Way too much is being made of the decision by the local chapter of the BBWAA to name Jason Bartlett the Rays’ MVP.

First it was the guys at Fire Joe Morgan taking exception to the vote.

“…if any baseball analyst of any kind tells me that “you really have to watch Jason Bartlett play every day to understand how much he means to this team,” and that same analyst is found drowned at the bottom of my hot tub the next morning, and I am found standing upon that corpse, in the hot tub…” [You get the idea]

Then Big League Stew challenges his readers to try an name the pictured MVP.

I honestly have no idea why the Tampa Bay baseball writers just named Monsieur Bartlett the Rays’ season MVP, well ahead of Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.

Somebody even hoped it was an April Fools Joke (funny is following along in the comments on that link as the author arrogantly dismisses anybody that disagrees with his assertion that Bartlett is not in the top 10 MVPs for the Rays).

An argument can be made that other players are more deserving, but to completely discount the notion of Bartlett as MVP as a “joke” is indicative of somebody that is just not paying attention.

The single biggest reason the Rays have improved by 27 games in the win column (so far) is the ability of the team to prevent runs. In 2007, the Rays pitching staff allowed 944 runs. This season the Rays are on pace to give up 663 runs, a 281 run improvement.

While each pitcher contributed to the improvement, Bartlett contributed to the improvement of every pitcher. He was also the keystone to the improvement of the entire defense. Just as Troy Percival improved the entire bullpen by slotting the rest of the relievers into positions more suited for their talents, Bartlett solidified a defense that cost the Rays games in 2007. And Bartlett’s value is magnified having replaced a group that cost the Rays more runs than they prevented.

Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena have better offensive numbers and both play excellent defense. But, the Rays made it clear that if the team was to improve, they needed to be stronger up the middle. And that is what Bartlett brings to the team. Defense begins with the shortstop, catcher and center fielder. If those are weak, the entire defense is weak.

Bartlett would not have been our first choice for MVP. We would have voted for Dioner Navarro (the catcher in us may be biased), and Longoria, Pena and Upton deserve consideration. But Bartlett would be in our top 5 and we have no problem with anybody else that would do the same.

MVP voting is subjective. This is why the awards are voted on. Even with a clear #1, people will disagree. Just don’t you dare disagree with this guy.

Tampa Bay BBWAA awards [Rays Report]
It’s OK [Fire Joe Morgan]
This man is the MVP of your Tampa Bay Rays…Name him [Big League Stew]

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39 Comments

  1. david says:

    i agree. when i first read that, i was a bit surprised, but in no way did i think they had gotten completely wrong. my reaction was more "i could see that".

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  2. RJ says:

    nobody can win an argument with me. I have over 5 million different stats at my disposal and at least one of them will prove me right.

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  3. Sean G. says:

    Prof,

    If Dak invites you over to do some "hot tubbin'", just say NO!

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  4. Possum Avenger says:

    I was doing what I could under the name "raystheroof" over there. He told me Gross has been more valuable JB.

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  5. david says:

    "Gross has been more valuable JB"

    that might be the single dumbest thing i have heard all week. a part-time right fielder more valuable than an everyday gold glove-caliber shortstop?

    Maybe that was the April Fools Joke

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  6. Anonymous says:

    so now it is "the site that shall not be named"?

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  7. Elijah's 6th Love Child says:

    i dont think Bartlett should be MVP (and I too wonder why people care) but to argue that Gross has been more valuable just hurts your argument and makes Bartlett sound like a viable option

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  8. Vin is a little b!tch says:

    other idiotic statements that hurt RJ's argument

    "Bartlett is just about the worst choice to make."

    "Crawford might be a better defender."

    "You are overrated Bartlett's defense"

    that the Rays longest losing streak occurred with JB on the DL "means nothing"

    and my personal fave:

    "Results based analysis is stupid."

    that last one is exactly why many hate so-called statheads. in the end, results is all that truly matters. Stats just try to help us figure why results happened and what the future results may be. but any statistician will tell you that a stat means nothing if you are unable to control all the other variables.

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  9. Sean G. says:

    and don't forget that he would rather have Izturis over Bartlett.

    Bartlett has a better OPS+ (83) than Izturis, makes $2.3 million less and has an almost identical range factor (4.15 to 4.16)

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Jesus christ cork, I thought this wasn't going to turn into firerjanderson.com?

    Also, for the record, Izturis and Gross HAVE been better than Barty.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    btw, Range Factor is pretty awful, dude.

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  12. Vin is a little b!tch says:

    anon, is that you RJ? why afraid to put your name?

    on what planet is Gross better or more valuable than Bartlett.

    let's put this simply: if all the players were out back into a draft pool, who do you think would get drafted first? and who do you think the pitching staff would rather have in the field, Bartlett and a replacement-level RF OR Gross and a RL SS?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Actually results based analysis isnt the best way to measure a player. How many blown saves does Percy have? How many does Papelbon have? Percy has less...does this mean he is a better closer?

