BBWAA Watchdog is dedicated to exploring the voting records of the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Their general secrecy about their members, their refusal to open their ranks to journalists outside of the print media, and, primarily, their awful voting history for baseball's highest awards, demand that their collective words and deeds be documented and critically examined.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Morneau vs Mauer

Recently, the BBWAA's Minnesota chapter held their Diamond Awards ceremony, their year-end event to bestow local awards upon the best Twins players. This is held in conjunction with the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center, with the proceeds from ticket sales going to fund research to fight ataxia, the neuromuscular disease that took Allison's life. It sounds like a wonderful cause, and I'm not saying that just because Bob Allison is the best baseball player to ever come out of The University of Kansas (although it helps).

They gave out awards to Francisco Liriano (Twins Rookie of the Year), Michael Cuddyer (Most Improved), a pair of their minor leaguers, and one to Torii Hunter for being a good interview. Harmon Killebrew got an award for community service. Brad Radke was given the Bob Allison Award for his leadership, and in a very touching moment, was also called to the stage unexpectedly by Johan Santana, who then gave his Twins Pitcher of the Year Award to the retiring Radke. Like I said, it sounds like a wonderful evening.

Unfortunately, the local BBWAA chapter doesn't seem to know any more about player performance than the nationwide BBWAA membership, because they gave their Twins Player of the Year Award to Justin Morneau instead of Joe Mauer.

Look folks, this isn't that hard. Joe Mauer, while playing an infinitely more difficult defensive position, was a better offensive player than Justin Morneau last year. A few numbers:

OPS+: Mauer - 144; Morneau - 140
RC/27: Mauer - 8.23; Morneau - 7.92

In case you don't know what those are, OPS+ is a player's on-base percentage, plus slugging percentage (OPS) adjusted for his home ballpark and then compared to the league average. Average would be 100, so Mauer's 144 mark means he was 44% better offensively than a league-average hitter. Morneau was 40% better, still excellent, but short of Mauer's mark. And RC/27 is simply Runs Created per 27 Outs, essentially a representation of the number of runs per game that a team would score if all of their hitters were Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. As you can see, the Mauer team would score about one-third of a run more each game than the Morneau team.

So there's that. Then add in the disparity in their defensive performances and it becomes even more clear that Mauer was the better player. Two more numbers:

WARP3: Mauer - 10.6; Morneau - 8.6
Win Shares: Mauer - 31; Morneau - 27

WARP stands for Wins Above Replacement Player, a stat created by the good folks at The Baseball Prospectus to measure the number of team wins that a player was worth over the contributions a replacement-level player would have provided. This is inclusive of a player's defense as well as offense, and the "3" appended to it means that the totals have been neutralized to account for the player's home ballpark and run-scoring era. Win Shares, courtesy of The Hardball Times, is Bill James' famous creation that does essentially the same thing as WARP only with a different scoring scale. As you can see, Mauer was clearly ahead of Morneau in each category.

In short, I don't care if the BBWAA as a whole was foolish enough to declare Justin Morneau the Most Valuable Player in the American League. He clearly wasn't, and one would hope that at least the local writers would have known better. Sadly, it appears they weren't able to figure out that Morneau wasn't even the best player on the team they cover for a living.

No comments: