MVP Elections – 1986 NL

Hello again, everyone!  Dr. Doom here with another MVP post.

This time, we examine the National League of 1986.  I’ll get to the pennant race (which I normally start with) in a moment, but I want to begin by saying something about the MVP voting of 1986.  This was the year of the aging player.  The vast majority of the players who show up here were stars already in the late-1970s, yet hung around long enough to still be in play in 1986.  And, to their good fortune, when some of them had a resurgence, the NL was weak enough that their good-but-not-great performances were enough to stand out.

The second-place teams in each league won 86 in ’86, which I guess would’ve been fine if the division winners hadn’t won 96 and 108 games.  There was no race to speak of in either division, with the Astros pulling away in late July and the Mets having the division sewn up by May Day, by which point they already had a 5-game lead after having taken over first place for good on April 22nd. The Mets finished the season with 108 wins – matching the ’75 Reds with a number that hadn’t been seen in the NL since the 1909 Pirates!  To this day, only those Pirates and the 1906 Cubs have won more games in the National League than the 1986 Mets.

For those record-setting Mets, the two players who showed up in voting were perhaps not the two people most associated with that team.  While most everyone thinks of those Mets’ young studs Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, the two players who finished 3-4 in MVP voting were Gary Carter and 1979 NL MVP Keith Hernandez.  Carter was renowned as the best defensive catcher outside of Johnny Bench, probably in major league history (indeed, there are certainly those who consider Carter to be Bench’s superior).  Carter had come to the Mets prior to the 1985 season, and received a lot of credit as a veteran leader who helped to pull together an up-and-coming team to produce one of the most dominant single seasons in baseball history.  By 1986, Carter’s best days were behind him.  Nevertheless, he could still rake for a catcher.  While .255/.337/.439 may not seem that good to us, that’s a solidly-above-average hitting performance from a key defensive position.  While he scored only 81 R, Carter finished third in the NL with 105 RBI, and his 24 HR from behind the plate were nothing to sneeze at.

Hernandez, long before being exonerated by scientific evidence of a second spitter, was also in his decline phase, and ALSO credited with bringing veteran leadership to a young bunch of talented hooligans.  He had arrived midway through 1983 as a player, like Carter, who had been very productive throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s.  ALSO like Carter, Hernandez had a reputation as perhaps the greatest defensive player of all-time at his position (indeed people were even MORE convinced of this in Hernandez’s case than in Carter’s).  Hernandez did what he did best in 1986:  hit lots of doubles (34), drove in some (83), and got on base a lot (a league-leading 94 walks, leading to 94 runs, 5th-best in the league).  He hit .310/.413/.446, finishing 5th in average and falling a few thousandths of a point behind Tim Raines for the lead in OBP (Raines was also at .413).

Dave Parker of the Reds was yet another late-70s star (and former MVP, having won the NL’s award as a Pirate in 1978) having somewhat of a resurgence in 1986.  After an outstanding 1985 in which he led the NL in several major categories (2B, RBI, and TB), Parker picked up where he left off, though admittedly not as effectively.  With a .270/.330/.477 line, Parker managed to finish second in the NL in RBI with 116.  He also scored 89 (this was in a year in which only two players scored 100), and also finished second in HR with 31.  While he had once been a fleet-of-foot outfielder with a killer arm, Parker was now a prototypical aging slugger:  lead-footed, sore-armed, and carrying a powerful, heavy bat.

Representing Parker’s former “fast outfielder” prototype was Montreal’s Tim Raines.  Raines had broken into the majors in 1979, but wasn’t really a star until he stole 71 in the strike year, so he, like the others, was already established, playing in his sixth All-Star Game in 1986.  Raines won the batting title and had the NL’s best OBP in 1986 (.334/.413/.476), leading to the second-best OPS on the senior circuit.  He stole 70 (third in the league – it was a different time!) and was caught only 9 times.  His 62 RBI and 9 HR were the expected totals for a leadoff man of Rock’s caliber, with his 35 two-baggers ranking 6th.  He scored only 91, but as mentioned above, that was a good enough total in 1986, tying for 8th in the NL.

The final of the older players having a banner 1986 was MVP Mike Schmidt.  Schmidt’s Phillies finished a surprise 2nd in the NL East, but so far back you couldn’t see them in one of those “objects may be closer than they appear” mirrors.  Nonetheless, Schmidt was his usual stalwart self with his final really big year.  He won his 8th (and final) NL home run crown, hammering 37 to go along with a league-leading 119 RBI.  He hit .290/.390/.547, with the batting average a surprising 9th in the NL, the OBP 3rd, and the slugging and OPS ranking first in the circuit.  Schmidt also scored 97 runs to rank third in the league.  As was his custom, Schmidt was clearly no stranger to the upper reaches of the leaderboard.

