This piece was a post from Dusty that was too good to pass up so he expanded it and made it into a thread.
Here is my ballot for NLDS MVP for Atlanta using mostly WPA and cWPA. I know these are limited stats, but they do a good job of telling the story of what actually happened especially in a short series. I wish there was a way to incorporate defense and baserunning (and there probably is I just donâ€™t know it) but this is what Iâ€™ve got…
Braves NLDS MVPs
1) Tyler Matzek (3.4 cWPA, 0.30 WPA) â€“ Just lights out, cleaned a mess for Luke (and one of his own) but this guy is a big game pitcher
2) Freddie Freeman (5.6 cWPA, 0.51 WPA) â€“ Responsible for the biggest play of the series. I was actually going to post earlier in the day that is seems Freddie has never really had a playoff moment. Heâ€™s been solid in the playoffs for his career, but the power hasnâ€™t been there. That all changed with one swing of the bat.
3) Joc Pederson(1.6 cWPA, 0.18 WPA) â€“ Joctober certainly took a lot of pressure off of the offense. Wasnâ€™t great as a starter in game 4 but did have a key RBI to make it 4-3.
4) Going off book here a little, whoever was in charge of defensive positioning. Being in the right spot for a lot of hard hit balls saved multiple runs. Credit to the players for executing, but the behind the scenes personnel deserve some serious credit.
5) Max Fried (3.4 cWPA, 0.34 WPA) â€“ Hard to understate how big Maxâ€™s performance was. Gave the team the chance to get back in the series after a tough luck game 1 loss, and also gave Snit the ability to go to Morton in game 4, knowing he had Max for game 5. Game 4 couldâ€™ve turned out different had Snit done what I said and started Ynoa.
6) Brian Snitker â€“ Managed with an even keel, but not afraid to push some aggressive buttons when needed. I second guessed a few decisions (mostly pulling Fried after 6 and pulling Minter before facing Tellez) but everything he did worked pretty much. The pinch hitting was great and players succeeded because their manager put them in a position to do so.
7) Will Smith (3.0 cWPA, 0.25 WPA) â€“ Really excelling at just the right time. Will has cost us all years off our lives but he has gotten the job done.
8) Dansby Swanson (-1.4 cWPA, -0.14 WPA) â€“ This is where WPA falls short. Dansby made some huge plays in the field that saved runs. With runs at such a premium those plays were huge.
9) Ian Anderson (3.4 cWPA, 0.29 WPA) â€“ Hard to argue with multiple innings of scoreless pitching. His performance set the table for Jocâ€™s heroics in Game 3.
10) A.J. Minter (1.5 cWPA, 0.12 WPA) â€“ Should have been used more, but hard to argue with the results. Hopefully he will get more of a chance to shine in the NLCS.
Luke Jackson (1.5, 0.13) â€“ It kills me to leave him off, my dren Luke Jackson tee is 3-0 (I forgot to wear for game 1) he was solid, just gets knocked a peg for leaving a mess for Matzek.
Eddie Rosario (1.3, 0.08) â€“ Felt like he had more big hits but he only drove in the 2 runs in game 4 (not that those werenâ€™t huge) no runs scored either. Solid not spectacular.
Jesse Chavez (1.0, 0.08) â€“ Allowed one of Mortonâ€™s runners to score but held them at bay after that. Nice efficient inning in game 3.
Austin Riley (0.6, 0.04) â€“ Was solid offensively and defensively. Missed a couple of big opportunities to be the hero, but nothing to complain about. Needs to work on his sprint speed so he can beat Duvall in a footrace.
Braves NLDS LVPs
Following up on my MVP column, here is my ballot for NLDS LVP for Atlanta using mostly WPA and cWPA. Again, I know these are limited stats, but they do a good job of telling the story of what actually happened, especially in a short series. I wish there was a way to incorporate defense and baserunning (and there probably is I just donâ€™t know it) but this is what Iâ€™ve got:
1) Adam Duvall (-0.4 cWPA, -0.04 WPA) – Another place where WPA doesnâ€™t tell the whole story. If a couple of games had broken differently, Duvall wouldâ€™ve been the scapegoat for sure with two bad baserunning mistakes. One perhaps excusable (dâ€™Arnaud may have been out if Duvall wasnâ€™t but Travis may have gotten his read off Adam) and one completely inexcusable. Iâ€™d actually venture to say if Atlanta had lost that game by a run and lost the series, this would have gone down as the worst TOOTBLAN of all time. To Adamâ€™s credit you have to reach base to have a baserunning error and he played solid defense all series.
