In 1986 Dave Parker hit 31 homeruns with 116 RBIs and was according to OPS plus he was 17 percent better than the average hitter. In offense WAR he is shown as being 8 runs above average for a player who played every game and had 700 plate appearances this seems low for being 17 percent above average. So, this formula doesn’t think Parker was 17 percent above average.
Parker finished 5th for the MVP award that year, so the sportswriters were impressed. However, he ended the year with .3 WAR. He is shown as being terrible in right field. He was also minus 4 as a baserunner and grounded into an above average amount of double plays leaving his overall average as an offensive play at .3. However, the man scored 89 runs and drove in 116. Cincinnati where Parker played that year was a good, not great hitters park, so I just think this is one of the times Baseball Reference misses the ball. However, I’m guessing he shouldn’t be too much higher. Some will say Parker was just hanging around, but 31 homers, playing 162 games and being an above average hitter is just not just hanging around.
Parker was rated as 17 runs below average on defense in 1986. This is ironic as he was 5 runs above average the year before. I wonder if things changed. Did Cincinnati lose a left hander and less balls were hit to right that season? Was Parker hurt? Was there a change to the ball park? These are things we don’t know. I’m sure some of the downturn was Parker, but was all of it or half of it? This it is why it is so hard to rate players especially on defense. There are so many unknown factors that we won’t ever pickup the details, so we all have to make certain assumptions. I try to balance two different WAR formulas and Win Shares to balance out their weaknesses. Am I right? I think I have a fairly good formula, but none of us know for sure and will never know for sure who is right.
I wonder if Sabermetrics could have gotten Dave Parker another MVP. In 1978 Parker easily won the MVP award. He was the best player in the league that year and deserved it. In 1979, the Pirates won their division by two games over the Montreal Expos by two games. This was a race that both teams played excellent down the stretch, with the Pirates winning the race. Dave Parker had a solid year, but not as great as the year before. Still, he was a great player on a great team that won a close race.
That year Willie Stargell tied Keith Hernandez for the MVP award. There was no clear-cut favorite for the award. Stargell due to age and injuries played in 126 games. He had a great September and got key hits in important games which impressed the voters enough to get the tie for MVP with 2.5 WAR. Keith Hernandez had 7.6 WAR and should easily have beaten Stargell. Most of the Country agreed with this and questioned the writers vote.
It was ironic as the Pirates had a better candidate than Stargell, Dave Parker. Parker and Stargell had about the same OPS, but Parker played in more games and batted more so Parker deserves an edge. Parker at the time was a lot better fielder. Of the players on the ballot Parker was 5th in WAR, but none of the players ahead of him played on a team that was within 10 games of first in their division. However, Parker finished 10th in the voting. I believe this happened due to two reasons. First he didn’t have as good of a year as before and second Stargell being the star of the Pirates in September took votes from Parker. However, now days we have stats which show how much a player helped their team win with the bat with wins probability added and championship wins probability added. Parker was fourth in wins probability added and Stargell was eighth. Slight edge for Parker. However, in Championship wins probability added Parker led the league and Stargell isn’t in the top 10. I wonder if the writers would have known this how Parker and Stargell would have fared in the MVP race.
One thing that Stargell did was provide a leadership role for the team. He was the leader in the clubhouse as well as the elder stateman. He handed out stars for great deeds on the field, which the players proudly wore on their caps. I’m sure that had an effect with the voters.