Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2014 MLB Awards Predictions vs Results


Kershaw cleans up the BBWAA awards.  Photo via wiki.

Kershaw cleans up the BBWAA awards. Photo via wiki.

Here’s who I predicted would win.

  •     NL MVP: Kershaw
  •     NL Cy Young: Kershaw
  •     NL Rookie: deGrom
  •     NL Manager: Bochy
  •     AL MVP: Trout
  •     AL Cy Young: Felix
  •     AL Rookie: Abreu
  •     AL Manager: Showalter

Here’s who actually won, along with some links to other awards

End result predicting 2014’s BBWAA awards: 6 for 8.  My worst prediction season on record.  2010: 8 for 8.  2011: 8 for 8.  2012: 7 for 8.  2013: 8 for 8.  I swear I only looked up these links because I was re-categorizing posts and adding in a filter for “awards” related posts :-).  Usually its a bit easier to predict the BBWAA electorate in these awards; I suppose that the general evolution of the writers is slowly bringing more statistical analysis into the mix, meaning that the “dinosaur” method of voting is heading out the window.  Probably for the better.

Links to other awards, some of which I used to try and track/predict but no longer.

17 Responses to '2014 MLB Awards Predictions vs Results'

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  1. Rendon finished 5th in MVP (highest ever for a Nat), and the Nats had three pitchers in the Cy top 10. Rendon and Desmond won Silver Sluggers, although in slightly “down” years for their positions in general (a situation that may strengthen Desi’s FA value).

    The awards correlated somewhat to regular-season success, but not a whit to the postseason.

    Unlike some others, I do give credit to Matt Williams for the great record and division title. He probably deserved MOY. Bochy almost didn’t get his team to the playoffs, although more due to some questionable GM decisions in building the pitching staff, to Belt’s injury, and to difficulties filling some slots. (Yes, they actually signed Uggla.)

    The Nats had a lot of injuries this season, and much shuffling to do. Williams significantly improved the base running and the base-stealing defense, and, after a bad first couple of months, improved the team defense (only to see some costly mistakes in the playoffs). Yes, we’re all still scratching our heads over Harper batting 6th, and Frandsen getting 236 plate appearances. But all in all, it was a good job with a team that could have gone south with so many injuries.

    For the Nats moving forward, the award voting does bring to mind a significant question, namely, do they have enough on the hitting side of the equation, with guys who finished only 5th, 18th (Werth), and 19th (Span) in the MVP voting? Do they need a bigger bat than that? Or do they keep hoping that healthier seasons from Harper and Zim can give them what they need?


    14 Nov 14 at 8:48 am

  2. Not that its worth really arguing about Manager of the Year, but it really seems to be the “manager of the team that outperformed or surprised as compared to their expectations” award. So to that end, I’m not really sure how Williams “won” the award, given that nearly every pundit in the game had the Nats winning the division at season’s beginning. His rotation missed just 13 games on the entire year, he had practically no injuries in the bullpen to deal with. He did have to deal with juggling of his fielders.

    Compare to Bochy; his ace (Matt Cain) went 2-7 before season-ending injury. His #2 (Tim Lincecum) pitched so badly that he was demoted to the bullpen. They had to acquire a veteran mid-season to complete the season. His middle of the order suffered major (Belt) and minor (Morse) injuries, he lost presumed infielder Scutaro early, and juggled centerfielders all year.

    I dunno. What NL team really exceeded expectations this year? Milwaukee? The 3 divisional winners were all expected. The two WCs were somewhat expected. There was just ONE other team in the league that had a winning record. Weird year for the award.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 14 at 9:59 am

  3. Do we have enough hitting? Sure. It just can’t seem to stay healthy. This year Rendon, Werth and Span got MVP votes. In years past, Harper, Zimmerman, LaRoche, and Desmond have gotten MVP votes too. So that’s 7 of your 9 2014 regulars who have appeared on MVP ballots in the past few seasons; that’s pretty darn good balance. Yes LaRoche is now leaving us but the point is valid: a full season of Harper at his full capabilities will be an MVP-calibre season. Zimmerman has already shown what he can do when fully healthy for a full year (30 homers, 100 rbi). Werth continues to be sneaky good at the plate. Rendon looks like he may be a classic #2 for a long time.

    But that’s the big “if” isn’t it? Harper has been injury prone. Zimmerman is the definition of brittle. Ramos has played just 326 games in FIVE seasons. Werth’s not getting any younger. So yeah I guess you could say we could use more hitting, since you can’t count on all these guys to stay healthy for a full season. But the thing is; where do you improve? Just like last year, the team is looking to improve along the edges of the roster, not necessarily a key spot. Not that that’s a bad thing…but a significant move may come as a complete surprise.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 14 at 10:06 am

  4. MOY: Mattingly will never win it, at least in the foreseeable future. Matheny got a lucky division title with only 90 wins with a team just off the WS. Roenicke might have been the guy if the Brewers hadn’t faded out of the playoffs. Hurdle had a returning playoff team but only won 88 games. So we’re down to Bochy and Williams, both of whom brought 2012 playoff squads back to respectability. Williams got a trophy; Bochy got a third ring and likely a HOF plaque. Somehow, I think he came out ahead.