Tony Gwynn is finally a player of a different type – new and up-and-coming.  The first-ballot Hall of Famer broke onto the scene in 1984, leading the Padres to the World Series as he paced the league in hits for the first time, and won his first of eight batting titles.  1986 would see him lead the league in runs (107) and hits (211) while also showing a bit of a power stroke, with 33 2B and 14 HR, to go along with 59 RBI.  For those of us who grew up watching late-career Tony Gwynn, it may be a surprise to note the 37 bases he stole in 1986.  He was third in the league in hitting, fifth in OBP, and put up a very nice .329/.381/.467 line, placing him seventh in the NL in OPS.

There are two more “new-ish” faces to consider in 1986 MVP voting.  First up is Houston first baseman Glenn Davis. The former #5 overall pick never quite lived up to that promise, but his runner-up MVP finish for the NL West champions marked the first of four straight very solid seasons of 25 2B, 25 HR and 85 RBI that were the more impressive for coming in the pitcher-friendly Astrodome. Making his first All-Star team in ’86, Davis scored 91 while driving in 101 (one of only four players to reach triple digits).  His 32 doubles and 31 HR (tied for second) bespoke a good power hitter, affirmed by his SLG which was fourth in the NL and part of a solid .265/.344/.493 slash, good for a 9th best OPS.  However, it would be his teammate of whom legends were spoken in 1986.

Mike Scott is a problem for me, because I always think of “The Office” when I see his name.  But that’s neither here nor there. Instead, it’s worth talking about his performance on the field.  Scott had gone 18-8 with a 3.29 ERA in 1985, having shaved over a run off his ERA while increasing his workload by 67 innings from the year before.  He added another 54 innings in 1986, pitching a league-leading 275.1 IP, and shaved yet another run off his ERA, with a league-leading 2.22.  Get used to the hyphenated construction “league-leading,” because that’s the best way to describe Mike Scott’s 1986.  Although he went “only” 18-10 (3rd in W), the Cy Young winner tossed 5 shutouts (1st) and struck out more than four times as many as he walked (4.25, 1st in the NL), resulting in a miserly .923 WHIP that paced the senior circuit by .135, more than a full baserunner per game better than the Giants’ Mike Krukow in second place.  Indeed, Scott truly showed that he had arrived with his league-leading 306 strikeouts to become (then) just the 11th pitcher of the century to fan 300, joining  Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Rube Waddell, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Sam McDowell, J.R. Richard, Steve Carlton, Mickey Lolich and Vida Blue.

While (all-but-confirmed) rumors of his scuffing of baseballs abound, Scott’s season was truly one for the ages.  But does it measure up to the offensive performance of the other players here?  That’s for you to decide.  1986 was one of those weird years where there are a BUNCH of guys (Kevin Bass, Von Hayes, Eric Davis, Steve Sax, Lenny Dykstra) who don’t really seem that different from the candidates I’ve listed above. But you’re welcome to challenge that assertion and look at these or other candidates more closely.  Best of luck picking the 1986 NL MVP!

DIRECTIONS:  Please list 5-10 players on your MVP ballot (ballots with fewer than 5 candidates will be thrown out).  Ballots will be scored as per BBWAA scoring (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).  Strategic voting is discouraged, though unenforceable, so please just don’t do it, as the goal here is to (somewhat) mimic the BBWAA process.  The post will be live for about a week; please discuss and vote whenever you’d like, but there will be no vote changes, so don’t vote until you’re sure you’re ready!

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81 Comments on "MVP Elections – 1986 NL"

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David P
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Rick Rhoden finished second in the NL in WAR with 7.7 but received 0 points in the MVP voting. Not hard to see why as the Pirates finished 64-98 and 1.1 of his WAR came from hitting. He did finish 5th in Cy Young voting.

