Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A thought on journalism

The best pieces of journalism will be overlooked for more attention grabbing headlines and articles.  This will likely lead to an increase of journalists working with third parties to promote the article, either in good faith or not.  The most heavily trafficked articles are not necessarily the best journalistic articles.  The goal of having quality journalism and having more page views should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but yet they are.  The quality of journalism is likely to decline because of it.

Despite claims that people are tired of ideological preferential treatment in their media, more and more people use the internet as an echo chamber for their beliefs.  It has become all too common for people to complain about not being able to find media they trust, when they really mean, it is hard to find a media source that agrees with their already held beliefs.


Bold predictions for 2014

I'm just going to make a quick list of 14 predictions for the next year.  I'll explain why I came to these conclusions in a post for each of the predictions.

I'll start out with my boldest ones first:

1. Hillary Clinton will announce she is not running for President.

2. Paul Ryan will announce that he is not running for President.

3. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, will become a net positive for Democratic candidates running in 2014.

One that looked much more bold a few weeks ago:

4. The Democratic Party will not re-take the House of Representatives in 2014.

A few Senate predictions:

5. Mitch McConnell will lose his Senate seat in 2014. (I'm feeling less confident in this prediction every day.)

6. The TEA Party movement will largely lose its influence after the 2014 Senate elections including losses in Georgia and an inability to unseat Mitch McConnell.

A gubernatorial prediction:

7. John Kasich will be re-elected in Ohio.  This will continue the trend of Governors who agreed to expand Medicaid in their state to get re-elected.

A short list of the rest that I feel fairly confident in:

8. More stories will come out about Chris Christie, unseating him as the moderate favorite to become the Republican nominee.

9. A prominent politician will come out of the closet.

10. John Boehner will announce he is no longer interested in being the Speaker of the House.

11. The Democratic Party will win more votes than the Republican Party in the 2014 elections.  This will fuel claims that the Republican Party has gerrymandered districts to keep the control of the House of Representatives.

12. There will be a continued push by President Barack Obama for gun control, immigration reform, and raising the minimum wage before the 2014 mid-term elections.

13. A few political "outsiders" will announce their candidacies for President, fueling speculation as to whether we should have someone outside the normal realm of politics be President.

14. Marco Rubio will announce initial interest in running for President but ultimately decide not to run for President.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A primary to watch

In 2014, Nebraska will have a Senate election to replace the retiring Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE).  In Nebraska, the Senator will likely be a Republican, barring an unforeseen upset.  This is especially true since there is not a declared candidate for the Democratic party. The choices for the Republican primary and basically your Senator if you're from Nebraska, are really between Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse.

Osborn won election to the State Treasurer's office in 2006 by nearly 50 points over the Nebraska party challenger John Gaithings.  While being the state treasurer of Nebraska, he tried to bring more transparency to the state treasurer's office, because that's the biggest problem with the treasurer's office.  Nebraska's government drew by 4.75% during his tenure, but his office cut 12.8% from his budget.  He did this, in part, by cutting two jobs from his office and freezing the salaries of the top seven managers in his office.  In June of 2013, he announced he would be seeking the Senate seat that would be vacated by the retiring Johanns.

Sasse served as chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Policy from 2003 to 2005.  From 2005 to 2006, he was the chief of staff for Representative Jeff Fortenberry's office.  He got a promotion in 2007, to serve as the U.S. assistant secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush until the end of Bush's tenure.  In October of 2009, Sasse was announced as the president of Midland University.  He announced a policy of guaranteeing students would graduate in four years, in 2011.  He attributed the growth of the freshman class in 2012, to this policy.  The Higher Learning Commission, the school's accrediting agency, announced that Midland University was "on notice."  Midland University will have to file final reports to the Higher Learning Commission in 2014.  In October of 2013, Sasse announced that he would be seeking the Senate seat.

Sasse criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in September of 2013 asking McConnell to show real leadership.  He later met McConnell in November, where McConnell reportedly yelled at Sasse.  This might be in part due to the video but is more likely because of an endorsement Sasse won.  The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), which has a TEA Party slant to it, is run by Jim DeMint and allies.  The SCF is targeting McConnell and has been critical of him.  The meeting between Sasse and McConnell likely went south because of the endorsement.  Reportedly, McConnell also asked Sasse when he was communicating with the leadership of the SCF.

