The Need for a New Baseball Award

As the 2012 baseball season is gradually drawing to a close, fans are already speculating on the MVP Award and the Cy Young Award winners for each league. Both awards are voted on by the Baseball Writers of America before post-season play begins. The MVP Award has never been really defined and is left to the interpretation of the voting baseball writers. Unfortunately, many sports writers will overlook players whose teams do not make the playoffs or those players unfriendly to the press. The Cy Young Award attempts to choose the most outstanding pitcher in each league.

In 2011 Justin Verlander, a Detroit Tiger pitcher, won both awards. Since the MVP Award was first given in 1931, 24 pitchers have won the MVP Award.

Here is my issue with a pitcher winning the MVP Award. In 2011, no positional player was given a most outstanding player award. It doesn’t seem fair not to award a positional player, who usually appears in over 90% of his team’s games compared to a starting pitcher appearing in just 20% of his team’s games, with a most outstanding player award. Yes, we do have the Silver Slugger Award for the best offensive player at each position. In my opinion this does not fill the void.

To fill that void we need a new award for the most outstanding positional player. We can name it the MVPP (Most Valuable Positional Player) Award. To overcome any biases of sports writers this award will not be voted on but will be earned through certain offensive and defensive statistics. Such offensive statistics as batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, runs created, and others can be used. As for defensive statistics, we could have fielding percentage and range factor. Of course, a weighting factor in favor of offensive statistics would be applied (maybe 4 to 1). Which offensive and defensive statistics and how they will be totaled should be decided by a committee of baseball sabermetricians. Also, I would not be opposed to the Cy Young Award being determined in the same way.

After the MVPP Award is established we would have one major award for pitchers and one for positional players. The MVP Award can now come from either bucket. Sabermetricians can find ways of comparing the winner of the Cy Young Award to the winner of the MVPP Award for the purpose of awarding the most outstanding player the MVP Award. Such statistics as WAR (wins over replacement players) could be used for that purpose.

Original Comments:

4 Comment(s):

Dr. Stan The Stats Man said…

I wish to thank Ron for bringing up the Hank Aaron Award for the best offensive player in each league. I have many issues with the way this award is determined. The award, started in 1999, was first awarded on the basis of HR, RBI, and Hits. The criteria for this award changed several times between 2000 and 2009.Currently, in September,fans vote for one finalist out of three nominees from each MLB Club.Once the 30 finalists are selected, fans vote for the winner for each league. I do not believe fans voting on the website should determine the best positional player. Also the word positional means some attention must be paid to the player’s defensive skills. As I said in my post,I believe this award should be based on statistics decided on by a committee of Sabermetricians. Finally,unlike the Cy Young Award and the MVP Award,very little discussion is made about the Hank Aaron Award. I expect many baseball fans have no idea such an award even exists.

August 31, 2012 11:39:11


Ron Pell said…

I agree with Dr. Stan that the need for a seperate “best player award” is necessary. You forgot to mention that there is an award for positional players ….the Gold Glove award which rewards fielding excellence, in additon to the silver slugger and Hank Aaron award (which does signify the best offensive player). I recall a few years ago when Arod won the MVP award and the Rangers finished last. He may have been the MVP of that team but they probably could have finishsed last just as easily without him.

August 30, 2012 01:55:42


Dr. Stan The Stats Man said…

Dennis raises an interesting point. In my research I could not find a clear definition of what the MVP Award means. Is it the MVP for a team, for the league, or simply the most outstanding player based on certain statistics. As far as I can see each voting baseball writer has their own interpretation of the MVP Award. The major point of my initial blog post was to have some clarity applied to the MVP Award.

August 27, 2012 06:46:07


Dennis said…

Interesting concept. A lot of thought going into this one. Question I need to ask if anyone knows: Was the MVP award intended for the league MVP or the MVP on a team that season. Looking at my own young team a pitcher/ infielder/ and all around player would make that decision hard and this isnt taking into account MLB teams trying to identify that player on their roster, let alone an entire league of players. I personally think too much weight has historically been put on a player of a league championship team and not the true MVP of that league- even if he comes from a losing team.

August 27, 2012 05:04:52


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