Brent
Guest

I would almost vote for pitcher for MVP, but this seems to be the year to do it. Scott was fantastic. I will have to ponder. I might point out that one player not mentioned above is Ozzie Smith, who had a typical Ozzie year, decent with the bat, great with the glove (BdWAR is 2nd only to Jody Davis) and great on the bases (Rbaser is 4th in the league, after Coleman, E. Davis and Raines)

Brent
Guest

the word never is missing from my first sentence (between almost and vote)

Dr. Doom
Guest

Just to be clear, there are ALWAYS good candidates (sometimes REALLY good candidates) left out of the blurbs. They’re really mostly for my amusement and to get a sense of the season in question, rather than to be a guide for which players to vote for. I just think a starting place is nice. At the very least, they’re meant to be a beginning point for discussion inn case it’s hard to find something to say.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Lowest OPS+, with 90+ runs scored:

55 … Hughie Critz (107 in 1930)
62 … Vince Coleman, 1986
62 … Neifi Perez (108 with the ’99 Denvers)
65 … Footsie Blair, 1930
66 … Frankie Crosetti
66 … Red Schoedinist

Crosetti batted leadoff for all 152 games n 1939, and played every inning of the first 149.
Then Rolfe, Keller, DiMaggio, Dickey, Selkirk, Gordon.
They scored 967. How many would they have scored if Crosetti was batting 8th, where he belonged?

Dr. Doom
Guest

The Schoendienst one is also fascinating. I would actually give the Cardinals kudos for keeping him in the lineup. He was an All-Star the previous year, but his 66 OPS+ year was his age-24 season. He had a LOT of career ahead of him, and the Cards didn’t let his poor performance with the bat as a young player dissuade them from realizing they had a special young player on their hands.

no statistician but
Guest

Today (2/2/17) happens to be Red’s 94th birthday. Amazing that in 1959 he spent several months in a TB sanatorium and missed virtually the whole season. He came back as a part timer for three more years. He’s in the Hall, but his stats alone don’t justify it. He was noted as a team leader and had a decent managerial career. Sort of like Joe Torre, but not as successful in either realm.

Doug
Guest
Had to look up Footsie Blair, whom I’d never heard of before. Played just that one season as a regular, at second base for the Cubs. Started 124 games, 111 batting leadoff and the other 13 batting second. His speed credentials apparently were his 12 triples, as he added only 9 stolen bases. But, why try stealing when your team is scoring 998 runs (incl. Blair’s 97)? Chicago had Blair, Woodie English and Kiki Cuyler in that order, with speed and increasing pop at the top of the order, lumber in the middle with Wilson and Stephenson, and old and/or… Read more »
David P
Guest
Blair became the starting second baseman when Rogers Hornsby broke his ankle, an injury that likely cost the Cubs the pennant since they only finished 2 games behind the Cardinals. As for batting leadoff, Woody English held that position for 36 of the first 37 games. But I guess he was playing too well and was dropped to second in the lineup. The awful Clyde Beck (32 OPS+ in 1929, 52 in 1930) batted leadoff for the next 3 games. At that point, Hornsby got hurt and Blair took over at second and leadoff. In his first start as Hornsby’s… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I like Gwynn here. He did it all, Average, Power, Speed, Defense.

Mike Scott was an Ace on a division winner. Houston had above average pitching, but Scott stood out.
WAR among Astros’ Pitchers, starting with Scott: 8.4, 3.6, 2.3, 1.6, 1.4, 1.3, 1.0

I’m voting for the other 5-tool players prominently.

1. Tony Gwynn
2. Mike Scott
3. Tim Raines
4. Eric Davis
5. Gary Carter
6. Keith Hernandez
7. Mike Schmidt
8. Von Hayes
9. Fernando Valenzuela
10. B.L. Bonds

Dr. Doom
Guest
You can copy-paste the following sentence for any other NL seasons we do over the next decade: “The problem with Eric Davis’ year is that he missed too many games.” Davis NEVER: played more than 135 games managed 600 PA managed 500 AB played 1200 innings in the field Basically, any playing time measure won’t find Davis high on the list. Yet he: had two 30+ HR seasons (and six additional of 20+) managed four 35+ SB seasons (incl. one of 50 and one of 80!) scored as many as 120 R had five seasons with a .900+ OPS had… Read more »
David P
Guest

For all his talent, I’m not sure Davis was quite on the level of Trout/Mantle/Mays.

For one thing, despite winning 3 gloves, he grades out as a below average on defense (-66 Rfield, -9.5 dWAR). He also struck out a lot in an era in which lots of Ks weren’t that common (8 times over 100 Ks despite limited playing time). And other than a fluky 1998 with Baltimore he never really hit for average. Which is a bit strange given how fast he was.

David P
Guest

The better comp for Davis is Bobby Bonds. They have two things in common:

1) Very similar triple slash lines.

