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Hot Button: Meaning of MVP

Oct 30, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

David Ortiz AP AP

Question 4. Statement: In baseball, the MVP award unequivocally should go to the best player.

Strongly agree. Of course. What other option is there? 44.8%

Agree. In close races, I might consider team performance and big moments. 40.7%

Neutral. 2.7%

Disagree. “Most valuable” is different. Factors like clutchiness and team performance must be considered. 9.2%

Definitely disagree. Players on bad teams should not win the MVP except in extreme cases. 2.6%

Broken down:

Agree: 85.5%
Disagree: 11.8%
Neutral: 2.7%

* * *

There doesn’t seem very much to say here — this is an obvious case of selection bias. Brilliant Readers of this site are naturally going to lean toward the idea that the most valuable player and best player are, more or less, synonymous. If not, they would probably not be reading this site. If I gave this question to my fellow members of the BBWAA, I suspect the percentages would look a bit different.

So let me touch upon a different topic, one I was thinking about while watching Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call Game 5 of the World Series. It is fashionable this time of year to bash on Buck and McCarver — a rite of the season — and I plead guilty to doing it now and again (and now and again). The point here is not to cover that ground again.* I fully realize that it’s hard to broadcast baseball to a national audience in part because you are dealing with so many different kinds of baseball fans. You can’t please everyone.

*My friend Ken Rosenthal wrote a nice appreciation of McCarver and there is much in there I agree with. And some I don’t. I guess that was the point.

No the point here is to offer an opinion that might sound strange coming from me. But here is the opinion anyway: There are way, way, way too many baseball statistics during a television broadcast. It really does drive me crazy.

I know that opinion sounds utterly insane from a guy who writes way, way, way too much about baseball through statistics. Heck, there will be a bunch of baseball statistics IN THIS POST where I’m complaining that there being too many statistics on television. What can I say? Things don’t always wrap up in neat packages. I love baseball statistics. And I loathe baseball statistics.

It’s convenient for me to say that I love SMART baseball statistics and loathe STUPID baseball statistics, but I know that I’m giving myself way too much credit. Like Sollozzo says in The Godfather: “I’m not that clever.” Sometimes I loathe smart ones, and love stupid ones. The truth, I think, is that it’s much more basic than that. I love statistics that tell me a story. I love statistics that open up the game somehow — even if just opening up the game to arguments. I love statistics that take my mind to an interesting place, remind me of players I had not thought about, transport me to great moments in the game’s history.

And I loathe — utterly loathe — statistics that do none of those things. Al Michaels — who I think is the best to call football games on television — compares broadcasting sports to the connection between lyrics and music. Funny thing, Marv Albert — who I think is the best to call basketball games on television — says almost exactly the same thing. You don’t want a lyric that stops you, that pulls you from the moment, that breaks from the music. And that’s what almost every statistic on television does to me. It pulls me out of the game. I find myself thinking: “Who Cares?” Or: “What does that even mean?” Or: “That doesn’t sound right.”

Give you an example: During Monday’s game, St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter led off the game. They showed a graphic about Carpenter and talked about it for a few seconds. The graphic showed this:.

Matt Carpenter in first 8 postseason games: .100 average.
Matt Carpenter in last 7 postseason games: .300 average.

The idea was to point out — I guess — that Carpenter was hitting better in his last seven games than his first eight. Like a light turned on or something. But of course it actually meant almost nothing. What is eight games? What is seven? This is the ebb and flow of baseball. not any kind of trend, everybody knows that. And the numbers are so small, they bend to the slightest touch. Carpenter grounded out to first immediately after they showed that graphic, and so that .300 average over seven games instantly and suddenly dropped to .290. He struck out looking his next time up, and it was .281. Before the end of the game, its would reach .265. When the sample is so small the numbers blow in the wind.

It feels to me that the broadcasts are overloaded with such needless minutia. You know, Matt Carpenter is the son of a high school baseball coach. He was a high school teammate of James Loney. He had some pretty serious injuries in college. He was a 13th round pick and was signed for $1,000. He was widely viewed as a non-prospect because of his lack of speed and lack of power. He might have been the best player on the St. Louis Cardinals this year.

