MVP Elections – 2017 NL

Dr. Doom here (via Doug) with an awards-voting post. That’s what I’ve typically done around here. Your friend and mine nsb mentioned to me that he tried to get a discussion going on the NL MVP on another thread, but it’s a little buried and hard to find. I thought maybe we could bring that idea over to its own post. I’ll do the tabulatin’, but I thought we might have fun doing awards voting.

More after the jump!

So, since nsb started with the NL MVP, I will, too. As I’ve done in the past, I’ll give a brief run-down of a few top candidates, then we’ll commence the voting. The directions are mostly the same as before, but with one change. I felt bad making people fill out a full ballot of ten before, when we were so far removed from the events of the day. But now, given that the season JUST HAPPENED, I’m going to copy the BBWAA rules and require ten spots on each ballot – otherwise, it gets tossed. So just keep that in mind as you get ready to vote.

So, 2017. After the Cubs earned a long-overdue title in ’16, the NL in 2017 was, in many ways, not terribly interesting. There were really only seven teams that were in competition at any point in the season (and that’s giving the Cardinals WAY more credit than they probably deserve). The Dodgers had one of the hottest stretches in the history of baseball, and once they took over the West, they never left first. The Diamondbacks and Rockies were competitive all season, and were firmly in the playoff race all year. The Nationals basically led wire-to-wire in the East. My Brewers spent most of the season in first, but as a very young team, they just couldn’t quite get it done. I’m hoping that they develop a long-term rivalry with the Cubs, who eked out a division title for the second straight year. Fun fact about the Cubs: they made the postseason for the third straight year in 2017; that last happened in 1906-1908.

Anyway, what was really the story of 2017 was the home runs. An all-time record was set, and there were many thinkpieces written on pace of play, strikeouts, launch angles, the winding of baseballs, the resurgence of steroids, and many other “hot takes” that were just repeats of what others had already said. But keep home runs on the brain, because they absolutely play a big role in this discussion.

The first candidate we examine is 2017’s King of Clout, Giancarlo Stanton. Only three men in the history of baseball (McGwire, Ruth, and Bonds) have homered more frequently in their careers than Stanton. His problem was always staying healthy; in spite of his prodigious power, Stanton had led his league in round-trippers only once, and had never hit even 38 in a season. Until, that is, he knocked 59 out of the park this season. I don’t think I need to tell you that “59” is a number that’s been matched or bested only 9 times in the history of the game. For good measure, Stanton also paced the senior circuit in RBI (132) and SLG (.631). He was second in OPS+ (165) and OPS (1.007), as well as in TB (377) and Runs (123).

His teammate, Marcell Ozuna, has a compelling argument, too. Besides slightly better clutch numbers than Stanton, Ozuna was third in the league in HR (37) and RBI (124). He finished fourth in Total Bases (336) and fifth in OPS+ (145). Looking at those numbers, it seems obvious that Stanton had the better season of the two. But, what makes Ozuna more than just “Stanton-lite” is that he was also the NL Gold Glover in left.

Another team with two strong candidates (but with a more competitive record) was the Rockies. Now, we can give all the Coors-related caveats we need to. With or without them, though, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon both had wonderful years. Blackmon won the batting title (.331) and led in Runs (137), TB (387) and Hits (213), all while playing good D in centerfield. Teammate Arenado led the league only in doubles (43), but nearly won a third consecutive RBI title with 130, just two behind leader Stanton. Arenado was also third in TB (355), his third straight season of 350 TB, and he continued to be an absolute sensation at third base, winning the Gold Glove as the best defensive player at the NL’s deepest position. Both Rockies tied the aforementioned Ozuna for third in HR with 37.

Staying in the NL West, Paul Goldschmidt kept Paul Goldschmidt-ing. He hit “only” 36 HR, but added 18 steals (lower than his usual number, but a great added bonus for a power-hitting first baseman). He narrowly missed a 100-100-100 season, making the Runs (117, 3rd) and RBI (120, 4th), but missing in the Walks (94, 4th).

Last year’s MVP, Kris Bryant, put up another strong year. While his numbers were nearly all across-the-board worse in 2017 than last season, he still scored 111 Runs and cracked 29 homers. The one notable improvement in his game was discipline at the plate. Bryant reduced his strikeouts by 26, while INCREASING his walks by 20. That kind of change at the plate can only mean good things for the young star in the years to come. While he’s probably not much of a threat to win the vote, he is certainly a strong down-ballot candidate.