Bonds: .268/.352/.466
Davis: .269/.359/.482

2) There are 52 players in MLB history with stolen bases greater than 1.4 times doubles (minimum 5000 PAs). Most of them are the Lou Brock/Willie Wilson types. Only Bonds and Davis also have more home runs than doubles.

Paul E
Guest

Scott
Raines
Schmidt
Hernandez
Hayes
Davis
Strawberry
Gwynn
Bass
Rhoden

Paul E
Guest

sorry, that’s Eric Davis above

birtelcom
Editor
Mike Scott was not a long-lasting star, and his reputation is indeed scuffed up a bit, but that 1986 was extraordinary. The desperation with which the Mets wanted to avoid facing him in an NLCS Game 7 was complete, which helped make Game 6 of that series one of the most thrilling ever played (while the ALCS was matching that series step-for-step — what an autumn that was!) My vote: 1. Mike Scott 2. Mike Schmidt 3. Tim Raines 4. Tony Gwynn 5. Keith Hernandez 6. Rick Rhoden 7. Eric Davis 8. Fernando Valenzuela 9. Glenn Davis 10. Ozzie Smith… Read more »
David P
Guest

Birtelcom – I was a freshman in college in 1986. I vividly remember guys running into dorm rooms shouting “Holy Crap! Did you see what just heppened???!!!”. Definitely an October to remember.

birtelcom
Editor

Lowest b-ref WAR in a season with 300 or more Total Bases:
-2.3 WAR Dante Bichette, 1999, 321 TB
0 WAR Matt Kemp, 2016, 311 TB
0.2 WAR Dave Parker, 1986, 304 TB
0.6 WAR Dante Bichette, 1996, 336 TB
0.7 WAR Jeff Burroughs, 1977, 301 TB

Paul E
Guest

Birtlecom,
Which begs the question: For the 2017 season, who would you rather have manage 650 PA’s for your team, Matt Kemp or Jason Heyward?
I’ll take Kemp but, by today’s logic, that makes me a dope.

birtelcom
Editor

Corner OF, lowest Rbat (WAR runs from batting) in a season with 1 or more WAR:
-27.3.Rbat, Vince Coleman 1986, 1.2 WAR
-18.9 Rbat, Jason Heyward 2016, 1.5 WAR
-17.8 Rbat, Roberto Clemente 1957, 1.4 WAR
-17.4 Rbat, Troy O’Leary 2000, 1.1 WAR
-17.3 Rbat, Randy Winn 2009, 1.3 WAR

Paul E
Guest

and, amongst RF w/502 PA, if I did the PI correctly, one of the 10 worst seasons for Rbat ever.
Do you think he’ll opt out of THAT contract? The Cubs still owe him $ 160 M….ugghhh

e pluribus munu
Guest

Gooden’s 1985 WAR is just short of the total combined WAR of the ’85 and ’86 MVPs. Could we credit with having banked one MVP in ’85, deliverable in ’86?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Two players have exceeded Gooden’s 13.2 WAR since 1901:
Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson

NL voters really weren’t considering Pitchers for the MVP.
(not that they had WAR, but)… Gooden’s WAR was more than the top two guys combined in 1985:

8.1 … McGee
4.7 … Dave Parker
7.9 … Guerrero
13.2 . Dr K

birtelcom
Editor

Though John Tudor put on his own Mike Scott-like show in 1985. What a division battle that was between the Mets and Cards in 1985! The heroes walked the earth in those days, for us Mets fans. Enjoy it while you can, Cubs fans of today, those transcendent moments, when everything comes together, can be fleeting.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I think Tudor’s performance may have taken the edge off the perception of Gooden’s. I actually remember it more vividly than Gooden’s, even though I was a Mets fan too. Tudor’s four September shutouts are hard to forget – this was an ordinary pitcher past prime age, who, in over 120 starts prior to 1985, had thrown the same number of shutouts he did in his eight September ’85 starts (plus a ten-inning scoreless no-decision, besides). It’s easier to forget that while Gooden only had two September shutouts during that race, he also had two other nine-inning scoreless no-decisions and… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor

Through June 5, 1985, Tudor had a 2-7 W-L record and a 3.73 ERA for the season. Over his remaining 25 starts that regular season, he was 19-1 with a 1.32 ERA. The Cards were 22-3 in those 25 games, including a loss to the Mets on October 1 in which Tudor pitched 10 shutout innings, but Darryl Strawberry hit an 11th inning homer off Ken Dayley to help keep the Mets in the division race.