2) Huascar Ynoa (-2.9 cWPA, -0.20 WPA) – Pretty harsh to have one rough outing and wind up here, but if you pitch 2.8% of the innings for the series and give up 33.3% of the runs, youâ€™ve earned it. Iâ€™m not sure Ynoa belongs on the NLCS roster honestly as Iâ€™d take Muller, Strider, Davidson or Wright over him at this point. Itâ€™s a shame because Ynoa carried the staff for a while until the broken hand, but he just hasnâ€™t been right since.
3) Ozzie Albies (-2.7 cWPA, -0.29 WPA) – I think the top (bottom?) 3 could go any order and my initial thought was to put Ozzie #1. His double play in the first of game 1, probably cost Atlanta the game and he came up small in several key at bats. He also played flawless defense and did have a big double in the game 2 rally that just missed being a HR so I bumped him down (up?) to #3.
4) Orlando Arcia (-1.4 cWPA, -0.16 WPA) – His most valuable contribution was as a decoy in game 4, getting Counsell to bring in the righty and allowing Snit to pinch hit Rosario for the 2-run, game-tying single. Had a shot to be the hero in game 1 against his former team with 2 on but Hader got him out.
5) Jorge Soler (-0.7 cWPA, -0.07 WPA) – Get well soon. Not docking him points for getting Covid, but he was actually worse than I recalled in the series. He worked some really good at bats and just missed some big hits, but wound up only going 1 for 13 in the series with 2 walks. Hopefully heâ€™s back and fully recovered soon.
6) Guillermo Heredia (-0.6 cWPA, -0.05 WPA) – Not horrible, just didnâ€™t contribute much even defensively that I can remember. Intangibles off the charts though, keeps everyone loose which has to count for something.
7) Ehire Adrianza (-0.9 cWPA, -0.07 WPA) – I really thought he shouldâ€™ve gotten the late PH appearance over Arcia against hader in game 1, but he got chances later and didnâ€™t deliver.
8) William Contreras (-0.8 cWPA, -0.06 WPA) – Pretty rough to get dinged for failing in your only PH appearance but he had a chance to deliver in a key spot and came up short. I still think he should get more chances as he is probably the best RH bat on the bench.
9) The Marlins – For making Ronnie injure his knee in a meaningless July game. They have been trying to hurt him for years, so congrats, hope you are happy.
10) Charlie Morton (-0.4 cWPA, 0.02 WPA) – Hard to knock him too much, but he did give up 66.7% of the Brewers runs in the series. Seriously, did everything asked of him and did it well. Perhaps just a little too much was asked of him, but with a little more offense his numbers wouldâ€™ve looked fine and the nine inning the Brewers didnâ€™t score on him, he looked pretty dominant.
This piece will stay up until late afternoon, then I’ll be putting up a piece from Jonathan F that will stay up until mid-afternoon tomorrow, then we’ll have a Series preview from Michael Kasper.
Thanks for posting Ryan. My first piece, tear it to shreds everyone. Also I edited to add d’Arnaud to the honorable mentions on the MVP section but is didn’t get picked up in the final edit.
dâ€™Arnaud (-0.8, -0.13) – Not a great series at the plate, though Duvallâ€™s baserunning blunder cost him a big sac fly, this is another spot where WPA comes up short. Travis certainly deserves some credit for the game calling he did which led to the Atlanta staff allowing only 6 runs in 4 games.
You can look at WAR/WPA all day long, but it’s pretty clear Joc was the MVP of this last series. Important pinch hit HRs and three hits in three chances before game four. Sure, Freeman will get the love and deservedly so, but I think Pederson deserves his pearls.