    Big Bat: Harper FINALLY showed in the playoffs what we’ve been waiting since 2010 to see. He’s just got to stay healthy, and the Nats have to recognize that he’s the straw to stir the drink, batting THIRD. They’ve got a lot riding on health with Harper and Zim, though.


    14 Nov 14 at 2:18 pm

  5. Its hard to make any judgements on what the Nats could do when they had everyone healthy … it only happened late last season when they were playing a bunch of losers.

    but it is telling that, position for position, you’d be hard pressed to make an argument to replace who’s there right now. With the notable exception of 2nd base.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 14 at 2:32 pm

  6. In terms of healthy, when Zimmerman came back the first time the Nats had their expected roster for three weeks and went 13-5. So it wasn’t just the late season run.

    Honestly I wasn’t that impressed by Bochy’s managing in the postseason. He was buoyed up by the fact that Bumgarner had a postseason for the ages and Panda raked, even against LHP. He made some moves that were just head scratchers (what was the fascination with Strickland?) but the team won anyway.

    I also think that the “Zimmerman is brittle” meme has just gotten out of hand. He hurt his thumb and his hamstring last year, yes, and missed the most games of his career. But there is nothing to suggest those injuries are anything but isolated incidents, and he played 145 and 147 games the previous two seasons. If you look at his career, so far he’s had one injury plagued season every three years (2008, 2011, 2014). Troy Tulowitzky and Giancarlo Stanton wish they had Zimmerman’s health record.

    Speaking of which, the Marlins seem about to dump $300+M for 10+ years of a guy who has played more than 123 games twice in five seasons and once in the past three – in his age 20-24 seasons! Anyone else think that that is kinda crazy?

    John C.

    14 Nov 14 at 3:47 pm

  7. Crazy indeed! And now I’m seeing 13/$325M. It’s crazy from both sides. Why would Stanton want to commit to a team that has been generally so poorly run that his chances at the postseason are minimal? Also, his contract likely would kept the team from being able to sign anyone else of note. It would make more sense for the Marlins to trade him to a rich team for three core players.

    Plus I’d like to see him leave the division!


    14 Nov 14 at 7:46 pm

  8. JohnC: you think “Zimmerman is brittle” is a meme?! Here’s his Baseball Prospectus page with injury history. His injury history is more than a browser page long! Wrist surgery in 07, missed 48 games in 08, hamstring issues in 2010, abdominal surgery in 2011, more games lost to shoulder issues in 2012, off-season shoulder surgery in 2012, slow recovery from said surgery for half of 2013, a hamstring strain that caused him to miss more games in 2013, 44 games from a broken thumb early in 2014, another two months gone for another hamstring blown….

    I’m sorry; but that’s a ridiculous number of injuries and surgeries for a guy who hasn’t even turned 30 yet.

    #300M for Stanton is a psychotic commitment for someone nearly as brittle as Zimmerman, no matter how good he is. Wonder if the Marlins will give him a no-trade too.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 14 at 10:02 am

  9. Zim plays. 2 of the past 3 seasons he’s played 145+ games, and 4 of the past 6, he’s played 142+ games. He’s not Cal Ripken, but he’s not … oh, I don’t know, Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, Stanton.

    Stanton is “nearly as brittle” as Zim? In Stanton’s age 20-24 seasons, five years, he’s missed more time (176 games) than Zimmerman missed (174 games) from his 21-28 seasons, eight seasons. From Zimmerman’s 21-25 seasons (his first five full seasons, since Zim only got a September callup his age 20 season) Zimmerman missed 85 games – less than half as much time as Stanton has missed so far. Of course Zim has more injuries on his page than Stanton because his career is twice as long. Zim has 33 injuries listed on his BP page covering 11 professional seasons. On HIS Baseball Prospectus page, Stanton has piled up nearly four injuries per season (23 in six years).

    Recency bias makes Zim seem a lot more brittle than his record supports. If I had to bet an over/under for Zim’s games next year, I’d choose about 140. If I had to choose it for Stanton, it wouldn’t be that high. And that’s despite Zim being more than five years older.

    We do agree that the commitment by the Marlins is risky – and yes, Stanton does have a full no-trade.

    John C.

    19 Nov 14 at 10:19 pm

  10. John; i wasn’t comparing Stanton’s and Zimmerman’s injury histories. I was commenting simply that Zimmerman has had a ton of injuries in his career. Which is inarguably true. Multiple surgeries, multiple body parts. And it isn’t entirely about the games missed; his off-season 2012 shoulder issue basically turned him into a scatter arm for 2013. And it isn’t recency bias. His surgeries were 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And then he went and missed 100 more games in 2014 for non-surgical stuff. How can you characterize that as anything but “brittle??”

    140 games played, by the way, basically means he’s missing a month of the season. 22 games is basically a month. You saw what his missing large swaths of the season did to the lineup of this team. It meant Espinosa was a starer. It mean that Frandsen and Hairston got 300+ at bats with a combined OPS south of .600.

    Let me ask the question differently. Lets say Zimmerman was a FA right now. Would YOU as a GM commit $100M to him, knowing what you now about his injury history?