Seriously … talk about THAT rather than giving us these dreary, pointless, meaningless, dreadful statistics. Talk about how good Matt Carpenter was this year; I don’t think that casual baseball fans know that he should be a legitimate MVP candidate. Or talk about how the Cardinals, after losing the great Albert Pujols in 2011 (just after the Cardinals won the World Series) they went into their farm system and major league bench and pulled out an eighth-round pick (Allen Craig), a 13-round pick (Carpenter), a 23rd-round pick (Matt Adams) and this year scored 21 MORE runs than the did that year.

But no. Instead it’s breaking down Matt Carpenter’s postseason into meaningless bite-sized portions.

Understand the Carpenter stat thing is not just one thing. It’s typical. The stats keep coming in swarms — how this guy won three or his last five starts, how that guy is one for three against a certain pitcher, how this guy had five RBIs in six games, how someone hit .289 against righties after the All-Star break but only .278 against lefties — until my brain desperately wants to go to the Bahamas for a vacation.

And what bothers me most is that I think this is exactly why some people are anti-baseball stats. Heck, when you’re getting those distracting and often misleading stats jabbed in your face nonstop you should be anti-baseball stats. I think that’s why whenever you hear someone doing a satirical baseball statistic to prove what nerds we all are, they will say something like: “Oh, look, David Ortiz is hitting .293 on Tuesday day games against right-handed pitchers and the dew point is 60 degrees or lower and the defending American Idol winner has a T in his or her name.” That’s the cliche. But truth is that nobody who loves baseball stats cares about ANY of that stuff. That just matches the needless stuff they will say on television.

I love baseball numbers. Obviously. Pick a three digit number, any three digit number. Wait I can’t hear you — I’ll pick the first one that comes to mind. Three hundred fifty seven. Good number? You can do this with any three digit number, but let’s go with 357. Ready?

OK, 357. Joe DiMaggio hit .357 in 1941, the year he hit in 56 consecutive games. People still argue about that streak and what it means. It’s a quirky thing, you know? On the one hand, it’s an extraordinary achievement — no one in Major League history has ever come close to matching it. On the other hand, it’s kind of an odd thing to count, number of consecutive games when you get a hit. Whenever I think of that year, I think of a couple of other numbers: DiMaggio hit .408 during the streak. Ted Williams hit .406 for the entire season. I’ve always through that was cool. DiMaggio won the MVP. I think it should be been Williams.

By the way: How much of that 56-game hitting streak’s awesomeness is because DiMaggio did it? What if one of the other guys who .357 in a season had done it? What if it had been Albert Belle in 1994 or Ken Williams in 1923 or Dixie Walker in 1944? Would we view it the same way? I don’t think we would.

Back to the number: 357. Steve Yeager scored 357 runs in his career. Remember Yeager? If your think of him, you probably think of him throwing — what an arm that guy had. Lou Brock called it the best he had ever seen — better even than Johnny Bench’s. Thinking of Yeager makes me think of some of the great catchers arms I’ve ever seen. Ron Karkovice had a gun — remember him? Kirk Manwaring could really throw. Bob Boone. Jim Sundberg. Off the top of my head, here are the five greatest catcher arms I’ve ever seen:

1. Ivan Rodriguez
2. Johnny Bench
3. Yadi Molina
4. Steve Yeager
5. Benito Santiago when he would throw off his knees.

Yeager would catch fastballs from Don Sutton and Tommy John and Burt Hooton and throw the ball TWICE AS HARD to second base. If I remember right, he once had a throw to second clocked at almost 100 mph. He couldn’t hit, but man could Yeager catch. He never won a Gold Glove though. He was overshadowed by Bench and Bob Boone and Gary Carter.

The number 357. That’s how many games Ken Boyer managed in the big leagues. There were three Boyers who played in the big leagues — Cloyd, Ken and Clete — and Ken was the middle one. Well, there were actually 14 Boyer kids who grew up in Alba, Missouri, a tiny place of about 357 people. All seven of the Boyer boys played baseball — four went professional. Cloyd, the oldest, pitched in 111 Big League games, all of them for Missouri teams — the Cardinals and the Kansas City A’s. Len, the youngest, was a third baseman who made it as high as Class AA. The stars, Clete and Ken, were both Gold Glove winning third basemen. Clete couldn’t really hit much but he was a wonder with the glove, one of the best ever defensively. Ken was a fine hitter until he was about 33 — that was the year he hit .295, led the league in RBIs and won the MVP Award. It was probably his fourth- or fifth-best season.

