you. It felt great. Of course you believe the awards are in "very good hands" -- they're your
hands. Anyway, that's the end of the article. That's it. Ends in more defensive bullshit. Twenty-six sentences. Four and a half of them (maybe six if you're feeling really charitable) deal with the substance of the argument: was Morneau in fact more valuable than Jeter? None of them do so in a serious, thoughtful way. Don't we deserve better than that?
Here, it's not my job, but I'll make a quick attempt at an argument for Jeter over Morneau. Jeter led Morneau in many (most/all?) of the semi-robust offensive metrics: EqA, VORP, RC, WPA. Moreover, Jeter had a forty-point advantage in OBP, and the single most important aspect of a hitter's job is to get on base. Forty points isn't a trivial lead -- some players who trailed Morneau by forty points, for example, include Willy Taveras, Jose Bautista and Alfredo Amezaga. Morneau did have a staggering advantage over Jeter in power, but it's my contention that Jeter's on-base lead overwhelms that advantage, and the metrics bear that out. On top of all this, Jeter plays a premium defensive position, one that is difficult to fill, with adequate skill. Baseball Prospectus has him at 39 fielding runs above replacement, which is actually better than adequate. Morneau, meanwhile, plays the defensive position at the very top of the defensive spectrum
, and he doesn't do it particularly well by most accounts. BP has him at 16 FRAR. In other words, most baseball players could step in and do what Morneau does defensively, but the same is not true for Jeter.
Hey, see that? It's nine sentences and sixteen lines of data (earlier in the post) about Derek Jeter and Justin Morneau and the results of their play on baseball fields. All that stuff plus the rest of the nonsense making fun of Joe Christensen took about twenty minutes to write while I also watch the USC-Notre Dame game. Couldn't Joe Christensen have done at least that much?
YOU'RE WELCOME, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Labels: derek jeter, joe christensen, justin morneau, mvp