I think it’s wrong to consider Morton a LVP. He’s basically had two poor pitches in the 9.1 innings pitched. And that he came back on short rest and shut them down for nearly 4 innings. Was kept in a batter too long.
The little g goats were clearly Albies and Duvall. One can’t stop swinging at balls and the other can’t stop making bone headed base running plays. Even Freeman did not have a great start, but he made up for it obviously.
3 – We mostly agree, I think the top 3 were clearly the top 3 for me and I’d be good with any order. Right after the series I asked my brother whether he would give MVP to Joc or Matzek. I’ll admit I was a little swayed by the WPA stats in elevating Freeman.
I agree on Morton too, it was just a function making the list for me. I had to get to 10 somehow which is tough in a series you win. That said in a series with runs a premium, giving up 4 in 9.1 innings isn’t great.
Morton ate 9.1 innings. With the way our bullpen performed during the regular season, that isn’t trivial. Some starting pitchers (or their agents) wouldn’t have even started on short rest.
He kept them in the games and ate innings and in a different world where he is pulled at exactly the right time, we’d be talking about how dominant he was right along with Anderson and Fried.
I’m sure most of you have seen but Will Smith used a low leg kick to get the final strike of the NLDS against Yelich, something he hadn’t used all season. Heck of a time to break it out.
Why don’t they name series MVPs any longer? That was always fun.
My MVP for the series was Joc. Replace him with one of those bench scrubs from last year and this team is likely going home.
This mlb writer names him as the 2nd best playoff performer in all of the playoffs so far. https://www.mlb.com/news/top-10-performers-in-2021-mlb-playoffs
Hold on… Joc’s first homer was in a game we lost. The second one was big, but the Brewers seemed to have no intention of scoring in that game, so somebody would have driven in a run, right?
Joc was the most impressive batter in the series, Freddie had the biggest single hit in context, but it was a series dominated by pitching and Dansby’s defense. I’m tempted to go with Fried, but he only appeared in one game. I’m tempted to go with Morton, because he was really, really, good. But I’ll side with you, Dusty: Matzek.
FYI, OOTP 2022 is on sale for 75% off.
Yeah, I think it’s Matzek, with an honorable mention to Morton. End of the day, though, I think the story of the whole series was the starting pitching. It was good enough to utterly destroy a below-average offense.
Now they’d better eat their Wheaties, because whoever we face next is going to be a lineup of much tougher outs. And I want absolutely no part whatsoever of Beardless Will Smith.
It’s tough with Morton, though I honestly don’t believe he should crack the top 10 in the context of this particular series MVP. If he had been taken out after 6 in game 1 and then the Braves somehow won that game and swept, his performance would’ve equaled or bettered Fried and Anderson. But as it was, he threw to 2 extra batters which cost the Braves the game and another 3.1 innings in game 4, the first 3 inning of which were great the last 0.1, really hurt the odds of winning Game 4.
He’d be my game 1 or 2 starter easily going forward, but for this series I don’t think he’s in the conversation for most valuable.
Ok… maybe not the top 10, but surely in the top 26. (Actually 27, when you include Pache.)
Right, Gore and Pache are the only ones I didn’t write up I think. Well Webb, Lee and Smyly on the pitching side too. Hey who says we need 26?
Also Dodgers in a stunner announce Knebel to start game 5, going with the opener, surely followed by Urias.
Corey Knebel, Real Estate Photographer!
(That’s an obscure joke referring to this Ben Katchor alt-comic, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.)
It will be interesting to see how many pitchers we carry against the Dodgers. We came perilously close to having Terrance Gore with a bat in his hand in game 4. We used all the position players in the series (including Pache) but didn’t use Webb, Lee or Smyly at all.
Presumably we would need more pitchers in a potential 7 game series, but I don’t know would we need all 3 of those guys.
@10 imma prob have to buy that. OOTP is the best baseball video game I have ever played.
Shildt out as Cards manager. I really hated Shildt, but I also hated the Cards so not sure how to feel about this.
