Friday, November 16, 2012

Buster Posey: MVP!

Buster Posey joined a long list of Giants to be awarded the NL MVP award yesterday.  I posted my Thoughts on Buster Posey fairly recently, so I'll keep this on short.  You can look it up in the archives.  Just a few random thoughts to add:

Giants fans have been blessed over the years to cheer for some amazing players.  Previous winners include Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Kevin Mitchell, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

What?  Will Clark never won a MVP?  That is just wrong!

What sets Buster apart from the previous Giants winners(except for Willie Mays while the team was still in New York) is that he led them to a championship in the process.

My favorite factoid:  Buster is the first catcher to win the NL MVP since Johnny Bench in 1972.

It would seem to be a strong possibility that had Buster not been injured in 2011, the Giants would be celebrating a 3-peat.  Think about THAT!

What are your thoughts on Buster Posey winning the NL MVP?


  1. Totally right about the 3-peat. I'm always pretty amazed at how poorly last year was looked upon. The fact is Bochy kept us in the race until, what, August? We lost our soul and we were still in it. I think had Posey not been hurt, entirely different result (and certainly playoffs).


  2. It is starting to look like: "As Posey gosey, so goes the Giants"

  3. Joe Montana was traded while Walsh still could get something for him, with Young ready to take over.

    With Michael Jordan, you ride all the way till his second retirement, even though one can imaagine a chart of his annual 'WAR' divided by his pay over the course of his career and say 'you should have traded him at year X.' While you may pick up more victories that way, you also rob yourself of a place in hisotry.

    Why do we follow a team?

    Why must your team win just becuase you follow it?

    What do you do to contribute to your team's winning? What does your team's winning over my team have to do with you feeling superior/better versus me? What is there to brag for a fan, if the fan is almost not a factor at all in the team's performance?

    So, for me, why I follow a particular team is a mystery. What I have learned to get out of it is less about victories, but more about the process. If it's about victories, then the game as a whole is a zero-sum game and your happiness is quite precarious - which is fine for some people, I can undestand as I was like that once. It's more about the journey, yes, very cliche, for me these days. Something to do to get away from the increasingly complicated world (the economy, etc) and to rediscover basic things about life such as growth and its inevitable decay - the cycle of things, the cycle of nature.

    And so, I dream we ride Posey all the way to his retirement.

    1. I think you follow teams to follow that primal urge to be part of a group. Before, it was your village and country. Sports allows a way to get that feeling today, though as we see with soccer, nationalistic feelings are steeped into that culture for fans.

      I followed teams initially because they were winning. Giants, 49ers, Milwaukee Bucks. My DAd, being an imigrant, wasn't that into sports, it was his Army buddy who got me interested. In another few years, I might have been Oakland A's and Raiders fans instead.

      But I wasn't and I stuck to my teams, through thick and thin (though when the owners of the Bucks bought the Warriors, I thought I would switch, especially since I followed the Warriors anyway since they were local, and felt that I was a Warriors fan as they surprised their way to their championship in 1975). And there was a lot of thin for the Giants and 49ers, before the good, obviously much longer and thinner for the Giants.

      I contribute my money (I used to go to games, now I mainly listen/watch, but buy a ton of team merchandise, which at those prices must have healthy margins to support buying players) and time to the team, without which, no team would survive (not me alone, natch, I'm talking about all of us). It is fan support which keeps these sports around and alive.

      Their winning might have gave me that superior feeling, like that which most Yankee fans seem to have, but after going through the 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, I don't feel superior, but I sure feel damn good: my team finally won, and now has won twice. I feel very satisfied that they finally reached that pinnacle, I know how bad it can be, so I appreciate this moment in Giants history.

      We brag because it was my team and not your team. That is just how it works, at least for me. I know that there are people very tied in with their teams such that winning and losing (most losing for some teams) helps define them and how they feel. I'm not like that and I don't think most fans are like that. We just enjoy the sport, but can't play it ourselves anymore, so we live vicariously through our local team's exploits.