Scary Tuna
Guest
I wrote a bit about Tudor and Gooden in our last MVP discussion (1985 AL), but my comment was buried as a reply near the top of the thread, so I’ll repost the part about them here: After weighing the merits of several pitchers in our recent revoting of the 1984 AL MVP, it’s striking to me to look at the actual vote for the 1985 NL MVP. While Willie McGee was a worthy MVP winner, Doc Gooden had one of the all time great seasons – pitching or hitting. His 13.2 WAR is 20th All time, 4th in the… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

They each faced the other team six times.
Only once versus one another.
Classic battle:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN198509110.shtml

Scary Tuna
Guest
Besides Tudor, another favorite player of mine on that Cardinals team was Tommy Herr, who drove in 110 runs with just eight homers. He became the first player in 35 years with single digit homers and triple digit RBIs. I was excited when the Twins acquired him three years later. But to get Herr, they gave up a popular player in Tom Brunansky, just months after he helped them to their first world title. And without Vince Coleman and Willie McGee hitting ahead of him, it didn’t go well for Herr in Minnesota, who shipped him to the Phillies in… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

Those Tudor ’85 numbers remind me of Rick Sutcliffe when he won the NL Cy Young Award the year before. His splits are a little easier to pick out because he was traded from the AL to the NL. In Cleveland, he was 4-5 with a 5.15 ERA. On June 13th, he was traded. He finished the year on the North Side of Chicago, where he was 16-1 (team 18-2) with a 2.69 ERA.

no statistician but
Guest
Some observations: The Mets in 1986 resemble somewhat the Tigers in 1984, insofar as no one player dominated in their remarkable team success. They led the league in runs scored but only Hernandez with 94 finished in the top ten (5th). He led the league in walks, Carter was third in RBIs, Strawberry finished a poor second in slugging (.507), but the team was mostly absent otherwise from offensive leaderboards. Part of the reason for this might be that the team was platooned quite a bit with five infield and outfield reserves getting major playing time. The starting trio of… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Scott seems a no-brainer to me – I’ve never bought the “They have their own award” stuff about pitchers and the MVP: to me, if a pitcher’s the most valuable player, he’s the MVP, period. But when I look at Scott’s 1986 record closely, I feel some doubts. No question: going over his overall stats and game logs, he had a terrific season, especially after a weak start out of the gate (and I think all of us appreciate players who dramatically turn around a poor start). But there are a few issues that make me less enthusiastic about Scott… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest
I’ve always had trouble voting pitchers for MVP. I can just never believe that a player who plays maybe 200 innings out of almost 1500 in a season (less than 15 percent) can be more valuable than an everyday player. Yes, I realize that pitchers do have an larger impact in the innings that they do play, but it still doesn’t compute for me. Perhaps in the days when pitchers were tossing 300 or more innings I’d be more swayed. So, I’m glad for the Cy Young Award because I think it properly awards an extremely important position without forcing… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
I’m in your camp, Josh. Even though nothing prevents a pitcher from receiving votes for the MVP, considering the way the CYA has evolved over time, it’s clear to me that the award has come to represent the pitcher’s MVP. In my mind it’s been that way pretty much all along, and I’m old enough to remember the first one. What i mean is, in spite of the fact that the award is supposed to be given to the “best” pitcher, the long practice, usually but not always followed, has been to hand it to the perceived most valuable pitcher,… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
nsb, You must antedate me. Although my first game was Newcombe’s final CYA-qualifying one in ’56, I wasn’t conscious of the existence of the award until Spahn won it in ’57 – maybe after Newcombe got shelled in Game Seven I just wasn’t ready to hear anything good about him for awhile. In this case, as my windy response to Josh below indicates, I’m on the other side. In terms of your comment, I think it’s misleading to count only winners: a clearer picture would emerge if we calculated how often pitchers were among the top-ten among vote getters, and… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Josh, Let me try to respond by picking up on this part of your comment: “I realize that pitchers do have a larger impact in the innings that they do play, but it still doesn’t compute for me.” Basically, it seems like the issue is converting a qualitative intuition (some “larger impact,” but over a measurably smaller scale of play) to a quantitative one (how much “larger impact,” and how, exactly, that is to be balanced against the smaller scale of play). The problem measure, I think, is the amorphous nature of “innings.” If you actually break baseball down to… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest
Thanks for the thoughtful responses! EPM – I appreciate the number crunching you provide here. I will continue to think on it. One initial response is I do see a huge difference between the relative value of a pitcher in the NL, who has to make a significant number of plate appearances throughout the year, and a pitcher in the AL, who is one-dimensional (as is a designated hitter). Another thought that this raises to me is the relative value of batting versus pitching. One could argue that a hitter is completely responsible for whatever the outcome of his at-bat… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Josh, You’re moving into really interesting territory in the your second paragraph. As for the DH/non-DH issue, although I’m both an NL fan and a relic of the days when we watched games on the radio and baseball was filled with virtue too pure for the DH to corrupt, I don’t think it particularly bears on the question you raised earlier, since pitcher season participation in non-batting events seems comparable in magnitude to position-player participation in batting and fielding events combined. But the second issue is really challenging. When a batter strikes out, is the batter 100% responsible for his… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Kershaw v Trout, 12 PA:

