Christian Yelich of the Brewers, who led National League batters in Box-Toppers points in 2018 with 11.5, was voted NL Most Valuable Player Thursday.
Box-Toppers Most Valuable Player award ballotHere are Box-Toppers' ballot selections for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) 2018 Most Valuable Player awards. The ballot required voters to pick the top 10 players in each league.
Players are shown with their team and their Box-Toppers point (BTP) total for 2018.
|AL Most Valuable Player|
|2||J.D. Martinez||Red Sox||12.5|
|4||Mookie Betts||Red Sox||10.9|
|6||Chris Sale||Red Sox||21.1|
|10||Matt Davidson||White Sox||8.7|
|NL Most Valuable Player|
|6||Ronald Acuna Jr.||Braves||9.2|
And Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, who ranked second among American League batters in Box-Toppers points with 10.9, was voted AL Most Valuable Player. Teammate J.D. Martinez, who led AL batters with 12.5 Box-Toppers points, finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
Voting was done by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The results were similar in the separate vote by the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), in which Box-Toppers has a vote.
Both players won on near-unanimous ballots in the BBWAA vote. Yelich won 29 of 30 first-place votes (the other going to Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who finished sixth). Betts won 28 of 30 first-place votes (one other first-place vote went to Mike Trout of the Angels, who finished second, and the other went to Martinez, who finished fourth). (See detailed MVP results below, including order of finish, vote totals and each player’s Box-Toppers points and rankings for 2018.)
While both MVP choices are fine and reasonable given that they were among the top two batters in Box-Toppers points in their leagues, Box-Toppers seems determined to rain on this party. In late September, when submitting our ballot for MVP in the IBWAA vote, we determined that no batters were deserving of MVP in 2018. Like in 1968, when two pitchers won MVP in both leagues (Bob Gibson and Denny McLain), we determined 2018 to also be the year of the pitcher—but not necessarily because pitching was so strong, but because batters were so diminished.
This season, for the first time ever, batters recorded more strikeouts (41,207) than hits (41,018). In Box-Toppers’ first season of player tracking, 1995, there were 25,425 strikeouts. That means there were 62 percent more strikeouts in 2018 than in 1995. Batters’ cumulative batting average has dipped from .271 in 1999 to .248 this year, an 8.5 percent drop. And batters are earning a smaller share of overall Box-Toppers points.
From 1995 (when Box-Toppers tracking began) to 2009, batters earned about half or more of all Box-Toppers points awarded each season, including earning 56.91 percent of all points awarded in 2000. But in 2010 and after, batters fell below 50 percent, hovering closer to 40 percent of all points. This season, batters earned 39.32 percent of all points awarded, the second-lowest share for a season (behind the 39.14 percent share in 2014).
Plus, only five batters earned 10 or more Box-Toppers points in 2018, tied for the fewest in any season (with 2014). From 1995 to 2009, anywhere from 16 to 28 batters each season would reach 10 Box-Toppers points. Since 2010, the range is five to 12 batters per season with 10 points.
Moreover, top batters are posting lower Box-Toppers point totals. This year, batters leading both leagues in Box-Toppers points each had the second-lowest point total to lead their league batters in Box-Toppers’ 24-season history. And this year, for the first time in Box-Toppers’ 24 seasons, the two pitchers who led their league in Box-Toppers points both had twice as many points as the batters who led their leagues.
In the AL, Rays pitcher Blake Snell led pitchers with 25.5 Box-Toppers points, which was 2.04 times as many points as AL batting leader Martinez (12.5).
In the NL, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer led pitchers with 25.1 points, which was 2.18 times as many points as NL batting leader Yelich (11.5).
While there have been six other instances when a pitcher leading the league in Box-Toppers points has more than doubled the points of the league’s top batter, it never happened in both leagues in the same year until 2018. Also, four of those six instances happened from 2014 to 2017, yet another indication of diminishing batters in recent years.
In short, batters are simply not stepping up to the plate. Why? Changing pitching roles and strategies, more defensive shifts, the absence of steroids from the game, the increasing reliance on the home run, the increasing lack of shame in striking out or a combination of all of these.
And so, since neither league’s top batter even had half as many Box-Toppers points as his league’s leading pitcher, Box-Toppers voted for the top pitchers in each league to be MVPs.
We voted for Snell in the AL. He finished ninth in voting. His highest vote was a seventh-place vote. He also finished ninth in the IBWAA vote.
We voted for Scherzer in the NL. He finished 10th in voting. His highest votes were two third-place votes. He also finished 10th in the IBWAA vote.
Box-Toppers did include both eventual MVPs on our ballots. To give batters the benefit of a doubt, we doubled batters Box-Toppers point totals to allow them to measure up to pitchers’ Box-Toppers point totals. That treated Yelich’s 11.5 points as if it were 23.0 points, which put him second place among NL players, behind Scherzer’s 25.1, but just ahead of Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (20.1).
It also treated Martinez’s 12.5 points as if it were 25.0 points, behind Snell’s 25.5, but just ahead of Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander (24.1). Using this treatment, the 10.9 points earned by Betts was treated as 21.8 points, which put him fourth on Box-Toppers’ MVP ballot, behind Verlander, but just ahead of Indians’ pitcher Corey Kluber (21.7).
