How to vote for MVP: 6 easy steps

Yoshihiro Maru of the Hiroshima Carp and Hotaka Yamakawa of the Seibu Lions were named NPB’s MVPs on Tuesday and both were deserving–although I cast my Pacific League vote to Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.

This year’s MVPs are fairly reasonable choices, which they often aren’t. So in case any of you one day get the grey envelope containing NPB’s league award ballots, here are six easy steps you need to follow to vote like an upstanding member of Japan’s baseball media:

  1. Be conscious of who wins the pennant and who on that team is the biggest statistical outlier or creates the biggest buzz all year.
  2. Look for player on the non-pennant winners with the most eye-popping stats. Did he set a Japan record in a triple-crown category? Did he win 20 games? Set a saves record?
  3. If step No. 2 produces a candidate, and none of the players on the pennant winner look THAT outstanding, then vote for the guy on the non-pennant winner to prove that you are not blindly favoring pennant winners in your voting when you in fact are.
  4. If No. 2 produces no obvious candidates, then pick the player on the pennant winner who has the most outstanding-looking numbers be it a pitcher or hitter, without regard to their fielding value or the offensive context in which their runs are produced.
  5. Ignore who you think is actually the best player. Even though the MVP and Best Nine votes are part of the same ballot, we still some pretty weird stuff. Yanagita was a unanimous selection as the PL’s best outfielder, one voted ahead of the Lions’ Shogo Akiyama, in the Best Nine voting, but receive 27 fewer votes in the MVP vote. Although this is not too weird, some people thought Yanagita was a better player, but not more valuable.
  6. Somebody, somewhere is required to cast a vote for Naoki Miyanishi. How this is executed and who is required to waste a vote on the Fighters’ wonderful left-handed middle reliever remains an unanswered question.

I’m not a big fan of WAR, but in case some of you are curious, the top three WAR values in each league this year were, according to Delta Graphs:

Central League

  1. Tetsuto Yamada, Swallows–8.4
  2. Yoshihiro Maru, Carp–7.1
  3. Hayato Sakamoto, Giants–6.3

Pacific League

  1. Yuki Yanagita, Hawks–8.9
  2. Hideto Asamura, Lions–6.6
  3. Shogo Akiyama, Lions–6.2

My measure of choice is Bill James’ Win Shares, which can be found in PDFs on my data page. Each win share is worth 1/3 of a win.

Central League

  1. Yoshihiro Maru, Carp–32
  2. Tetsuto Yamada, Swallows–32
  3. Seiya Suzuki, Carp–28

Pacific League

  1. Yuki Yanagita, Hawks–36
  2. Shogo Akiyama, Lions–34
  3. Hotaka Yamakawa, Lions–33


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