Paul Goldschmidt Should Have Won the MVP Award

Categories: Diamondbacks
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Photo by Jim Louvau


Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt placed second in the NL MVP voting, losing out to Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

In fact, Goldschmidt didn't receive a single first-place vote in the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting, but he should have. Actually, he should have won the award.

First, a quick primer on Goldschmidt's year, courtesy of the D-backs marketing department:

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Goldschmidt also brought home some hardware, winning the Silver Slugger (best offensive first baseman in the NL), Gold Glove (best defensive first baseman in the NL), and the Hank Aaron Award (best hitter in the NL).

So what's the problem?

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24 comments
RandyHill
RandyHill

Mathew, first, you deserve credit for making one of the better arguments for Goldie from any sportswriter I've read. You apparently understand that Goldie hits in one of the best hitting parks and McCutcheon one of the worst, so their offense is even closer than it appears. And you use advanced defensive stats for illumination, not support.  But in the end, it still McCutcheon and it's not really close.  

The problem with your argument defense of even a below average center fielder is more valuable than that of the best defensive first baseman. The difference between a fly ball dropping is often an extra base hit, and the best CF catch more balls & save bases at a significantly higher rate than the worst. The difference between an Eithier (bad) and a Gomez (great) in raw range factor was 1 catch per game. Note that raw range factor isn't a good stat, DRS and others provide adjustment that give much better context into individual performance, but in for this example it illustrates how great the difference can be, as many as a hundred, often extra base, hits a year.

If a first baseman regularly drops catchable throws, each one is usually a base and he ain't a first baseman for very long. The average fielding percentage for NL first basemen last year was .992, they made over 99% of makable plays by the eyes of the scorers. In range factor Paul was at the top with 9.35 plays per game, but most were at 9 or above. And first basemen made a play less a game than Goldie didn't have 100+ errors, they just didn't get thrown catchable balls as often as him,  or the scorekeeper let them off the hook for not getting to bad throws as well Goldie. Assuming the latter, maybe Goldie might have saved 50 throws that a Ike Davis or Ryan Howard couldn't, not only is that far less than the difference between great and bad center fielders, but each first base throw saved is less valuable than getting to a ball in deep center.

So your point about McCutcheon just being an above average center fielder, while accurate, doesn't matter. He's still providing substantially more defensive value as an above average center fielder than any first baseman can.

Your best argument was using Clutch/WPA, Goldie was at the top in both. He really was super valuable, and esp. in clutch situations. But the problem is so was McCutcheon, who is wasn't that far behind Goldie in WPA, though his clutch value was negative.  And worse, McCutcheon was better than Goldie at WPA/LI, which is taking his win contributions and adjusting for opportunities. Goldie contributed more to team wins than McCutcheon based on WPA, McCutcheon did a bit more with the opportunities he was a given. They are close on offensive, but still McCutcheon wins.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

He's a team player with a whole bunch of baseball skills in his tool kit. I hope he stays here but if a better team gets him in the future more power to him. Wherever he plays, he's a real ballplayer in the old-school sense and I wish him the best. The D-Backs have a ways to go in the front office before they can hang with the big boys.

DBACKSNEEDPITCHERS
DBACKSNEEDPITCHERS

If your team does not make the playoffs, you deserve to be MVP of nothing.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

If Paul can somehow be traded to an east coast team in the next couple years, and maintain his stats, he will easily be MVP of either league. The west coast teams, other than the Dodgers and Giants, just don't get the respect they deserve, and their best players are not considered among the elite....

Warren J Sarvis III
Warren J Sarvis III

I am a season ticket holder I wish he would have won but the politics of baseball came into play as usual.He didn't get robbed but the fact that it was a landslide win for McCutchen wasa bunch of crap.

Steve Kalan
Steve Kalan

Yes what else do want him to do. 36 blown saves by those overpriced losers

Nate Aragon
Nate Aragon

He didn't get robbed. The fact that was in the running says a lot. McCutchen is a fine MVP. Now if someone like Kent won it, then you could say he was robbed.

Brennan Johnson
Brennan Johnson

I would have loved to have seen him win it, but NO he didn't get robbed.

