FIRE JOE MORGAN: I Just Made A Man Invent The Derogatory Term "VORPies."


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Monday, February 25, 2008


I Just Made A Man Invent The Derogatory Term "VORPies."

It's a historic day. For years, man has waited for just the right term to use when insulting other men who love baseball numbers just a little too much. (What are they, gay for numbers? Probably.) And now, just like the wait for Shrek 3, that wait is ogre.

Jon Heyman has called us VORPies.

Sorry VORPies, Rollins was the right choice

I can't decide what the funniest voice to read this in is. Prohibition-era gangster? '80s-movie-antagonist-and-eventual-ski-race-losing-preppy? Daniel Plainview?

Rollins acknowledged that his brash "team to beat'' prediction probably helped him win the MVP. Of course, it didn't hurt that he hit 30 home runs, scored 139 runs and slugged .534 while batting leadoff and playing a superb shortstop for a division champion.

He had a very good year and an even better storyline. That he won the MVP was wholly unsurprising, I suppose. But I am a VORPy, sir, and VORPies wear the VORPy family crest (a ThinkPad with a griffin's tail) and sing the VORPy national anthem ("God Save PECOTA (Not That We're Certain God Exists)") and by God (if He exists), above all a VORPy abides by the VORPy code, which we sing thunderously from the mountaintops and tattoo onto our left biceps:

Be reasonable, and be reasonably objective. Please. At least try.

We're working on pithy-ing it up.

The Rockies' great slugger, Matt Holliday, finished second, but even a Rockies person told me in the playoffs last October that Rollins deserved the MVP, just as that Rockies person believed their shortstop Troy Tulowitzki deserved the Rookie of the Year (the Brewers' Ryan Braun wound up winning a close vote for that award).

Hear that? Hear that, VORPies? One person -- a Rockies person! -- would have also voted for Rollins! Disband the VORPies! Cancel our convention (VORPyStock 2K8) at the Twentynine Palms Holiday Inn! Defenestrate in perpetual shame!

A Rockies person quietly whispered softly in Jon Heyman's ear, and like that, the debate was over.

That person believed that great offense combined with stellar shortstop play should have been enough to take the awards, not a bad thought at all.

Not a bad thought, maybe. Not really a great thought, either, if you think about what kind of thought it is.

Great offense + stellar shortstop play = MVP

What about Even greater offense + stellar catcher play? Or Best offense in history + okay left fielding? Or Slightly better offense + slightly worse shortstop play?

Even non-VORPies might admit that we need a more versatile equation than

Great offense + stellar shortstop play = MVP

if we're going to be serious about discussing the MVP. But that's me talking. I'm trying to be reasonable and reasonably objective. Such is my burden. I am a VORPy.

Even so, I wasn't shocked that stats people

Please -- VORPies.

have taken issue with Rollins winning the MVP award.

Very diplomatic of Heyman. Even though ONE ROCKIES PERSON told him he preferred Rollins, he refuses to be shocked that anyone else would disagree. Open mind full heart can't lose.

There are numbers crunchers


out there -- including a author

That's me! Please, " VORPy" will do next time. Whatever I am currently doing, "authoring" is way too generous a term to describe what it is.

who wrote a guest piece in Sports Illustrated last week -- who believe baseball writers rank somewhere between morons and idiots for voting Rollins as MVP over David Wright, who had a higher VORP.

To be fair to this VORPy, the piece was a little more indignant about Juno, Crash and Forrest Gump. Rollins over Wright is wrong, I think, but within earshot of being debatable. It's not Dawson-wrong or perhaps even Morneau-wrong.

But you're right, David Wright had a higher VORP than Jimmy Rollins. And a higher EqA. A higher OBP. A higher OPS. More Win Shares.

The stat people

VORPies. Come on, not that hard -- you're about to mention VORP in four words --

seem to believe VORP -- a Baseball Prospectus statistic that stands for Value Over Replacement Player -- defines a player,

Sure, I'll look at VORP. And EqA. And OBP. OPS. Win Shares. Various fielding assessments. Games played.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the Additional Credo of the VORPies along with the "Be reasonable" one is "Don't just look at VORP. That would be stupid."

but why haven't many of them championed last year's VORP leader (Hanley Ramirez) as MVP instead?

