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Making Sense of the 1st Half Team MVP

Over the past week, the bay area's two major newspapers made their cases for  awards for the Rays over the first half of the season. Before we see what the numbers have to offer, let's first review what the local representatives of the media had to say.

Marc Topkin of the St Pete Times selected the following as his MVP rankings:

1. RHP Rafael Soriano

Soriano has done less work than almost any other Ray, pitching just 322/3 innings over 33 games. But none have had more of an impact on their success. Simply put, Soriano, in an all-but perfect performance with 23 saves in 24 chances, is the one player who, thus far, has made the biggest difference.

Soriano was followed in order by David Price, Carl Crawford, Jeff Niemann, and Evan Longoria.

Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune selected Soriano and Crawford as Co-MVPs.

What does WAR tell us?



Car Crawford


Evan Longoria


Ben Zobrist


David Price


James Shields


Rafael Soriano


It's worth noting that Grant Balfour has produced more WAR, and Joaquin Benoit the same WAR as Soriano. Soriano also places behind the others in FIP and xFIP, and well behind Joaquin benoit's 0.80 tERA. It is hard to argue that Soriano has performed the best in the bullpen, let alone on the team.

However there is one compelling case for Rafael Soriano, and that involves factoring leverage into the results. If we look at each players Win Probability Added which looks at the change in base/out state for each players' events, but weights them in terms of inning and margin we get the following results:




Rafael Soriano


Carl Crawford


Jeff Niemann


David Price


Evan Longoria


 While Soriano, Balfour, and Benoit have all pitched extremely well, Soriano recieves a boost here because he pitches in the ninth. If he slipped up one or two more times he would have been heavily penalized, but he has indeed been lights out as the closer even if he hasn't been our best reliever. Soriano's WPA is good for tops amongst American League pitchers. At first I was critical of Soriano being included, but when telling the descriptive story of results including leverage, he has been a full win ahead of Crawford. Soriano's production could be easily replicated by Benoit, and Benoit's by Balfour. This is called bullpen chaining. The production dropoff from Crawford would be far greater. In terms of value to the team he remains my king, but I won't slam somebody for selecting someone verfied by WPA.