@9 Maybe it is just a team MVP this time. Lots of very important performances.
19 – Well said. 15-16 guys helped the team win the series and the others mostly had at least one thing positive to add to their negative contributions.
More interesting to me is that the Yankees fired a couple of Boone’s coaches out from under him. Sends a strong “you’re on thin ice, buster” message to him.
@18, well, you’ll probably see Shildt again. I’d imagine he’ll be talked about for the Mets job.
Someone will probably hire Shildt the first day of the offseason. Teams could do MUCH MUCH worse.
The man had a .559 winning percentage and the Cards had to petition the league for permission to announce it today rather than do it on the off day tomorrow. Was he trading emails with Jon Gruden or something? There is a stink here.
Love this post. Man, wish I had one of these for each year of The Streak.
Shildt was the first guy with no major or minor league baseball playing experience to take a team to the playoffs since Ed Barrow took the Red Sox to the World Series in 1918. And Cousin Ed’s in the Hall of Fame.
I forgot Alston played in the minors!
@24, as Harry Burns once said, when you realize you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
25 – Thanks Scott and thatâ€™s a great suggestion. If Ryan wants I might look into doing an offseason series going round by round starting with â€˜91.
@24, someone will get the scoop… and put it behind a paywall at The Athletic.
I guess the Cardinals were looking for Shildt to win 20 in a row. The Cardinals seemed to be overachievers to me. Anytime that happens, my tendency would be to keep the manager. The Cardinals don’t seem to be an organization that fires managers quickly. As mentioned above, I’ve gotta’ suspect there’s something more to the story.
Their GM said it was â€œphilosophical differences.â€
Shildt was a methodical realist, but the Cardinal Way is Cartesian dualism.
“Pitt the Elder!”
I still say that Freeman is clearly the LDS MVP and that if the award were actually given out, they’d have given it to him without so much as a second thought. Matzek preserved a loss and a pair of 3-run wins in addition to his actually valuable work in Game 4. Just because it was a series dominated by pitching doesn’t mean the guy who hits the series-winning home run isn’t the MVP. In fact, I’d say it’s more likely to make him the MVP. Plus, he also accounted for a run in Game 2. You guys are severely overthinking this.
@8: To my knowledge, they’ve never given LDS MVPs, likely because there’s more than one LDS (so you can’t have somebody be THE NLDS MVP). That’ll start with the LCSs.
Not defending Duvall by any means, but surely Babe Ruth getting hosed stealing second to end a one-run WS game 7 is the worst TOOTBLAN of all time
@35 He’s obviously not the “clear” MVP since we can’t even agree on it. Joc had 5 RBIs and 2 HRs in 7 at bats. Freddie had 2 and 1 respectively. BOTH were important as were the pitchers.
I award my series LVP award overall (meaning from both teams) to Kolten Wong. Dude went 1-for-15 with a walk and five strikeouts, and the coup de grace was the idiotic popped-up bunt in the ninth inning of Game 4 that completely killed the momentum for Milwaukee’s rally and that I’m totally convinced was his call, because Counsell would have been unlikely to ask him to do something so stupid.
@38: The point is it is clear, but you lot are dithering about middle relievers and such. Meant as somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but to your point, when it’s “not clear,” the guy who won the series in the manner that Freeman did gets it every single time. Especially when he’s Freddie Freeman.
37 – Frankly I was not aware of that. Thanks for pointing it out. Ruth was more pivotal but Duvallâ€™s was so bad you had to suspend disbelief that it actually happened so I donâ€™t know who wins out there.
38 – I agree with you that itâ€™s obviously not clear. I also agree with Nick that if they actually gave they award it would go to Freeman or possibly Joc. Thereâ€™s no way it would actually go to Matzek.
I know they are on the west coast but it sure wouldâ€™ve been nice if they had moved this game up to 8:07 from 9:07. No way I make it till the end.
As promised, a new thread tonight from Jonathan F! Dusty, well done. You definitely earned the WordPress “author” badge and can do the year by year series this offseason!
I found your article very helpful, thank you so much for your content.
David, autor blog https://thetrucks.us/