But these endorsements begin to make things a bit more difficult.  While Sasse was able to get an endorsement from the SCF and another TEA party backed group, the Club for Growth, Osborn picked up his own notable national Republican groups.  FreedomWorks, a conservative group, decided to back Osborn for the primary.  Dick Armey continued his feud with his former organization by deciding to back Sasse.  Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) also decided to back the president of Midland University.  Of course all this meddling in a statewide race could prove to be counterproductive for those supporters.  Current Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg lost the 2012 Republican Senate Primary despite being endorsed by the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the SCF.  Deb Fischer ran in the primary based on the idea that outside groups don't know what's best for Nebraska.  She continued to run on that in the general election.  She continued to hammer Bob Kerrey on his out of state ties, as well as his political allies.  Fischer would have won, most likely, without these attacks.  But they showed the distrust Nebraskans seem to have with the Washington insiders.  Osborn knows how to play this, criticizing Sasse after his Club for Growth endorsement.

It could turn into an interesting primary to watch.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The gubernatorial darkhorse: Scott Walker

Despite Scott Walker seemingly to have been around forever, Governor Walker is just now finishing his first term as Governor of Wisconsin.  Walker's first term was marked by controversy when he decided to cut collective bargaining rights for public union employees.  There was a statewide recall vote, which Walker survived, thanks to the help of his supporters and those who didn't believe in a recall, in the first place.  He is running for re-election in 2014 but has not ruled out the idea of running for President or not serving a four-year term as Governor.

But if he's serious about running for President in 2016, he needs to be able to win re-election in Wisconsin by a somewhat convincing margin.  His favorability numbers for Wisconsin are fairly low at 48/49 via Public Policy Polling.  The reason for these numbers might be in part due to low job growth.  He promised at the beginning of his first term that Wisconsin would add 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of his first term.  According to the Current Employment Statistics, Walker has created 88,000 jobs in his nearly three years as Governor.  Because of his low favorability numbers, I was willing to write off Walker running for President, or even have a real shot at re-election in Wisconsin.  But, Walker leads Democratic challengers in head to heat match-ups leading Mary Burke, 48-42 and Kathleen Vinehout 47-41.

If Walker runs for President, he has some work to do.  The recent poll in Iowa that found his statemate Paul Ryan winning the Iowa caucus found that 46% of Republicans viewed Walker favorably.  His favorability among all Iowa voters was 26/26.  Public Policy Polling, who does polls for the 206 race, already found that Walker was only polling at 3% among the GOP candidates.  He would need to work on his name recognition, if he was serious about running in 2016.  Somewhat surprisingly, Walker was polling at 10% with those who consider themselves moderate.  The more conservative wing of the GOP base have found others to support, instead of Walker.  The last poll that Public Policy Polling conducted was during the height of Ted Cruz's popularity.  As Cruz's popularity fades, Republicans will begin to look for a conservative voice that can also appeal to moderates.  The more conservative wing of the GOP has already voiced displeasure with Chris Christie.  Christie's popularity with those who consider themselves "very conservative" is extremely low, polling at 3% according to Public Policy Polling.  Those members of the GOP who consider themselves to be moderate or somewhat liberal are much more supportive of Christie.   If the view that the Republican Party needs to nominate someone outside of Washington, D.C., Walker might get another shot.

In all honesty, even knowing the polling numbers, I was not impressed with Walker's campaign for President.  But I heard him on NPR give an interview about his new book.  In the interview, he gives a very calm description about his battles with organized labor.  He talks about how reasonable his views were and how he was able to compromise with them, without giving up his Conservative ideals.  This will appeal to Republicans everywhere.  Even some moderates.  Walker's ending quote in the NPR article highlighted what he saw as his biggest problem.  It wasn't that his views were wrong or that they were unpopular.  He was just "so eager to fix things that I came in and just fixed them without talking about them."  Of course this is a ridiculous view.  But it's what many people want to hear, a pragmatic problem solver who shares their view.  He, not only, fixes things, he does it the right way.  He should just explain it to more people.

Walker was one of 25 Republican governors who  rejected the Medicaid expansion with the Affordable Care Act.  Walker wanted to transfer many people about of BadgerCare, the Wisconsin version of Medicaid.  At the same time that Walker announced cancelling the health insurance plans of 77,000 Wisconsinites, he announced adding 83,000 Wisconsinites to the program.  The 77,000 were cut off was because he changed eligibility income from 200% above the poverty line to 100%.  Those who make between 100-200% of the poverty line now have to buy health insurance on the state health care exchange.

