Announcing the FanGraphs Player of the Year Award

Here at FanGraphs, we spend a decent amount of time talking about ways to think about valuing players and their performance. These kinds of discussions naturally lead themselves to conversations about various postseason awards, and with the rise of prominence of WAR, the role of newer metrics in determining things like the Most Valuable Player or Cy Young Award in each league. And so we end up writing a lot of words about player value in the context of trying to define awards that were created by other entities, and sometimes, arguing about the meaning of the name of the award rather than the performances of the players on the field.

So this year, we’ve decided that perhaps it is time that we just have our own award, so we can define the award in a way that makes sense to us, and to give us a chance to honor the the single player that we felt deserved to be recognized in a given year, regardless of which position he plays or which league he is in. To that end, we’ve decided to create the FanGraphs Player of the Year Award, which we will give out for the first time this season.

The criteria for the award will be rather simple: which player, through his on-the-field performance, most deserves to be recognized for his outstanding play within the given season? It is an attempt to honor outstanding performances, and to consider the relative merit of all players who contributed within that season, regardless of position or quality of his teammates.

Certainly, we recognize that we are not the first organization to create their own Player of the Year Award, as the Sporting News, Baseball America, and the MLB Player’s Association all have similar awards, and ESPN gives out an ESPY award for “Best MLB Player” every year. However, as we are a baseball-only site, and one that focuses heavily on attempting to quantify player value, we think it is likely that we may come to different conclusions than other organizations, and we would rather spend our time honoring players we think are worthy rather than trying to convince other organizations to adopt our methodology for their award. This does not mean we think our award is better or more important than other awards — including the awards voted on by members of the BBWAA, which we remain a part of and will continue to vote on when asked — but that we think there’s some value in having an award that is distinctly ours.

The FanGraphs Player of the Year Award will be voted on by members of the FanGraphs staff. This year, the 11 voting members are as follows.

Tony Blengino
Dave Cameron
Carson Cistulli
August Fagerstrom
David Laurila
Kiley McDaniel
Mike Petriello
Eno Sarris
Jeff Sullivan
Paul Swydan
Wendy Thurm

Each member will be casting a ballot with 10 names ranked in sequential order as well as a grade for that player’s season — in order to capture information about the voter’s opinion of relative performance beyond just what a simple list vote can offer — and both the ranking and the grade will be used to calculate the final order. And no, to answer the obvious question, the order and the grade will not simply be based on a player’s Wins Above Replacement. All the ballots will be made public and we will attempt to be as thorough and transparent as possible about the calculations. We will vote on the award at the conclusion of the regular season, and announce the first annual FanGraphs Player of the Year Award winner on Monday, October 20th, the day between the end of the League Championship Series and the start of the World Series.

In addition, we will run a crowdsourced ballot on the day after the regular season ends, and announce the results of the FanGraphs Readers Player of the Year selection as well.

Over the next month, our writers will be encouraged to write articles detailing the way they plan to approach their ballot, and we will attempt to make it quite clear why each voter decided on their final ballot. We also fully encourage educated lobbying, so if you would like to make a strong case for your favorite candidate, the Community Blog is a great place to make your arguments heard. If the piece is compelling, we will publish it, and we will take your points into account when deciding how to vote.

So, don’t be shy in letting us know who you think the FanGraphs Player of the Year should be. There are a number of players having excellent seasons, but only one will be honored as the most outstanding player of 2014 as evaluated by a collection of baseball nerds.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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9 years ago

Good stuff, looking forward to it!

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9 years ago
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