Pollack: Predicting the 2018 MVP winners with machine learning

From SABR member Ryan Pollack at The Hardball Times on October 29, 2018:

The 2018 American League MVP race reminds me of 2012. That year, Mike Trout led the sport in WAR but finished second to Miguel Cabrera, who had an inferior season but won the first Triple Crown in 45 years. Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers also went to the playoffs while Trout’s Los Angeles Angels finished in fourth place. Cabrera’s victory was quite controversial.

This year, Mookie Betts plays the role of Trout, while J.D. Martinez stands in for Cabrera. The Boston right fielder led the major leagues in WAR but finished behind his DH teammate in home runs and RBI, two of the Triple Crown stats. Meanwhile, Martinez came reasonably close to a Triple Crown himself, ranking second in average and home runs and first in RBI. In addition to these two, the AL race again features Trout, with 9.8 WAR to Betts’ 10.4; Cleveland’s José Ramírez with 8.1 WAR and a 30-30 season that easily could’ve been a 40-40 one; and Houston’s Alex Bregman with 31 home runs and 7.6 WAR that helped his team win a surprisingly contentious AL West.

The NL MVP race is less controversial but still interesting. Early in the season, Javier Baez of the Cubs made some noise by adding power and a touch more plate discipline to his game. After the All-Star break, Matt Carpenter hit dinger after dinger to vault the Cardinals into playoff contention and himself into the MVP race. In Colorado, Trevor Story had his anticipated breakout year, garnering MVP consideration while pushing the Rockies into a playoff spot.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/mvp-2018-mookie-betts-christian-yelich-machine-learning/

Originally published: October 30, 2018. Last Updated: October 30, 2018.