Earlier this week Richard Justice had a few things to say about the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association. The too long didn't read version (TLDR) is that the writers screwed up and should of voted Carlos Lee Astros MVP instead of Hunter Pence.
I have to say I don't disagree with either of them. Both Lee and Barmes top the Astros Wins Above Replacement stat which measures offense, fielding and baserunning as the go to all encompassing statistic.
Neither are a bad choice as they're separated by only one tenth of a point. Justice chose Lee because of his offensive contribution in the more main stream statistics: home runs, runs batted in, total bases, walks, at-bats and games. Those are all true however Justice is discounting the defensive and base running aspects of baseball.
This is something David takes into account with his argument for Barmes. Now, Lee did post positive defensive values this year, however that was at two of the least demanding defensive positions. Barmes made his contributions at a more premium position, shortstop.
He was one of the top five shortstops in the league according to the advanced defensive metrics, such as Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). As a matter of fact, he had a strong case for winning a Gold Glove, but Troy Tulowitzki isn't a bad choice either.
The other thing to make note of is that Barmes started the season on the disabled list and therefore played in twenty-two less games than Lee. Depending on your definition of the word "value" that could work in his favor.
Still, Barmes did play in twenty-three more games than Pence did, which does not work in Pence's favor. Another factor not working in Pence's favor is his replacement Brian Bogusevic actually posted a higher WAR than he did in thirteen less games. It's not a significant difference but a 27 year old prospect posting WAR similar to Pence is something to think about.
With all that said I think Justice and David are overlooking one thing, the July trade deadline. While Pence did finish the season with the Phillies the fact that the Astros netted four prospects, three of which ended up in our top 5 rankings, is worth throwing into the debate. Again, this is all dependent on your definition of value and how you view the award.
Obviously when voting on an award like this the focus is on the Major League team, but the trade did improve the organization as a whole. I highly doubt this was something on the minds of the voters but it's something to think about.
In the end, voting for Pence was just silly. There are two candidates that could and should of been considered over Pence, traditional and advanced statistics both make that point crystal clear. Either some voters had an axe to grind or they didn't even bother putting much thought into their vote, which is a reflection on them not the Astros.
For the record I would of gone with Michael Bourn.