All five batters who earned 10.0 or more Box-Toppers points received MVP votes:
Martinez (12.5) finished fourth in AL MVP voting, with one first-place vote.
Yelich (11.5) won NL MVP with 29 first-place votes.
Betts (10.9) won AL MVP with 28 first-place votes.
Javier Baez of the Cubs (10.0) finished second in NL MVP voting with 19 second-place votes.
Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs (10.0) finished tied for 17th in NL MVP voting; his highest vote was one eighth-place vote.
Nine pitchers received MVP votes, with Jacob deGrom of the Mets faring best, finishing fifth in NL MVP voting, actually receiving one first-place vote. That means at least one MVP voter, like Box-Toppers, also at least partially declared 2018 the year of the pitcher, even though their choice for top pitcher may have been misguided. deGrom, who won the NL Cy Young this week, finished third among NL pitchers in Box-Toppers points with 16.8. (Box-Toppers gave deGrom a seventh-place vote on its NL MVP ballot.)
Box-Toppers MVP ballot was unusually pitcher-heavy with 10 pitchers included on the 20-player ballot—six in the AL and four in the NL. In the BBWAA final results, there were four total pitchers among the top 10 in each league—two in the AL and two in the NL.
Matt Davidson of the White Sox is Box-Toppers’ highest-ranked batter to receive no MVP votes. Davidson had 8.7 Box-Toppers points in 2018, fourth among AL batters, finishing just ahead of Mike Trout of the Angels (8.0, fifth among AL batters), who finished second in AL MVP voting.
David Peralta of the Diamondbacks is Box-Toppers highest-ranked NL batter to receive no MVP votes. Peralta had 8.5 Box-Toppers points in 2018, fifth among NL batters.
Results from the IBWAA MVP voting were similar to the mainstream BBWAA vote:
1st—Mookie Betts, Red Sox, 1647 points
2nd—Mike Trout, Angels, 1142
3rd—Jose Ramirez, Indians, 840
4th—J.D. Martinez, Red Sox, 786
5th—Alex Bregman, Astros, 719
6th—Francisco Lindor, Indians, 637
7th—Matt Chapman, Athletics, 498
8th—Kris Davis, Athletics, 214
9th—Blake Snell, Rays, 146
10th—Jose Altuve, Astros, 119
1st—Christian Yelich, Brewers, 1529 points
2nd—Javier Baez, Cubs, 949
3rd—Jacob deGrom, Mets, 746
4th—Freddie Freeman, Braves, 664
5th—Nolan Arenado, Rockies, 602
6th—Lorenzo Cain, Brewers, 549
7th—Matt Carpenter, Cardinals, 436
8th—Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, 426
9th—Trevor Story, Rockies, 285
10th—Max Scherzer, Nationals, 284
About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.
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American League Most Valuable Player Award votingMookie Betts of the Red Sox was voted AL Most Valuable Player. Below are the AL players in order of their voting finish, shown with their first- through 10th-place votes and their voting points total. Also shown are each player’s Box-Toppers points (BTP) for 2018 and their rank among AL batters (except in the case of pitchers, denoted with †, in which case their rank among AL pitcher is shown).
|1st-10th place votes|
|1||Mookie Betts||Red Sox||rf||28||2||410||10.9||2|
|4||J.D. Martinez||Red Sox||lf dh rf||1||2||8||5||5||2||6||1||198||12.5||1|
|9||Blake Snell||Rays||pi sp||1||7||6||1||38||25.5||1†|
|10||Justin Verlander||Astros||pi sp||1||4||3||3||26||24.1||2†|
|13||Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||ss||2||1||1||9||5.5||23|
|15||Blake Treinen||Athletics||pi cp||1||4||7||10.0||21†|
|18||Edwin Diaz||Mariners||pi cp||2||1||5||9.0||25†|
|19||Giancarlo Stanton||Yankees||dh rf lf||1||1||4||6.5||11|
|22||Trevor Bauer||Indians||pi sp||1||1||14.1||13†|
|22||Chris Sale||Red Sox||pi sp||1||1||21.1||4†|
† When an AL pitcher received MVP votes, their Box-Toppers ranking is shown among AL pitchers.
National League Most Valuable Player Award votingChristian Yelich of the Brewers was voted NL Most Valuable Player. Below are the NL players in order of their voting finish, shown with their first- through 10th-place votes and their voting points total. Also shown are each player’s Box-Toppers points (BTP) for 2018 and their rank among NL batters (except in the case of pitchers, denoted with †, in which case their rank among NL pitcher is shown).
|1st-10th place votes|
|1||Christian Yelich||Brewers||rf lf||29||1||415||11.5||1|
|2||Javier Baéz||Cubs||ss 2b 3b||19||4||5||2||250||10.0||3|
|5||Jacob deGrom||Mets||pi sp||1||7||1||1||4||1||2||2||3||141||16.8||3†|
|10||Max Scherzer||Nationals||pi sp||2||1||2||3||2||3||59||25.1||1†|
|12||Ronald Acuña Jr.||Braves||lf||1||2||2||1||19||9.2||4|
|13||Aaron Nola||Phillies||pi sp||2||2||2||16||20.1||2†|
|15||Max Muncy||Dodgers||3b lf 2b 1b||1||2||8||4.5||48|
† When an NL pitcher received MVP votes, their Box-Toppers ranking is shown among NL pitchers.