.182 / .250 / .273 / .523

Josh Davis
Guest
Love the analysis, but I need to clarify my earlier statement. I wasn’t talking about batter versus pitcher, but rather the individual responsibility of batters versus the individual responsibility of pitchers. When Mike Trout hits a home run, no one on his team helped him hit it; he is solely responsible for the positive outcome for his team that comes from the at-bat. When Clayton Kershaw induces a batter to ground out, he is reliant on the shortstop to be in the right position, to field the ball cleanly, to make an accurate throw, and on the first baseman to… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
A very challenging way to frame the argument, Josh. Let’s see if I can counter it . . . maybe not. . . . Here are two attempts: First, to the home run dimension. When Kershaw strikes out Trout, he does not rely on any teammates — although, as the rules stand, he cannot complete the put-out unless the catcher catches strike three (and we’d all get really bored if he had to go retrieve all the other balls before pitching again). Thus the responsibility balance between pitcher and hitter is very close. Even on a bad day, Kershaw will… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Just realized I didn’t put an end date on this one yet. Let’s go with Thursday the 16th at 11:59 PM.

oneblankspace
Guest

Eastern Standard Time, I assume.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Your local time. I’ll just assume you’re being honest about where you live. 🙂

Brent
Guest

1. Mike Scott; 2. Gwynn 3. Schmidt 4. Raines 5. Hernandez 6. Ozzie 7. E. Davis 8. Carter 9. Fernando 10. Rhoden

e pluribus munu
Guest
I was trying to figure out how to assess performance in key games for position players, as I tried to for Scott as a pitcher, focusing on Hernandez, Gwynn, Schmidt, and Raines, since, after Scott (and putting Valenzuela aside), they fill out the top five in WAR for the ’86 NL. I couldn’t figure out a way to go about it comparable to the way I approached Scott — for Scott, I looked at how he pitched during the period when the Astros were fighting for the division lead midseason (very well; maybe not overwhelming). Because the division races were… Read more »
ThickieDon
Guest

I have not voted before. Can I submit a vote for 1986 or do I need to stick around the blog for a while?

In any case, my vote would be:

1. Mike Scott
2. Tony Gwynn
3. Tim Raines
4. Mike Schmidt
5. Keith Hernandez
6. Eric Davis
7. Kevin Bass
8. Fernando Valenzuela
9. Lenny Dykstra
10. Hubie Brooks

David P
Guest

ThickieDon: We always welcome new members and new voters. Hope you continue to stick around and contribute!!!

ThickieDon
Guest

How do you guys typically weigh post-season performance?

Dr. Doom
Guest

In this series, we’ve been ignoring it, as the real BBWAA vote occurred prior to the postseason. That said… we all know how things turned out, don’t we? Kinda hard to pretend you don’t know something you do know.

Eric
Guest

My favorite year of baseball is 1986, I guess being a die hard Met fan will do that to you. Plus I was 11 years Old and the perfect age to really start enjoying stats and baseball cards.

1. Keith Hernandez (you would have to have watched the Mets to know)
2. Mike Scott (put FEAR in other teams including the Mets)
3. Tony Gwynn
4. Mike Schnmidt
5. Tim Raines
6. Gary Carter
7. Glenn Davis
8. Fernando Valenzuela
9. Eric Davis
10, Dave Parker (I love Cobra but 0.2 war?)

