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January 18, 2016

Internet Baseball Awards

Fin

by Sam Miller

In 2008, Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race. It was a close battle, and the recount took eight months. We're going to steal that excuse and say it took us that long to count, recount and recount again before we could declare a winner in the Internet Baseball Awards' unbearably close AL Player of the Year vote. Today, we can. Without further ado, here are your picks for the 2015 Greg Spira Internet Baseball Awards.

AL Player of the Year

The winner: Josh Donaldson, 21 percent of total points
The runner-up: Mike Trout, 20.8 percent of total points
The relic they'll dig up in a 2015 time capsule 100 years from now: Kevin Kiermaier, 13th place
The player the IBA and BBWAA were most split over: Adrian Beltre (7th in BBWAA, 18th in IBA)

I included the total point percentages because I’m about to show you that this was the closest POY race in IBA history. Trout got 99.2 percent of Donaldson’s vote total. Here are the previous first-runner-ups’ performances over the past decade:

Those are just the AL margins, but rest assured, nobody in the NL has come close to toppling Donaldson/Trout as the fight of the century, either. (Closest: Derrek Lee, 87 percent of Albert Pujols’ votes in 2005.) Now, the most frustrating thing about running something called the Internet Baseball Awards is that it inevitably involves the internet, and the internet inevitably involves a troll or 15, which is, coincidentally, the number of ballots that left Trout off entirely. Is there any case for not including Trout? Of course, just as there’s no case for putting CC Sabathia first (as one person submitted) or Trayce Thompson second, or Mark Buehrle third, or Brad Brach fourth, or Abraham Almonte fifth, but that dude’s got to have his fun I guess. Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but this vote turned on, essentially, two or three ballots, and the result kept Trout from winning his fourth IBA POY in a four-year career, and from threatening Barry Bonds’ record five-straight IBA wins. I guess when you think about it, it still doesn’t matter, but if you’re a Trout partisan looking for injustice in this world, there you go.

(BP Staff actually picked Trout.)

Russell Martin was named on two ballots, in sixth place each time. He had a higher WARP than Chris Davis, if you’re trying to calibrate how effective our pitch-framing-is-Baal outreach campaign has been.

Here are the top 25:

Rank Player
1 Josh Donaldson
2 Mike Trout
3 Manny Machado
4 Lorenzo Cain
5 Dallas Keuchel
6 David Price
7 Jose Bautista
8 Nelson Cruz
9 Chris Davis
10 Miguel Cabrera
11 Carlos Correa
12 Chris Sale
13 Kevin Kiermaier
14 Jose Altuve
15 Mookie Betts
16 Edwin Encarnacion
17 Prince Fielder
18 Adrian Beltre
19 J.D. Martinez
20 Sonny Gray
21 Alex Rodriguez
22 Jason Kipnis
23 Chris Archer
24 Wade Davis
25 Xander Bogaerts

National League Player of the Year

The winner: Bryce Harper
The runner-up: Paul Goldschmidt
The relic: Francisco Cervelli, 32nd
IBA/BBWAA split: Max Scherzer (14th IBA; no votes BBWAA) or Clayton Kershaw (5th IBA; 10th BBWAA).

Naturally, the other league had one of the most lopsided results in IBA history, though not quite as lopsided as a couple of Bonds and Pujols wins, which is fitting, because Harper is probably not quite at those guys’ level yet.

Goldschmidt’s vote total was 51 percent of Harper’s. This undersells it, actually; Goldschmidt got less than 1 percent of Harper’s first-place vote total, and simply cleaned up on second-place votes. Harper got 90 percent of all first-place votes, a figure that goes up to 93 percent if you chuck the nine voters who left him off the ballot. Hate you, nine.

Pujols got 95 percent of first place votes in 2009, and Bonds got 92 percent in 2002.

