The Baseball Exchange


Season Awards Predictions by 27yankees

That time of year has come – the playoffs, so it makes perfect sense to try to predict who wins the various awards of baseball. Keep in mind that I am not saying who I think should win, rather I am saying who I think will win. Also, keep in mind that the awards given in the offseason are voted upon before the postseason begins.

AL MVP
Alex Rodriguez. Come on. I don’t have to explain this one, do I?

NL MVP
Matt Holliday probably clinched it by getting that huge hit on the one-game playoff versus the Padres.

AL Cy Young
Josh Beckett had the most wins. Surprise?

NL Cy Young
Jake Peavy. We’re all smart people here.

AL Rookie of the Year
Dustin Pedroia may not deserve it, but he gets the Boston spotlight and the flashy numbers.

NL Rookie of the Year
Ryan Braun. Sorry, Troy. But he edged you out. To be honest, Troy wouldn’t deserve it anyways because he was only an average hitter when you factor in the Coors Effect. But the difference in defense still doesn’t quite make up for it. Smart stats aside, it’s hard for the sportswriters to ignore 30 homers.

AL Manager of the Year
Jim Leyland? Mike Hargrove? I’m kind of out of options here. There was nobody who stood out at all. I guess Eric Wedge makes the most sense, or maybe Mike Sciosia.

NL Manager of the Year
Bob Melvin virtually willed the D-Backs into the playoffs, and though I thought that Ned Yost was the frontrunner, the Brewers missing of the playoffs means that Melvin will likely take the metal home.

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Baseball and Luck by red

I mentioned earlier that the D’Backs have an astounding +11 win difference between their actual record and their Pythagorean record, meaning they have been extremely lucky the entire year. As of now, their record is 89-70, enough to lead the NL West by a game. However, their Pythagorean record is 78-81 – good enough for fourth in the west. The fact that the D’Backs have been so lucky means that they probably will have to come down to earth and realize their “real” record – there’s only so much luck around. In other words, don’t expect them to go far in the playoffs, if they even get there.

Key example: The Mariners. I said it before, but I’ll say it again: they were outperforming by far the whole year, and finally the last month or so they played like their Pythagorean said they would. They once led the wild card by three games, but now they trail their division and wild card by 7.

The reverse happened with the Yankees – they were extremely unlucky the first third or so of the season, and I knew sooner or later they would have to regress to their norms, this time a winning norm. Since then they’ve played like their pythagorean record said they would (sound familiar?) the result is that they’ve clinched a playoff spot, and I am happy.

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Baseball is a lot about luck and things evening out. Bill James and the late Stephen Jay Gould among others (both pictured, one when he was a lot younger than the other) have talked a lot of about luck and how baseball likes it so much. People like to turn things nearly always dependent completely on luck to turn it into a “skill”; clutch hitting, ability of a pitcher to “win” games, the ability of a catcher to call games, etc.. Johnny Vander Meer, Don Larsen, Ted Williams, everybody who’s hit four homers or six hits in a game; they all worked with luck. Luck says that those improbable events are bound to happen among the thousand upon thousands of major league ball games ever played. What makes Joe DiMaggio’s streak so amazing is that he worked against luck. Even luck says that streak should never have happened in all those games through the years. But that’s a whole different thing, and there’s an excellent Gould article on the subject here.

Stephen Jay GouldBill James

Outliers in a basic linear pattern of baseball, like a breakout season or a surprisingly good stretch of games by a so-so team, are almost always connected with luck and are therefore likely to regress back to the norm. Bill James has predicted that eventually pitchers will go back to dominating games, pitching more complete games, even going back to a permanent four or three man rotation. Why? No statistics at all have to be calculated, just the simple fact that baseball has a tendency of evening itself out over time.

And that’s the beauty of baseball, one of the fundamental aspects that make it the best game there ever was.

In other news… I don’t have a Baseball Prospectus subscription (something I’m working on, next season I promise), but I happened to come across a certain column. Yep, that’s right, a Baseball Prospectus column on how to build a fantasy team. A fantasy team. Has BP has gone to the dark side? Now don’t get me wrong, I like fantasy baseball a lot, I play about three or four teams a year. It’s just really fun. However, don’t you think there’s enough fantasy advice on the net? Of all people, Baseball Prospectus shouldn’t be writing on that kind of stuff, stuff already too plentiful in my opinion. These two things – fantasy baseball and PECOTA, VORP, EqA, etc. -don’t go together. Granted, those stats could sometimes be useful when building a fantasy team, but it’s completely different ways of looking at the game: prediction for fun and a possible $5,000 prize (not to mention big-time bragging rights), and prediction to analyze the entire structure and motives of the game. BP shouldn’t go into draft sleepers and Rotoworld shouldn’t start analyzing wins expected matrix.