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 14 at 9:23 am

  11. Well, if you’re backing off the comparison then I do agree that Zimmerman has an injury history – I just regard it as being on the high end of normal rather than extreme. The recency bias is that 2014 was the most injury-marred season of Zim’s career, so we forget that he played over 90% of the games the previoue two seasons. Athletes get hurt. I can easily think of a bunch of marquee players who have far worse injury histories than Zimmerman (Stanton, Reyes, HanRam, Tulo, Cuddyer right off the top of my head).

    And no, I wouldn’t commit $100M to Zimmerman at this stage of his career. But the Nats aren’t on the hook to him for $100M – they are on the hook for $76M for 5 seasons (counting $2M to buyout the 6th season). And I absolutely think he would get that on the open market. According to Fangraphs one point of WAR is going for somewhere between $5.9M (median) and $7M (average). Even if you take the lower figure, and assume that there is no inflation, Zim would need to average between 2.5 and 2.6 WAR to be worth that. He’s 30, and Fangraphs/Steamer projects him at 3.3 WAR for the coming season.

    If you don’t think Zim would get that much I believe one would have to underestimate both Zimmerman and the current market conditions. A catcher who turns 32 this offseason just got a 5 year $86M contract. There’s a lot of money in baseball right now.

    Incidentally, even with the defensive concerns and missing nearly 100 games in 2014, Zimmerman has been worth the $40M the Nats have already paid him since he signed the extension, generating 8.1 WAR (under fWAR and rWAR) from 2012-2014. And he’s been remarkably consistent with the bat in that time (look at both his OPS+ and wRC+). If I were a betting man, I’d bet that that Zimmerman’s contract plays out just fine. Is there risk? Sure. But not an unacceptable level of risk.

    John C.

    20 Nov 14 at 11:19 am

  12. Honestly, JohnC, I had to go back and read what you’re reacting to. I wrote that Stanton “was nearly as brittle as Zimmerman.” Ok; it was a throw-away line that I hadn’t entirely researched. But since you’ve reacted to it so strongly, lets look further.

    Why did I say this? Probably because I had Stanton in fantasy for years, and he was *always* hurt. So lets go to the data. Here’s his page and here’s his baseballprospectus page with injury history.

    2010: mid-season call up, no time missed.
    2011: six different times he missed time with minor little injuries. But still played 150 games.
    2012: knee surgery mid-season, plus a mid-season oblique issue. Missed 39 games
    2013: shoulder issues and a hamstring cost him most of the early part of the season. Missed 46 games
    2014: looking good until HBP, missed final 2 weeks.

    so basically he had injury issues major or minor in 2011, 2012, 2013. For the first time in 3 years he was completely healthy in 2014 and put up monster numbers, and then he gets a $300M contract on it. I think that’s a risk.

    A catcher gets that big of a contract because simply there’s just not a lot of offensive catchers out there. Meanwhile, there’s an awful lot of guys who cannot play anywhere but 1B. Which is what Zimmerman now is. So no, I don’t even think he’s worth what’s remaining on his contract.

    that being said, I still maintain that the entirety of Zimmerman’s injury career looks even worse. I laid out why it isn’t a case of “recency bias” but you’ve ignored my points. Agree to disagree.

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 14 at 11:31 am

  13. Fair enough; it seems to me that we agree on facts, we just interpret them differently. You see one side of the facts that feels more significant to you (look at all those injuries! confined to 1b now!) and I see another side of the same coin (played 90+% of baseball games previous two seasons before a couple of fluke injuries this year! Solid, consistent bat! Look at his WAR and the current market!). I’d accuse you of confirmation bias, but it’s not like I’m immune to it.

    On Stanton, one thing that would really concern me if I were the Marlins is that he is getting hurt at an early age. Yikes. At least Zim had several seasons of general good health at the start of his career. It’s possible that Stanton will suddenly turn into a paragon of health as he ages, but usually the tide runs in the other direction.

    John C.

    20 Nov 14 at 1:57 pm

  14. When Prince Fielder went down this year, some guy in my fantasy league was like, “see i never would have drafted him because he’s an injury risk because he’s fat.” then you go look at his career and he missed like 10 games in his entire 10 year career up to 2014.

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 14 at 2:08 pm

  15. Yeah I would never have considered Fielder an injury risk. The blinking red light on the dashboard with him was body type; I’ve seen different studies that all reached the conclusion that the big guys age faster (in the baseball sense). His Dad, Cecil Fielder, went from being a dominant slugger to out of baseball in what seemed like the blink of an eye in his early 30’s.

    John C.

    20 Nov 14 at 2:55 pm

  16. More fuel for the fire.

    First line: “Considering Ryan Zimmerman has been injury-prone and Anthony Rendon has been injury-prone in his college and minor-league days…”

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 14 at 3:18 pm

  17. I also like his line “Will Bryce Harper be old enough yet to bat higher than sixth?” Blatant slap in the face to Williams’ lineup construction and the perceived analysis that Harper was too young to bat in the middle of the order over a veteran. Something I said for a while.

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 14 at 3:19 pm

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