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Pouliot’s postseason award picks: National League

Sep 30, 2013, 1:51 AM EDT

Clayton Kershaw AP

There’s still one more American League game on Monday, so we’ll have to wait on those selections, which will probably be a bit more controversial than these. Here are my NL award picks for 2013:

NL MVP

1. Andrew McCutchen
2. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Clayton Kershaw
4. Yadier Molina
5. Carlos Gomez
6. Andrelton Simmons
7. Matt Carpenter
8. Shin-Soo Choo
9. Hunter Pence
10. Ian Desmond

The injuries make a real mess of this list. I think Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Molina were the NL’s three best players when they were on the field this year. Alas, only Molina played enough to be included in the top 10. David Wright and Carlos Gonzalez also would have cracked the list had they put in full seasons.

I picked Molina over Buster Posey last year, and I had him on top again this year until his 15-day DL stint in August. That was enough to drop him behind McCutchen, who ranked first in Fangraphs WAR and was in a dead heat with Gomez atop the Baseball-reference WAR list. I have fairly limited faith in WAR, but it follows my own reasoning in this case. It’s not even as though McCutchen is getting a lot of credit for his defense in either system; he’s rated as a bit above average in both, but not as anything special. Which is pretty much how I view him. While McCutchen should and will get the MVP award, it’s Gomez who deserves the Gold Glove.

Goldschmidt was the league’s best hitter, but not by enough of a margin to make up for McCutchen’s defensive value. Kershaw had a wonderful season, posting the lowest ERA of any pitcher since 2000, but the Dodgers were a mere 19-14 in his starts. It puts quite a dent in his MVP argument that the Dodgers were just as good when he wasn’t on the mound.

I don’t think I’ve ever put anyone on an MVP ballot strictly for defense before, but Simmons deserves it. He’s the Braves’ MVP, though Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel will get more support in the actual vote. And if he takes the same sort of step forward offensively that he did this season, he may well be the NL’s best player next year.

Choo over Joey Votto further down the ballot may seem an odd choice for a stathead to make — Votto does have the better numbers — but Votto was surprisingly crummy on defense both according to my eyes and the stats. Choo may have been, too, but the Reds knew that going in; he’s a corner outfielder miscast in center. Choo improved considerably out there after a rocky start and wasn’t nearly as much of a liability as expected. I’m not sure what Votto’s excuse was.

NL Cy Young

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Adam Wainwright
3. Cliff Lee
4. Matt Harvey
5. Jose Fernandez

There isn’t much explanation needed for first place here; Kershaw led the league in everything except wins. Lee’s late charge made it close for second place; B-ref WAR says he was the clear No. 2, while Fangraphs much prefers Wainwright. Wainwright threw 20 more innings with essentially the same ERA and allowed seven fewer homers. That’s good enough for the No. 2 spot in my book.

After the top three, the three best pitchers were clearly Harvey, Fernandez and Zack Greinke, with the caveat that those guys all finished in the 170-180 IP range. None of the 200-inning starters really compare, though Mat Latos was closest.

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Jose Fernandez
2. Yasiel Puig
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu
4. Julio Teheran
5. Shelby Miller

The Marlins’ original plan was for Fernandez to throw 150-170 innings. That they let him hit and slightly exceed the high end there just barely gets him the nod over Puig here. He ended up second in the NL with a 2.19 ERA and third with a 0.979 WHIP. Puig never stopped making an impact in his 104 games, but his recklessness on the basepaths and with his big arm did cost the Dodgers and take away some of his value.

  1. jonrox - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    Choo wasn’t too much of a liability… except for being the worst defensive CF regular in MLB (by far, according to fangraphs). On the other hand, Votto did have a bad year, dropping all the way to middle of the pack among first basemen (defensively).

    I just don’t understand how you pick Choo over Votto simply because Votto’s defense was worse than expected and Choo’s was as bad as expected. Manny Parra exceeded expectations this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s MVP of the Reds. Votto is still the better and more valuable player, even if he didn’t meet (defensive) expectations.

  2. deep64blue - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:39 AM

    I’m a bit confused, you desctibe yourself as a stathead but don’t value WAR and think a pitcher’s win-loss record is significant? Care to elaborate?

    • paperlions - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:28 AM

      I was going to ask this as well. Any “stat head” would not still regularly use OPS as a meaningful comparative, because, you know, it isn’t 2000 anymore and we have better combined metrics for offensive production.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      Because he’s trying to predict the MVP outcome he has to take into account how the voters are going to lean, and voters still seem to like W-L for some reason and they think WAR is a children’s card game.

      • paperlions - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        He isn’t predicting anything, these are “his” awards.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        I missed that. Well carry on then.

