Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rationality Redux

Ok, so I've calmed down a little since learning that 'ol Hamburger Helper Mitts won the MVP. But not much.

Anyway, Baseball Crank defends the selection quite ably, noting correctly that by the straight 'numbers', Slappy had a better year, even before defense is put into play. He then loses me. After noting that
So, where did A-Rod make his real mark? Well, besides the 51 victories by 3 runs or less, the Yankees won 44 other games by 4 or more runs. Now, they may not be as dramatic as 1-run wins, but blowouts count just as much in the standings, and they mean an awful lot to a team with a shaky pitching staff,
he concludes "he's very, very good at putting games away early. Who can say the ability to win baseball games with ease isn't valuable?".

To quote, well, me, commenting in wonky fashion: "nice analysis in general. However, are you really claiming that winning by 4 runs is equally valuable as merely winning? Yes, winning blowouts is nice, but the marginal value of a blowout over a one-run win is almost certainly less then the marginal value of a one-run win over a one-run loss. We're arguing relative weight here, so the argument that winning big is 'also good' doesn't get you very far." Plus, and here's where Anger...RISING occurs, you are arguing that piling up big numbers in a blowout is better than hitting a walk-off...Karl Malone, Daunte Culpepper and Gregg Norman, you have a fourth...sorry, went a small bit snarky there...but as Herm Edwards would preachsay, "You play to win the game."

I don't think even the most irrational member of RSN (which I am not, but thisclose) would argue that Ortiz is a better player than SlappyA-Rod. The award is not "Best Player", its "Most Valuable". Sabremetrics are perfect (well, not perfect until the value of defense gets sorted out, but that's a different windmill...) for determining the former. The latter is a different situation. Do the Sawx make the playoffs w/o Ortiz? Absolutely not. Do the Yankees w/o A-Rod? Good question. The probability is less than 1 but greater than zero.

But then, I am not fully rational either in my love for Papi or my disdain for T-Mac of MLBA-Rod.

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