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Andrew Miller won Reliever of the Year over Wade Davis because reasons

Andrew Miller won the AL Reliever of the Year award. Many think Wade Davis was better. Are they correct or is this just midwest bias?

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Miller won the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.  Royals fans may find this curious, since Wade Davis has been an American League Reliever in the year 2015.  Royals fans really like Wade Davis.  Yankees fans really like Andrew Miller.  This has caused people to argue on the internet.  Some are reporting that Wade Davis was ineligible for the award, since he was not a closer for most of the year.  Still, this has caused people to argue on the internet.  Maybe Kansas City and New York just don't have enough to disagree about right now.

Wade Davis has dominated all year, and it has been televised.  Kansas City has been watching.  It certainly feels like Wade Davis was the best reliever in the American League.  Unfortunately, feelings can be a poor indicator of truth.  Maybe the cold, calculating, Beyond the Box Score reading, RBI doubting part of our brains has been clouded by bias and exposure.  Fortunately baseball gives us numbers.  Numbers are a good indicator of truth. Well, except for when numbers are subject to variance in which case we have other numbers to tell us how much we should tr...

Here are some statistics for Wade Davis and Andrew Miller:

Wade Davis 61.2 36 40.7% 8.1% 0.73 .241 48.3% 1.90 2.16 2.06 2.0
Andrew Miller 67.1 17 31.1% 8.0% 0.4 .200 38.4% 0.94 2.29 3.07 2.0

Miller posted exactly the same WAR as Davis.  Davis struck out a significantly higher percentage of batters and generated a higher rate of ground balls giving him a significant advantage in xFIP.  Miller allowed fewer of his fly balls to go over the wall and posted a much lower BABIP.  This explains how Miller was able to post an FIP similar to that of Davis and an ERA that is significantly lower.  Are that HR/FB rate and BABIP due to skill, luck, or external factors? Who was better? You'll have to decide for yourself.

Go ahead.


Take some time right now.

The most important thing to take away from this analysis is that it is completely and exactly false. Fortunately this is the most useful type of false.  It is just an adjustment away from being completely and exactly true.  If you switch the names 'Davis' and 'Miller' in the first half of this post, you have a very accurate comparison of their 2015 seasons.

Perhaps you found yourself thinking, "Wow, Miller was much better than I thought.  It looks like he really was the best reliever in 2015."  Validation!  Your head and your heart agree.  This is a good place to be.

Perhaps you found yourself lighting another torch and continuing to make a passionate case for Davis.  That's fine.  Don't worry about it.  You've just found yourself in an Andrew Miller fan's shoes.  Walk a mile and you can criticize them for anything.  It's the law.

Perhaps you stopped reading this post too soon and are now writing a comment.  Have fun out there.

Perhaps you saw through this from the start, and you are bored.

Individual awards in team sports are usually silly.  The rules of baseball make individual long term distinction difficult, so we come up with weird ways to give that recognition.  Voting on awards forces people to make an absolute choice even when there is little to distinguish that choice from others. Defending these forced choices causes people to argue on the internet.  Imagine if a sport picked its actual champion through a process that involved voting by a group of fallible, biased, people.  That would be frustrating chaos.  Roll Tide.

The important thing is that the Royals are in the World Series.  They're even winning the dang thing.  Winning will claim the one trophy that actually matters, and no east, west, north, or south coast bias can take it from them.