Ken Boyer was so admired that the Cardinals made him their manager in 1978. He lasted those 357 games and was replaced by Whitey Herzog, who would go on to win a World Series two years later. About a month before the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series, Ken Boyer died of lung cancer.

One more 357: That’s how many innings George Uhle pitched in 1923. They called Uhle “The Bull” and there are those who say that Uhle invented the slider. Uhle was one of those people who said that: “It just came to me all of a sudden,” he is quoted saying in the indispensable “Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers.” “Letting the ball go along my index finger and using my ring finger and pinky to give is just a little bit of a twist. It was a sailing fastball, and that’s how come I named it the slider.”

OK, so what’s the point of all that? There is no point, obviously, but do you think I care about the number 357? Of course not. I care about the stories 357 can inspire if you do a little digging. I care about the players who happen to come up when you think about 357. Who are they? How good were they? What did they contribute to the game? At some point during Game 5, David Ortiz reached base for the ninth consecutive time, tying a World Series record. I will admit that I wasn’t listening too carefully, but I thought I heard Joe Buck twice refer to the record without actually saying who held the record. Maybe he did mention that it was Billy Hatcher’s record, but I didn’t hear him do so. I certainly did not hear him expound on it. Maybe I missed it.

And that gets to the heart of things. The fact that David Ortiz tied the World Series record for consecutive times reaching base means almost nothing to me. I already use up way too many gigabytes in my brain remembering goofy baseball records — there’s no room in there for the “most times reaching base consecutively in a World Series” record. BUT I care that he tied Billy Hatcher. Just seeing that name takes me back to 1990 and one of the most preposterous World Series ever. The 1990 Cincinnati Reds were dreadful the year before. They were dreadful the year after. They did not even seem that good in 1990. Back then we only cared about pitcher wins and nobody on the team won more than 15. Back then we only cared about home runs and nobody on the team hit more than 25.

They were supposed to get smoked by the Oakland A’s in the World Series. The Reds, we believed, were a fluke. The A’s, we believed, were a living dynasty. And it turned out the Reds absolutely destroyed the A’s — largely because Billy Hatcher, for two games, proved impossible to get out.

Game 1. Hatcher walked in the first and second on Eric Davis’ homer. Hatched doubled in a run in the third and came around to score. Hatcher Hatcher doubled again in the fifth and came around to score again. Hatcher singled again in the sixth — that was four straight. The Reds won 7-0.

Then, Game 2, Hatcher doubled in a run in the first and came around to score. He doubled again in the third with the Reds trailing by two runs but was stranded. He singled in the fifth and was picked off. He tripled in the eighth and scored the tying run. And in the ninth, of course, the Athletics waved the white flag and intentionally walked Hatcher. The Reds won Game 2. They swept the series. Hatcher hit .750 (and somehow was not named Series MVP — that went to Jose Rijo, who won Games 1 and 4).

See the record doesn’t matter to me. The statistic doesn’t matter to me. Stop giving me statistics. Stop weighing the game down with numbers. Show me something. Tell me something. Take me somewhere. Big Papi has been absurd this World Series. He reached base nine times in a row. Incredible. Has that ever happened before? Yes. Was it a superstar like Papi who did it? No. It was a little baseball journeyman named Billy Hatcher who played for seven teams in 12 years and, for two glorious games in October, was about as good as a player can be. That’s what October can be. That’s what baseball can be.

  1. rickdobrydney - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    I have always felt the award should be named MRVP (Most Recent Valuable Player)

  2. beearl - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    And when you think of Steve Yeager throwing, you might think of him as the Yankees closer Duke Temple in “Major League”. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw that sentence.

  3. Jeremy T - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    I’m not sure I see how this has to do with the MVP in any way, but this is still one of the best articles regarding statistics that I’ve ever read.

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      It is all about the MVP vote, and how that narrative is being used in the Buck/McCarver broadcast. Ortiz is the consensus favorite for Boston right now, but like Billy Hatcher, when the series is over, may not be the MVP voted for.

