Who deserves to win Major League Baseball's Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award in 2008

Prof. Bruce Bukiet, Mathematical Sciences, NJIT

Kevin Fritz, Hillsborough, NJ

Thanks for visiting my 2008 MVP -- Cy Young Award page. Please scroll down to see a table of the results.

How we define who deserves the MVP and Cy Young Awards

We define the player who deserves these awards as the player in each league who would have taken a team made up of all average players at each position and given that team the most extra wins (above 81-81) if he replaced the average player at his position in the lineup.

Who was considered

We considered all players who placed in the top five in their league in at least one of the following categories:

 Hitters Pitchers Hits Wins Home Runs Saves Runs Batted In Earned Run Average Stolen Bases Walks plus Hits Per Inning Batting Average Batting Average Against Slugging

How we set things up and perform the computation

A lineup of average players at each position is set up for each league.

NL -- Shortstop, Outfield, Outfield, First Base, Outfield, Third Base, Catcher, Second Base, 9th position (pitchers and pinch hitters)

AL -- Shortstop, Outfield, Outfield, First Base, Designated Hitter, Outfield, Third Base, Catcher, Second Base

The data used is:

For hitters: at bats, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, walks, stolen bases and times caught attempting a stolen base.

For pitchers, innings pitched, hits allowed, walks given up and home runs allowed.

For each MVP candidate a similar lineup is set up with the appropriate batter replacing the line with the average performance at his position.

The lineups is adjusted to test the candidate at 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the lineup.

The player being tested has his data averaged (weighted) with the data of the average player at his position based on how many games the player played.

(For example, if a player plays only 81 games then we'd use his performance and that of average players in each amounts).

We then run the code which computes the run distribution expected from each lineup and from that compute the probability of each team winning a game.

The code employs the Markov process model for baseball developed by Prof. Bukiet for his 1997 Operations Research paper.

Multiplying by 162 gives the expected number of wins for this lineup against a team of all average players (not including the player being tested).

To consider pitching performance, we adjust the opposition batters' performance in accordance with how well each pitcher keeps runners off the bases compared to the average pitcher. Of course, the pitcher's performance must be combined in a weighted average with average pitchers taking into account how many innings a given pitcher pitched during the season. (If a pitcher pitched 10% of his team's innings, we take 10% his data plus 90% average data).

The result is that an outfielder is compared to other outfielders, DHs compared to DHs etc.

What the Method Does Not Include

The computation does not include various aspects of the game, most of which are quite difficult to quantify in an objective manner, including fielding ability, clutch hitting ability, the fielding ability of the players playing behind a pitcher, leadership ability, heart, who typically bats ahead of or behind the batter being considered.

The Results

For hitters, we present the result at the place in the lineup the batter would have been most valuable (any of 1st-9th).

Hitters are in green; Pitchers in red.

Those who deserve to win the awards are in large, bold type.

(Note: the model tends to reward good values of WHIP, and innings pitched - so closers might be underrated.)

 Category American League - MVP Name Extra Wins Roy Halladay 4.47 Milton Bradley 4.27 Alex Rodriguez 4.08 Cliff Lee 4.04 Carlos Quentin 3.45
 American League - Cy Young Award Name Extra Wins Roy Halladay 4.47 Cliff Lee 4.04 Mariano Rivera 3.31 Ervin Santana 2.71 Jonathan Papelbon 1.99
 National League - MVP Name Extra Wins Albert Pujols 5.76 Chipper Jones 5.27 Hanley Ramirez 5.11 Lance Berkman 4.98 Matt Holliday 3.93
 National League - Cy Young Award Name Extra Wins Derek Lowe 3.44 Cole Hamels 3.31 Tim Linecum 3.24 Dan Haren 2.93 Johan Santana 2.81

Thanks for visiting this page. Please feel free to contact me at bukiet@m.njit.edu