Is there any case against a first-place vote for Harper? Here are the others who received votes, grouped by plausible (if unconvincing) explanation:

Played for a playoff team

Pitchers are just more valuable

Pennant race performance specifically

More complete player

Framing

Forgot the category, year, and/or where I am right now

Always Yadi

That leaves Goldschmidt (three votes) and Joey Votto (two), who both played for losing teams and played offense-first positions and also hit, by really any measure, worse than Harper. Both were phenomenal, though, so the most likely explanation is simply “were great, and I like them more.”

Yasmani Grandal was named on zero ballots. He was 13th among position players in WARP.

Rank Player
1 Bryce Harper
2 Paul Goldschmidt
3 Jake Arrieta
4 Joey Votto
5 Clayton Kershaw
6 Zack Greinke
7 Andrew McCutchen
8 Anthony Rizzo
9 Nolan Arenado
10 Buster Posey
11 A.J. Pollock
12 Kris Bryant
13 Yoenis Cespedes
14 Max Scherzer
15 Jason Heyward
16 Matt Carpenter
17 Jacob deGrom
18 Madison Bumgarner
19 Carlos Gonzalez
20 Dee Gordon
21 Giancarlo Stanton
22 Curtis Granderson
23 Gerrit Cole
24 Adrian Gonzalez
25 Todd Frazier

AL Pitcher of the Year

The winner: Dallas Keuchel
The runner-up: David Price
The relic: Marco Estrada, 13th place
IBA/BBWAA split: Corey Kluber (IBA 6th; BBWAA 9th) behind Collin McHugh (14th/8th)

Staff vote was exactly split, with Keuchel and Price tying for first. The interesting question, perhaps, is what IBA votes use as their guide for this vote, especially because cFIP and DRA were both introduced last year. So, first, here are the top 14 starters:

Rank Player
1 Dallas Keuchel
2 David Price
3 Chris Sale
4 Sonny Gray
5 Chris Archer
6 Corey Kluber
7 Felix Hernandez
8 Cole Hamels
9 Carlos Carrasco
10 Marco Estrada
11 Yordano Ventura
11 Scott Kazmir
11 Collin McHugh
11 Justin Verlander

For your record-keeping: Wade Davis finished seventh, Dellin Betances ninth and Andrew Miller 10th.

As to those starters, this is how they ranked in the AL by DRA:

Rank DRA Player
1 1 Dallas Keuchel
2 2 David Price
3 7 Chris Sale
4 3 Sonny Gray
5 4 Chris Archer
6 6 Corey Kluber
7 11 Felix Hernandez
8 5 Cole Hamels
9 9 Carlos Carrasco
10 10 Marco Estrada
11 32 Yordano Ventura
11 19 Scott Kazmir
11 21 Collin McHugh
11 8 Justin Verlander

The big divergence here is Yordano Ventura, the one player whose DRA is wildly out of contact with his vote totals. Otherwise, DRA/voting would look like a pretty direct relationship.

But Ventura undermines that, so by which measure does he excel? Here’s cFIP,

Rank cFIP Player
1 6 Dallas Keuchel
2 3 David Price
3 1 Chris Sale
4 14 Sonny Gray
5 4 Chris Archer
6 5 Corey Kluber
7 18 Felix Hernandez
8 9 Cole Hamels
9 2 Carlos Carrasco
10 41 Marco Estrada
11 16 Yordano Ventura
11 31 Scott Kazmir
11 17 Collin McHugh
11 12 Justin Verlander

and that brings him in line with the voters. So that must be it, voters love cFIP. Except that the rest of this is a jumble. Estrada trails such heavyweights as C.J. Wilson and Mike Pelfrey by this more predictive stat, yet makes our top 15; Keuchel trails Carrasco by plenty in cFIP but gets 175 times more vote points. And now Kazmir, who looks terribly underserving by cFIP and marginally undeserving by DRA, has no convincing case. So what loves Kazmir?

ERA!

