The NL MVP WAR Report

by Bill Chuck on September 6, 2013

We would be offering premature congratulations to anyone who we declare to be the NL MVP at this juncture.

With three weeks to go in the season, it’s unlikely that we will add any new candidates, but it is likely that our current crop of candidates: Yadier Molina, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Clayton Kershaw will do things to enhance or detract from their candidacies.

There are variables that we can and should consider when looking at MVP voting.

For many, on the top of the list is WAR (Wins Above Replacement, Mr. President).

I respect WAR as a stat, I appreciate its value, but I don’t love it simply because I cannot independently track it. I am totally reliant upon the folks at Baseball-Reference.com to tell me what someone’s value is and while I trust these guys, I feel removed from the process.

Here is Baseball-Reference’s definition of WAR:

Wins Above Replacement A single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add. Scale for a single-season: 8+ MVP Quality, 5+ All-Star Quality, 2+ Starter, 0-2 Reserve, < 0 Replacement Level Developed by Sean Smith of BaseballProjection.com.

Here are the NL Overall WAR Leaders

Wins Above Replacement
1. McCutchen (PIT) 7.2
2. Kershaw (LAD) 7.1
3. Gomez (MIL) 6.6
4. Chacin (COL) 6.4
5. Goldschmidt (ARI) 5.9
6. Simmons (ATL) 5.7
7. Wright (NYM) 5.5
8. Fernandez (MIA) 5.4
9. Votto (CIN) 5.4
10. Carpenter (STL) 5.3

Here are the NL Offensive WAR Leaders

Offensive WAR 
1. McCutchen (PIT) 6.4
2. Choo (CIN) 5.5
3. Carpenter (STL) 5.4
4. Wright (NYM) 5.0
5. Posey (SFG) 4.8
6. Votto (CIN) 4.7
7. Goldschmidt (ARI) 4.7
8. Desmond (WSN) 4.1
9. Tulowitzki (COL) 4.1
10. Pence (SFG) 4.0

Here are the NL Defensive WAR Leaders

Defensive WAR 
1. Simmons (ATL) 5.0
2. Arenado (COL) 3.6
3. Gomez (MIL) 3.5
4. Parra (ARI) 3.2
5. Lagares (NYM) 3.1
6. Castillo (CHC) 2.6
7. Martin (PIT) 2.2
8. Molina (STL) 1.8
9. Pennington (ARI) 1.8
10. Marte (PIT) 1.7

But, the more you look at WAR, the less you become dependent on it as the key determinant for the MVP

Should Carlos Gomez get votes for MVP? I mean he has the third best WAR in the NL. What about Jhoulys Chacin? For me, invariably, he’s the most valuable typo.

I can’t understate the importance of Yadi Molina, but his WAR is only 4.7.

Even worse news is that Gerardo Parras WAR is 5.0 and that’s because you see him fourth in the league on the defensive WAR list, 1.7 WAY (Wins Above Yadier).

Parra’s offensive numbers

Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
ARI 134 579 522 67 140 33 3 10 40 10 10 43 90 .268 .325 .400 .726
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/6/2013.

Molina’s offensive numbers

Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
STL 116 462 433 56 139 37 0 10 61 3 2 24 45 .321 .359 .476 .835
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/6/2013.

Join the NL MVP debate between Fagan and Spector on SportingNews.com

I respect WAR

I believe WAR is a great tool as a frame of reference, but it should only be used as part of the mix and as another determinant in calculating MVPs, not the decisive determinant.

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