  4. sdelmonte - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    This was remarkably churlish and snarky. It basically says that those of us who like the sorts of stats you deride are fools. And it seems to go a long way to deflate the joy some of us are taking in seeing Ortiz’s hot streak.

    Never thought I would read a JoePo column and be this unhappy.

    Also, I am one of those who thinks that “most valuable” means just that. If they wanted to give it to the best player, it would be called “best player.” I don’t understand how any could see it differently, and yet most of you do.

    • nbjays - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      The problem with that is “most valuable” is too subjective. You can make a case for a “best player” based on performance and stats, but “valuable” means different things to different people (and different BBWAA voters) because not everyone values the same things equally. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.

      • paperlions - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Of course, what a person values is pretty irrelevant, what should be valued are things that contribute to winning baseball games, which is not in the eye of the beholder at all.

      • nbjays - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        Ah, but it is.

        Not to rehash an old argument, but by most metrics, last season Mike Trout did more things to contribute to winning baseball games than Miguel Cabrera did, in fact leading his team to one more win. But because more writers valued pure offense (batting only, not running) and the mythical qualities of the Triple Crown, Miggy was deemed the Most Valuable.

        In light of this and of your statement, to say that value is not in the eye of the beholder is naive.

      • paperlions - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        The point is that what is valuable in contributing to winning baseball games is pretty well nailed down. In general and pretty accurately we know what is valuable and what is not. The fact that some people, many of whom vote on the award, fail to educate themselves or wrongly assign value or completely ignore many aspects of the game that are valuable contributions has no bearing on what is valuable. Therefore, value on a baseball field in actually not in the eye of the beholder, the only thing in theirs eyes is variation in their level of understanding of value.

        This is akin to saying evolution is in the eye of the beholder. The fact of evolution is not changed by someone’s ignorance or denial of it. Such it is with the fact of value on a baseball field.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      Well if you want to take the term “valuable” literally then it should almost always go to the best player on a bad team. That player is more valuable to them in the same way that a $100 bill is more valuable to me than Mark Zuckerberg.

      • thepoolshark - Oct 30, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        @nbjays RE: “mythical qualities of the Triple Crown”

        Mythical qualities? RBI are somewhat dependent on runners on base, but BA and HR? Nothing ‘mythical’ about them, and the ability to hit for the highest average AND HR is absolutely is an epic accomplishment. According to POZ:

        “And leading the league in batting average and home runs is even more rare — it has not happened a single time since Yaz.”

        It’s not a myth, hitters who can lead in HR and BA are the rare breed, and players seldom if ever are more valuable.

      • crackersnap - Oct 30, 2013 at 8:15 PM


        Topping any list that tracks a counting stat is also somewhat dependent. It’s dependent on your competitors failing to keep up with you or exceeding you. Take your case of Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Cabrera topped Hamilton and Granderson by a single HR that season. Fortunately for Cabrera, Hamilton collected only 1 home run over his last 54 plate appearances as he struggled with vision problems. Prior to that he was averaging 1 HR for every 14 PA’s. If he had just been average he would have finished at 45. No Triple Crown.

      • nbjays - Oct 30, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        The point that I was making to Paperlions was that the Triple Crown in and of itself did not make Miguel Cabrera contribute more to winning baseball games for his team in 2012 than Mike Trout did. But since it was the “Triple Crown”, it trumped all of Trout’s more significant contributions in the eyes of the BBWAA.

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      That’s unfortunate and I think it’s a miscommunication somehow. I think there are other ways to read it.

  5. tombando - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    You mean like cherry picking WAR numbers for certain well known ex-Tigers pitchers to bash their HOF cases? pumping up the Hof case for the Jimmy Wynns and Dale Murphys of the world but making sure you bash Mssrs Rice, Dawson and Morris every chance you get? Yeah sure there Joe Poz.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Yeah…I can make a case for Jack Morris not being in the hall without citing WAR at all.

      Here we go:

      –Morris’s best 5-year span was 1983-1987. At his very best, he still ranked just 17th in ERA for (min: 600 innings), tied with Bryn Smith and John Canderela.

      –If Morris went to Cooperstown, he’d have the worst ERA of any hall of famer. The difference between last place Morris (3.90) and Red Ruffing (3.80) is the largest gap between any two HOF pitchers.

