Seth Stohs invited several Twins bloggers and other media-folks to participate in voting for team “awards” – nothing official; just for fun. He calls it the "SethSpeaks.net Twins Bloggers/Writers/Media Types (SSTBWMT?) Awards". Check out the results here.
When he asked me to participate, I was thrilled. I wanted to take this as seriously as I think real sport writers should take real awards. So I did a bunch of research and made a spread sheet. I chose a mix of advanced and basic stats, weighted them based on the ones I thought were important, and ranked the players. Then, I took a moment to look at the ranking with my heart, and applied a bonus for an intuitive feeling of value, “brownie points” if you will (get it? brownies?), to account for those “intangibles.”
Choosing the right stats to use is probably the most important decision; there are a lot of them and some are useful, some are not. For example, win-loss records are nice for a quick glance of today's matchups and general idea of how a pitcher is doing, but, in my opinion, have no place in awards; there are too many variables and exceptions, and there are too many factors out of a pitcher’s control to be reliable.
I did not factor in defense to my MVP ballot. I believe that taking runs away is almost as valuable as scoring them, but I also believe that great defensive skills should be the norm and not the exception. If someone had wowed me consistently with stellar glovework, I may have added a few browine points, but, honestly, no one really did.
My MVP ballot does not include pitchers for a couple of reasons. First of all, I couldn't figure out a way to convert the super-secret formula for pitchers into the super-secret formula for MVP. More importantly, however, is that since the pitchers get their own award, I didn't think they should be included with the MVP. I know this kind of slaps in the face of the definition of "value" and thereby makes it more about the stats than it probably should, but, hey, it's my ballot.
In order to spare you from your eyes glazing over, I’ll put the details of my super-secret formulas at the bottom of this post, so you can skip it if you’re not interested.
Now, since most advanced stats live on the other side of the neighborhood from me – when I see them, I wave and say “hi,” but I don’t know them terribly well – I had to invite them over and get to know them. I may or may not have chosen the best ones, and all stats are subject to interpretation and controversy, but I think I did all right. At any rate, I had fun and I learned a lot.
Here is my ballot as I gave it to Seth. Be sure to check out his blog to see how all the ballots added up and who “won” this distinguished, if not actual, honor:
Twins MVP (10 points for 1st place vote, 8 points for 2nd place vote, 6 points for 3rd, 5 for 4th, 4 for 5th, etc.)
Twins Top Pitcher (5 points for 1st, 4 for 2nd, etc.)
Twins Top Rookie (5 points for 1st, 3 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd) -- Do I really have to pick 3? Can't I just pick Danny three times? ;-)
My Super-Secret Formula for MVP:
I concocted a “run-responsible” factor (a combo of RBI and runs, minus HR so they don’t get counted twice). I then used a weighted formula of OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and that runs-responsible thing. I then factored in plate appearances. I also gave demerits for GIDP (grounding into double plays), because I hate them so much. Cuddy got brownie points for his versatility, which pushed him over Thome by a hair. The fact that Morneau scored so high is a real testament to how valuable he really was -- and could've been. I really, really, really wanted Valencia to make the cut, but he just didn’t have the plate appearances and runs-responsible number to get there; there just weren’t enough brownie points for him.
My Super-Secret Formula for Pitchers:
I used a weighted formula of FIP (fielding independent pitching), WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and WAR (wins above replacement) to figure out who was good at pitching. Additionally, I consider being able to pitch a lot of innings valuable to the team, so I factored in innings pitched. I also applied brownie points, which gave the edge to Crain over Baker. Slowey and Blackburn were next on the list, but their high FIPs kept them off the ballot.
My Super-Secret Formula for Rookies:
Ok, I gotta admit, I have no formula here. I mean, really, Valencia should get some League ROY love – not enough to win, but a few votes. Butera gets second, because he’s been in there all season, valiantly being Carl Pavano’s personal catcher. Manship gets the third spot because he’s the only eligible rookie left who I thought helped somewhat.