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Rays Tank: The Baseball Writers of America speak

And they still don't understand how position influences value (or maybe they don't care about being right).

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Here's a picture of Desmond Jennings bunting
Here's a picture of Desmond Jennings bunting
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the American League MVP award was given to the greatest hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera, who received 23 of 30 first-place votes. It was not given to Mike Trout, the unquestionable best player in baseball, who only received five first-place votes. I'm going to list those votes, because they deserve some credit for their grasp of reality:

Ken Rosenthal (FOX; Joe Posnanski (NBC Sports); Bob Dutton (Kansas City Star); Tim Brown (Yahoo Sports); Brendan Kennedy (Toronto Star)

The Tampa Bay pitching coach from Oakland voted for Josh Donaldson, and some guy from Boston voted for Chris Davis. Longoria repeated his 6th place ranking from 2010, the highest of any Rays player in franchise history. You can see the full voting here.

Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP handily, taking all the votes except the two St. Louis ones, that went to Yadier Molina. So what does that teach us? St. Louis journalists are far less inhibited in their homerism than are Arizona journalists (who voted Paul Goldschmidt second).

Lastly on the BBWAA, you might have looked over the AL Cy Young voting and noticed something strange: Matt Moore received two fourth place votes, despite having what few here would call a good season. Weird.

Anyway, here are the SB Nation offseason awards, which I like better. I've seen people attack defensive metrics when trying to justify a vote for Cabrera over Trout, so I'm going to just copy what I said in the comments. The vote for Trout has nothing to do with UZR.

There's an easy way to end this dispute, since it's not particularly close. Assume average defense for each. Using fWAR, if I do that I get 8.5 WAR for Cabrera, and 9.3 WAR for Trout (that’s ignoring league adjustments since we don’t need them and they’re confusing). The reason Trout still wins has nothing to do with whether or not you like UZR. It has to do with the positional adjustment, because it’s a whole lot more difficult to play center field than it is to play third base (if you doubt this initially, just picture Trout at 3B after a year to learn it and Cabrera in CF). I haven’t done anything fancy. I’ve just done a WAR calculation that removes the part of WAR people like to argue about.

Now ask yourself, without looking at any advanced stats, whether or not Cabrera or Trout is a better fielder, relative to their peers. Trout is? Yes. Good. Now nudge those totals however much you want to, and you’ll get a very clear Trout > Cabrera decision.

Other Links:

I was perusing FanGraphs, as I am wont to do, and came across a post that sounded interesting, about what happens when a batter trades contact for power. Then I noticed who it was written by. True to form, it was a great read. Nice job, and congratulations Jason.

From the FanGraphs community blog, Michael Mitchell takes a look at how much work American League teams area able to wring from their starting pitching. The Rays are an outlier.

The Hardball Times annual is out. I just ordered mine.

And MGL has a review of the article on shifts in it.

At Baseball Prospectus: Michael Lichtman discussed pitch types and the 'times through the order penalty' (free) | R.J. dove into the suicide squeeze (not free), where the Rays are tied for second most attempts over the last three years

Lastly, from THT, Shane Tourtellotte does a lot of work to investigate a question of very little import. I like this sort of thing to an unreasonable degree.