      –Morris, a vaunted “clutch” pitcher, holds a 3.80 career postseason ERA.

      –And finally, let’s compare Morris with another pitcher, called pitcher A that played in the same span

      Game Started
      J. Morris: 527
      Pitcher A: 562

      J. Morris: 254
      Pitcher A: 245

      J. Morris: 186
      Pitcher A: 193

      J. Morris: 3.90
      Pitcher A: 3.70

      Innings Pitched:
      J. Morris: 3824
      Pitcher A: 3999

      J. Morris: 2478
      Pitcher A: 2149

      J. Morris: 1390
      Pitcher A: 1165

      J. Morris: 389
      Pitcher A: 372

      J. Morris: 1.296
      Pitcher A: 1.266

      Postseason ERA
      J. Morris: 3.90
      Pitcher A: 3.32

      Top 5 years in ERA
      J. Morris: 3.05, 3.27, 3.28, 3.33, 3.34
      Pitcher A: 2.34, 2.47, 2.72, 2.05, 3.08

      Highest Percent of HOF vote
      J. Morris: 67.7%
      Pitcher A: 3.2%

      Consider that last point, Pitcher A’s HOF candidacy was thought of so little, that he fell of the ballot the first year. His numbers were arguably sightly better of the course of their careers, his number were certainly better at his peak, but only 3.2% of voters thought he was HOF worthy.

      So, if Jack Morris is a HOFer, why not Dennis Martinez?

      • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        These and similar Morris posts need to be in text files ready to copy and paste all the time. And I grew up as a Tigers and Twins fan and watched game 7 and thought it was awesome. Thank you.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Yes, the stats are easy to obtain and copy/paste, either from baseball-reference or fangraphs. Yes, that was a WS game for the ages. Yes, he was a very good pitcher for a long time. Is Hall of Fame worthy? I’d say that is very debatable.

      • paperlions - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Next time, can you compare Morris to Frank Tanana? Most people don’t even remember Tanana, and he was every bit the pitcher Morris was despite having an injury that changed him from a 100 MPH fireballer to more or less a junk ball pitcher.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Bash Morris’ candidacy based on WAR when at least 8 Hall of Fame pitchers’ WAR is lower? That would be sort of silly.

      On the other hand, pointing out that if Morris got elected, he would have by far the worst career ERA of any HoF pitcher would be very relevant.

      You see, that’s the real problem with trying to blame the stat nerds among the BBWAA electorate for Morris not being in the HoF yet–the stats that tell against him the most are not advanced stats. The advanced stats mostly describe an above average pitcher; add in the moments that make everyone remember him, and you could maybe argue he should make the cut. But a career 3.9 ERA in a pitching dominated era? Woof.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        As cohnjusack pointed out, the highest career ERA for anyone currently in the HoF is Red Ruffing at 3.80. Next is Hank O’Day at 3.744.

        BTW, Andy Pettite’s career ERA is 3.84.

  6. mgv38 - Oct 30, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Amen, Brother Joe. Amen.

  7. clydeserra - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    That is why Scully is great. He’lltell you the story. Sure he drops in the sss numbers, but often you get a tale with it.

    It seems no national broadcaster does that. Buck assumes you know and mccarver and the other ex players don’t seem to remember any story that they didn’t participate in.

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Buck thinks the numbers speak for themselves, so he clobbers you with them. Vin does his job as a broadcaster and explains why certain numbers are important. It’s the difference between a great teacher and the substitute teacher who shows up and makes it worksheet day.

      • paperlions - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        It isn’t that….it is that Buck is given the numbers by producers…but Buck doesn’t actually know the stories to tell. If there was any other way to determine that the guy is not a sports fan, it is he general lack of knowledge of the games as well as the histories. The reason he sounds bored and is boring is because he’s just parroting the topics and information given to him.

      • Bryz - Oct 30, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        As a teacher, you should probably acknowledge that it’s the regular teacher that makes it worksheet day, not the sub. Us teachers cannot guarantee we’ll get a substitute that is competent in our subject, so we make it easy for them.

