Friday, October 5, 2012


Let's sing a simple, simplified song of offense. No adjustments, no added doo-dads, no ideological components, hidden or otherwise.

We are reminded of Dave Studeman's essay some years back (2007 or 2008, if we are remembering accurately) in which he tried to predict MVP voting by adjusting the weights of stats according to when in the season they occurred. Dave's work was much more involved that what we'll do here, but that's not meant as a criticism. It may be that the psychological component of BBWAA voting is shifting, and it may actually require something as complicated as what Dave put together. Here, however, we are going to stick with the middle blade of Occam's Trak-XX (or whatever version they are up to, probably as much in need of an re-do as WAR 2.1--oops...ideology alert!!).

So we are just puttin' out the first three months and last three months of hitting leaders (that's April-June, July-October) in two lists, thanks again to David Pinto and his Day by Day Database. We are givin' you everyone with a .900+ OPS for each's April-June:

The color-coding breaks at 1.050, 1.000 (though we slop down a bit here, as you'll see), and .950. The first half shows that Joey Votto was on a tear, projecting to collect 60 doubles--something that, for all the overall increase in extra-base hits during the recently departed offensive explosion, still hasn't happened since 1936--and that Carlos Ruiz, not Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, was having the big bat season behind the plate. David Wright also was back and seemingly better than ever.

But of course all of these guys, for various reasons, weren't much of a factor in the second half.

In the AL, Josh Hamilton was three months away from his ill-fated intersection with a very high pop fly in the boneyard, and was holding his own against the ageless David Ortiz.

At the All-Star break, Mark Trumbo was the hardest hitter in the Angels' lineup. Mike Trout had yet to show the type of power that we'd see in the second half, and was--that's right--tied in OPS with eventual Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

So that makes for a good point in time to roll out the second half hitting chart:

Topping this chart are two guys who are likely to gather significant support for the MVP award in their respective leagues. It would be interesting to go back and look at a simple correlation between second-half performance and MVP voting, just to factor that into a "voting behavior profile." That would be simpler--and possibly less time-consuming--than doing it Studeman's way, and we might just get around to that during the long, cold off-season.

In 2012, of course, the WAR-mongers are entrenched and throwing grenades about the other factors that should be considered in assessing player value, and they are storming the barricades for those principles. It should be noted that the politics of this situation have produced virtually instant turnaround of post-season awards voting from entities such as Baseball Prospectus. Savvy savants that they are, they realize that they have to get that result out just as soon as possible if it is to have any possible impact on what the dizzy demimonde at the BBWAA will do. (We cannot recall these votes coming out so fast in all our years in the shit-slingin' bid'ness, but we must also confess that we don't usually go out of our way to see what our old "pals" are up to--on either side of their "wall of fame.")

It's a dangerous plan to fight an ideological war when one's "advanced metrics" are so flawed, but after the Cy Young "breakthrough" a couple of years ago this battle is now just as pitched--and just as partisan--as the one playing out on the national political stage, and the results may just as equally dreaded from both sides. Perhaps it's safer if we acknowledge the final closing half work from the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman--certainly one of the reasons why Washington closed the year on a steady note despite the anguish surrounding the "Strasburg Shutdown" (good title for a spy thriller, don'tcha think?).

Prince Fielder cleans up again!!!
And let's give a shoutout  to the "ample one": Prince Fielder. Along with his Triple Crown teammate, he was a big reason why a rather undermanned and (dare we say it?) "thin" Tigers team made its way into the post-season. While he didn't get all that many leftovers from M. Cabrera, he scarfed up everything that managed to slip through.