      I feel bad when we lose, but not terribly so. I certainly don't take it out on my family and friends, though there have been times, like 2002. That is why I've been like this from the 70's: set my expectation for what the team should do as the goal, and even if they end up losing that year, if they were near my expectations, then they did good in my opinion, and if some other goals for development are met, they were successful. So even if the Giants never really won much over the years, they have brought be great pleasure nonetheless. That is all I wish for my fellow fans, enjoyment from the sport.

    2. I follow the Giants because they are MY team. I follow baseball especially, more than football or basketball because 1) I like the democracy, if you will, of the game and 2) I believe that there is more skill involved.

      I see it as democracy because no matter how lousy the team captain might think you are, no matter if you are the last (or near the last, as I often was) selected, I get to play and get the chance to be the hero. I can still remember key hits that I made 40 years ago, nearly, a great Willie Mays race to CF catch over my head, a great block of the plate to stop a run. In football, I was either blocker or rusher (and I don't blame them, I couldn't throw the football nor catch it particularly well). In basketball, my height helped me get rebounds, but I could not shoot worth a damn around the basket.

      That's where I view skill being key in baseball. Hitting a baseball is something you just seem to have, no matter how fat, skinny, tall, or short you may be. Sure, there is skill involved with football and basketball, but high school and college players regularly enter the pros there and dominate, taking over the sport, Wilt the Stilt, Lew Alcinder (Kareem eventually), Jordan, Shaq, Bird, Magic, Isaiah, Kobe in basketball. In football, QBs and running backs seem to do it all the time, but also pass rushers, defenders, heck, Bill Walsh drafted 6-7 starters in one draft, filling around a quarter of the starting spots. In baseball, very very rarely do any player come in as an amateur, particularly high schoolers, and start, let alone be a star. It usually take at least a couple of years in the minors, most times 4 to 6 years.

      I like your view of sports fandom. It is very similar to my view, process oriented, though I'm still more result oriented, perhaps. Yes, zero-sum, where is the happiness with that method, right? I think cycle is a very good term for it, it imitates life in that there is that cycle, even cycle of cycles, that imitates nature, particularly baseball with its start in spring, when things start to grow and bloom, then ends in fall, when things start to die off.

      Like you, I want to ride with Posey to retirement. Same with Lincecum. That's why I've been pushing for extensions.

      But I understand the Bill Walsh principle of trading before the end, so I'm glad I'm not in charge, because keeping them to the end is probably not the best business tactic. But it certainly is the best for a fan, like us.

    3. I think so.

      When you have great players or just good players, you go with them till you can't do it anymore in a fiscal responsible way that also takes fans into considera tion. There is no timing of what is the best year to trade a Jordan or a Mays, unless we are talking about the twilight years, even then, there will be people who are disappointed.

      'But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
      In proving foresight may be vain:
      The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
      Gang aft a-gley,
      An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
      For promised joy'

  4. Good post DrB!

    I know, Will the Thrill should have gotten an MVP at some point for us!

    I totally agree about the three-peat, we were leading until the Beltran trade, if we had Posey, we probably would have been running away with the division, with no need to trade for Beltran, but who knows, maybe the Giants do the trade anyway to seal the deal and to boost our playoff chances.

    I was thinking the same thing baseballjunkie: As Posey goes, so goeth the Giants. But I like your phrasing more! :^)

  5. I was reading through all the Posey accolades when I realized something: the Sabean Naysayers, Grant being the chief elf, basically always nickpick Sabean about all the minor deals that go wrong for Sabean, like Ruben Rivera, Hillenbrand, Orlando Cabrera, or even a rumored not proven to be Sabean deal, Bloomquist signing, while overlooking the big deals that made the Giants good, Kent, Nen, Burks, Schmidt, Winn, Melky, Pagan, Pence.

    However, Grant would have blown it big time for the Giants, had he gotten his way: he made a HUGE stink about how the Giants BLEW it by drafting Buster Posey when they could have gotten Justin Smoak. I cannot imagine 2 World Championships in 3 seasons had we gotten Smoak instead of Posey. And I don't recall many people arguing otherwise at the McChronic, I was very blown away by all the support Grant got for that.

