Monday, September 12, 2011

Are the Saber Nerds Out to Get Justin Verlander?

The “Justin Verlander for MVP” talk continues in various baseball media outlets around the country. “Does he deserve it despite being a pitcher?” “Shouldn’t an everyday player get more consideration?” “Who are these mysterious Tigers anyway? I only know the Yanks and Sawx.” (Tony Kornheiser)

I recently said that Jose Bautista would be my choice for AL MVP. The guy’s numbers are unreal and the Blue Jays would have approximately 9 wins this year without him, by my count. But I’m not going to fault anyone for choosing Verlander this year. As someone that has witnessed each and every start the guy’s made this year, no one understands his value more than I do. So if Bautista wins, Verlander wins, or even Adrian Gonzalez or Jacoby Ellsbury win, I won’t be angry. It really is that close of a race this year. Just don’t give it to Derek Jeter.

Well in regards to this MVP race, ancient cranky-pants sportswriter Jerry Green of the Detroit News chimed in with his two cents (wheat pennies, no doubt). And while I respect his choosing of JV as MVP, his reasoning for why Justin might not win it is, well…judge for yourself.

The issue should not be whether a guy who goes to work once every five days could be more valuable that a guy who excels every day at his job.

Agreed. I barely show up to my job every five days and I’m quite important, I feel.

The issue is whether Justin Verlander will be gypped out of winning a most valuable player award by a bunch of voters with tunnel vision.

Agreed again. The voters are morons. These are the people that keep giving Jeter Gold Gloves.

Plainly, there can be nothing more valuable during a baseball season than carrying a team into first place in a division and into the pennant playoffs.

I’m still with you, but please don’t fault Jose Bautista because his teammates are all awful. That’s what happened to Miguel Cabrera last year when the Tigers were a bad team and Josh Hamilton got the MVP due to his team making the playoffs.

But go on.

And plainly, that is what Verlander has done this 2011 season for a team that would be wallowing near .500 mediocrity — or below — in the American League Central without him.

Well, now you’re reaching. Any team with Cabrera, Avila, Martinez, Peralta, Jackson, and company isn’t going to turn into the Nationals when you take away just one pitcher, no matter how good he is. In this division, we very well could have won it without Verlander, and a lesser starter taking his spot.

Maybe not, but with a double digit lead in the division now, it’s not all just because of the magic pixie dust that comes out of Justin Verlander’s genitals.

Once every five days when he pitches, the Tigers win.

Well, except for the 8 times they’ve lost when he’s started. And in starts against the likely playoff opponents (Texas, Boston, New York), the Tigers are 1-4.

I’ll shut up…I’m talking myself out of being cool if JV wins…

Often, his pitching breaks a losing streak.

The Tigers are bound for a first-place divisional finish for the first time since 1987. Indeed, the race has turned into a runaway.

Not all because of Justin Verlander.

But mostly because of his pitching — once every five days, except when he has earned an extra day off by decree of manager Jim Leyland.

Pitchers are ballplayers, too — and the MVP should be awarded to the most valuable player to his team. Not to the every-day best position player.

The problem is with the voters, the select journalists in the Baseball Writers Association assigned to the voting. Two from each franchise city.
"Now, my story begins in 19-dickety-two. We had to say "dickety" cause that Kaiser had stolen our word "twenty". I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles..."

Zzzzzzz….get on with it.

And the problem is that this exotic math known as Sabermetrics has contaminated baseball's once-neat statistical system.

/record scratch

Huh? Since when does “contaminated” mean “improved”, “expanded”, or “enhanced”?

We have cryptic designations such as WHIP and WAR and OPS thrown about by stats geeks who believe themselves to be geniuses with ciphers.

Oh, Jerry. There is nothing “cryptic” about walks and hits per innings pitched. Just because it wasn’t used in your youth when Cap Anson and Tris Speaker were playing doesn’t make it useless.

OPS, on base percentage plus slugging percentage, gives a pretty darn good view of who the best hitters in the game are. Currently, the top five AL OPS guys are Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzelez, and Curtis Granderson. I think we can agree that OPS did a good job there, despite it not being a stat back in the “glory days” when the blacks weren’t allowed to play.

As for WAR, it is the most difficult to understand of the three. But “wins above replacement” shows us that Bautista, Verlander, Gonzalez, CC Sabathia, and Ellsbury are the top five. Certainly you have to tip your 1940’s fedora to that, despite it not being relevant during the Truman administration.

However, I do give you dickety-nine bonus points for not using a “mom’s basement” line there.

New things are scary. I agree. The first time I saw Kanye West on my TV, I screamed and immediately threw all my money at the screen in terror. But after I calmed down, I realized that he had talent and isn’t out there to get me.

By the way, the title for this article we’re having fun with is “Narrow-minded voters will cost Justin Verlander MVP”. Narrow-minded, huh? There’s irony there.