Another player in Bryant’s division merits consideration as well, so let’s turn to Joey Votto. Votto posted the best OPS and OPS+ in the senior circuit, had 25 more walks than anyone else, posted 100+ RBI and Runs, and showed typical Votto power numbers, banging out 34 doubles and 36 homers. Votto’s specialty is plate discipline. Do you know how many NL players (with two or more walks) had more walks than strikeouts last season? Six, with the first five of Anthony Rizzo (91-90), Anthony Rendon (84-82), Justin Turner (59-56), Tommy La Stella (20-18), and Nori Aoki (13-10) all within three strikeouts of their walk total. Joey Votto walked 134 times and struck out only 83 – a difference of 51. You have to be impressed by that in today’s game.

Of course, I’m never one to let a post skip the pitchers. The best candidates out of the East belong to the Nationals. And while Bryce Harper started out hot, and while Anthony Rendon put up a heckuva season, it was a trio of Nationals pitchers who were really the story for the squad that won the East. I’ll let you sort out which of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez pitched the best. Clayton Kershaw continued to be Clayton Kershaw (stellar but injured), and the enigmatic Zack Greinke decided that 2017 was one of those years when he wanted to be a top-flight pitcher again, so Good Greinke showed up (and won the Gold Glove). The pitchers complicate the race a little, but I trust you’ll all be able to sort the whole thing out. Okay, enjoy, everyone!

DIRECTIONS: Please list 10 players on your MVP ballot in a NEW comment below (ballots with fewer than 10 candidates will be thrown out; I ask for a new comment because it’s easy to lose one if it’s in a reply, especially since we got rid of numbered comments). Ballots will be scored as per BBWAA scoring (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Strategic voting is discouraged, though that’s 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; I will comment shortly after the post goes live to tell you when ballots are due. 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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27 Comments on "MVP Elections – 2017 NL"

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Nate Jakobs
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Votto
Stanton
Rendon
Blackmon
Bryant
Scherzer
Goldschmidt
Arenado
Turner
Jansen

ThickieDon
Guest

1. Giancarlo Stanton – most homers since Bonds in 2001
2. Joey Votto – .320/.454/.578 is tough to argue against even with subpar baserunning and defense
3. Kris Bryant
4. Charlie Blackmon
5. Anthony Rendon
6. Tommy Pham
7. Justin Turner
8. Nolan Arenado
9. Paul Goldschmidt
10. Bryce Harper – monster offense in limited games, just nabs last slot

PAul
Guest

Votto
Stanton
Arenado
Blackmon
Goldschmidt
Rendon
Bryant
Turner, someone from LA needed
Scherzer
Harper

no statistician but
Guest

To repeat my original vote on the other thread:

1) Arenado
2) Blackmon
3) Goldschmidt
4) Rizzo
5) Bellinger
6) Votto
7) Turner
8) Bryant
9) Stanton
10) Rendon

I originally had a four-way tie for tenth place— Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy—but I’m guessing Dr. Doom won’t allow that kind of frivolity. Doc, you’re a hard taskmaster.

Paul E
Guest

Here’s my prior ballot from the same thread that nsb referenced:

1) Blackmon
2) Stanton
3) Bellinger
4) Goldschmidt
5) Votto
6) Bryant
7) Arenado
8) Harper
9) Seager
10 Travis Shaw

FWIW, per B-Ref, Blackmon did create 30 more runs than Arenado. God only knows how many more runs Bryant may have knocked in if Madden batted him 3rd or 4th instead of 2nd and, for that matter, how much prettier his numbers would have appeared to voters

no statistician but
Guest
The early voting is tilting toward Votto, and in several respects he deserves our admiration, but I’m one who believes that the MVP should go to a player on a team that shows at least some signs of contending for the playoffs. The Reds lasted about a month in serious contention in a division that scrambled for wins early, and then sank out of sight, being five games back on June 14, nine and a half back at the All-Star break, and 24 back by the end. It’s not a question of how much worse they might have been without… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

For your overlooked consideration, Marcell Ozuna.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/o/ozunama01.shtml

Slash with RISP:
.356 / .444 / .619 / 1.063

Dr. Doom
Guest

Hey everyone!

I’ve been driving most of the day today so didn’t get to check in earlier. Anyway, let’s keep the polls open until Monday night at 11:59 PM your local time – west coasters, enjoy the extra couple hours you get. You’re disadvantaged so often, this is my way of making it up to you. If we have any Hawaiian readers, you have like an extra half day over the east coasters, so use it wisely. 🙂

Happy voting, everyone!