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  14. Tyler says:

    http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/09/23/bartlett-equals-skippy/

    Posnanski puts it better than I possibly could.

    http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/09/22/best-of-the-best/

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Vin is a little.... The Professor can tell you if it is RJ or not. He has access to IP addresses. I'll save you the time. It wasnt RJ.

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  16. sam says:

    Yes, I post as anonymous because I'm RJ, not because I totally don't want to give up my google name. Obviously.

    The Planet where Gross is better than Barty? The one where Gross has an OPS+ of 111, and has an above average glove? Yeah, I'd like to call that earth, snarky mcsnarksnark.

    Also, I think Johnny Macdonald and Tony Pena are considered better Barty defensively, AND are replacement level(Granted Pena swings a truly awful stick). Replacement level RF is like...Ruggiano. Ew.

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  17. The Professor says:

    anon, I would love to post my thoughts in their comments section. alas, I am not allowed. golly shucks.

    all I did was point out what was written. I also pointed out what was written by two other writers. And in the grand scheme of things I have been much harder on other writers on this site.

    maybe you missed all the "Why Devil Rays Columnists Suck" posts. But hey, I guess i am hard on Topkin and Lancaster because I know they are good writers and I expect better from them.

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  18. The Professor says:

    anon,

    DRG is currently playing with the whales off the coast of Madagascar for 3 months, struggling to follow the Rays on the MLB gamecast.

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  19. Susan says:

    it truly amazes me that this is such a heated debate.

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  20. Vin is a little b!tch says:

    "Actually results based analysis isnt the best way to measure a player"

    i never said it was. but to totally dismiss it as "stupid" is equally, if not more egregious.

    If a player hits .350-50-150, do I need a bunch of sabermetric quantifications to tell me he is a better hitter than somebody that hits .200-5-40?

    what if 2 pitchers start 35 games each and 1 goes 20-7 and the other goes 4-20. Now I know that wins are generally not a good stat for judging a starting pitcher but do i really need anything else to tell me the first pitcher is better?

    and if you want to tell me a team played better than their pythag. I'll listen, but in the end, isn't the actual number of wins and losses all that truly matters? they don't give rings to a team with the best RS/RA differential.

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  21. sam says:

    "what if 2 pitchers start 35 games each and 1 goes 20-7 and the other goes 4-20. Now I know that wins are generally not a good stat for judging a starting pitcher but do i really need anything else to tell me the first pitcher is better?"

    One pitcher gets the 2007 DRay Defense and plays in fenway 70% of the time. The other plays in Petco with an Oakland A's like D behind him.

    Fenway Suckfence Pitcher gets 0 offensive support, while Petco Awesomefence has A-Rod, Pujols and like Grady Sizemore.

    Fenway Suckfence Pitcher: 3:1 K:BB, Throws a ton of groundballs but his suckfence can't turn half of them into outs. Son he has an ERA of like 5.50 and a W/L of 8-15, even though he pitches really awesome.

    Petco AwesomeFence Pitcher: 1.5:1 K:BB ratio, throws nothing but fly balls but is total;ly helped by petco's Dimensions, he gives up like 3-4 Runs a start but his O is so awesome it doesn't matter. All his flyballs and Grounders become outs, has an ERA of 4.00, W/L of 20-10, even though he completely blows.

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  22. Vin is a little b!tch says:

    wow. that was a lot of numbers and typing considering you totally missed the point.

    i already said wins is a bad stat. but i want you to show me in the history of baseball a 4-20 pitcher that was as good or better than a 20-7 pitcher.

    my only point is that *sometimes* results do tell the story. I never said *always*. I never said it was a be-all, end-all. and to dismiss the most important stat in sports(W's) as stupid just shows you care more about the stats than the actual game.

    in the end stats can only truly show you trends. there will ALWAYS be exceptions to the rule. A true statistician (not a stathead) will tell you that something is considered significant if it happens 95% of the time. That does not mean the other 5% are wrong. Just that they are the exceptions to the trend.

    for example...if a relief pitcher has a BABIP well-below .300 for 10 consecutive seasons, is he just REALLY LUCKY? or maybe there is something else going on. Maybe there are guys where the .300 rule doesn't apply. It is very unlikely that they would be "lucky" that many times.

    FYI. Troy Percival has been below .300 BABIP every year since 1997, and usually well-below.

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  23. sam says:

    Um dude, there is no .300 rule for BABIP. It's LD% + .120 = Around where a Pitcher's BABIP should be, and Percival has fit within that range all of his career.