Rank ERA Player
1 2 Dallas Keuchel
2 1 David Price
3 11 Chris Sale
4 3 Sonny Gray
5 6 Chris Archer
6 14 Corey Kluber
7 16 Felix Hernandez
8 20 Cole Hamels
9 19 Carlos Carrasco
10 5 Marco Estrada
11 30 Yordano Ventura
11 4 Scott Kazmir
11 28 Collin McHugh
11 10 Justin Verlander

Cleaner than cFIP, but looks like DRA is still dominant. Do we dare go one step further?

Rank Wins Player
1 1 Dallas Keuchel
2 3 David Price
3 12 Chris Sale
4 8 Sonny Gray
5 19 Chris Archer
6 37 Corey Kluber
7 3 Felix Hernandez
8 12 Cole Hamels
9 8 Carlos Carrasco
10 12 Marco Estrada
11 12 Yordano Ventura
11 51 Scott Kazmir
11 2 Collin McHugh
11 82 Justin Verlander

Whew. Comfortable “nah” on that one. So, as is probably not that surprising, different voters used different ways of assessing pitcher goodness, and no leaderboard can explain the voting overall. As is probably how it should be. And, eyeballing it, DRA carried the day more than any other. As is probably how it should be.

NL Pitcher of the Year

The winner: Jake Arrieta
The runner-up: Clayton Kershaw
The relic: Jeurys Familia, 11th place
IBA/BBWAA split: Kershaw actually led the IBA in first-place votes; in the BBWAA vote, he got only three of 30, trailing both Arrieta and Greinke.

So Kershaw got the most first-place votes, but Arrieta won the most competitive Pitcher of the Year race whether it was the BBWAA or internet fans voting. (Kershaw got 96 percent of Arrieta’s overall vote total; Greinke got 90 percent of Kershaw’s vote total. BP staff picked Kershaw.)

In talking about the AL vote, we concluded that different voters chose different methods of sorting the top pitchers. But this suggests something even more nuanced. As Joe Sheehan pointed out in October,

Arrieta had neither the predictive stats to stand above Kershaw, nor the results stats to top Greinke. (He was also third in DRA, though it was about as close as you’re probably imagining/hoping.) Arrieta’s chances rested on voters prioritizing something else entirely—like his wins, or the season leverage of his second-half performance—or by being such an overwhelming second-place choice that he overwhelmed a lack of a first-place candidacy. But that’s not what happened here: Arrieta actually got just four fewer first-place votes than Kershaw, and considerably more than Greinke. Which suggests not that the Results voters and the DIPS voters each voted their positions and unintentionally split the baby, but that individual voters themselves split the baby, opting for the a blend of the two philosophies. This is a fairly humble (perhaps agnostic) approach to stats. Kind of refreshing. Unless it was just his wins.

Rank Player
1 Jake Arrieta
2 Clayton Kershaw
3 Zack Greinke
4 Max Scherzer
5 Jacob deGrom
6 Gerrit Cole
7 Madison Bumgarner
8 Bartolo Colon
9 Matt Harvey
10 John Lackey
11 Jeurys Familia
11 Noah Syndergaard
11 Johnny Cueto

AL Rookie

The winner: Carlos Correa
The runner-up: Francisco Lindor
The relic: Billy Burns
IBA/BBWAA split: Lance McCullers (IBA 4th; not named on any BBWAA ballot)

It’s fascinating how closely the IBA split on Correa/Lindor hewed to the BBWAA split on Correa/Lindor, and for that matter the BP staff vote on Correa/Lindor.

  • IBA: Lindor got 83 percent of Correa’s vote total, 65 percent of his first-place votes
  • BBWAA: Lindor got 88 percent of Correa’s total, 76 percent of his first-place votes

Actually, no, that’s slightly interesting. What’s fascinating is that the BBWAA was the one who leaned toward the WAR favorite, and the IBA voters who chose the narrative candidate (winning team, called up to energize contender, dingers, slightly more hyped prospects, 1:1 pick, etc). By all three major WAR models, Lindor was the better player:

  • Lindor: 3.3 WARP, 4.6 bWAR, 4.6 fWAR
  • Correa: 2.7 WARP, 4.1 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR

You could certainly imagine a scenario where the internet savaged the voters for choosing the worse-WAR player, but in this case it was the internet who even more emphatically chose the worse-WAR player. Is this the first time ever that the BBWAA has so convincingly beat the internet on a question of WAR? Might be?

