Friday, March 11, 2011

B:P&P: MVPs for a teams second-best player

Over at Baseball: Past and Present, I recently wrote a bit about MVPs and Win Shares...
I’ve never delved in to win shares on my own blog, but will here today. But first, what are ‘Win Shares’?

Win shares are the creation of the master himself: Bill James. They are a really fun and outstanding metric James first introduced in his 2002 book Win Shares. Bill uses his system to assign a certain number of win shares for each player on a particular team, based on that player’s offensive, defensive and pitching contributions to the team. The statistics are also park-adjusted, league-adjusted and era-adjusted. Of course, Bill is also dealing in advanced metrics – sabermetrics – and not in RBI, wins, etc.

More to the mechanics of it, a win share is a third of a team win. So when the Giants won 92 games in 2010, they had 276 win shares to go around. We won’t go into the complicated formula, we haven’t the time, and so you’ll just have to buy the book. The basic idea is to determine how many win shares each player on a particular team deserves, to determine how valuable each player was. Often, we give too much credit to the offense while taking away from the importance of defense. We won’t do that here, not today.

This brings us to the topic of the day: Most Valuable Player awards. There’s always a lot of debate on this subject. Should it go to the leagues best player? Should it go to the player that was most valuable to his team? Does that player get extra credit if his team makes the playoffs? These are all very fair questions. I won’t bore you with my own convictions.

When the award comes out, there isn’t always consensus on who should have actually won… “There’s no way Ryan Howard should have won, Albert Pujols had a way better season!” It happens. It happens often. A lot of the time, though, the player that loses comes from another team that just didn’t play as well overall; the deserving player was simply overlooked. But how often do they give the award to a player that wasn’t even the best player on his own team?
You'll just have to head over to Baseball: Past and Present for the rest.

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