    I would have been on the anit-Sabean brigade had he not drafted Posey, Buster was a no-brainer to me. Smoak was nice, but we needed Posey. Not just positionally, but Posey looked like that much a better prospect, that is why he was considered for the first pick and Smoak wasn't. He was also another Golden Spike candidate too, which he also soon won.

    So, given that gigantic mistake, a franchise and history changing mistake had it been done, how can the Naysayers follow any serious suggestion that Grant has to say now? How can they take anything they think to be that good a baseball ideal? After all, that is the logic that drives their hatred of Brian Sabean.

    It is kind of like what happened to Tim Kawakami after his strong argument that the Giants should have traded Lincecum for Rios. He basically disappeared from the scene in terms of columns on the Giants for a while after that, though lately I've been seeing him do more stuff, but nothing big, and surprisingly, very supportive of Sabean and Bochy, given that it's the Merc (they want the A's in San Jose).

    And it might be different if Grant came out with a mea culpa and admit that he was wrong, but his prose is still very anti-Sabean, in my opinion, he's only praising Sabean because he has to, not because he wants to. That quote in Baseball Prospectus was anti-Sabean, ultimately, clearly forced and with clenched teeth, and his recent post "More on Brian Sabean" showed his true feelings when he discussed the play on words that the title worked out to, supposedly on accident, but the more I think about it, I think it was purposeful.

    He still thinks that Brian Sabean is a moron, and so do many at MCC, as he is leading them towards the wrong side of history, wonderful, glorious, great Giants history. And like lemmings, they go.

    I totally think a third championship - team of the decade, baby! - will happen at some point, and perhaps at that point Grant will finally grant that perhaps Sabean did do the right things after all, in the grand big picture of it all.

    1. If he stays blind to how well the Giants and Sabean do, I would not be surprised if his new corporate overlords - and they are, they forced all the SBN sites to remove the de riguere links to other websites that blogs normally have - decide that they will no longer be embarrassed by a Giants site that continues to stick their head in the sand regarding Sabean's brilliance in running the Giants (not perfection, which is what the Naysayers seem to be wanting/expecting, but brilliance).

      It is one thing to be an opposing opinion. It is a totally different thing to be on the wrong side of history.

      Hey, SBN got Rob Neyer to be their public face, he's not going to join an organization and be embarrassed being associated with someone with an axe to grind with Sabean, arguably one of the most successful GMs in the history of baseball now that he has two championships in three seasons under his kimono (haven't you all wondered what he has hidden his kimono?).

      It is one thing to be funny, and Grant is pretty hilarious, but another to be obstinate in ignoring or not even seeing the obvious.

      Most sabers seem to giving grudging respect to Sabean (I'm still waiting for Baseball Prospectus' apology, but not holding my breath) but the funny thing is that Sabean, whether intentional or not (remember, he keeps it under his kimono), is following the advice of two of the top saber websites, BP and THT, about how to win championships: strong pitching and good fielding defense. And it's like he's following the general precepts of that: offense has little effect in the playoffs, so he built that last, pitching is the main key, so he has focused obsessively on pitching, pitching, and more pitching, and strikeout artists that that, and he has generally favored good fielding teams, though he compromised to get bats in there too.

      Sabers like facts and two championships out of three seasons is pretty good damn facts, that hasn't been done in the NL since the Big Red Machine of the 70's. So hopefully there will be more positive articles about the 2013 Giants and Sabean, and Sabean accomplishments overall, on the saber sites going forward.

      Hopefully Grant will finally see what I've been telling him and his crew for 5-6 years now.

    2. OGC, does MCC not allow you to post there?

      It would be great for you to tell that to them there.

    3. Oh, I can post there, he didn't shut down my account (though I suspect that he once did because I had one account that suddenly didn't work anymore, so I just created another one :^). I can and have posted there, just recently in fact, to a post that Shankbone did. And now that it is part of the big corporate org, I doubt he can go in and kill off any account, they have IT persons to handle that now, so I should be protected (I'll let you know if my account should be shut down though :^).