      • paperlions - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        FWIW, I don’t have any issues with his choices, per se…. such things largely are subjective even when people heavily use stats as a basis for opinions, because people can justifiably choose to weight particular aspects of performance more or less heavily than other people. My only issue is calling himself a stat head and regularly using things like OPS rather than something more useful to measure offense. Using OPS is like using WHIP as a basis for evaluating pitchers….not totally useless, but very far from idea or “current” within a statistical advancement perspective.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:59 AM

        What would you use?

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        Maybe his definition of stat head is different than yours :) (Perhaps compared to some of the old lions in the BBWAA he’s a stat head)

    • American of African Descent - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      Doesn’t WAR measure only wins above replacement at the same position? That is, WAR is not a good tool for comparing a second baseman and a first baseman.

      Want a more concrete example? Assume defense is not an issue and you had one slot on your team. Would you want a first baseman with a 1.000 OPS or a second baseman with a 0.800 OPS? The second baseman probably has a higher WAR, but the first baseman is clearly the more dominant offensive force.

      As to the W/L for Kershaw, while Kershaw himself pitched very well, if the Dodgers did not take advantage of the great pitching, how valuable was his performance? It’s similar to asking “how valuable is a superstar if his team finished third in the division?”

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        WAR does have penalties/bonuses to account for position. Now, a person can certainly take umbrage with the exact formula (exactly how much more offense needs to be provided by someone who plays 1B vs. someone playing 2B), but it is considered.

        Another component of WAR is UZR, which compares a player to “the average player” at his position. So, Choo might rate terribly compared to other CFs, but then he gets a bonus for playing CF at all which probably puts his complete positional accounting in WAR somewhere around a net zero.

        (note: I didn’t look up Choo’s numbers because I don’t care, but am offering a theoretical here)

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        To expand on the above post, it’s all about replacement, if you can get another 1B that hits for .900 OPS and your current 2B is hitting .600 OPS, you may want the 2B because it’s tougher to get a great hitting 2B than a great hitting 1B.

      • American of African Descent - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        I don’t buy that WAR can accurately compare across positions. (Ok, I hate WAR generally given that there is no real consensus as to how to calculate it and it doesn’t really consider team make up.) But, in any case, how do you compare a right fielder’s UZR versus a short stops UZR? Does WAR consider that more balls are generally hit to the shortstop position than the right fielder’s position? While I might say there’s some value in looking at WAR when looking at particular positions, I cannot get behind it when you’re comparing across positions.

        You missed the point, Francisco. You’ve got one spot on your team. You can have a guy who has a 1.000 OPS or a guy who has a 0.800 OPS. Obviously it’s harder to find good hitting middle infielders than it is to find good hitting corner infielders. But if you would rather have a guy who hits 0.800 over a guy hitting 1.000 (defense not considered to keep the hypothetical simple), then you’re nuts!

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        No, you’re missing my point. Putting someone in your roster doesn’t happen in a vacuum. To put someone on your roster someone else has to come out. Who am I replacing to get that 1.000 OPS? And then there’s age, speed, contract status, etc.

        You’re fabricating a scenario that suits your point of view. You’re structuring it in such a way as to make OPS the only relevant stat, that’s cheating since in the real world your concrete example never happens.

        In any case you don’t need WAR to compare positions, that’s just a starting point to get the conversation going. If you like OPS you can look at the OPS per position on a league average and who are the leaders and you’ll get a sense of how each player does (offensively) compared to his position.

  3. politicalrancor - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:58 AM

    Again pouliot exposes himself as not only as a bad writer but also as a completely inept analyst. Pathetic as always.

    • ryanrockzzz - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:46 AM

      What exactly was wrong with the analysis? Was it because he didn’t use reasons in his analysis that you wanted? I am pretty sure most baseball fans would have the rankings in the order he had them. Now if his post was like your post, maybe then I could see….

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      Look…I don’t agree with some of them either. But at least he takes the time to explain his reasoning (regardless of whether you agree with him or not). You are just throwing darts with no data. Which makes your posts meaningless. And I am the last person to defend the “dipwad.” Take a look at Stiller’s post and you may learn something.

  4. Stiller43 - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    How about you give a reasoning for your opinions when calling someone what you did, rather than just insulting someone for seemingly no reason?

  5. wingslax35 - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Hope you don’t have a MVP vote.

  6. jaygott87 - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Terrible

  7. kansas531 - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    The reason his stats make no sense is, if you look at McC’s stats as compared to Freeman’s, they are usually within 10 of each other and McC played 30 more games and Freeman is a much better defensive player. Major differences, McC stole more bases, but Freeman had 20+ more RBI’s, which would you rather have? Oh yeah, Freeman is not even in his top 10, so how can someone with equal stats and a worse defender be #1

  8. kansas531 - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    OOPS, it should have been 30 more at bats instead of games.

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