Bryce Harper And Josh Donaldson League MVPs

bharp natitudeIn a not so surprising news announcement, Nationals Star Bryce Harper was named NL MVP unanimously.

Harper received 30 of the 30 first-place votes and totaled 420 points to win handily over Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (234 points) and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (175 points).

Harper hit 42 Home Runs, had a 9.9 WAR and slashed for .330/.460/.649/1.109 in 2015.  Harper was first or second in basically every offensive category in the NL, and it would have easily been more of a shocker if he hadn’t been selected as NL MVP.

Harper is just 22 years old.

Josh-DonaldsonJosh Donaldson’s race was a little closer, edging out Mike Trout for MVP.  Donaldson received 23 of 30 first place votes.

Donaldson made a profound impact in his first season with Toronto, hitting .297 with 41 home runs and leading the A.L. in runs batted in (123) and runs scored (122) while playing standout defense at third base. He helped the Blue Jays reach the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.

27 thoughts on “Bryce Harper And Josh Donaldson League MVPs

  1. And Donaldson wins the AL MVP over Mike Trout and Lorenzo Cain… and it wasn’t as close as many expected. JD got 23 first place votes to Trout’s 7.


    1. Both fWAR and bWAR had Trout edging out Donaldson, but it was close enough that this can be legitimately called in either direction. That said, Trout is starting to wrack up a crazy number of questionable second place finishes for such a young career.

      In his four full seasons he has been in second place three times despite having the highest WAR in the game (the first two times it wasn’t even close), with only one actual MVP to show for it. It’s kind of crazy that a 23 year old has led the league in WAR every single full season he has played. At this point he is about 8 bWAR ahead of Pujols for his first four full seasons. Absolutely a generational talent.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The problem is, WAR (either version) isn’t the be-all end-all stat that decides this or any other award. It is just one of many imperfect measuring sticks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jays, that sounds a lot like whining. Sure, it is imperfect, but go ahead and try to make your case that Donaldson was actually better.

        The MVP award is STILL full of narrative driven votes and too many voters use counting stats that aren’t adjusted for park. This year was closer than in the years MIggy won….the year he won because of the triple crown was a laughably ridiculous vote…and so was the next year. There wasn’t a single reasonable argument either year that Trout wasn’t easily the most valuable player as those argument require Olympic level mental gymnastics and logical inconsistencies.

        This year was close production wise, but EVERYONE knew Donaldson would win because of narrative (team making playoffs) and Trout Fatigue as voters always look for reasons to give their votes to unexpected candidates. Very similar to MOY votes that mostly represent which guy managed a team that outperformed pre-season expectations (which are often really wrong all the time and such deviations typically have little to do with managers and more to do with injuries, and rate of player development)..


      3. I feel like I’m always repeating myself when I point out that the instructions for this SUBJECTIVE award specifically state that voters should consider non-statistical factors like leadership, teaminess, etc. It’s not just best player.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Not to mention that WAR is a completely subjective statistic anyways. I can’t stand when people point to WAR as the be all end all stat. It’s a very important stat, but just one part of the equation. If all we are going to do is take top WAR, why even have voters? Let’s just let the computers decide? Or I guess the guys at B-Ref and Fan Graphs, since they are basically making up WAR anyways.


      5. Here is a quote taken directly from Fangraph’s description of WAR:
        “WAR is not meant to be a perfectly precise indicator of a player’s contribution, but rather an estimate of their value to date. Given the imperfections of some of the available data and the assumptions made to calculate other components, WAR works best as an approximation.”

        Note the use of the words not precise, estimate, assumptions, approximation.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I am going to disagree strongly with people believing that WAR is ‘made up’. It is measuring a set of facts to build an objective composite value for a given player. It is not based on guesses of their production, it is based on their actual production. The guesswork comes not from the stats that compose it, but rather in their relative value to each other and weighting in the score. If we found out that, say, defense had more value than we always assumed, then WAR would be re-weighted to improve the value of the defensive portions of the metric, and scores would be adjusted. If it were found to be less valuable than assumed by the current model, the same would occur. The base stats that make it up, however, would not change, nor would the facts that compose it.

        This is a scientific approach to the problem. It is far more accurate than any narrative method, or reliance on disproven metrics. Most importantly, unlike other stats, it can be changed with new information. That does not mean it is useless to begin with, it is because it is a measuring tool that is built around the idea that our measurements are imperfect and require adjustment with more information.

        To understand the concept of what the theory of a stat like WAR is, I suggest highly reading the following by Asimov:

        Nobody claims it is perfect. But it is objectively better than what came before. Furthermore, it is designed to improve with new information, which is better than other methods.

        As to those who think the MVP should consider things like ‘teamwork’ and ‘leadership’ I will accept that when someone comes up with an objective way to measure such contributions, otherwise we are at the mercy of narrative driven sportswriters looking to fill column inches in order to meet deadlines. There is no doubt to any objective observer that A-Rod was a leader and producer for the Yankees this past season, but you certainly won’t find that fact out reading the headlines in NYC. I don’t want these kinds of people determining the ‘leadership’ and ‘teaminess’ of a player and impacting the award.


      7. Again, I will refer you back to my previously linked definition of WAR

        Given the nature of the calculation and potential measurement errors, WAR should be used as a guide for separating groups of players and not as a precise estimate. For example, a player that has been worth 6.4 WAR and a player that has been worth 6.1 WAR over the course of a season cannot be distinguished from one another using WAR. It is simply too close for this particular tool to tell them apart. WAR can tell you that these two players are likely about equal in value, but you need to dig deeper to separate them.

