Alternative Metrics For Awards Season Voting

With only one week left in the regular season, the internet has turned their collective mind power to the MVP vote. As Mike Trout’s numbers have taken a dip over the last two months and with Miguel Cabrera threatening for the triple crown, a small, online-only battle has broken out. Some writers like Jon Paul Morosi are saying you can’t choose an MVP simply because of a single advanced metric like WAR while others chime in with, “Yeah, but stuff like defense and baserunning and award-winning smiles do have value that home runs don’t account for.” The race is no clearer in the National League with Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey and the untrustworthy Ryan Braun all in the running (Though Bill did an amazing job this morning arguing for Posey). So just how is a busy baseball writer supposed to vote and keep up with the fall TV schedule at the same time?  

Turns out, in addition to counting numbers, advanced statistics, and ability to play on a postseason-bound team, there are thousands of other metrics to use if you’re a BBWAA writer on a deadline. I’ve outlined a few options with some likely MVP candidates below: 

ARCHAIC STATISTICS

While everyone is busy arguing over the merits of WAR, why not select your MVP by using the archaic and useless statistics of the occult. Choose your poison–game-winning RBI, a statistic not counted since 1988? Most sacrifice bunts? Highest Fielding percentage? Fangraphs’ Clutch rating? The list of possibilities is endless. 

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: Erick Aybar, Darwin Barney

MR BLACKWELL’S BEST DRESSED LIST

Tired of the sloppy look of baggy pants and unfolded brims? Let your MVP vote guide the future of on-field style. Reward those with interesting facial hair, high socks, and couture fashion while punishing the sloppy denizens who know nothing of elegance.

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: Brendan Ryan, Sergio Romo

IT’S A CHAOTIC UNIVERSE AND WE’RE JUST LIVING IN IT

Everything we do is just random variance and there’s no such thing as free will. Average, home runs, even your marriage partner–they’re all meaningless, just the result of a few atoms smashing into another few atoms at the right time. And really, what is Time other than a human construct? Rather than try and make sense of it all, just pull up the 2012 Major League rosters, set a random number generator, and fill in the rest from there. Related options include Baseball Player Bingo and Baseball Scattergories.

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: What does it matter? We’re all just sacks of meat anyway.

POLITICAL POWER

It’s an election year which means that it’s time to use your MVP vote on something important: stumping for your candidate. While you probably can’t get away with a write-in vote for Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, or Ron Paul (regardless of how cool his Congressional ballgame photo is), you can still have some sway this November. 

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: The National’s Racing Presidents.

SOCIAL MEDIA

As any PR firm could tell you, social networking is where it’s at. Why bother with what a player can do on the field when it’s so much more important to leverage that fame into facilitating audience conversations and driving engagement. OBP? wRC+? Thanks, but no thanks. The only numbers that really matter are Facebook likes, re-pins, and Klout score.

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: Matt Kemp, Brandon McCarthy, Jose Canseco 

OLD MAN WINTER

The MVP shouldn’t honor those who can play halfway decently for one year, but be a lifetime achievement for those mediocre enough to to draw a Major League paycheck long after their skills have eroded. Kind of like a Grammy. After all, what if Mike Trout proves to be a one-year mirage? Or Miguel Cabrera quits baseball and becomes an advertising copywriter after watching a Mad Men marathon? You’ll look foolish, that’s what. 

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: Omar Vizquel, Jason Giambi

FICTION

There is already a rich history of fictional ballplayers: Crash Davis, Henry Skrimshander, whoever Freddie Prinze Jr played in Summer Catch. And while your manuscript sits on the shelf, covered in rejection letters, why not give new life to these characters by entering them into the MVP debate? Who knows, maybe it’s the extra buzz you need for HarperCollins to say, “Yeah, sure, let’s do this thing.”

LIKELY MVP CANDIDATES: Oboe McAdams, Chaz Lafayette, Norm Funro

While there are still dozens upon dozens of options at your disposal, I hope this primer made your MVP decision process just a little bit easier. Best of luck. Though it should still probably be Mike Trout.

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