When a term like Most Valuable Player gets thrown around, it brings out the economist in me. What does “value” mean? When most people hear “value,” they think: a lot for a little. Stretching your dollar. A great reward for a little price.

Then I remember that the MVP is voted on, not decided by math, and I frown a lot. Thanks for making the term “value” subjective and meaningless, you clods. Whoo-hoo, another popularity contest.

So, always the contrarians, Nerds on Sports would like to present their own Nerds on Sports MVP.

How We Decide

Since the MVP is typically a reward for offensive play – fielders get the Gold Glove – we focused on offensive statistics. Our usual standards, like OBP and SLG, aren’t any good here. They’re not weighted by number of games played.

So our formula for MVP is pretty simple:

2007 Salary divided by Total Bases

This gives us Dollars per Base – how much it cost your team to get you to advance one base. The lower your Dollars per Base, the more valuable you are to your team.

(If you have a more objective standard of value, let me hear it)

2007 NL MVP

Go on, kick the tiresIt was a close race here, but Hanley Ramirez, shortstop for the Florida Marlins, is the most valuable player in the National League. He put up competitive numbers – 0.386 OBP, 0.562 slugging – at bargain basement prices. At a final price of $1119.78 per base, Ramirez was not only the Most Valuable Player in the NL, but in the entire league.

2007 AL MVP

Forty-nine Curtis Grandersons!  Just stack them in a closet!Despite all the love this site (and this columnist) has shown A-Rod in the past, Alex Rodriguez is not the most valuable player in the American League. He’s not even in the top 20. Steinbrenner’s paying $60,395.01 for every base A-Rod reaches. For that kind of money, you could get forty-nine Curtis Grandersons (outfielder, Detroit Tigers). Sure, Granderson might have posted slightly less impressive numbers – 0.913 OPS vs the Rod’s 1.067 – but can you pass him up at a beggarly $410,000? I submit that you can’t.

2007 World Series MVP

This is tricky – not dog-in-the-bathtub tricky, but rock-a-rhyme tricky – for several reasons:

(1) Data on the World Series bonus pool – the gate receipts divided up by the winning and losing teams – are not available.

(2) We could just go by salary, but a player gets his salary for the whole season, not just the weeks of postseason play.

(3) Red Sox fans comprise most of our readership, and saying that the World Series MVP was anyone other than Mike “Cuba Libre” Lowell might get me poleaxed.

Well, relax. I think you’ll still be happy with the results.

Using the (admittedly inferior) substitute of total salary divided by bases in the World Series, Mike Lowell is not the most valuable player. He loses out in that respect to Dustin Pedroia and most of the Rockies roster (and is there any reason the losing team can’t have the MVP?).

A bargain at twice the priceHowever, for sheer postseason value, there’s no one coming close to Jacoby Ellsbury. As a call-up from the minors in 2007, he has not entered his official rookie year yet (fewer than 130 at-bats). So his salary for 2007 was, technically, $0. No data’s available on what the Red Sox actually paid to buy Ellsbury’s Pawtucket contract in June, but it can’t have been much. And for that pittance, Ellsbury got a 0.500 OBP in 17 at-bats in the October Classic.

So congratulations, Ellsbury. Print this out and hand it to your agent for contract talks. You’re our favorite.

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  • For the record: I voted for A-Rod for World Series MVP.

  • I imagine that the difference between “0.913 OPS vs the Rod’s 1.067” could be worth millions. At least to people who have millions to spend.

    On the other hand, I imagine that putting it to a vote allows other things to sneak in that aren’t just about on base percentage; the nebulous concept of team leadership, the ability to perform not just smoothly in general but dramatically in clutch moments, handsomeness and commercial viability… all of these could theoretically combine to bring in more ticket sales and t-shirt sales, thereby making the equation not just one of “how much did we spend” but “how much did we spend versus how much did this guy bring in.”

    I imagine it’d be pretty hard to separate out door receipts by player, but it might be interesting to take a look at the sales of individual player shirts and see what that correlation gets you.

    I won’t be doing that, though. I’m clearly not a nerd.

  • angryed

    if you went by shirt or door receipts, wouldn’t that favour the big market teams too? Remember, baseball nerds are very pro-stats and pro-money ball (value for money) and pro-small-market teams, even if they are from NY/New Armpit(NJ). Also, VORP and shit like that lets them flex their skills.
    I think MVP candidates should just armwrestle for the trophy.
    p.s. aww, come on flyngrrl, I’ve seen your name on the ‘nerd board’!

  • Hmm… it might. More popular teams would pretty much end up having the MVP’s just because their general popularity would drive up any individuals. Perhaps some sort of equation that factors individual shirt sales over a base of the team’s sales?

    I’d like to reiterate that I am definitely not a nerd, whatever some angry ed’s might say. There is no nerd board, only zuul.

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