Bryan O\'Connor
Guest

My ballot is based on overall value, adjusted for performance in high-leverage situations. It’s basically fWAR +/- 1/2 of Fangraphs’ Clutch score, with a few minor tweaks:

1. Rendon
2. Blackmon
3. Votto
4. Arenado
5. Stanton
6. Pham
7. Seager
8. Bryant
9. Rizzo
10. Goldschmidt

Jeff Harris
Guest

Votto
Stanton
Arenado
Rendon
Blackmon
Ozuna
Goldschmidt
Bryant
Turner
Pham

e pluribus munu
Guest
1. Votto 2. Arenado 3. Stanton 4. Goldschmidt 5. Scherzer 6. Rendon 7. Strasburg 8. Blackmon 9. Pham 10. Jansen I’ve always looked at the MVP award as primarily the “season’s best player” award. Players are not in control of the quality of the team on which they play, so I don’t consider whether a player contributed to a post-season run to be relevant. That doesn’t mean that outstanding clutch performance in the heat of a tight race doesn’t count (thinking of Yaz in ’67), but I don’t think we have that sort of situation here, since, as Doom wrote,… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Here’s a factoid: This year is only the second since 1988 that the leader in WAR among those receiving votes captured all six awards—MVP, CY, ROY. I haven’s had time to go back further, but I’m wondering if this year and 1997 are just anomalies in which the WAR leader either had no serious or only one serious challenger in each league and category. Also, in the past four years 19 out of 24 awards have gone to the WAR leader, something that far exceeds the previous four year record of 15 (in the last thirty years). Does this mean… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
There’s obviously convergence between terrific performance in traditional stats and in high WAR values. But you are also seeing a secular change in the awards voting population, as the older writers less willing to embrace advanced stats start to age out. That leaves people in a strange place–15 years ago, it was cool to look at WAR, but now, they don’t want to be thought of as automatons (why bother thinking about things when you can just go 1-10 in WAR?). But they also don’t want to be thought of as idiots (how can you pick the 5WAR guy over… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
nsb, In 1997, the AL WAR leader was Roger Clemens, but the MVP was Griffey Jr. Did you mean to exclude pitchers from the MVP? I noticed this after checking all years from 1956 to your starting point of 1988, and finding no years with all awards going to the WAR leader among eligible candidates — however, I counted pitchers for the MVP, since some years they did, of course, win the MVP with highest league WAR, such as Gibson in 1968 and Kershaw in 2014. In ’86, Clemens won the MVP without the highest WAR, but only because Teddy… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
epm: Right, more or less. My survey included pitchers only if they won the MVP and with the highest listed WAR. My reasons, even though I’m one of the few who think the CY is enough for pitchers, are that I simply do not think 1) that, regardless of arguments and supposed evidence to the contrary by people who have bought into advanced stats with less skepticism than I hold, I do not accept pitching WAR and batting WAR as interchangeable, and therefore I can’t conscience a mixing of the two as equivalences; 2) that I don’t regard pitching WAR… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

I’d love to pursue this sometime, nsb, and not because I disagree with you, but because I’d like to be forced to get clearer in my own mind how I stand on the two aspects you list . . . it may be that earlier HHS debates on this came during one of the periods when I was AWOL.

Mike L
Guest
EPM, it’s interesting that you said this, because it’s striking how the relative trade valuations of players vs.pitchers has changed over time. If you had told a GM in 1967 that you wanted to trade four prospects for one reliever who might throw 60-80 IP he’d fire you on the spot. When the Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas deal was made there was shock not just because people knew Robinson was better, but that the Reds would trade a position player of Robinson’s calibre for just a pitcher–someone you would see every fifth day. BTW, Pappas wasn’t a bad pitcher–he… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Good point, Mike: it’s useful to supplement an assessment of what advanced stats tell us about comparative pitcher/position player value with broad views of contemporary understanding. It seems pretty clear that there’s a wide gap now between WAR and management assessments of top closer values, and in that case I think at least some of the gap concerns the way the WAR framework was set up. On Robinson vs. Pappas, I don’t really recall the discussion of position advantage being in the foreground in ’65 — so much of the emphasis was on Bill DeWitt’s comment about Robinson being an… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Kind of funny how Durocher thought Pappas was dogging it. For his career Pappas pitched 43 shutouts. In the seasons since (1974-2017), only Clemens and Ryan have pitched more shutouts at 46 each. But, yeah, I do remember the mantra that you weren’t supposed to trade an everyday player for a pitcher. But, just like the scenario above, things change. I guess now you trade the league’s MVP because you can’t compete with him (as opposed to not being competitive without him). I’m off the beaten track here but, count me among those who want to see Stanton accept a… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
It may be a little misleading to compare Pappas’s shutout totals only to post-’74 games. Lots of pitchers who came up after Pappas pitched more shutouts than he (I count 15 of them). The post-’60s decline of complete games meant that Pappas’s good-but-not-great total would become an outstanding one for subsequent generations. One of my stupidest mistakes in life (actually, I made several thousand more stupid) was to give away Durocher’s autobiography to a baseball-crazed kid forty years ago. I’ve never gotten hold of a replacement. But Google books has let me locate some of the passages I was recalling… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