        Even the DESIGNERS of the statistic say do not solely use WAR. WAR is good. No one is arguing that. But don’t rely ONLY on WAR. It’s but one piece of the puzzle.

        Also, Mike Tout had a fWar of 9.0. Josh Donaldson had a fWar of 8.7.

        Again by the designer’s OWN standards, this is too close to call solely on WAR alone.


      8. Secondly, I do not understand how you can say that WAR is not made up. When specific aspects of WAR are ABSOLUTELY made up. Again from the definition of WAR.

        “For position players, the largest point of contention comes in measuring defense and estimating the positional adjustment. Our measures of both are more uncertain than our measures of offense, so players who get a good amount of their value through their defensive ratings likely have more uncertainty around their WAR value than players who have defensive value closer to average. This does not mean that WAR is wrong or biased, but rather that it is not yet capable of perfect accuracy and should be used as such.

        For pitchers, the biggest open question is how much credit a pitcher should receive for the result of a ball in play. At FanGraphs, we use FIP which assumes average results on batted balls.”


      9. Paper, I don’t see how you get whining from my post, unless you think WAR is the only measuring stick to use for MVP. Yes, Trout had better final numbers than Donaldson, at least for the “main stats” everyone thinks are important, but Josh was fairly consistent all year whereas Trout virtually disappeared in August.

        In fact, in a month when his team went 10-19 and fell to 7.5 games behind Houston and a game below .500, Mike Trout hit a single home run and slashed an uninspiring .218/.352/.337 and an OPS+ of 91. Perhaps that can be taken two ways… maybe he is so valuable to the Angels that when he is in a slump, the whole team suffers… or maybe when his team needed him to step up because they were slumping, he failed to do so. Maybe this was noticed by the voters.

        And, as Historio pointed out, leadership gets taken into account. Donaldson emerged as the natural leader on the Jays from the day he arrived. This was well documented in the Jays’ press.

        As for my case that Donaldson was actually better… we could both sit and cherry-pick stats to show who was better, but I’ll use the argument that was used in 2012 and 2013. Trout was argued to be better than Miggy and thus more deserving of the MVP because he was much better defensively and it was pretty close offensively. In my view, this was the case this year… it was pretty even offensively and Donaldson was better defensively.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Scouts – I think you are struggling with how scientific measurements work and by the plain language used by those who utilize the scientific method. The scientific approach requires you to list any potential weaknesses in your measurements, and define where improvement can occur. That does not make the conclusions invalid, or more importantly, less valid than other metrics. You call out defensive stats because they admit that is the weakest area of current metrics. However the defensive metrics used in either version of WAR are still far superior to the defensive metrics used by others. No one has come up with anything superior, and when they do, those who work on WAR will incorporate those stats into the overall metric.

        For instance, WAR already measures defense in two different ways, one from prior to 2003 when limited defensive data was created, and one from post-2003 when BIS and zone ratings became available. Prior to 2003, the dWAR portion of WAR is considerably less precise than 2003 and forward because of this. When more data gets integrated in the future, another dilineation will occur, and while dWAR will still exist, it will be measured with more complete information. That does not mean that previous measures are invalid, it only means that we have improved upon them and are now incorporating those improvements.

        None of that means that the dWAR portion of the measurement is less accurate or useful than traditional defensive metrics, which are largely inaccurate, or less useful than the eye test which is known to be wildly inaccurate. Acknowledging the weaknesses of dWAR (and its superset, WAR) is part of the process of improvement, and a good indicator of why it is a better comparison method than other metrics.

        Also important is that while it may not encompass all aspects of defense accurately, it still allows a consistent way of comparing players to each other in the facets it covers well (for instance, zone coverage). It is possible that some areas that are not well represented (or represented at all) could change perceptions of defense over time, but that will not change the portions that are already covered as they are measured the same for all players with positional adjustments already in place. A player who’s zone portion of dWAR is better than another players will likely still be superior to them in that portion of the rating under a new more advanced version of the stat.

        Ultimately though, as I stated originally, this year was not a travesty in the MVP voting. There are some valid points that can be used to give Donaldson the award, and it was close enough to be within the margin of error for actual player value. I am not upset at it. 2012/13 were pretty bad decisions however, as the difference between Trout and Miggy was a whole other above average player, which is significant and way out of the scope of any margin of error.

        Ultimately nobody is claiming that WAR is currently the end all/be all method of measuring a player. It is, however, the most accurate way we have currently of doing so, and is actively being worked on to improve that measurement which is more than one can say for any traditional stat. It is considered at this point ‘better’ than what came before. It is important not to let ‘perfect’ be the metric one requires before using a tool, by that standard no measurement method will ever be good enough to utilize. Again, refer to the link I provided by Asimov about the Relativity of Wrong.


  2. The AL MVP seemed like several others this season. There were two contestants with really compelling stats but one not clearly better than the other. So you couldn’t argue with the choice, but you couldn’t have argued if it had gone the other way.

    NL MVP was pretty clear cut to me. But really none of the others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As I read these comments, I was stricken by the lack of accessories to the arguments. At a site well known to local participants, each exchange between Scout and Reflex would be accompanied by personally derogatory remarks (“if you’d bothered to read my remarks, you moron…”) and I for one find the lack of such to be refreshing and much more informative. Bravo to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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