Putting the WAR in Awards

October 2, 2011

Since we necessarily cannot have more than four MLB playoff games in a day, Saturday was at least a tie for the most playoff baseball ever in a day.  The whole extended weekend has been filed with dramatic  MLB baseball.  In honour of this magnificent excuse for laziness, sportsvssports summarizes the leagues’ final ‘advanced’ or ‘new’ overall statistical leaders.  Below is a general survey of the top scores in each major award category according to various metrics and ‘overall ratings.’

4 out of 6 nerdy ranking systems agree: Matt Kemp was the best player in the NL during the regular season.

Rookie of the Year

AL:    Alexei Ogando (FG, TBE tie)

Michael Pineda (IE)  Mark Trumbo (ESPN), Jeremy Hellickson (Elias)

NL: Danny Espinosa (FG, TBE)

Vance Worley (ESPN), Lucas Duda (Elias), Freddie Freeman (IE)

Cy Young Award

AL: Justin Verlander (BR, IE, ESPN, TBE)

CC Sabathia (FG), Jered Weaver (Elias)

NL: Roy Halladay (FG, ESPN, Elias)

Clayton Kershaw (BR, IE), Cliff Lee (TBE)

MVP

AL:  Jacoby Ellsbury (FG, ESPN, IE)

Jose Bautista (BR, Elias, TBE)

NL: Matt Kemp (BR, FG, ESPN, IE)

Prince Fielder (Elias), Troy Tulowitzki (TBE)

It should be mentioned that in most cases of disagreement, each site has the other’s top rated player second or tied for second.  NL pitching is the exception, where it seems a fairly even 3 way judgement.  Also, I have given the Baseball Reference MVP to Bautista despite being tied with Verlander because Verlander already gets the BR Cy Young, supplementing the argument which seems to usually hold the day with the Baseball Writers Association voters; that pitchers have their own award and should only win the MVP when their season is transcendent.  Also, to further sooth Blue Jays fans who are about to go into full pout about Bautista winning his second consecutive not-MVP, Brett Lawrie was on track to easily win the AL Rookie of the Year if he had played even most of the season.  What’s truly shocking is that he was actually on a pace to also bump Ellsbury for the FanGraphs AL MVP, as his WAR was 2.7 in only 43 games, putting him on track to produce a league best 10.2 over 162 games.

Abbreviations: BR= Baseball Reference, FG= Fan Graphs, IE= Inside Edge, TBE= The Baseball Encyclopedia

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Dem Bums (2 of 2)

July 31, 2011

It’s around this time, when the Dodgers’ ownership is a matter to be decided by divorce court, that a noted investigative journalism brand publicizes rumours that Frank and Jamie have been siphoning money from the Dodgers.  Now desperate for money, Frank McCourt takes the legal firm that drew up the aforementioned marriage property agreement to court, and then uses the theoretical capital that will produce as collateral in securing an emergency loan from a hedge fund.  He also enters into a loan agreement with Fox which involves his personal finances, and signs a television rights extension with the same company which includes 385 million in upfront cash.  This and the loans (we imagine Mr. McCourt telling himself) will be enough to get the Dodgers by until Rafael Furcal miraculously heals and leads them to the World Series, and accompanying riches.

It is at this point that Bud Selig felt compelled to move in, claiming in essence that someone who might not own something (pending legal decision) cannot make major decisions about its future, and also that financing, even in an emergency, must be done and not done in certain ways.  Frank McCourt had reached a divorce settlement with a portion of the 385 million going to Jamie McCourt, and allowing Selig the easy claim that “Critically, the transaction is structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt.”  This decision effectively foreclosed the possibility of the Dodgers making their June payroll, so Frank put the team into chapter 11 bankruptcy as of June 27.  At the same time, they told the overseer appointed by MLB that he was not needed, or indeed welcome, at Dodger stadium, and the next day MLB was in the bankruptcy court with McCourt, where it was determined that the hedge fund loan could be used temporarily, at least until a July 20 hearing at which the league would attempt to take over financing the team.

At that hearing, it was ruled that the hedge fund money could no longer be used, but that McCourt must finance the team through MLB.  This hearing also leaked out the nugget that Frank may have issues with the IRS, who will have to get in line with Fox, who intends to sue everyone in town if the rights deal they negotiated with McCourt earlier doesn’t go through.  The court will attempt to decide the TV rights issue in August, which in turn will determine whether McCourt has the cash to pay back his loan, settle with his ex, and start regaining control of the Dodgers.  Even if he does manage to do these things, Frank McCourt still has to defeat Jamie in court for full ownership to avoid selling, which is what MLB wants to happen at this point anyway.

So the reason that this storied franchise has gone bankrupt is because their owner didn’t have adequate reserves to operate in the event of a cash flow crunch, even before what has become a protracted and messy divorce.  The cash flow crunch itself seems to be caused by a reduction in income from gate, combined with a staggering accumulation of payments to players who no longer contribute to the team.  In other words, those really paying attention saw the writing on the wall around the time Andruw Jones’ and Manny Ramirez’ contracts turned sour.

Use the handy scorecard below to follow along with the case as it winds its way through the (Mc)court system:

PARTY                        CONTRIBUTION                        LIKELY REWARD

Frank McCourt             Parking lot                                   Bud Selig

Jamie McCourt           Divorce papers                  Manny Ramirez money

Andruw Jones                Stinking                                  11.1 million

Manny Ramirez         Cheating, stinking                       20.9 million

Bud Selig                   Overseer, unwanted loan         Frank McCourt

Fox                        Broadcasting, original seller         Parking lot.

Probably everything else.

Matt Kemp                 .312, 24HR, 75RBI                         Rihanna