My 2017 NPB Awards Ballot

Here is my postseason award voting for 2017:

I have four rules:
1) Everything is about THIS season. It doesn’t matter what a guy did last year, that’s a different staory.
2) If two players are really close and one won a championship, go with the guy on the league championship.
3) No weight is given to age or potential unless a player is overwhelmingly superior but whose season value is low only because he missed playing time. This applies generally to rookies, but also applied to Shohei Otani last year.
4) The Best Nine Awards go to the most valuable player at each position. Whoever gets my MVP vote is automatically going to win a Best Nine Award. In the case of Otani last year, I gave Rule 3 precedence since he was easily the most productive pitcher and DH, but had slightly less total season value at each position than another player.

Here are my votes and a brief explanation of how I derive them.

Postseason Award Voting
Central League
MVP
1. Kosuke Tanaka, Carp 田中 広輔 (広島)
2. Yoshihiro Maru, Carp 丸 佳浩 (広島)
3. Tomoyuki Sugano, Giants 菅野 智之 (巨人)

Rookie of the Year
Yota Kyoda, Dragons 京田 陽太 (中日)

Best Nine
P – Tomoyuki Sugano, Giants 菅野 智之 (巨人)
C – Tsubasa Aizawa, Carp 會澤 翼 (広島)
1B – Jose Lopez, BayStars ロペス (DeNA)
2B – Ryosuke Kikuchi, Carp 菊池 涼介 (広島)
3B – Toshiro Miyazaki, BayStars 宮﨑 敏郎(DeNA)
SS – Kosuke Tanaka, Carp 田中 広輔 (広島)
OF – Yoshihiro Maru, Carp 丸 佳浩 (広島)
OF – Seiya Suzuki, Carp 鈴木 誠也 (広島)
OF – Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, BayStars 筒香 嘉智(DeNA)

Postseason Award Voting
Pacific League
MVP
1. Yuki Yanagita, Hawks 柳田 悠岐 (ソフトバンク)
2. Shogo Akiyama, Lions 秋山 翔吾 (西武)
3. Kenta Imamiya, Hawks 今宮 健太 (ソフトバンク)

Rookie of the Year
Sosuke Genda, Lions 源田 壮亮 (西武)

Best Nine
P – Dennis Sarfate, Hawks サファテ (ソフトバンク)
C – Takuya Kai, Hawks 甲斐 拓也 (ソフトバンク)
1B – Hotaka Yamakawa, Lions 山川 穂高 (西武)
2B – Hideto Asamura, Lions 浅村 栄斗 (西武)
3B – Nobuhiro Matsuda, Hawks 松田 宣浩 (ソフトバンク)
SS – Kenta Imamiya, Hawks 今宮 健太 (ソフトバンク)
OF – Yuki Yanagita, Hawks 柳田 悠岐 (ソフトバンク)
OF – Shogo Akiyama, Lions 秋山 翔吾 (西武)
OF – Akira Nakamura, Hawks 中村 晃 (ソフトバンク)
DH – Alfredo Despaigne, Hawks デスパイネ (ソフトバンク)

The rationale behind my award votes
I base my votes on Bill James’ win share system, which – like all of us – has flaws, but also does one thing I like that WAR doesn’t: It only gives credit for actual games won. Players don’t accumulate wins by putting up numbers against a scale but by putting up numbers within the context of games won by a team within a league.

You start with wins, although I have to assign half a win for every tie because they are so common in Japan. I wish ties were worth half a win in the standings, since that would push the teams tying games closer to .500. NPB used to do it that way, but never mind.

Each team gets 3 shares for each win and 1.5 for each tie. So how do you distribute them? Step 1 is to estimate how many runs an average team in its league would score and allow given the parks each team plays in.

Let’s take the SoftBank Hawks. They won 94 games with no ties. That’s 3 * 94 = 282 win shares to be distributed among their players. The Hawks scored 638 runs, while allowing 483. The Hawks playing context is extremely unusual. The parks they played in in 2017 increased season home runs totals by 22 percent, while suppressing runs by 3 percent.

It’s not just Fukuoka Dome, though. It’s all the small and large parks the Hawks play in through the season. But the Hawks’ context makes them the PL team for which home runs are easiest to hit and runs are hardest to score.

The system uses that information to split the Hawks’ 282 win shares as follows: 136.94 for the hitters and 145.06 for the pitchers and fielders. The system then splits the pitchers and fielders based on things like double play and fielding efficiency, strikeouts, walks and so on.

This then gives SoftBank 102.28 win shares to be divided among the pitchers and 42.78 to be divied up among all the fielders. From that point we get into determine the relative claims of each player to those totals. All the hitters on a team are compared to each other and the win shares are distributed accordingly. The pitchers are a little more complicated because they require claim points for the higher leverage situations that middle relievers and closers encounter.

Fielders are even more complicated, and therein is one of brilliant elements of James’ system.

While modern measures (unavailable to the general public in Japan) can calculate an fielders’ efficiency, a good job can be done by estimating defensive quality by the players at each position for a given team by comparing each team’s results at a position to its league rivals with adjustments for the frequency of innings pitched by lefties (which increases ground ball opportunities for third basemen and shortstops) and ground balls.

If you adjust for the number of strikeouts a team gets, its totals for catcher put outs become relevant. The same goes for pitcher put outs, which influence the totals of assists by first basemen.

Each team’s postion totals are compared to the league norms. The positions on a team that exceed league norms will have more of the team’s fielding win shares to divide among the team’s players at that position.

In the case of the Hawks, the position breakdowns for win shares for 2017 are:
Catchers = 9.2 (No. 1 in Japan)
1st Base = 2.0 (5th)
2nd Base = 6.1 (1st)
3rd Base = 5.8 (1st)
Shortstop = 7.7 (5th)
Outfielders = 11.9 (3rd)
The Hawks team ends up looking like this after each player’s total is converted into an integer:
(Hawks players with four win shares or more)
Yuki Yanagita 27 (23 Batting, 0 pitching, 3.7 fielding)
Kenta Imamiya 22 (14.8, 0 , 5.7)
Nobuhiro Matsuda 21 (15.3, 0 , 5.7)
Akira Nakamura 18 (14.2, 0 , 3.9)
Dennis Sarfate 18 (0, 17.5, 0)
Alfredo Despaigne 17 (17, 0, 0)
Nao Higashihama 14 (0, 14.2, 0)
Seiji Uebayashi 14 (11, 0 , 2.7)
Kodai Senga 12 (0, 11.8, 0)
Takuya Kai 11 (5.6, 0, 5)
Rick van den Hurk 10 (10.3)
Seiichi Uchikawa 10 (9.2, 0 , 0.9)
Sho Iwasaki 10 (0, 10, 0)
Kenji Akashi 9 (7.5, 0, 1.7)
Shuta Ishikawa 6 (0, 6.4, 0)
Ryota Igarashi 6 (0, 6, 0)
Hiroki Takayas 5 (2.1, 0, 3.7)
Tsuyoshi Wada 4 (0, 4.3, 0)
Munenori Kawasaki 4 (2.8, 0, 1.3)
Tomoki Takata 4 (2.4, 0, 1.6)
Livan Moinelo 4 (0, 4, 0)
Yuito Mori 4 (0, 4, 0)

Author: jballa5_wp

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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