Kenn Tomasch
Kenn Tomasch

Not winning an award does not mean you got "robbed." Why is every single bad call a "screw job" and every player who (boo freaking hoo) doesn't win a major award "robbed?" And it's not that he didn't get a single vote, it's that he didn't get a first place vote. That, in and of itself, with 30 people voting, should tell you something.

Dan Moore
Dan Moore

Nah. He had a great year, but the positional adjustment between a 1B and a CF is such that an average CF is scarcer than a very good 1B, which is why Baseball Reference (which uses DRS) credits McCutchen with 1 defensive WAR and Goldschmidt with 0.3 after the positional adjustment is factored in. (It's also probably best to regress those defensive numbers from Goldschmidt a little; one out of character season is a red flag in defensive metrics.) Goldschmidt would have been a fine MVP, and it's certainly possible he had a better year than McCutchen, but everything we know now says he probably didn't. The only player who got robbed yesterday was Mike Trout.

Scott Sackson
Scott Sackson

McCutchen took his team to the playoffs. They must feel that that makes him more valuable. Really surprised Goldschmidt didn't receive a single vote.

Jukes
Jukes

The name of the award hints at its ambiguity.  Most Valuable is a subjective category.  It's not given for Best Statistics.  If so, the winner would be chosen by a computer not voting and, yes, Paul Goldschmidt would absolutely have won.  You have to factor in the excitement that Andrew McCutchen brought to baseball as it is seen live and on television and, therefore, the money he put in MLB's coffers.  Which is, for better or worse, the most basic meaning of the word "valuable."

Did you watch any of the sell-out Pirate regular season games this year? Did you see the tens of thousands of fans in their absurd costumes and team gear (ca-ching, more money for MLB) standing up and chanting "MVP, MVP" every time McCutchen came up to bat?  It was pretty damned impressive and there was nothing like it going on in Arizona. 

Goldie put on the Best Show for Stat Nerds.  He didn't put on the Best Show, Period.  He didn't inspire a frenzy in an entire American city.  He didn't run around the outfield making insanely entertaining catches. He didn't set cash registers ringing and get people to pay hundreds of dollars to subscribe to the MLB cable channel.  Andrew McCutchen did. 

(One other thing, off topic.  The links don't work for the article about Horne's staff member.  I can't even find it.  The links lead to an article about iPhones.  Also, when a reader clicks on the link to your name, Matthew Hendley, only two article are listed, both published in May of 2012.  I think you've done a little more work than that!)

66rock
66rock topcommenter

DBacks just aren't really popular nationwide.  Not many even paid attention when they won the world series and it wasn't just because of the 9/11 tragedy either ever though we loved it, great series/1  Heck, the state of Az isn't really popular nationwide but it's understandable with its bigotry and backwardness.  Too late for stinky finger Jan but get rid of joke Arpaio and Horn, start passing some good meaningful legislation, start being first instead of last in everything and maybe then our DBacks will even get the respect they deserve as well.  There I vented, sorry.

Jukes
Jukes

@66rock I hear you, but I really don't think that's it.  Pittsburgh isn't exactly America's favorite city.  Tell somebody you're moving there and see what they say.  Many Americans still think it's (literally) dirty.  It's not.  People still think steel is made there.  Hasn't been for 40 years.  As for conservative, it's hard to think of city more tied to baseball than Cincinnati and I'd put their politics in a line with Arizona's.  Remember that Nazi-lover Marge Schott?  Nobody in baseball holds that against them, although I don't think she'd get away with some of her more famous slurs today.  

The Diamondbacks need better PR and younger management.  They did make their uniforms and logo look a little better in recent years, but they're named after a snake!  Take advantage of that.  Snakes on a Plane, style.  Why doesn't anyone ever capitalize on how handsome Paul Goldschmidt is?  Make more out of that swimming pool. Take better advantage of the fact that Chase Field is in the center of the city.


james8394
james8394

@Patrick Wasbotten It also helps if your games are completed before East coast sportswriters are settling their bar tabs. Unless you play for the dog ass Dodgers or, to a lesser extent, the Giants, ballplayers in the West labor in obscurity to the national media (ESPN, NYT etc.). Ichiro, in the twilight of his career, has been written about more in a short time with the Yankees than all the time in Seattle. And speaking of the geriatric Yankees, it's gonna be fun watching them suck for the next few seasons 

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