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Monday, November 17, 2003

Berroa and Neyer

I was suprised that Rob Neyer thought that Matsui should have gotten the Rookie of the Year award over the Royals Angel Berroa. His main arguments are:

  • Berroa played in a better hitter's park. In fact, over the last 2 years Kauffman has produced 30% more runs than when on the road. Not only did Berroa hit better on the road, he also hit 11 of his 17 homeruns on the road. Although Neyer dismisses the premise that some players don't take advantage of park factors it seems absurd to think (as Neyer apparently does) that Berroa would have hit very poorly at home if not for the park factor. In only 288 plate appearances I would think that whatever goes into making a park a better hitter's park (prevailing winds, good weather, short fences, fast infield, good visibility) might just be swamped by luck (especially for a player who is obviously not going to take advantage of short fences at Fenway for example). For example, assume Berroa gets lucky and gets 5 more hits at home (or has his bad luck reversed). Now his home/road split is .306/.288 and it looks like he indeed "took advantage" of the park. In the end I think a single player's half season data is too small to make such an evaluation.

  • 2 voters left Matsui off their ballots as a protest to Matsui's rookie status. While I agree that Matsui is not a rookie in the true sense he shouldn't have been left off the ballot since he qualified under the archaic rules of MLB. However, he also mentions that 2 voters left Berroa off the ballot but "at least we can guess they did so on the merits (unless they happened to be New York writers, in which case they probably left Berroa off to curry favor with the Yankee brass)." I don't buy the argument that you can excuse stupidiy more than stubborness. Voters who left Berroa off the ballot should also be stripped of their voting privileges. However, its more likely that the 2 voters in question weren't stupid but had some political/racial or other non-baseball reason for doing so.

  • Finally, Neyer doesn't address that Berroa, being a shortstop, is clearly the more valuable of the two players. After a shaky start Berroa's fielding was far above average. Berroa also played in an environment where he was more relied upon offensively, which should count for something.

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