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Ranking the best players in each league

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A tool for MVP and CY Young Voters and pundits

Detroit Tigers v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

As today is the last year that MVP and CY Young voters can send in their ballots, I thought I would put together this aggregate ranking of the various all inclusive metrics. I don’t think the games 163 taking place today will have an appreciable difference on the results, although Christian Yelich is having a great game as I type.

The tables below simply take 4 different “all inclusive” metrics and average their rankings. I put Hitters and pitchers together, so you can consider if you want to “vote” for a pitcher for MVP, but also to easily see the top ranked pitchers a well for your CY Young consideration.

I had two choices for how to rank within each metric: Ordinal ranking, or Percentage of the top value. (i.e. if Top bWAR is 10, and player x has 7 bWAR he gets a rank value of .7) I chose to go with the latter.

You can view a basic metrics comparison table HERE which explains what is and isn’t included in each metric. ( bWAR, fWAR, and WARP.) Win Shares is not included in that table. You can read about Win Shares at Wikipedia or at Bill James website . Bill James site is a pay site and you need a subscription to access the individual player Win Share totals. I obtained permission to use them for this article.

A few bullets from me first on the various metrics:

  • Win Shares generally does not value Starting Pitchers as high as the other metrics, and especially lower than bWAR. Win Shares favors players on winning teams and has a “clutch” component.
  • bWAR is based on RA-9 (Runs against per 9 innings, not “ERA”), and then makes multiple adjustments from there. I only used pitcher WAR for pitchers, not combined Pitcher/Batting WAR as breakout not available for other metrics.
  • fWAR is based on FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, i.e. Walks, Strikesouts, and Homers allowed. Balls in play are removed from consideration in fWAR
  • WARP for pitchers is based on their DRA or Deserved Runs Average.
  • For hitter rankings, the biggest differences are usually tied to how they evaluate defense, which will often have the largest discrepancies.

Fangraphs Batter WAR Table

Fangraphs Pitcher WAR Table

Baseball-Reference Batter WAR Table

Baseball-Reference Pitcher WAR Table

Baseball Prospectus Batter WARP Table

Baseball Prospectus Pitcher WARP Table

NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP AND CY YOUNG RANKINGS

(pitchers highlighted in light green)

My View:

I think that Christian Yelich has put a hammerlock on the NL MVP with his terrific run down the stretch. The above numbers don’t even include his game 163. His combination of volume and clutch has removed any doubt about his MVP case in my mind. The next closest position player didn’t even play his best ball in the National League (but I had to stick Machado somewhere). I think the voters will view it this way as well.

The NL Cy Young race may not be as clear for some. However it needs to be highlighted that Scherzer received 5.42 Runs of Support per 27 outs, while Degrom got just 3.49 RS/27 . A difference of nearly 2 runs of support per game pretty much negates the traditional win advantage that Scherzer has , (in my opinion). So I would vote Degrom, but Scherzer is not a “wrong” pick either.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Mookie Betts and Mike Trout are in a dead heat, virtually tied. Betts is going to win, because he was the best player on the best team. I’m absolutely fine with that as a tie breaker. But this is going to be Mike Trout’s 4th time to finish 2nd. Still the best player on the planet, based on ability to repeat this elite performance.

The AL Cy Young voting is tough. Innings matter. Justin Verlander has 34 more innings pitched than Blake Snell, (214 to 180) the equivalent of about 6 games started. He also has an edge in FIP, both park and non park adjusted. But Snell’s advantage in traditional wins (21 to 16) , ERA (1.89 to 2.52) and ERA+ (219 to 159) may be too much for voters to overlook. Snell also received better run support, 4.68 to 4.36. I’m predicting Snell wins it, but either he or Verlander would be worthy picks. Gun to my head, I vote Verlander. Chris sale has even fewer IP than Snell, (just 158) so despite being even in the table above, I knock him down a little. If Trevor Bauer never got hurt, he would have had a really great chance at AL Cy Young. He was a beast before getting injured.

So thats the MVP and CY Young for each league.

For ROY, a little less data driven approach for me, but I’d go with Ronald Acuna Jr. in the NL and Shohei Ohtani in the AL, but there are a SLEW of really good rookies out there to make a case for. I count at least 15-20 rookies that put up over 2 WAR this year, (either BB-REF or FG) Those two were the most dynamic in my opinion.