In doing so, Walker tacitly endorsed the Affordable Care Act.  "You're going to hear some detractors claim that moving people to the private market or to the exchanges, isn't affordable."  But he argues that people aren't aware of how the subsidies will drive down the cost of coverage.  He stated that many people will find monthly premiums under $20.  But Walker also stated that he would tweak his plan because of the "troubled" roll-out of the healthcare.gov website.  Apparently, Walker only agrees with the Affordable Care Act, when it suits him.  A non-partisan review estimates that this move and rejecting federal dollars for Medicaid, will cost the state $460 million for the rest of the decade.  But Walker will continue to fight for the soul of the Republican by refusing to move to the center.

Walker needs to continue to doing interviews, promoting his book, and needs to get re-elected  in Wisconsin, if he wants a shot at running for President in 2016.  As more Republican strategist believe the Republican Party needs to look outside of Washington, D.C. for presidential aspirations, they will continue to look for a real leader.  While Republican leaders such as Chris Christie have angered the base of the Republican Party, Walker will look to be a viable alternative.  




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It was the Thad

Long-time Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran (R) announced, recently, that he would be seeking re-election in 2014.  Cochran, age 76, has support from many Republican leaders in the state but will face a primary challenge from a Conservative State Legislator in Chris McDaniel.  According to Politico, many insiders in Mississippi were expecting Cochran to step down, because he had only raised $50,000 in the third quarter of 2013.  Per OpenSecrets, Cochran has just over $800,000 cash on hand for his re-election campaign.   Prominent organizations known for challenging the Republican incumbent have already got involved in the race. The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) has put just under $50,000 in the coffers of McDaniel for the primary challenge.  The SCF, Club for Growh, and the Madison Project have endorsed McDaniel in his potential run.

A poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) released on November 19, 2013 found that McDaniel had a favorability among GOP primary voters of 33/17 and a statewide favorability of 19/31.  But there's not great news for Cochran, according to the poll.  35% of GOP primary voters stated that they would vote for Cochran in the Republican primary but 55% said that they would favor someone more Conservative.  In a head to head match-up, Cochran leads McDaniel in the GOP primary 44-38. Cochran's favorability is unlikely to move much among primary voters, being at 45/42.  Cochran's statewide favorability is 44/40.

Even in a conservative state, such as Mississippi, there may be some fear that a more conservative candidate could not get elected in a statewide election.  In hypothetical match-ups Cochran defeats all Democratic challengers, ranging 2-17 points as his margin of victory.  But McDaniel does not fare as well, statewide.  McDaniel leads former Congressman Travis Childers and former Governor Ronnie Musgrove by 3 points each.  But McDaniel is trailing Attorney General Jim Hood by 2 points.

The strongest candidate, by far, for the Democratic nomination is Attorney General Jim Hood.  Hood has not announced if he will run for Senate in 2014, or not.  But, if he does he poses a serious threat to both Cochran and McDaniel.  Mississippi could actually have a competitive Senate election in 2014.

Regardless, McDaniel's statewide appeal trails Cochran.  While he might be able to outperform Cochran at the polls for the primary, he is clearly, not as strong of a candidate as Cochran.  But who knows?  McDaniel might be one of the few TEA Party aligned candidates who outperforms the polls.  The historical evidence suggests that while the primary challenges might be a positive for the primary voters, they consistently fail to show up for the general election.




Monday, December 9, 2013

Legalizing weed and same-sex marriage

Colorado, in 2012, legalized marijuana.  Earlier in 2013, the state also legalized same-sex civil unions. But many Coloradans want to go to the next step and legalize same-sex marriages. According to a new poll in Public Policy Polling, the two may have more in common, than you think, at first glance.

Let's take a look at how Coloradans feel about the legalization of marijuana.

Legal
Illegal
Not sure
53
38
9

Almost identical numbers are found when you look at how Coloradans feel about same-sex marriage.

Allowed
Not allowed
Not sure
53
39
8

I'll mention, just briefly, that fully 80% of Coloradans believe that same-sex couples should have legal recognition of their relationship, either in the form of marriage or civil unions.

But let's look to see who makes up these majorities for favoring the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage.

First, we'll look at who they voted for in 2012.

Marijuana:



Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Someone else/Not sure
Legal
71
33
61
Illegal
20
59
33
Not sure
9
8
8

Same-sex marriage:


Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Someone else/Not sure
Allowed
81
25
42
Not allowed
13
67
31
Not sure
5
8
27


That's not as close, as I'd thought it would be, but let's see if there's a closer cross-tab out there.

