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That One First Place Vote MVP for Kris Bryant, the Value of Streaks, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The Wife is at a conference in St. Louis this weekend, and I just hope – for her own safety – that she didn’t pack her “It’s Ridiculous That the Cardinals Get a Competitive Balance Draft Pick” t-shirt.


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(That shirt doesn’t actually exist, but maybe we should make it. The market would probably be limited to about five people, but, man, those five people would LOVE that shirt!)

  • As it always is, the MVP voting was controversial this year, particularly in the National League, where just two points separated winner Giancarlo Stanton from second place Joey Votto, and a number of ballots were rather bizarrely laid out. For example, the two voters who had Votto fifth explained themselves with a variation of “he was good but his team was bad so he can’t be most valuable”, an argument that is as pervasive as it is nonsensical. A player cannot be valuable on a bad team? That’s literally what you’re saying when you refuse to vote for a guy because his team was not a playoff contender.
  • One of the votes that really stuck out to folks, though, was the solitary first place vote that last year’s MVP, Kris Bryant, received from Atlanta beat writer Mark Bowman. Bryant had an excellent year – arguably better even than his MVP campaign – but the league was so dense with incredible seasons that even this Cubs fan concedes he did not merit a first place vote this year. To his credit, Bowman took to explaining his vote at MLB.com, offering predominantly two reasons: first, he emphasized that Bryant was consistently good all year, as opposed to some guys who had a couple monstrous months and then some down months. Second, he added this: “Though I don’t believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players, I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL’s fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins.”

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  • It still feels a little like that second one is giving undue credit to a player for how the rest of his team plays, but I do wonder about that first “consistently good” rationale. Let’s imagine you had a guy who had five terrible months, and then one month so ungodly amazing that his season line finished up .350/.450/.600, with a wRC+ of 180 and a 7.0 WAR. Let’s imagine you have another guy who was just steadily good for all six months of the year, finishing with a .330/.415/.530 line, a 150 wRC+, and a 6.0 WAR. Who is the more valuable player? The season-ending stats are very clear that the first guy was better and worth more … but what if his team really struggled during his five bad months, in no small part because he wasn’t producing at all? Should that matter, even if the season-ending stats favor that guy? Which guy would you rather have on your team? Seems like that “lesser” guy would actually help the team win more games over the course of a season, right? Like, sure, WAR is intending to capture that, but you can only win a game once (so it’s not like 10 homers in a single game actually helps the team win more than one game).
  • This kind of played out in the AL race, where Jose Altuve’s consistent excellence (but lesser overall numbers) won out over Aaron Judge’s insane hot and cold streaks. And that feels right. I am starting to think there might be something here.
  • Of note: the two Chicago voters, Jesse Rogers and Mark Gonzales, each had Anthony Rizzo ahead of Kris Bryant on his ballot.

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(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
  • Yo: whose face looks that calm and placid sliding into third base? “I am playing baseball. I am running. I am sliding.”
  • It’s been expected for some time, but, without specifying precisely which changes, the Commissioner said that changes are coming with respect to pace of play in 2018, whether the players agree to them or not (MLB.com). His hope is that the players will work together on an agreement, though. Our current belief and expectation is that it means a pitch clock is coming.
  • With Jason Parks heading out to join the Diamondbacks organization, someone asked folks for positive memories about the now-former Cubs special assistant and long-former BP writer:

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  • Well this is just wonderful, and ripe for fun:

  • I re-share this not only because it’s a good reminder of where things stand at an organizational level, but also because the picture is the official new “Deal With It” Cubs picture:

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  • I’m sure other people have thought of this, too, but I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of myself:

  • I know it’s not the same sport, but holy crap. This HAS to be considered a monster bomb:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.