  8. cur68 - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    I know there are some kind words there for McCarver. I’m assured that once upon a time McCarver was a damn fine announcer/analyst. Heck, I don’t recall him irritating the shit out of me during the ’92 &’93 Series, even. He must have been ok. However these days? When that description of Carpenter’s numbers this post season comes up? All I think is ” ‘Effin McCarver!” That is the sort of dreck he trots out there as his “stats”. Who give a shit about that? I might have liked to know that Carpenter was a 13th round pick and a total non-prospect. I’d have liked some actual background on this guy who most see as coming out of nowhere. Why? Because I kind of pegged him as a good hitter to start the season. I actually scouted him a lot this pre-season for FL and guessed that he’d be pretty good. I certainly DIDN’T predict MVP type stuff, but I was invested enough in his doing well that I’d have been interested in his background. And what does McCarver do for those of us who would like to know a bit about Matt Carpenter? Bugger all. He’s too busy making no sense at all. And yeah, those “stats” irritate the shit out of me. Just like McCarver.

    • nbjays - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      That’s because most announcers and colour commentators these days just spout off the numbers that the stats guys hand them, with no context or even understanding of why they are useless. Player A comes to bat and the stat head at the computer goes mad fishing out “stats” about Player A, which is then passed to the broadcasters for regurgitation to the masses.

      • paperlions - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        Yep, a huge problem is that the people generating the stats that are provided don’t know enough about baseball to provide useful information…and they don’t realize how completely useless that type of information is…most of it isn’t even trivia, it is just SSS noise.

  9. nobody78 - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    There’d be a case to choose MVP by putting extra weight on WPA, no? A player’s actual contributions to wins and losses are a good measure of the “value” of his season, and arguably a more adequate measure because it’s context sensitive.

    The problem with putting too much weight on “clutch” performance isn’t that clutch isn’t a skill (or at least, it less of a skill than we used to think). It’s that we tend to overestimate the importance of “clutch” performance, in creating wins and losses, as compared to consistent, excellent performance. But clutch performance DOES increase one’s value, at least in a given season, so I have no problem with trying to incorporate that when determining an MVP.

  10. aceshigh11 - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I love having Posnanski on this site. Great article.

  11. Joe - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    It certainly goes beyond Buck and McCarver. No matter who has the broadcast, they ditch regular season stats in favor of postseason or single series stats as soon as they can.

  12. j0esixpack - Oct 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    When it comes to the World Series MVP, if the Sox pull this out I don’t think there is any question that with Lester’s unworldly 0.29 ERA and Ortiz’s out of this world .733 batting average one would HAVE to at least name them co-MVPs.

    Heck – there’s other players who one might suggest could join them in a 3-way World Series MVP (surprisingly it would not be the first time, as the 1981 Dodgers had 3 MVPs)

    You look over some of the past MVP winners and by comparison they fall far short of what a guy like Koji Uehara and even some of the other clutch hitting has meant for the Sox in this series

    Heck – even if the Sox lose the Series, the fact that Bobby Richardson won the World Series MVP with a .367 batting average as a member of the LOSING team, might allow some to make the case that Ortiz, with his average almost DOUBLE that of Richardson’s, should STILL be considered as the MVP

    (though my feeling is that despite the precedent set by Richardson, World Series MVP should always go to a player on the winning team.)

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      Why does Boston even need to win? Lester and Uehara could dominate in relief in game 7, Ortiz could stay great, and Boston could lose a close game 7 and they would still all be deserving, especially if the Cardinal performance in the next two games shifted to someone besides Wacha, Rosenthal, Holliday, Beltran or Molina.

      • j0esixpack - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Agreed – Boston could lose and the Cardinals could walk Ortiz for the remainder of the Series (they probably should) and Ortiz’s .733 average could STILL make him a candidate for MVP given the precedent set in the 1960 World Series

        But even as a Boston fan I’d still assert that the World Series MVP should go to a player on the winning team. Yes, that MVP will likely pale in comparison to the performance of Ortiz, Lester or others – but look over the list of past World Series MVPs and there’s players on the Cardinals that haven’t played any worse.

        If anyone on a losing team (if the Sox lose both games) were ever deserving of Series MVP it would be Ortiz and his .733 average but it seems to me the MVP should still be from the World Series winning team.

      • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        j0esixpack: you seem conflicted. There’s no rule or even a good reason it should come from the winning team. That’s just as silly in the post-season as the regular season. If Wacha, Rosenthal, Holliday, Beltran or Molina do poorly from now on and the Cardinals win the World Series, and Ortiz stays awesome or gets even better, his MVP wouldn’t even be controversial. An MVP shouldn’t be more individual crowning glory on an already glory-soaked person whose team just won. Also, a team win doesn’t change an individual’s performance or statistics.

  13. drelms - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    The other nights game the pick-off move to first was one of the sweetest endings to a game i have ever seen. From the comments I saw on articles here at, most of you missed the last play because fox had their camera on something else. Oh well, you got to see the replay at least. I was streaming on my laptop using p2p on-line, listening to real MLB players announcing the game and I saw the play.

    When I went to see replays on a local station I heard McGiver, or whatever his name is say to the audience, I don’t understand why Ortiz is holding the runner on, his run doesn’t mean anything and it lives a big gap between first and second. Well I know this guy is retiring this year, maybe it’s better for those of you who still watch fox coverage, but wouldn’t you know it but the pitcher throws over to Ortiz and the game is won. Nice job fox broadcasting for having announcers who really know the game. Joe buck, what a clown, he is the most biased announcer ever, and being gay, you would think he would be more understanding of other teams and actually be fair with his coverage.
    Bottom line here is look for a free p2p live broadcast like me, avoid fox entirely and enjoy the game all.

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      P2P fine. Everything else you said is wrong.

    • RickyB - Oct 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      Exactly moogro. I bash on McCarver as much as the next person, but he was absolutely right about the Red Sox holding the runner on. There is at least a decent excuse of trying to keep the double play in order with one out, but with two out? The ONLY reason would be to hopefully pick him off without throwing a pitch to Beltran. And Wong wasn’t out because his foot slipped. He was out because he hopped while taking his lead off first, meaning both feet were off the ground, which one should NEVER do when leading off a base. Boston got the right result while doing the wrong thing.

      • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Sheesh you guys, it wasn’t even Ortiz on first, it was Napoli.

  14. The Rabbit - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Very much enjoyed your insights.
    I’m a stat geek. As a retired statistical (financial) analyst, I learned many years ago that meaningless stats in all fields (particularly in the political arena) are cherrypicked to support arguments. Most of the time they are out of context and the truth may be the exact opposite of the stated position.
    Now that we have the technology to break down the minutiae in a nanosecond, the truth gets lost in the babble.
    McCarver and Buck annoy the cr*p out of me, but I doubt that either of them are researching some of these ridiculous stats. I’d guess that comes from clueless production/research…..And, cur, I do remember when McCarver and Kiner were the Mets broadcasters. It was entertaining and informative.
    On another subject… I had the opportunity to spend time with Clete Boyer after a chance meeting in Cooperstown. Did you know he was Roger Maris’ roommate? His stories about Yankees and his brothers were priceless.
    Clete was a real gentleman and clearly from another era. Thanks for reminding me.

  15. misterj167 - Oct 30, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    If you think the argument about MVP is bad, consider how pretty much all the college football and basketball rankings are based on pure opinion. At least in the pros, it boils down to actual record and winning a championship. In colleges, they may as well do away with the sport altogether and just have writers determine who wins every week. Sounds retarded but at least it will cut down on concussions in football.

  16. peddealer - Oct 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    I love statistics that take my mind to an interesting place, remind me of players I had not thought about, transport me to great moments in the game’s history.

    I couldn’t have said it better! Much better than Craig’s crappy articles!

    • moogro - Oct 30, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Craig, Joe, Ty, Frank, whatever…

  17. indaburg - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I agree with everything you wrote, Joe. I love statistics within a context. Statistics in relation to a story. A statistic alone is worthless. Without context to flesh out that stat, it is just a number that can be easily manipulated to mean anything, or nothing at all. Statistics become static noise.

    As for McCarver, he annoys me now, but the man practically raised me. Scary thought. Explains a lot, huh? He called games for the Mets on WWOR in NY back in the 80s. I was just a kid, and he taught me a lot about the game. Back then, I really liked him. All that minutiae and over-explaining that he is wont to do was perfect for a kid learning baseball. I don’t know who changed, him or me. Either I outgrew him, or he became slightly senile. Maybe both.

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