Hanley Ramirez is terrible at defense. All of the different fielding metrics and all of the guys who judge fielding-type things often disagree to the point of cacophony, but they seem to be pretty in sync on this point: Hanley is a Bill the Butcher-level butcher in the field. (Yo, two DDL characters in one post. Big ups, yo!)

So yeah, H-Ram led Wright by 8 runs of VORP (which already makes a positional adjustment), but by most estimates he gives that away and more in the field. Reasonable, huh?

I assume the stats guys favor Wright because he played for a contending team. I guess the rule is this: Highest VORP wins unless the VORP champion is playing for a loser.

Nah. Defense.

If Wright's offensive stats were slightly better than Rollins', and I will accept that they were,

Sweet. I know about this club. It's pretty exclusive. We have an awesome secret building, though, and on Thursdays we get drunk and watch Yahoo! Gamecasts. If you're open-minded enough about baseball, we just might let you start the application process.

What's the name of our club? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with WORPies and is VORPies.

shouldn't Rollins get points for playing a superb shortstop compared to Wright's slightly-above average third base?

Yes. Defense counts. And both Rollins and Wright are very good at it. Rollins is probably a little more valuable in the field. By Win Shares and WARP, which both include defense, Wright still comes out significantly ahead. By John Dewan's Revised Zone Rating and Out of Zone plays made, Wright and Rollins both score relatively well, which doesn't indicate that Rollins should overcome a pretty large offensive deficit.

And shouldn't Rollins get credit for showing extraordinary initiative and leadership?

To the extent that you believe he leadershipped J.C. Romero to a 1.35 post-ASB ERA and initiative-d Ryan Howard to a 1.043 September OPS, sure. You can give him some credit. Me, I'm not doling out entire wins for that kind of stuff. Maybe in the case of a tie? I don't know. Trying to be reasonable here. KT would kill me for even suggesting intangibles could break a tie.

For helping his team barrel into the playoffs from seven games back with 17 to go, as opposed to Wright's team, which perpetrated a historic choke?

Very enjoyable to read "perpetrated a historic choke" followed immediately by the words:

Though the Mets' collapse was no fault of Wright's,

A little gunshy, huh? Just go the whole fucking hog: blame Wright for the choke. Do it. Feel the dark power coursing through your veins. Yes. Feels good, doesn't it? Soon you will be able to shoot lighting bolts from your hands. Unlimited power!

for the MVP to come off the all-time choke team, he'd better have a greater advantage in stats than this: Wright outhit Rollins .325 to .296, but both hit 30 home runs and Rollins beat Wright in Runs Created by 13.

Heyman is using Runs Created in the sense of Runs + RBI - HR. This is bad. Do not do this. There's an alternative: actual Runs Created. That's right. It's the one you get if you type "Runs Created" into Google and click I'm Feeling Lucky. You're already arguing using a stat called Runs Created. Why not simply use a better one?

According to their Baseball Reference pages, Wright out-run-created Rollins in the better sense of the term Runs Created, 146 to 135. This is, completely unsurprisingly, in line with their standings in essentially every other semi-robust offensive statistic ever invented.

Wright's big advantage apparently comes down to the fact he got on base more often (his on-base percentage was significantly higher, .416 to .344),

Yes! Hooray! You've been inducted into the VORPies! (Pops champagne cork, cues Handel's "Messiah.")

usually via a walk (he had 94 walks to Rollins' 49). To the stat guys, walking is more thrilling and much more valuable than actually winning the pennant.

Ooh. (Stuffs cork back in champagne, cues comedy record scratch sound effect.) Jon, as one VORPy to one near-VORPy, let me just say: for us, it might not ultimately be about what's more thrilling. We, the VORPies, are sort of trying to figure out who was more valuable at playing baseball, and sometimes this means looking at things that aren't that thrilling. Non-VORPies are telling us this all the time: taking the extra base, sacrificing, hit-and-running -- these things aren't thrilling, yet they're constantly heralded as intensely, team altering-ly valuable.

Well, walking is definitely kind of valuable. It means you're not out-ing. David Wright was spectacularly, thrillingly good at not out-ing last year. And he hit the ball far. And he ran the bases well. And he was a good defender. And hey, his team wasn't unconscionably shitty. I think he was good enough to be MVP. I guess we could agree to disagree, but there's no fun in that. Let's disagree to agree.

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posted by Junior  # 5:20 PM
VORPum sat sapienti
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