Gary Bateman
Guest

1. Scott
2. Hayes
3. Schmidt
4. Parker
5. Hernandez
6. Raines
7. Sax
8. Gwynn
9. G. Davis
10.E. Davis

e pluribus munu
Guest
I haven’t filled out previous ballots for Doom’s MVP re-votes. I think it’s a great project, and appreciate the care with which the good Dr. sets up each case, but I’ve been worried about the time investment, which I suspected would be far greater than the CoG. This time, I decided to give it a try, and – for me at least – my worries were really on target: this feels really hard to do responsibly. In my mind, anyway, MVP isn’t about WAR, it’s about WPA, and while I understand WAR poorly, I don’t understand WPA at all. I… Read more »
Brendan Bingham
Guest

Vote:
1) Mike Scott
2) Tony Gwynn
3) Mike Schmidt
4) Eric Davis
5) Rick Rhoden
6) Fernando Valenzuela
7) Keith Hernandez
8) Tim Raines
9) Lenny Dykstra
10) Ozzie Smith

Josh Davis
Guest
I’ve tweaked and changed this 100 times, and I still don’t feel great about it, but here it goes: 1. Mike Schmidt 2. Tim Raines 3. Tony Gwynn 4. Keith Hernandez 5. Von Hayes 6. Glenn Davis 7. Eric Davis 8. Steve Sax 9. Kevin McReynolds 10. Gary Carter The above posts about WPA swayed me somewhat on Schmidt and Raines, and EPM’s posts on the value of pitchers made me give some consideration to Mike Scott. But I also came back to this thought: If the voters in 1986 were willing to give Roger Clemens the AL MVP, why… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
I very much like this style of thinking, Josh: taking into consideration the likelihood that different information was available at the earlier point and according it some deference. In this case, if I’m reading you right, there may be an additional issue of fact in play. You may have assumed that the same BBWAA group voted for the MVP in both leagues. My understanding is that the voters in each league must be sportswriters in the cities of the league teams, and except for NY and Chicago (and maybe LA), that means separate groups of writers. Moreover, within the overlap… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest
Fair point about the differing voters, although you’d think thought processes would still be somewhat similar. To your off-topic point: I’ve looked at Clemens and Higuera in 1986 before and that discrepancy is in a nutshell why I have trouble totally trusting WAR. Why does Higuera have a half a win edge over Clemens? Clemens has a much better ERA, a better adjusted ERA, a far better WHIP, Clemens pitched more innings, struck out more batters, walked fewer and won more games than Higuera. Does Higuera’s lead come from defense? It appears he may have been a better fielder than… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Josh, My guess is that it’s the large difference in team defensive quality. Boston had average defense, while Milwaukee’s defense was awful, 13th out of 14 teams, according to the Total Zone fielding runs stats. I can’t vouch for the value of those stats, but if Higuera was within 13 ERA+ points of Clemens with a far worse fielding team, that would account for the difference. As for wins, Clemens’s 24 wins is great, but it was for a .590 team; it’s as remarkable, I think, when a pitcher wins 20 for a .478 team in about the same number… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Team defense according to the total zone fielding runs doesn’t explain it, I don’t think. On the surface Boston and Milwaukee were 53 runs apart, -2 vs -55. I don’t know exactly what this means, but for 1200 innings it’s a differential of about 5. Higuera pitched 248 innings. Somehow I can’t see that margin translating into his surprising lead over Clemens in WAR despite his inferior stats in ERA and ERA+. Clemens also led the league in FIP, .59 ahead of Higuera’s fifth place finish. Something else must be going on at a more specific level in terms of… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
You lost me, nsb. There are about 1500 innings in a season. Higuera’s IP constitute one-sixth of a season, so I’d take the defensive differential for him to be 53/6=8.8, or about 9 runs, not 5. In virtually equal IP, Clemens allowed 7 fewer ER than Higuera (70 vs. 77). I don’t know whether Rtot can actually be factored in this way, but I think it may indeed explain why Clemens’s 8.3% advantage in ERA+ might be erased. I’ve got to level: I’m really not competent with statistics, although my fifth-grade teacher, looking for something nice to say to my… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest

epm:

I only know what I read on B-Ref, as far as the figure of 5 is concerned. Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average per 1200 Innings (Rtot/yr) is -0 for Boston, -5 for Milwaukee. And as I admitted, I don’t know what it means. It just seems insufficient as to be the cause of boosting Higuera’s WAR value above Clemens’, at least by itself.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I see – I hadn’t looked at that column, or if I had, it made no sense to me (still true). According to that count, the run differential would be 6 for a full 162-game season. You’d need a tad over 7 to put Higuera’s ERA+ on a par with Clemens’s. Still, that would account for most of the counter-intuitive WAR figures.