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  24. Vin is a little b!tch says:

    league average is always around .300, and I can point you to 6,000 articles that say pitchers below that are having a "lucky" season.

    and dont fucking call me dude. i'd like to think i am actually having a discussion with somebody that has already hit puberty. otherwise I feel like i have just wasted time.

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  25. sam says:

    Point me to those articles then.

    Hint: Their wrong, THT, etc. have proven this.

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  26. Possum Avenger says:

    as a part time right fielder who can't hit lefties for shit, Gross is obviously more valuable than Bartlett.

    Obviously. Why are you people so stupid?

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  27. Possum Avenger says:

    Let's not overlook this fact.

    Maddon said JB was the MVP of the positions players for the first half. JB had a much, much better second half with the stick.

    Obviously, Joe Maddon knows nothing about baseball. Nothing at all. Especially about his own team. He wouldn't have a feel for that at all. My stats tell me Gross is better even though he never plays against lefties..

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  28. DWTHTB says:

    The single biggest reason the Rays have improved by 27 games in the win column (so far) is the ability of the team to prevent runs.

    And Barlett has played NO part is that improved run prevention whatsoever. -1 in the +- ratings (0 is league average), next to last in AL in Fielding %, 17 errors, next to last in AL in Revised Zone Rating. Can someone please cite one defensive statistic or category that he is in the top 3 in the AL in?? (besides grittiness, heart & scrappiness)

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  29. david says:

    DWTHTB,

    so you are saying that Joe Maddon is an idiot when he called Bartlett on of the team MVPs?

    How many of those errors occurred early in the season when he was battling a shoulder injury? and how many of those errors have skewed the rest of the stats? until you can answer that...you got nothin'

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  30. DWTHTB says:

    Maddon said JB was the MVP of the positions players for the first half.

    1st half Rays position player MVP:

    0 HR, 20 RBI, .256 AVG, .592 OPS

    Obviously, Joe Maddon knows nothing about baseball. Nothing at all. Especially about his own team. He wouldn't have a feel for that at all.

    Yes, if he truly believes that a player who had the 9th worst (136/144) OPS in the entire AL (for players with 150+ AB) is the MVP of his team, then yes, I agree he knows nothing about baseball.

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  31. david says:

    and what exactly does any of that have to do with "runs prevented"?

    even a tsetse fly missing both eyes could tell you Jason Bartlett prevented many, many more runs this season than any of the shortstops from last season.

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  32. DWTHTB says:

    "so you are saying that Joe Maddon is an idiot when he called Bartlett on of the team MVPs?"

    If he truly believes that, yes.

    "How many of those errors occurred early in the season when he was battling a shoulder injury? and how many of those errors have skewed the rest of the stats? until you can answer that...you got nothin'"

    I don't know because I haven't been able to find fielding stats which are sortable by different splits (pre-AS, post-AS, or by month). I will look for it later tonight.

    I just have 2 questions for you
    1) Is Evan Longoria a better hitter than Jason Bartlett?
    2) Is Evan Longoria a better fielder than Jason Bartlett?

    I would hope the answer to both questions is yes. So *if* it is, then how is Bartlett the MVP?

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  33. david says:

    i would say they are comparable fielders. Longoria is very good, but i have also seen him make mistakes.

    but that is irrelevant.

    Bartlett plays a FAR more important defensive position.

    as Prof said. the team recognized that the key to success is to be "strong up the middle". Last year, the Rays had a decent third baseman defensively and a horrible shortstop(s). Overall, the team was horrible defensively. One of the worst ever according to some.

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  34. DWTHTB says:

    i would say they are comparable fielders. Longoria is very good, but i have also seen him make mistakes.

    Everyone makes mistakes. But Longoria is one of the top 3-4 fielders in the AL (3B) by almost any metric and Barlett is one of the worst fielding SS in the AL by almost every metric. To say that they are comparable isn't accurate or true.

    "Bartlett plays a FAR more important defensive position."

    Not true. They are separate by 2 spots on the Defensive Spectrum (of course you probably have no clue what that is, so I will provide a link for you to learn about it Defensive Spectrum). I would hardly consider that "FAR" more important. If you were comparing SS to LF/RF/1B I could see that.

    "the team recognized that the key to success is to be "strong up the middle"."

    They improved significantly at 2B (by moving Iwamura there and replacing Upton who was a terrible infielder) and at CF by putting Upton there full-time and at SS by getting Bartlett in place of Harris/Zobrist.

    So how exactly does Bartlett get all the credit especially when his fielding this year has been the worst of those three??

