Evaluating the 2011 NL MVP: Marketing Research Collides With Baseball

Congratulations to Ryan Braun, one of my very favorite baseball players,  who just won his first MVP award. I had been pulling for him before, but thought Kemp’s strong finish may have swayed voters. Coinciding with MLB’s announcement of the league MVPs, I’m finishing up my final project for econometrics which is more or less a rudimentary version of the stats from “Moneyball,”  the book and movie. I’ve finished the model building and got a regression equation so now I can do what Billy Beane did in the great book, and look at players objectively, purely by how many runs they create.

The top two NL MVP vote-getters were Ryan Braun and runner-up Matt Kemp–both very deserving in my opinion. Now because of the way the equation works it’s hard to compare players across leagues (not a problem here). The other limitation to the equation is that it is built off team stats so to figure out how many runs an individual player is responsible for you have to multiply their stats by nine (for a whole lineup of equivalent players), add in the league (AL/NL) coefficient and the intercept, and then divide by nine, likely watering down the results to a minor extent, but here they are…

Matt Kemp accounted for 122 runs last year, compared to NL MVP Ryan Braun who accounted for a nearly as impressive 112 runs.

So, you can see that the runner-up actually had a more productive year at the plate, and that’s not too surprising when you look at the raw statistics. Kemp had more home runs, walks, and steals. Nonetheless, the difference is pretty negligible and Ryan Braun had his great season in a pennant race for a division champion Brewers team. As close as is it, I don’t think the voters got it wrong, Kemp’s season was slightly better (9% better to be precise), but since Braun’s contributions were part of a winning effort, it’s hard to argue against him.

What do you think of this season’s MVP award winners?

For my take on Verlander capturing the AL MVP, read my previous blog post.

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2 thoughts on “Evaluating the 2011 NL MVP: Marketing Research Collides With Baseball

  1. Pingback: Ryan Braun Vindicated, Will Not Be Suspended | Home Runs, Apple Pie, and Rock 'n Roll

  2. Pingback: 2013 MLB Top 10 Outfielders

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