Prince has had a great year, and at BetUS he is the favorite to win the MVP. But in reality, his raw WPA isn't all that much better than these other guys, and when his position is factored in, Prince has actually been the sixth most valuable hitter in the league.
(I know it is kind of screwy that so many Colorado guys are in the top 10, and I'm not thrilled with it either. I don't know how I should fix this with a WPA park factor adjustment; if you do, please e-mail me. There is also a problem with Coors for fielding, as MGL himself says here. If I were smart enough to fix this I would, but that is certainly not the case. Anyway, take the Colorado numbers with a grain of salt.)
The top 10 fielders thus far:
And combining all this, the NL's ten most valuable players to this point:
Now I know this list is weird and stupid and probably not correct, because of the Coors thing. And I think that explains Matsui and Holliday and Helton and their lofty places on this list. So let's ignore that (I'll deal with that in a second). Let's deal with the guy at the top of the list.
Troy Tulowitzki has an OPS+ (which takes park effects into account) of 100. He is, by this measure, exactly an average hitter. We can work with that, since both WPA and UZR are measured against the baseline of an average player.
First, he plays shortstop, which helps him. This is valuable regardless of park factors; he gets +0.31 in my adjustment system because of this.
Not only does he play shortstop, he does it really, really well. John Dewan, the author of The Fielding Bible, released his rankings for this year a week ago, and Tulowitzki is listed as the top SS. He is third among SS in THT's RZR rating, but has made about twice as many out of zone plays as the two people ahead of him, Reyes and Vizquel.
As I used originally, he is +14 in MGL's system, which leads all SS (both leagues). So, for the sake of this discussion, I'll put his UZR at +12, which puts him slightly ahead of the rest of the shortstops in UZR. So 1.2 more wins, added to his .3 from before, and we're at 1.5. Which, obviously, is very, very far away from the 4.38 I orignally had him at.
Troy Tulowitzki has been the most clutch hitter in the National League this year, and it is not close. FanGraphs has a stat called "Clutchiness", which measures this. This stat is the difference between a player's actual WPA, and what would his WPA would be expected to be based on his OBP and SLG. Tulowitzki's is at 2.15 in this category; the next closest is Adrian Gonzalez at 1.37.
Now, I'm not going to get into the whole clutch debate. But, when we're looking at how valuable a player has been, rather than if they have a natural "clutch" ability, I think the timing of their hits is very relevant. And Tulowitzki has certainly been clutch so far this year, as seen in the stats shown here.
I wondered how much of an effect Tulowitzki's extra inning performance had on his WPA, so I looked through his game log. In his 12 extra inning plate appearances, Tulowitzki has a WPA of 1.93. This I find amazing. In extra innings, Troy Tulowitzki- defined previously in this post as an average hitter- has contributed almost two more wins to the Rockies than an average hitter would be expected to. Contributing this is (all in extras) a game-tying two out double, a two-run homer, a two out RBI single, a two out RBI triple, a solo HR, and an RBI single.
(After going through this, and realizing the Rockies ended up losing most of these games, I remembered Kurkjian saying something about Tulowitzki on BBTN. Sure enough, it's here:
"Three times in one week, Tulowitzki hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later, and his team lost all three games. That has happened four times in baseball this year, once to Magglio Ordonez and three times to Tulowitzki. He is the only active player to hit three go-ahead home runs in the ninth inning or later in a loss in his career."
So there you have it.)
Aramis Ramirez, who is having a good year despite the fact he never takes a walk, is helped out by a Clutch rating of 1.34; this hit plays a big role in that.