Josh Davis
Guest
Don’t know if anyone is still checking this thread, but here’s one that baffles me even more: Greg Maddux and Jose Rijo in 1993. Here’s some numbers with Maddux listed first, Rijo second: ERA: 2.36 / 2.48 Inn: 267/ 257.1 K: 197 / 227 WHIP: 1.05 / 1.09 ERA+: 170 / 162 and now for the doozy…. WAR: 5.8 / 9.3 Now, I think you can make an argument that the two are pretty close in a lot of traditional stats ways, so what is accounting for a 3.5 win difference (which, I understand, is a pretty significant gap)? Rijo… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

1) Schmidt
2) Raines
3) Hayes
4) Parker
5) Carter
6) Hernandez
7)Glenn Davis

no statistician but
Guest
This is another difficult race to handicap, but my own feeling is that, in the absence of a clear-cut runaway season by anyone, the BBWA picked the right guy. A further telling point is that they pretty close to ignored Mike Scott in the voting (whereas the sentiment here is far otherwise). Why? NL voters in the 1980’s were far less likely to pick a pitcher than their AL counterparts, true, but in 1985 Gooden and Tudor finished 4th and 8th in what looks like a stronger field of position players. In 1984 Sutcliffe and Sutter finished 4th and 6th… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Penultimate day of voting, everyone! Sorry for being absent for a couple of days here; things got busy. Anyway, I want to post my ballot, which will include my thoughts about the Mike Scott situation that has arisen here with the later voters. 1. Mike Scott – To me, it’s obvious that Mike Scott had the best season of anyone in 1986. Now, we could argue about whether we should penalize him for scuffing the baseball, but certainly no one knew that in 1986, so to me it’s a moot point anyway. Lately, some of the voters have expressed concern… Read more »
Josh Davis
Guest
I just started perusing the MVP results in the 80’s in regards to the point that you made about pitchers like Scott not receiving any MVP support. I think in general you make a fair point, though one could find a few exceptions. The one glaring exception is relievers. There are tons of relievers that show up high in MVP voting, even winning (Willie Hernandez, Rollie Fingers), which in all honesty is crazy to me. I can’t exactly make sense of that pattern of voting, but I think we’d have to say that in regards to pitchers, 80’s voters also… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

You’re right about relievers, which I didn’t mention because they’re not particularly relevant to the season in question. But yeah, it’s a weird pattern. For example, Donnie Moore in 1984 was the highest-finishing pitcher in the MVP race, but was like 4th or 5th in Cy Young voting. You can see the same pattern with Dan Quisenberry and others. I agree that it’s bizarre.

Scary Tuna
Guest
While I’ve always been firmly in the camp of considering pitchers as MVP candidates, this particular vote (1986 NL MVP) has revealed a bias I didn’t realize I had. Voters need to consider who the most valuable player is for that year – without regard to votes in years past. I remember Mike Scott being as dominant – and valuable – as any player that year, particularly during the stretch run. However, if I find it very difficult to vote for him as most valuable, when Doc Gooden couldn’t finished better than fourth the year previous in a truly historic… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Final day, folks! Lots of jockeying for position going on still (including for the top spot), so please feel free to cast your votes if you’re ready! I’ll put a tally up tomorrow or sometime this weekend.

Hartvig
Guest
I’ve been looking at this for well over a week and I’m as sure as I’m ever going to be of my vote. 1) M Scott I’ve got a pretty high threshold for putting a pitcher at number 1 & Scott is probably on the low end of the scale but in ’86 that was enough. His rate stats benefited somewhat from pitching in the Dome but his counting stats we even better on the road. 2) T Raines Maybe not his best season but not far from it either. 3) M Schmidt Pretty damned impressive for a 36 year… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
RESULTS! But first a note – Hartvig, OF COURSE I’ll count your ballot. I say midnight because I really don’t plan on checking between 11 (central) and the following morning… but you know, I really don’t care if it comes at 4:00 AM. I just know that people don’t like fuzzy deadlines, so I just say midnight. Anyway, here we go. As always, total points are first, with first-place votes in parentheses. In the event of a tie, number of ballots named is the tiebreaker. In the event of a further tie, highest placement on any one ballot is the… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
When the post went up and I found out the league & season we were voting on I checked out who I thought were the most likely candidates- Schmidt, Raines, Scott, Carter & Hernandez- and up until the afternoon I voted generally had them ranked in that order (for whatever reason, except for a brief stretch when I was thinking about putting Carter at #1, Raines was always in the #2 spot. I went back and forth on Schmidt & Scott a few times). If I’m doing the math correctly & had I voted just a few hours earlier when… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

As they say in Chicago, “Vote early and vote often”.

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