On Thursday afternoon, the Ivy League announced its baseball and softball awards, including Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and all-conference teams. While many of the league’s selections were no-brainers, there were quite a few snubs and surprises. Using wins above replacement, a metric that determines how valuable a player is compared to his or her peers, the Yale Undergraduate Sports Analytics Group and Down The Field analyze how the Ancient Eight did in recognizing its best players, noting who was robbed of an award and whose honors came as surprises.
For its Baseball Player of the Year (POY), the Ivy League recognized Columbia 3B Randell Kanemaru. Kanemaru placed second in offensive WAR, just behind Yale outfielder Tim DeGraw ’19. DeGraw’s strong performance in this week’s Ivy League Championship Series likely gave him the edge, but since the regular season is used to determine the POY, Kanemaru’s selection is completely deserved.
Columbia outfielder Julian Bury took home Rookie of the Year (ROY) in one of the most shocking awards doled out on Thursday. Using WAR, Bury is ranked 39th in the Ancient Eight and is only ranked 5th among freshman. Perhaps most surprisingly, Bury doesn’t even have the highest WAR of any freshman on his own team; that honor belongs to catcher Liam McGill. Simply put, this one is a true shocker.
For its last major award, the Ivy League recognized Dartmouth’s Beau Sulser as the 2017 Pitcher of the Year. Sulser ranks 9th in the Ancient Eight by our pitching WAR metric out of 112 pitchers in the conference. Yet, he is nearly a full win above replacement behind league leader Max Ritchie of Brown, and nearly 0.75 WAR behind Yale ace Scott Politz ’19. Though this choice might be an unpopular one, it isn’t the worst on a day when the Ivy League made some pretty shocking decisions.
Max Ritchie, P (Brown)— Pitching WAR leader, made none of the all-conference teams.
Liam McGill, C/DH (Columbia) — 7th in conference in WAR, named to the All-Ivy Second Team.
Trevor Johnson, CF (Dartmouth) — 10th in conference in WAR, made none of the all-conference teams.
Tim DeGraw, CF (Yale) — Ancient Eight leader in WAR, named to the All-Ivy Second Team.
Peter Lannoo, P (Cornell) — 42nd in pitching WAR, named to the All-Ivy First Team.
Julian Bury, RF (Columbia) — 13th-best OF by WAR, named to the All-Ivy First Team.
For its softball Player of the Year, the Ivy League selected Penn outfielder Leah Allen. This pick was a no-brainer, as Allen led the Ancient Eight in WAR. In fact, YUSAG even predicted this one a day before the Ivy League announced its awards. Not much else to say other than A+ job to the league on this one.
Princeton’s Allison Harvey was named the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year. By our WAR metric, Harvey was the 18th-best player in the Ancient Eight, but only the fourth-best freshman. In fact, Harvey isn’t even the best freshman on the 2017 Tiger team, trailing teammate Megan Donahey in WAR. If we were to give this award out, we would’ve tabbed Columbia’s Sommer Grzybek as ROY. Grzybek was the fifth-best player in the conference this year by our metric, and her 2.13 WAR was nearly an entire win better than Harvey’s 1.37 total.
In probably its worst selection of 2017, the Ivy League chose Princeton’s Claire Klausner as its Pitcher of the Year. Klausner was only the 10th-best pitcher in the Ancient Eight by WAR, and was nearly three entire wins above replacement behind Penn hurler Alexis Sargent. It’s not that Klausner didn’t have a good season, but rather that Sargent had a season for the ages. Last month, YUSAG wrote that Sargent was more valuable to Penn than nearly 80 percent of players were to their respective teams. The only pitcher within one win above replacement of Sargent at season’s end was Harvard’s Kathleen Duncan. Even common metrics, like earned-run average and strikeout rate favor Sargent as the best pitcher in the conference. Simply put, the Ivy League messed this one up big time.
Shelby Kennedy ’19, LF (Yale) — fourth-best WAR in the Ivy League, named to the All-Ivy Second Team.
Sommer Gryzbek, CF and Maddison Gott, SS (Columbia) — fifth- and sixth- best WAR in Ivy League, named to the All-Ivy Second Team and awarded Honorable Mention All-Ivy, respectively.
Kaitlin Okimoto, SS (Brown) seventh-best WAR in the Ivy League, did not receive All-Ivy honors.
Maddy Kaplan, RF (Harvard) — fifth-best OF by WAR, named to the All-Ivy First Team.
Madison Sack ’19, C (Yale) — 31st-most valuable player in the conference by WAR, placed on the All-Ivy First Team.