Monday, September 22, 2008

Heyman vs. the VORPies: round two

Jon Heyman makes it no secret that he HATES the VORP stat - going so far as to call those who like it "VORPies."

It's this fear of anything new that makes me hate mainstream sportswriters.

Them being dumb doesn't help much, though.


No thing. Not even one thing.

Here's the top five in NL MVP voting last year with their corresponding VORP:

Rollins - 15
Holliday - 7
Fielder - 11
Wright - 5
Howard - 22

And the AL:

A-Rod - 1
Mags - 3
Vlad - 17
Oritz - 4
Lowell - not top 30

I see little in common.

Zero. There's a number the stat people will understand.

I love this sentence because it distances Heyman - an awesome dude - from "stat people" - soulless scum.

That's the relationship between VORP, the stat that the stat people love, and MVP.

Zero correlation.

Last year A-Rod was number one in VORP and won the MVP. Magglio finished second in MVP and was third in VORP. And on, and on, and on...

Baseball Prospectus, as of a few days ago, had Alex Rodriguez leading the AL in VORP (which stands for Value Over Replacement Player), the stat its enthusiasts think is the best stat in the world to determine player value, and also the best to help determine who's the Most Valuable Player.

Not a single "VORPy" thinks that. We think it's one of many tools that can be looked at to determine the goodness of a major league baseball player. We aren't like *robot voice* "Leader in VORP must win MVP beep boop beep."

But as you can see, while VORP may tell you something, it shouldn't determine who wins the MVP award. Beyond containing two of the letters in MVP, there appears to be almost no relationship whatsoever here.

Except a near 1:1 ratio for a number of AL VORP leaders compared to their MVP voting standings.

I happened to love A-Rod. He's turned himself into a very good third baseman (he's probably the best defender on the Yankees), he's a three-time MVP (though I don't believe he deserved it the year his Rangers finished last), he's the best all-around player in the game and he's not among the prime list of reasons for the Yankees' demise this year (though, there are plenty of Yankees officials who'd have him on that list).

Yet, A-Rod shouldn't sniff the MVP award this year.

You were fine until that last line. A-Rod is probably the sole reason the Yankees were in it as long as they were.

He's sixth in all of baseball in OPS. He's seventh in baseball in RC/27. He's one of the top five fucking baseball players in baseball. Until further notice, he should be in the top ten - at least - in MVP voting.

But nope, shouldn't sniff it.

If devotees of VORP (I'm already on their bad side after calling them VORPies last year) think their stat is key to determining the MVP, they should think again. It's worth a glance, at best.

Better measures? Clutchness. Being on a winning team. RBI. Times booed/PA. Wins.

But VORP is supposed to be an all-encompassing stat, and it led some numbers people to determine that Hanley Ramirez was a viable NL MVP candidate last year.

Which he was.

And led many to say that David Wright was the NL MVP in a year in which Wright's Mets choked

Which is irrelevant.

If one game decided the MVP, baseball has no hope.

(Wright himself says no way was he MVP).

A player's word is right up there on the list of MVP measures.

VORP, like other stats, doesn't come close to telling you everything.

Here comes the big diatribe against stats. "Durn fangled numbers can't tell me a player's look - that killer instinct. Those clutch hits. Do they got a number that tells me who I'm afraid of most? Din't think so."

It doesn't take into account how a hitter hits in the clutch (oddly enough, some stat people think that's just luck, anyway)

How odd, that some people think looking at an extremely small sample size over an arbitrary time period is luck.

or how many meaningful games he played in (at last count Grady Sizemore was high up on the VORP list, as well)

Sizemore is a fucking monster.

Does Pedroia roping a single in a game vs. the Rays matter more than Sizemore stealing a bag against the White Sox? No. They both happened during the 162 game regular season. Games aren't suddenly easier when you're 25 games out any more than they are harder 1-1/2 games out. Baseball games are competitive. They are being played by highly paid, finely tuned athletes who have been doing this since they were eight.

Shut the hell up. Please.

VORP has some value. But like all other stats, it doesn't replace watching the games or following the season.

Thank God Heyman has figured out we VORPies hate, nay, abhor, baseball. Hate watching it, following it, writing about it, thinking about it. Cold numbers are our only friend. Why have we chosen baseball instead of say, math? Simple - we hate baseball.

A-Rod may have the best VORP. But he shouldn't be on anyone's MVP ballot, much less at the top of the ballot.

People who appeared on the 2007 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player ballot:

Carlos Marmol, Aaron Rowand, Jose Valverde and Eric Byrnes.

If A-Rod is NOT on the 2008 MVP ballot (a big stretch, I know) I will deliver a hand-written letter - written in Japanese calligraphy - to Heyman apologizing and praising his all-knowing wisdom about all things baseball.

Heyman, I await your counter-bet.

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