      I just don't bother anymore because it is on deaf ears. It would be one thing if somebody else would step up and say I got a point, for anything I posted there. It got very lonely, worse, there were people who clearly hated me and anything I wrote, and if I made one mistake, it was immortalized forever. I still see jokes about Jerome Williams there every once in a while (I made the mistake of repeating a piece of news or something, too long to remember). One guy went to my blog and wrote one of worse attacks I've ever gotten (and remember, I had one guy use my dead father in a back-handed way to insult me) ever, real life or internet life. That one hurt more because it was much more related to what I do, that other attack more reflected that person's character assassination and poor ethics, and just really reflected poorly on him, whereas this other one attacked my competence to do the work that I do in real life.

      So I admit, I would go there to crow happily about Brian Sabean's latest contract extension. Gives them an easy target, and I did enjoy the fun that was there in the early days, I joined in back then, and I get to tweak them at the same time.

      Honestly, I was tempted to post on the "More on Brian Sabean" post, but was brought off the ledge by Shankbone, not on that, but generally, through one of his comments on my blog. But after this thought tying together that hypocrisy that seems evident to me, I just posted it here, right after reading DrB, since the thought was fresh on my mind. Sorry to DrB if this creates a firefight here from Naysayers coming here, just was deep in the thought while posting here and it just came out.

    4. I would say, don't give up. Keep posting where you intended readers are.

      And it's OK to make mistakes. We never learn if we don't make mistakes.

    5. OGC - you chase them windmills. You are a good analyst, and you bring earnestness and energy to the discussion. Your blog has been one of my must reads for years. I really don't think this is a good use of your time, I think a mea culpa would not really give you any pleasure. I also think that it was total BS that Grant took your link down and all the other hootin' and hollarin' at you. Further, I admire the set of stones on you to throw that down where you did. Finally, I haven't really read any serious analysis out of Grant... well, its been a while. He does make me laugh, and I think lumping the MCC crowd is a lost cause. There's a lot of fun, a lot of arguing and it changes all the time. To me it represents the best and worst of a democracy, and a lot of bay area culture.

      I would much rather you continue interesting work such as this DOM/DIS start stuff with pitchers than worry about setting the story straight about Posey and Smoak. I'm glad the Gints drafted what they did, and I share with you the optimism I saw lining up since 2009. It's a great time to be a Giants fan.

      Celebrate Buster Posey, the Giants, and these awesome times. Hug your wife, and leave the people who are wrong on the interwebz alone. Really, you will be better for it. Shank

    6. I know Shank, I know, just had a big epiphany and it came out as part of my other response, no plans to do more.

      And I did hug my wife. :^)

      Thanks! Happy Holidays!

    7. I've made my share of criticisms of Grant and MCC. I do take exception to their general tone over there. It's not just Grant, although I think he does set a certain tone that gets amplified many times over in that echo chamber.

      Gotta say, though, that I've made my share of mistakes and it might not be quite fair to hold those against Grant into perpetuity as he is now as big a fan of Buster Posey as any of us.

    8. I have made my share of mistakes as well. I am not holding his past mistakes against him , per se, in my mind.

      But the main premise that Grant pushes is that Sabean, based on the mistakes, at least in Grants opinion, makes him unqualified to be our GM. He is holding these mistakes against Sabean in perpetuity, bringing back mistakes way past when Posey was selected. If he expects others to hold those mistakes against Sabean, Then why does he get to get away with his mistakes?

      And picking Smoak over Posey is, as I noted, a worse mistake than anything he has accused Sabean of making, exponentially.

      That is the hypocrisy I was referring to, either he move on or he be held to the same standards. And calling Sabean a moron and having a funny with it is not moving on, in fact, in my opinion, that suggests that he still thinks that Sabean was now lucky twice. That he still think that the Giants would be better off without Sabean. That is illogic that has driven me crazy on the internet, they say one thing but do not realize the consequences of that logic. They just throw that out there without thinking it through to it's logical conclusion. And they are blind to their arrogance.

  6. On one level, we all want to brag about the sucess of our team.

    But on the deeper level, when we think about it, there are many other apsects to appreciate about the game than just your team's victories - all the stuff I mentioned above, like the fact that it's zero-sum game for baseball as a whole and we fans don't really do much in contributing to the victories on the field. Sure, our money we spend is connected. But we don't brag in life about acheivements we connect only through money.