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  35. david says:

    what exactly are you even arguing? are you that dim?

    go back and read all my comments. take your time. i know you are a little slow.

    i never said i agreed that Bartlett was the MVP. in fact i have argued elsewhere that i would go Longoria or Pena.

    the very first comment up at the top says i was a bit surprised when it was announced.

    my only beef is 1) Gross is NOT more valuable than Bartlett. Gross is friggin part-time player; 2) Bartlett IS valuable. Most valuable? I don't think so, but to say he has no value or that he is not even in the top 10 is just going full retard. and whether or not you think 3 spots is "far" on the spectrum or not is up for debate. I mean it is a 33% difference. 33% is a lot in some circles.

    and that is assuming that it is equidistant from any one spot on the spectrum to the next. what if the "distance" from 1-2 is X and the distance from 4-5 is 4X?

    but again. your argument is irrelevant. and remind me again why any of this even fucking matters? seriously.

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  36. Scot says:

    There is no evidence that Bartlett was an above average fielder, but rather an better fielder than last year's model. In addition, he didn't have the bat of last year's model.

    With the move of Aki to 2nd, Upton to center, and Longoria to 3rd, all 3 positions changed from below average fielders to above average fielders. In addition, 3rd base improved dramatically on offense.

    The best offense player, even with lost time for injury, this year has been Longo. Only Pena and Upton are close (see VORP.)

    So why did Maddon state Bartlett was their MVP for the first half? Because Maddon's role is to motivate and the Disarcina effect is viewed by many is "key" to motivating players, to keep them playing at peak performance. Disarcina was a pathetic SS for the Angels (Maddon's old team) who was known for his scrappiness, grittiness and heart. While Disar was a pretty good fielder, his carry percentages were below replacement level: (.258/.292/.341)

    I suspect that Joe, in the end, knows the "true" value of his players. As a former econ major in college he was one of the few active users of statistics while on the Angels. He has been hired by people who can read numbers. At the same time, he recognizes players can be negatively motivated. (Hence the removal of hostile players).

    Finally, I agree with the Prof - the choice of Bartlett is not that surprising. The media picked the players and most members of the media do not read Baseball Prospectus or are willing to view more objective metrics.

    One question that might be interesting... does the presence of Aki and Longo between Bartlett actually hurt Bartlett's numbers? Do Aki and Longo cover ground that a SS might normally cover?

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  37. DWTHTB says:

    what exactly are you even arguing?

    That not only isn't Bartlett the MVP of his team, he is probably the LVP of the Rays starters. There is no logical case at all to be made for Bartlett to be the Rays MVP. It would be akin to naming Ronny Cedeno or Ryan Theriot the MVP of the Cubs. Or trying to argue that Jason Marquis is the best pitcher on the Cubs.

    BTW--random question how often do the MVP's of teams bat in the #9 slot??

    Bartlett IS valuable. Most valuable? I don't think so, but to say he has no value or that he is not even in the top 10 is just going full retard.

    I didn't say he has no value. He does have some value. I would say that he has more value than the average 9th or 10th best player on a team. But to (a) claim that he is the MVP of a team which will win 95-100 games and (b) vote for him for AL MVP is absolute insanity.

    Regarding the defensive spectrum, I consider 3B a "skill" position and the lowest one before you get to LF/RF/1B. Anyone can play those. But not anyone can play 3B (eg. AROD, Ryan Braun). While it isn't as difficult as SS, I would say the difference between SS and 3B isn't "far".

    "and remind me again why any of this even fucking matters? "

    Because it shows how incredibly stupid the average baseball beat writer is.

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  38. david says:

    "BTW--random question how often do the MVP's of teams bat in the #9 slot??"

    oh shit, somebody get Ozzie Smith* out of the Hall of Fame ASAP!

    *technically it was the #8 spot in the NL. but he did spend about one-fourth of his career hitting at the bottom of the order. and if he was in the AL (or any team outside of StL) it would have been the #9 spot his entire career.

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  39. DWTHTB says:

    oh shit, somebody get Ozzie Smith* out of the Hall of Fame ASAP!

    Many Differences
    1) Was Ozzie the MVP of the Cardinals any of those years? Perhaps 1987.

    2) In his best years (85/87), Ozzie's OPS+ was 101 and 105 (meaning that his OPS was at or above league average = 100). Bartlett's OPS+ is 83 (meaning 17% below league average).

    3) Related to #2, Ozzie was 5th on team in OPS+ in 85 and 3rd in 87. So even though he batted in #8 slot (essentially #9 slot), he wasn't the 8th (or 9th) best offensive player on the Cardinals, whereas Bartlett is clearly the 8th or 9th worst offensive player on the Rays.

    4) Ozzie (by several accounts) is the best fielding SS in the history of the game. So even though his offensive skills weren't the best he was still a damn productive player. Bartlett isn't the best fielding SS in the AL, much less all of MLB, much less all of baseball.

    In other words, yes Smith did bat 8th (9th), so I give you credit for pointing that out. However, my basic argument is that he wasn't the 8th or 9th worst hitter on the Cardinals (which Bartlett is on the Rays) AND he was the best fielder in all of MLB at that time whereas Bartlett is league average.

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