Rank Player
1 Carlos Correa
2 Francisco Lindor
3 Miguel Sano
4 Lance McCullers
5 Roberto Osuna
6 Billy Burns
7 Delino DeShields
8 Carlos Rodon
9 Eduardo Rodriguez
10 Devon Travis
11 Greg Bird
12 Andrew Heaney

NL Rookie

The winner: Kris Bryant
The runner-up: Matt Duffy
The relic: Duffy
IBA/BBWAA split: Justin Bour (27th on IBA; fifth on BBWAA)

Get hyped: We predicted baseball! Kris Bryant was the staff’s preseason pick for the award, and you are Jack’s complete lack of surprise that he won. But Rookie of the Year is deceptively tough to get right—rookies being inherently unpredictable, of course, but also the complications of playing time, call-up dates and age upon promotion. Here’s how our preseason rookie picks all finished in IBA voting:

Rank Player Actual finish
1 Kris Bryant 1
2 Joc Pederson 6
3 Jorge Soler 16
4 Noah Syndergaard 3
5 Yasmany Tomas 29
6 Jung-Ho Kang 4
7 Archie Bradley No votes
8 Michael Taylor 24
8 Hector Olivera No votes
10 Marco Gonzales No votes
10 Steven Matz 15
10 Kyle Crick No votes
10 Jon Gray 25
10 Raisel Iglesias No votes

Not named: Matt Duffy, who got only three first-place checkmarks from IBA voters (fewer than Syndergaard and Kang) but who nearly lapped the field for second-place votes. All in all, though, we could have done a lot worse.

No, really, we could have done a lot worse.

Rank Player Actual finish
1 Carlos Rodon 8
2 Rusney Castillo 42
3 Daniel Norris 22
4 Dalton Pompey 42
5 Steven Souza 20
6 Aaron Sanchez 16
7 Andrew Heaney 12
8 Alex Meyer No votes
9 Kendall Graveman 36
9 Francisco Lindor 2
11 Rob Refsnyder 52
11 Brandon Finnegan No votes
13 Carlos Correa 1
14 Keone Kela 42
14 Ryan Rua No votes
14 Dylan Bundy No votes
14 Micah Johnson No votes
14 Chi Chi Gonzalez 41

AL Manager

The winner: A.J. Hinch
The runner-up: Ned Yost
Last place: Mike Scioscia

NL Manager

The winner: Joe Maddon
The runner-up: Terry Collins
Last place: Walt Weiss

We can actually do last place, because in the IBA every manager usually gets named on at least one ballot. Weiss finished behind two managers who were fired midseason.

MOY voting is such an unrevealing thing, of course. As we all know, it’s just a proxy for asking “which team did better than you thought they would,” or sometimes “which team did better than their payroll rank.” But what about over a few years, when these swings can smooth out a bit? Here are the Manager of the Year vote rankings over the past three years combined, limited to managers who were employed in all three seasons:

Rank Manager
1 Clint Hurdle
2 Joe Maddon
3 Buck Showalter
4 Mike Matheny
5 Terry Francona
6 John Farrell
7 Bruce Bochy
8 Ned Yost
9 Terry Collins
10 Don Mattingly
11 Joe Girardi
12 Bob Melvin
13 Mike Scioscia
14 John Gibbons
15 Mike Redmond
16 Fredi Gonzalez
17 Bud Black
18 Ron Roenicke
19 Robin Ventura
20 Walt Weiss

I don’t know, does that come close to your own personal rankings for good managing? Closer than any single year, in my case, but it’s still not the order I’d hire those 20. Sure puts Robin Ventura’s continued employment in perspective, though.

Thanks to everybody who voted, and we’ll do this again in 10 months or so.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

13 comments have been left for this article.

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