  7. I do go over to the MCC site once in a while. There are a few posters there whose material I like to read, especially for the minor league and draft analysis. But there are some MCC regulars who seem utterly and inexplicably convinced they could walk into the Giants front office, throw Sabean, Barr, Bochy and Co out the door and start running the team better. Perhaps this site draws a different demographic...a more mature audience (and I don't mean that merely as a function of age). The regular posters on this site post material that is just as well thought out and informative as the MCCovenites but I'm sure the group here is well grounded enough in reality to realize that we are all merely fans, just looking in at the sport and team we love, not baseball lifers who are integral to the Giants' success.
    Certainly there is no profanity, inappropriate innuendos, immature content, or antagonistic responses here, just good pure baseball and Giants conversation. Thanks, Dr. B, for providing this forum for those who just want to share in their Giants fandom with others who can impart their knowledge, opinions and views (though even sometimes differing) in a respectful manner.

  8. The bottom line is that the "Most Valuable Player" in a game that is played for the sole purpose of winning is a player that directly alters the outcome of his team's season by adding wins that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

    WAR doesn't tell the whole story. Forget that Posey led the league in WAR. His real WAR to the Giants was astronomically higher, especially if he had played in 2011 because Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside were the replacements, not some generic, no name, "average" player that is plugged into some formula.

    If there was ever a case study to discount WAR, it would be the Giants. Hunter Pence, who struggled mightily changed the tone of the team with his rowdy pep-talks. Brian Wilson, who didn't even play, kept the group loose. Lincecum, who was God awful most the season still adds a quirky presence that you can't evaluate statistically.

    What Posey did this year was phenomenal. Not only did he catch much more than I think any of us expected, he hit better than most of us expected (and most of us thought he would hit like crazy). I've read some critique that Posey is a poor defensive catcher because of his caught stealing %, but that obviously is due to 3 of our 5 starters being pretty easy to steal on...

    Well deserved MVP, great leadership in the midst of the Cabrera suspension, great job stepping up and taking on a lot of the offensive burden.

    1. WAR actually stands for "Wins Above Replacement." The word replacement refers to just that: a player who is readily available to any team via their bench, the minor leagues or waiver wire. Whiteside and Stewart, combined, played at just slightly above a WAR of 0 in 2011. So, they actually were a good representation of that player that plugs into a WAR formula.

      And what happened to Buster is exactly what WAR attempts to convey. If you lost this player for the whole year, and had to replace him with whatever benchwarmer was available, how many wins would you lose?

      Nobody who vaguely understands WAR considers it to be "the whole story." It is thumbnail sketch which encompasses most aspects of the on-field game and can be used, at the very least, for relative comparisons to other players.

    2. Agree with Kelly. WAR is a useful measurement of a player's value that has limitations. For example, it tends to undervalue left-handed relief specialists due to it's inability to weigh high leverage situations. Fangraphs WAR may not be accurate for catchers because UZR does not measure catcher defense well.

    3. The more I see people use WAR, the more I think of that old song, War! Oh, what is it good for, absolutely nothing.

      I understand the technique but I would put the maturity of this to be similar to where saber metrics was when batting average was king. The main problem is the measurement of defense. For a while people has argued based on the WAR provided by bbref, but the recently upgraded their data, and players WAR changed drastically. And they are still feeling in the dark on defense, though much better.

      And to DrBs point it screws up on relievers and I would say further that it does not capture well what starting pitchers values as well, based on the study that I have done on PQS, I am convinced that pitchers have been very undervalued by saber metrics so far, on par with how sabers showed that OBP is better than batting averages.

    4. OGC & Doc, it is crucial what you are doing: giving thoughtful, ongoing constructive criticism of WAR. I believe this thoughtful insight will advise the refinement of the method.

      I wouldn't want to overstate the value of WAR. But I do think it accomplishes, in broad strokes, what it sets out to do: Assignment value in a concise, meaningful way to a player's contribution to a team's success.

    5. I agree Kelly that it accomplishes what it sets out to do. Unfortunately, I think too many people are using it as a fully formed, final quantitative value, and using that to settle arguments, when it should just be another view into a player's value.