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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
As the 2012 baseball season is gradually drawing to a close, fans are already speculating on the MVP Award and the Cy Young Award winners for each league. Both awards are voted on by the Baseball Writers of America before post-season play begins. The MVP Award has never been really defined and is left to the interpretation of the voting baseball writers. Unfortunately, many sports writers will overlook players whose teams do not make the playoffs or those players unfriendly to the press. The Cy Young Award attempts to choose the most outstanding pitcher in each league.
In 2011 Justin Verlander, a Detroit Tiger pitcher, won both awards. Since the MVP Award was first given in 1931, 24 pitchers have won the MVP Award.
Here is my issue with a pitcher winning the MVP Award. In 2011, no positional player was given a most outstanding player award. It doesn’t seem fair not to award a positional player, who usually appears in over 90% of his team’s games compared to a starting pitcher appearing in just 20% of his team’s games, with a most outstanding player award. Yes, we do have the Silver Slugger Award for the best offensive player at each position. In my opinion this does not fill the void.
To fill that void we need a new award for the most outstanding positional player. We can name it the MVPP (Most Valuable Positional Player) Award. To overcome any biases of sports writers this award will not be voted on but will be earned through certain offensive and defensive statistics. Such offensive statistics as batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, runs created, and others can be used. As for defensive statistics, we could have fielding percentage and range factor. Of course, a weighting factor in favor of offensive statistics would be applied (maybe 4 to 1). Which offensive and defensive statistics and how they will be totaled should be decided by a committee of baseball sabermetricians. Also, I would not be opposed to the Cy Young Award being determined in the same way.
After the MVPP Award is established we would have one major award for pitchers and one for positional players. The MVP Award can now come from either bucket. Sabermetricians can find ways of comparing the winner of the Cy Young Award to the winner of the MVPP Award for the purpose of awarding the most outstanding player the MVP Award. Such statistics as WAR (wins over replacement players) could be used for that purpose.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
As a huge Yankee fan I remember Melky Cabrera as a good fourth outfielder when he played for the Yankees. That fourth outfielder, I watched play for the Yankees, is now a superstar for the Giants. He was chosen to the NL All-Star team and was selected as the MVP of the All-Star game. He is batting .346 and in contention for the batting title. Millions of dollars were in his reach with next year’s contract. Everything was so right for Melky in 2012.
It all changed when it was announced that Melky failed baseball’s drug test. Melky then admitted he had used a certain banned substance. By baseball’s drug rule, he was suspended for 50 games and consequently his .346 batting average is his final batting average for 2012. He has 501 plate appearances which is one short of the minimum needed to be considered for the batting title. However, baseball allows one out to be added giving him 502 plate appearances. His .3464 batting average becomes .3456.
This raises the following question: If he has the highest batting average at the end of the year does he win the batting title? In my first post about breaking records I favored not using the asterisk next to any baseball record. Since winning a batting title is an award for just one year, it can never be broken. Consequently, winning a battle title is not the same as setting a baseball record.
Since Melky failed the drug test and admitted he cheated, it would dishonor the game of baseball to declare him the batting champion. If a student gets the highest score on a test and it is proven the student cheated, would a school give him an award for this achievement? The answer is a resounding NO.
If his .346 average turns out to be the highest batting average for 2012, baseball should not declare Melky the batting champion. Instead, the batting title should be awarded to the player, who without cheating had the highest batting average.
What happens to Melky’s .346 batting average? Unlike the case of a test in a school where the student would be given a zero for cheating, we cannot declare Melky’s batting average as zero. What we can do is place an ASTERISK next to the .346. At the bottom of the page the explanation will be given.
I am interested in what you think? Also, what do you think we should do about his All-Star MVP Award?

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Gradually baseball is adding instant replay to its game. Today, instant replay can be used to determine whether the call on a home run is correct.
Baseball is now talking about adding instant replay to calls made on balls hit down the foul-lines, deciding whether a ball is trapped or caught on a fly, and deciding safe or out calls at home plate. How much can we use technology in baseball? Of course, the maximum use of technology would be in ball and strike calls. Technology would replace the home plate umpire. I am totally against such an extreme action. See chapter 2, page 7 of the Interesting Facts on
The reason for having instant replay is to get the call correct. Should we follow professional football and allow a manager a certain number of challenges for a game? Before we could do that we must decide which plays are reviewable. Like in football where in the final two minutes of a game instant replay is controlled from the press box; we could have instant replay called from the press box after, arbitrarily, the seventh inning.
Here is what I believe. Since the technology is here, I want the right decision made. The two biggest arguments against instant replay are they would undermine baseball’s traditions and they would increase an already too long baseball game.
As for tradition, what is wrong with the designated hitter or interleague play?

As for the complaint about the extra time, here is what I would do. First, I would create a definite list of reviewable plays. The decision to review would be taken away from managers and the on the field umpires. In the press box an assigned umpire will press a button that would notify the home plate umpire a review is in progress. The final decision would be made upstairs and the results would be called down to the home plate umpire. The decision upstairs must be rendered within two minutes. Since the defined list of reviewable plays is small, this may add between six to eight minutes to a game.

Do you agree with me?  Vote on .

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Having discussed in my prior blog whether a player’s individual record should have an asterisk or even not count if that player took part in steroid use, I now turn my attention to a much bigger debate. Whereas an individual record is just one achievement, voting a player into the Hall of Fame represents a career achievement.
The questions I ask now are: In voting for the Hall of Fame, should a player be left off the ballot because of illegal enhanced drug use? If you believe the answer to that question is yes, what proof is needed to show the player did use illegal drugs? If you believe a player should be considered only on his baseball record and was a steroid user, should there be an asterisk next to his bust in the Hall of Fame?
First, let me say that there are good arguments on both sides of each of these questions. To get the debate going I will give my views on these questions.
Since before 2004 there was no drug testing in baseball the only way we can be convinced that a player did use drugs outlawed by baseball or the laws of this country is if the player admitted to such use or was convicted in a court of law of either using an illegal drug or lying under oath about its use.  In this case, I still believe that a voter should only consider the player’s baseball career numbers. However, if such a player is elected and has been proven a user of a banned substance or admitted to have used any illegal drug an asterisk should appear next to his bust in Cooperstown stating this fact. Of course, if the player tested positive for a banned substance the same punishment should be applied without any other proof needed.
For those players suspected but never proven of illegal drug use, the voters should just judge the player on his baseball career and if worthy put his name on their ballot. If elected such a player should have no asterisk by his name.
To define a period of years as the era of steroid use and label any player who played in that era as a suspected drug user would clearly be wrong. In fact, as I mentioned in my previous blog any player whose baseball records are good enough to be elected to the Hall of fame during the years of steroid use and did not use steroids should be praised and not punished.




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