They turn into utter nonsense for the hard-core baseball lover.

I consider myself to be a hardcore baseball lover. But saber stats don’t make baseball less enjoyable to me, or any sane person for that matter. I’m no saber expert like Lee at Tiger Tales, but if you look at the numbers, they only further back up what we know about a player like Justin Verlander. He’s awesome. And these numbers that terrify you only help make that point, not hurt it.

Let me say that again for you. Try to imagine it in the voice of a Fox News reporter…that may help. The saber stats only HELP Verlander’s case for MVP. What hurts him, is the narrow-minded old fart voters that refuse to vote for a pitcher for MVP based on their petty prejudices.

So don’t use the JV-for-MVP case as another excuse to yell at the math kids to get off your lawn. Embrace it for once, you creepy old codger.

Imagine, on base percentage plus slugging average — appearing in baseball literature as OPS. It's like mixing sand with gasoline.

/mixes sand with gasoline

Holy crap! Jose Baustisa just appeared in my driveway!

This makes no sense, Jerry. Why is it hard for you to understand? Check your meds.

Or WAR — wins above replacement, some sort of comparative calculus.

WAR is confusing, I’ll give you that. Sites that provide the statistic, such as Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, and Baseball Reference all calculate it differently. Yet, somehow, the end result is something that turns out pretty reliable.

Or WHIP, which at least makes some sense — walks plus hits over innings pitched. Still an arcane mixture.

Now you’re just trolling your audience, Jerry. WHIP is just as easy to understand as ERA is, for crissakes. Next time you’re at the Country Buffet eating dinner at 2:30pm, take some time to look at it objectively. I’m sure you’ll see that I’m right.

I prefer the ancient meat-and-potatoes stats — a better mixture.

Only to stubborn, crotchety geezers that are terrified of change.

Food, I wish Ken Tremendous of FJM was still doing these things. He was sooooo much better at this than I am. And this is right in his wheelhouse.

Batting average, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored for the position players.

Saber guys don’t care for batting average, but I still like it, except when it makes people think Juan Pierre’s a good player. Homers are homers…chicks dig the long ball. RBI and runs are nice, but they rely too much on teammates being on base or knocking you in. If Miguel Cabrera played on the Yankees, he’d have approximately 245 RBI this year and it would be him that you’d be crying about the numbers you don’t understand hurting.

Victories, earned run average and strikeouts for pitchers.

The win stat for pitchers is horseshit. Ask Doug Fister. In fact, I imagine you spit your Ensure all over the table when you saw the Tigers acquired him. Luckily, David Dombrowski isn’t stupid and/or 90 years old and knew a good pitcher when he saw him. And you know how he knew? Because Fister’s saber stats all showed he was a good pitcher despite Seattle never scoring runs when he pitched.

ERA is okay for starting pitchers, I think. But if a reliever comes in, allows all inherited runners to score, and then gets out of the inning before his runners score, does that make him a good pitcher? Frick and no, it doesn’t. It’ll give him a good ERA, though.

And strikeouts are nice. But you don’t have to K 10 batters a game to be a good pitcher, either.

And what I do know is that Justin Verlander has won 22 games this season against five losses. His total projects to 24 or 25 victories. No other pitcher in the major leagues is anywhere near him.

Sabathia and Ian Kennedy have 19. Whatever.

And I know that his strikeout total, 232, is the highest in baseball and that his ERA, 2.24, is tied with Jered Weaver's for the lowest in the American League.

All that is in the baseball's ancient stats info. You could look it up — as this ancient did.
"One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere, like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Give me five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…"

Anyway, Verlander is second in the AL in WAR behind Bautista. He’s first in WHIP. This non-ancient looked that up. Wasn't hard.

As for OPS, JV doesn’t do very well. But then again, Bautista, Granderson, and company aren’t on the WHIP leaderboard, either.

My point is, you’re old.

And I know that the Tigers would be finishing another gloomy season without him.

That’s debatable. The AL Central is awful.

The most valuable statistic in Major League Baseball — all sports — is the won-lost record.

For a team, yes. For Felix Hernandez last year, not by a long shot.

Verlander is the most valuable player to his team in all of baseball. No other ballplayer has contributed as much. Clear and simple. He deserves the award.

It’s not clear and simple. Most things aren’t. I hope that Verlander wins it. But I’m also not a narrow-minded schmuck. Bautista and others have good cases, too.

But I doubt if the Sabermetrics zombies will vote to let him have it.

Jesus Titty-fucking Christ. Quit yelling at the saber boogieman in the closet that DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST, Jerry! The saber people can only HELP Verlander! It’s the old set-in-their-ways assholes that may cost him the award!

Verlander is destined to sweep to the Cy Young Award, voted to the most dominant pitcher. No doubt about it; worthy of all 28 first-place votes based mostly on the old-fashioned standard pitching stats.

That the saber numbers do nothing but enhance.

