I guess I'm more interested in the MVP race this year because of Andrew McCutchen's legitimate push for the title, but it does have me looking into who the MVP's will be. The problem is, I've never been able to come up with an exact plan on how to determine the MVP. The following are a couple of ideas. Please feel free to chime in with how you think the MVP should be determined.
Individual statistics? Do you give it to the player with the highest wOBA, WAR, oWAR, OPS, wRC+? This would be tough, because if you do this then you are essentially giving some statistic supreme power. I am one of the biggest supporters of wOBA, but I think it can't tell the whole story all the time.
Try to analyze the whole story? This is probably the more common selection, but this could be harder to quantify. And I feel like it would be easier for gut feelings, bias, and things of that nature to get involved.
Do you decide on value added? When I say this I mean revenue generated minus salary. For a description of revenue generated, see my recent baseball economics post. This is intriguing, but you are essentially removing the top earners from the discussion every year. To fix this, you could just go by revenue generated, however I really don't think this is the point of the award, and I'm saying that as a huge supporter of baseball economics.
Do you have deal breakers? Does your MVP have to be on a playoff team? Does your MVP have to be a position player?
This is tough, and that's why I posted this. But here is how I came up with my NL MVP as of right now:
For me, it is Andrew McCutchen, narrowly edging out Ryan Braun, David Wright, and Joey Votto. No pitcher really is having a good enough season to challenge these three position players. While Wright does have the highest WAR in the NL and a comparable wRC+, he gets knocked out because of his low wOBA and an underwhelming .212 ISO. Braun's wOBA is lower than Votto and McCutchen's, although it's probably from a significantly lower BABIP, and his .309 ISO (higher than Votto and Cutch) shows that he is producing at a high level. Votto has the highest wOBA in the NL and the second highest wRC+ to Cutch. Plus, he already has a WAR of 4.9 to Braun and Cutch's 4.7. So where does Cutch win it? Well, it's such a small difference between these three that I would take into account the team he plays for and how potentially catastrophic it would be if that player left the team. So, I calculated every player's wOBA minus their team's wOBA. The top five, in order, were Cutch, Votto, Ruiz, Braun, Wright. Their wOBA surpluses were (.141, .130, .110, .108, .103). So I choose Cutch, because of the 0.141 difference between his wOBA and the Pirate's team wOBA. It's not perfect, but it's very close at the top, and that was the statistic I came up with. This "wOBA surplus" was not used as a surpreme statistic, just a stat to break my tie at the top.
So, how do you determine an MVP?