e p m,
Good points, all. I remember seeing an interview with either Rojas or Allen, probably in their 50’s or 60’s, talking about how Tony Gonzalez and how well he hit LH pitching. But, no so well, after further inspection…….Here’s some more Miltie numbers:
1920-2017 Shutouts, age 19-34
52 Seaver
51 Blyleven
51 Palmer
50 Sutton
50 Marichal
49 Drysdale
47 Ryan
45 Gibson
43 Pappas…. yes, that would be 8 HoF’ers above Miltie

1958 – 1973 Shutouts
55 Gibson
52 Marichal
45 Drysdale
43 Pappas

If what Durocher said was true, Pappas certainly preferred to finish his best work as he placed only 14th in CG for the period 1958-1973

Mike L
Guest
One very minor note. Pappas was eventually traded to Atlanta in a six player deal. Coming back to the Reds was the immortal Woody Woodward, who had one HR in 2423 career PA. That came off of Ron Reed on July 10, 1970. Reed won the game with a Durocher-esque pitching line of 7.1 IP, 12 H, 3BB, and 7ER. Not to worry about a power problem with the Reds that year–they hit 191, and two Reds pitchers, Tony Cloninger and Jim Merritt, had more HRs that season than Woodward had in his career. Four years earlier, Cloninger hit two… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Here’s my vote:

1. Giancarlo Stanton
2. Joey Votto
3. Nolan Arenado
4. Charlie Blackmon
5. Paul Goldschmidt
6. Anthony Rendon
7. Max Scherzer
8. Marcell Ozuna
9. Kris Bryant
10. Tommy Pham

I regret that I had no room for any Dodgers. They were all great, but no one played a full season. Otherwise, I feel pretty good about my ballot.

Also, this is my customary “one day left” post, so don’t forget to vote if you haven’t done so already!

Richard Chester
Guest

Here’s my vote:
1. Stanton
2. Votto
3. Goldschmidt
4. Ozuna
5. Bellinger
6. Arenado
7. Blackmon
8. Rendon
9. Zimmerman
10. Scherzer

Dr. Doom
Guest
With ten votes in, here are the final results. I’m listing the player’s point total, with first-place votes in parentheses. Tiebreakers work as follows: first tiebreaker is number of ballots, second tiebreaker is highest position on a ballot, and final tiebreaker is to revert the players to the position they were in before the last vote to have created the tie (this is to reward those who choose not to wait until the end to vote). Without further ado, here are the votes for your 2017 NL MVP: 1. Joey Votto, 102 (4) 2. Giancarlo Stanton, 94 (3) 3. Charlie… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Doom, I threw Travis Shaw a 10th place vote since someone had to be responsible for the Brewers’ vast improvement. The new guy who came back from Japan, Eric Thames,started like gangbusters, faltered, and finished OK while batting at the top of the order but Shaw was relatively strong for most of the year. I was also the guy who didn’t vote for Rendon simply because he started relatively slow (.226/.316/.250 0 HR 5 RBI) while the team went 16-8 and then had a 6 for 6, 3 HR-10 RBI game and went from there. I believe if Harper stays… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
I contemplated casting a ballot but of the maybe 2 dozen games that I watched this summer- and not all of those in their entirety- I saw the Nats & Dodgers once each & maybe 1 or 2 other NL teams so I didn’t really feel like I was sufficiently informed to make an informed decision. I was hoping maybe some of the voters would give the rationale behind some of their votes or there would be more discussion but other than epm & nsb there were only a few random comments for me to try and sort things out… Read more »
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