But there will be voters who believe pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP.

Yeah. And they’re assholes. And they have nothing to do with the numbers that frighten you so much. If I’m this ignorant when I’m 120 years old, someone please put a bullet in my head.

I’m going to skip the next several sentences where Jerry yammers on about pitchers that have and haven’t won the MVP. They have nothing to do with his ridiculous saber argument. Old people’s minds wander sometimes. If you must know, it went something like this…
"Anyway, about my washtub...I just used it that morning to wash my turkey, which in those days was known as a "walking bird". We'd always have walking bird on Thanksgiving with all the trimmings: cranberries, Injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder. Then we'd all watch football, which in those days was called 'baseball.'"

My guess that Curtis Granderson will be elected MVP — a ballplayer the Tigers never should have traded away to the Yankees.

Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, and Phil Coke have added ZERO to this year’s playoff run. Huh?

The Tigers' front office two years ago brainwashed Detroit's baseball lovers with the argument that Granderson had lost his production ability.

No, it was Granderson and his rapidly falling numbers that did that. Curtis himself credits the Yankees hitting coach for helping get his career back on track. I’m pretty sure that bandbox stadium has helped, too (20 of 39 homers have come at home).

This season, Granderson is leading the league in RBIs and is second in home runs. He has become the MVY — most valuable Yankee.

Hey, Captain Meat-and-Potatoes: You overlooked that he’s hitting .265. That sucks. If you’re going to give sole credit for the Tigers’ success this year to Verlander, how about some love for CC Sabathia in New York? Without them, they would be in third place, easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Curtis Granderson. But Bautista, Verlander, Cabrera, Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Sabathia, and Alex Avila all would get my MVP vote over him.

But to me, Granderson belongs as No. 2 in the league MVP voting behind Verlander.

Because he’s 1st in RBI and 2nd in HR. Ooooookay…

/bangs head against wall for 20 minutes

I almost forgot —

Imagine that. Senility is a bitch.

Verlander leads all of baseball in one additional statistical category.

Scrappy index?

He is No. 1 in WHIP.


Quite exotic for Verlander —

Exotic is paying a Vietnamese prostitute to wear a French maid outfit, pour candle wax on your scrotum, hum “America the Beautiful”, and spit in your mouth.

WHIP? Not so much.

but so are 22 victories, and counting, for a club that would be wallowing without him starting one-fifth of its ballgames.

One final time for the elderly that can’t hear well:  Justin Verlander is amazing. He deserves the Cy Young Award and possibly the MVP. But whether he gets the MVP award or not will have zip, zilch, and nada to do with those darn kids and their silly sabermetric numbers.

It’s going to be due to set-in-their-ways, ignorant, jackasses that won’t recognize a pitcher for consideration for the MVP. Simple as that.

Set in their ways? Ignorant? Jerry, if anyone should identify with these voters, it’s you.


Jbcarco said...

I hope you don't think the lack of comments means we didn't find this entertaining.  I'm STILL laughing!

SRogo said...

Thanks. I can see by the counter that I have a decent amount of people reading. As for the lack of comments most of the time, I just assume that no one wants to admit that they read my nonsense.

Can't blame 'em...

Jay Hathaway said...

This type of Andy Rooney-esque bullshit annoys me to no end.  Sure, I think a lot of things were better in the old days of baseball (no "pitch count," a drunken Mickey Mantle), but this curmudgeon (in his day, a 5-cent word) is just making a fool of himself.  In other news, I still have no fucking clue who deserves the AL MVP award.  And the NL?  The numbers say Matt Kemp, to me, but those who think that a player should be on a contending team would have an argument for Justin Upton.  Any thoughts on that one?

Jay Hathaway said...

Also, I thought my Onion Belt was innovative fashion.  Thanks for ruining that.  Back to the drawing board...

SRogo said...

Kemp's my choice.  If you have to choose a winning team player, which I hate, I guess Ryan Braun?  To be honest, my interest in NL ball gets less every year.  I haven't watched one NL game this season.

rrw said...

Loved the piece, but 20 of 39 home runs at home. That means that Granderson hit 19 of 39 home runs on the road. I happen to agree with you about the trade, but that stat is worthless.

El Barto said...

Love the grandpa simpson quotes.

SRogo said...

True. I don't know why I even put it in. Oh well.

Jay Hathaway said...

 Yeah, I didn't even think about Braun.  I'm sure he upped his value last night after his walk-off homer.  Why, back in my day, the Brewers were in the American League, and we liked it just fine!

Ryan James said...

Rogo, I initially took the same stance that Yankee Stadium had a huge impact on Grandy's homers this year.  Then I thought, if half were at home, I'd bet a bunch came at road parks with short right field fences (Boston, Baltimore, etc) but looked up his homer distances on and see that he only hit 2 that were less than 340 ft.  The rest are all no doubters.  So call me convinced that he's the real deal and not just a product of a particular ball park.