By Bob Vorwald – @bobvorwald
This week on Stats Sunday, we turn our attention to the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards as the topic of our open-book final exam on our year-long stats discussion (and the kind of thing you do in September when the Cubs are 20+ games below .500).
Here are the leading candidates and some key numbers from baseball-reference.com. (To get a little defense, Rtot is the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made.
This number combines the Rtz, Rdp, Rof, Rcatch numbers into a total defensive contribution. Also, these numbers are as of Friday afternoon. It takes at least 36 hours for Len and JD to process and approve each submission.)
Among the candidates, Andrew McCutchen is listed first for a reason if you want to guess where I’m going with this.
Player BA/On-Base/SLG OPS+ WAR HR/RBI Walks Runs SB Rtot
Andrew McCutchen .326./.406/.520 162 7.0 19/70 68 89 27 13
Paul Goldschmidt .296/.398/.533 154 5.8 31/109 92 91 13 8
Jayson Werth .324/.398/.542 157 4.5 23/71 74 48 8 -1
Joey Votto .306/.436/.496 153 6.0 22/66 117 92 6 0
(Shhhh! Don’t tell Dusty Baker I put Joey on the list. He walks too much and doesn’t drive in enough runs. The fact that he scores a zillion runs, is in the lineup every day -leading the league with 147 games played – and is always on base shouldn’t be considered.)
What? No Yadier Molina? Cardinal-hater! Maybe, but I admire Yadi to the max. He just hasn’t played enough games to get there this year. He’s appeared in 120, hitting .318/.358/.479 with a 4.8 WAR and usual great defense. It’s hard to pile up on stats like caught stealing when no one runs on you.
While it’s great all these guys are at least nominally in the post-season hunt, I don’t care if the MVP candidate is on a winning team or not. To quote Len, if Miguel Cabera and Mike Trout switched uniforms, is Miggy still the MVP? In case you haven’t noticed, Trout’s WAR is now 8.4 to Cabrera’s 6.7 but that was last week’s rant…
McCutchen should be the first Pirate MVP since Barry Bonds in 1990 and the most popular since Willie Stargell’s what-the-hell-were-they-thinking 1979 MVP where his 126 game 2.5 WAR got him a tie for the award with Keith Hernandez. (Lots of bad ties back in those days. That one ranks right up there with the POW Allies 4-4 deadlock with the Germans in Paris from “Victory”, where after a clear goal was disallowed, the ever-believable as a POW Pele knotted things with a bicycle kick and Stallone/Hatch preserved the tie by stopping a penalty kick at game end.)
The only drama is the National League Cy Young race is whether some moron will make Clayton Kershaw a unanimous winner. Kershaw leads all baseball in ERA (1.92 – that’s 1 point freaking 92 for a 185 ERA+!), WHIP (0.92), innings pitched (216), WAR (7.2), and left-handed hitters bitching that they are in the line-up that day against him (hundreds). Yes, he’s only 10th in wins, but let’s not rile Brian Kenny any more than necessary this week. Kershaw leads the NL in strikeouts (208), starts (tied for 1st at 30), and may soon say to Magic Johnson “howdy partner” and mean it.
A special tip of the cap to 21-tear-old Jose Fernandez who just finished his rookie with a 2.19 ERA over 172⅔ innings pitched with a 6.7 WAR, 0.98 WHIP, and generally ungodly stuff. Throw in a season-ending screaming match with the Braves and a strutting home run to follow and you’ve got the making of some serious Kershaw competition for years. to come. But in the meantime. Clayton, he of the curveball that Vin Scully anointed Lord Charles several years ago because Uncle Charlie wasn’t nearly enough to describe it. wins the Cy.
The question is should he win the MVP? But that’s an argument for another Sunday….