All-Star Game honors show why Box-Toppers is antidote to shortsighted baseball thinking

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The 2018 All-Star Game is an almost perfect example of why Box-Toppers is an antidote to shortsighted baseball thinking.

Two players were honored in the game—one who earned the game’s Most Valuable Player award and the other who earned the win. But Box-Toppers metrics say neither of those players really deserve the honors.

Alex Bregman of the Astros was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for hitting a 10th-inning solo home run that gave the American League a 6-5 lead over the National League. 

But Box-Toppers warns against giving Player of the Game honors to the player who makes the flashy play at the end everyone remembers. Sure, it’s dramatic, it’s memorable, but it’s one play at the end of the game (or near the end). What else did he do in the game? Did other players play a bigger role?

With the solo homer, Bregman went 1-for-3, scoring once and driving in one run. He had a Box-Toppers game score of 0.0, which was only the ninth-best among the 29 AL players who played Tuesday.

Box-Toppers Player of the Game was Jean Segura of the Mariners, who had a Box-Toppers game score of +5.0. Like Bregman, Segura hit a home run to break a tie. But unlike Bregman’s solo shot, Segura hit a three-run blast in the eighth inning, putting the AL up, 5-2. Also, in a subsequent at bat in the 10th inning, Segura singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly.

So Segura did far more than Bregman to win the game. Segura went 2-for-2, scored twice and drove in three runs. Bregman seems to be given extra credit only because of his timing. And really, if you consider timing, Bregman’s home run did not give the AL the game’s deciding run. Bregman scored the sixth run for the AL, which put them ahead, but the NL scored its sixth in the bottom of the 10th on a home run by Joey Votto of the Reds. The deciding run for the AL, its seventh, actually came in the at bat after Bregman’s, when his teammate, George Springer, also hit a solo home run.

Though we didn’t know it at the time, shouldn’t Springer’s home run be seen as more key and deciding in the game, since it actually gave the AL the run it needed to win? The AL beat the NL, 8-6, in 10 innings.

Springer had the second-best Box-Toppers game score among AL players (+3.0), as he went 2-for-2, scoring twice and driving in one run.

In the Box-Toppers metric, Springer was more deserving of game MVP than Bregman. But Segura was most deserving of all.

MVP voters awarding Bregman were so blinded by the flash of a single play that they missed or forgot or were too distracted to even notice Segura’s more substantial contributions.

Box-Toppers also warns against the frequent misleading or outright useless quality of the win statistic for pitchers.

On the page explaining how the Box-Toppers metric works, there is an outlandish example of a pitcher all but blowing the game and yet earning the win.

Tuesday that example nearly came true. Mariners closer Edwin Diaz entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, staked with a 5-3 AL lead. He gave up a walk and a homer and the game was tied, 5-5. Diaz nearly lost the game on what looked like a walk-off homer by Jesus Aguilar of the Brewers, but it was caught by centerfielder George Springer for the final out of the inning.

Then Diaz went from nearly losing the game for the AL to becoming the pitcher of record when the AL scored three times in the top of the 10th to take an 8-5 lead. Diaz, despite his lackluster performance, would win the game if the lead held through the bottom of the 10th. And it did.

Diaz exited the game prior to the start of the bottom of the 10th inning, replaced by J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays, who earned the save.

Of the nine pitchers who appeared for the AL Tuesday, Diaz—awarded the game’s win—had the lowest Box-Toppers game score (-3.0), tied with Charlie Morton of the Astros (2IP 2H 2R BB 2K ND).

The win can be a misleading statistic because in cases like this, the pitcher is among the least responsible for earning the team the win and is, in fact, most responsible for nearly causing the loss. Box-Toppers helps in these cases by overriding the silliness of the arbitrary rule that pitchers who exit after their team takes the lead earns the win. Box-Toppers actually awards the player who contributed most to his team’s win, even if the pitcher did not earn the win or the save. 

In Tuesday’s case, the Box-Toppers Player of the Game was not a pitcher, but there were seven pitchers who appeared who had higher Box-Toppers game scores and were each more deserving of being credited with a “win” than Diaz.

And to be fair to Diaz—it was one bad night, unfortunately in the All-Star spotlight. He was deserving of his All-Star status—he ranks second among AL closing pitchers in Box-Toppers points since the start of 2017 (13.0), behind only Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox (14.7).

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.

Box-Toppers strives for accuracy. See a mistake in a post? A wrong name, wrong team, grammar error, spelling goof, etc.? Thanks for pointing it out! Contact Box-Toppers here. Let's fix it and make it right.

Box-Toppers game scores of AL All-Star players

Here are all the players who played for the the winning American League team in Tuesday's All-Star Game, listed from highest to lowest Box-Toppers game score. Jean Segura is Box-Toppers Player of the Game (POG) with a game score of +5.0.

7/17 BTG Team Player AB R H BI IP H R ER BB K
POG +5.0 Mariners Jean Segura PH‑SS 2 2 2 3
+3.0 Astros George Springer CF 2 2 2 1
+2.0 Yankees Luis Severino (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 2
+1.1 Tigers Joe Jimenez (H, 1) 0.1 0 0 0 0 1
+1.0 Angels Mike Trout CF 2 1 1 1
+1.0 Yankees Aaron Judge LF 2 1 1 1
+1.0 Red Sox Chris Sale 1.0 1 0 0 0 1
+1.0 Athletics Blake Treinen (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
0.0 Astros Alex Bregman PH‑3B 3 1 1 1
0.0 Indians Michael Brantley LF 2 0 1 1
0.0 Rangers Shin‑Soo Choo PH‑DH 2 1 1 0
0.0 Mariners Nelson Cruz PH‑DH
0.0 Twins Jose Berrios (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
‑0.8 Rays Blake Snell (H, 1) 1.2 1 1 1 2 3
‑1.0 Red Sox Mitch Moreland 1B 3 0 2 0
‑1.0 Red Sox J.D. Martinez DH 2 0 1 0
‑1.0 Indians Francisco Lindor PH‑SS 1 0 0 0
‑1.0 Blue Jays J.A. Happ (S, 1) 1.0 1 1 1 0 1
‑2.0 Astros Jose Altuve 2B 3 0 1 0
‑2.0 Athletics Jed Lowrie 2B 2 0 0 0
‑2.0 Mariners Mitch Haniger RF 2 0 0 0
‑2.0 Indians Jose Ramirez 3B 2 0 0 0
‑2.0 Orioles Manny Machado SS 2 0 0 0
‑2.0 White Sox Jose Abreu 1B 2 0 0 0
‑2.0 Royals Salvador Perez C 2 0 0 0
‑3.0 Red Sox Mookie Betts RF 3 0 0 0
‑3.0 Indians Yan Gomes C 3 0 0 0
‑3.0 Mariners Edwin Diaz (W, 1‑0) (BS, 1) 1.0 1 2 2 1 2
‑3.0 Astros Charlie Morton (BS, 1) 2.0 2 2 2 1 2
POG—2018 All-Star Game Player of the Game.
No Box-Toppers points are awarded for the All-Star Game.