NL MVP Dropoffs

While I firmly believe the comments made by Jimmy Rollins towards Philadelphia fans was a non-story, and, well, true, the fact is that he is having a very poor followup to his 2007 MVP campaign. Granted, some will argue that he should not have won the award in the first place, but he did, and his performance with the bat this year has been anything but award-worthy. Now, in the field, he has been a +8 shortstop this year to go along with his +7 last year and +12 in 2006. The issue, however, is that the perceived effectiveness of a player is generally born out of his offensive performance and production in timely situations.

In other words, WPA is a pretty good indicator of the MVP award, because voters aren’t going to stop and think about what would have happened if every plate appearance just counted as one (WPA/LI). They look at overall numbers, the clutchiness, and more like-factors. With that in mind, and with Rollins’ offensive struggles this year, I took a look at the MVP winners over the last twenty years (1988-2007), along with their WPAs in both the award year and the next year. The ultimate goal being to see if anyone else has had such a drastic perceived drop in effectiveness.

  Year          NAME             WPA1   WPA2   WPA-Drop
  1988      Kirk Gibson          5.00    0.87    -4.13
  1989      Kevin Mitchell       6.91    2.86    -4.05
  1990      Barry Bonds          5.63    7.99     2.36
  1991      Terry Pendleton      3.57    4.81     1.24
  1992      Barry Bonds          5.92    7.79     1.87
  1993      Barry Bonds          7.79    4.82    -2.97
  1994      Jeff Bagwell         5.79    4.70    -1.09
  1995      Barry Larkin         3.96    3.54    -0.42
  1996      Ken Caminiti         6.10    4.38    -1.72
  1997      Larry Walker         6.65    2.63    -4.02
  1998      Sammy Sosa           6.09    4.11    -1.98
  1999      Chipper Jones        6.36    2.16    -4.20
  2000      Jeff Kent            4.85    1.21    -3.64
  2001      Barry Bonds         11.63   10.57    -1.06
  2002      Barry Bonds         10.57    8.36    -2.21
  2003      Barry Bonds          8.36   12.63     4.27
  2004      Barry Bonds         12.63    0.26   -12.37
  2005      Albert Pujols        4.15    9.57     5.42
  2006      Ryan Howard          8.10    3.11    -4.99
  2007      Jimmy Rollins        2.69    0.33    -2.36

Now, Gibson in 1989 and Bonds in 2005 were both injured and missed significant time, so their second year WPA numbers should be disregarded. Other than that, though, Rollins is not alone in his perceived dropoff. In fact, his dropoff from last year to right now is actually less than some others on this list. What also needs to be taken into account is how his WPA in the MVP year is the lowest of anyone in the last twenty years—so there is much less to drop off from—but he has not been the worst in terms of WPA differential between the award year and the year after. His .747 OPS is disappointing, but he has been solid in the field, and despite the criticism pointed towards him with the hustle or lack of puncuality, the situation could be much worse.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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13 years ago

Does that WPA make Rollins the worst MVP ever? What a joke that Rollins has as many MVP awards as Pujols.