Ideology is not a good predictor, in this case.

Marijuana


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Legal
76
72
55
43
24
Illegal
20
22
33
47
69
Not sure
4
6
12
10
7

Same-sex marriage:


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Allowed
93
82
57
36
9
Not allowed
7
13
32
55
81
Not sure
-
5
11
9
10

Men, as we see in the next charts like getting high, but still somewhat afraid of same-sex marriage.  Men are, generally, less supportive of same-sex marriage than women, nationwide.

Here's how the gender difference affects opinions on marijuana:

Man
Woman
Legal
55
51
Illegal
39
38
Not sure
6
11
Same-sex marriage:


Man
Woman
Allowed
48
57
Not allowed
42
36
Not sure
10
7
I'm skipping a couple of cross-tabs, to drop down to age.  Unfortunately, Public Policy Polling does not do a great job varying between ages, here.  We see what we see in almost every poll done on same-sex marriage, younger voters support it more often than older voters.  But, we see basically the same support for marijuana legalization amongst youngsters as we do for same sex marriage. 

Marijuana:


18-45
46-65
Older than 65
Legal
64
50
38
Illegal
31
40
49
Not sure
5
10
14

Same-sex marriage:


18-45
46-65
Older than 65
Allowed
60
52
41
Not allowed
32
41
47
Not sure
7
6
13

The strongest correlation between the cross-tabs, is pretty clearly age.  This is not that surprising but something to consider as we continue policies, nationwide.
  

Keep your friends close...

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has to continue a fight that started in 2006.  According to National Review, a feud began between McConnell and Jim DeMint over the fight over earmarks. DeMint, not so surprisingly, wanted a war on earmarks, but he did not have the ear of McConnell.  Over the last seven years, the feud has gotten ugly.  Per National Review, McConnell called DeMint "a self-destructive showboat, whose tactics, such as the government shutdown, can only lead to disaster."  DeMint fired back that McConnell is "[a] petty, vindictive tyrant who pushes a mushy agenda behind the scenes."  In McConnell's defense, he doesn't have teeth.

Senator DeMint formed the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) in 2008.  The SCF raised and spent $16 million in the election cycle of 2012.  The biggest recipients of the cash was Josh Mandel, a failed Senate candidate in 2012 at nearly $394,000 and Senator Ted Cruz at $385,000.  The SCF backed two different Republican candidates in Nebraska for Senate, contributing to both Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer's campaign.  The SCF is divorced from the Republican Party, as a whole.  In 2012, they spent $10 million against Republicans.  They backed Richard Mourdock over long-time Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana.  In Missouri, they backed failed Senate candidate Todd Akin, even after many donors from the Republican party deserted him.  Curiously, they did not have a way of shutting it down.  The SCF is quick to point out that they are not affiliated with the Republican Party. DeMint has not been vindictive or petty, at all.  His organization has spent over $100,000 backing the TEA Party endorsed Matt Bevin and $21,500 specifically against McConnell.  The super PAC associated with the SCF has spent $330,000 on ads criticizing McConnell, as well.

McConnell's team has been spending money, not bothering with the primary, but focusing on Democratic candidate Alison Lundgren Grimes.  The proxy war between two of the de facto leaders of the Conservative brand might extend to more groups.  The TEA Party affiliated Club for Growth has not participated in the primary, yet.  Club for Growth has given McConnell a good lifetime score but will likely get involved, at some point, in the primary.

Despite the backing of the SCF and his own wallet, Bevin is currently trailing McConnell in a poll, trailing 50-17 with 33% unsure.  According to the poll administered by MoveOn, McConnell's favorability is 42/52; however, three quarters of GOP Primary voters do not have an opinion on Bevin.  Bevin could make the primary potentially interesting if he is able to win over some of the voters who currently do not have an opinion on him.





Saturday, December 7, 2013

Michaud About Nothing

Maine Congressman Mike Michaud (D) decided to write an op-ed article about his sexuality.  Apparently, there was a whisper campaign in Maine about whether he was gay, writing in his op-ed for the Bangor Daily News, "allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: 'Yes I am. But why should it matter?'"  He continues, arguing that this should not be seen as a big announcement, "that may seem like a big announcement to some people.  For me, it's just a part of who I am."  Michaud, who is running for governor of Maine, would become the first openly gay person to be governor of any state.

Michaud is running against embattled Governor incumbent Republican Paul LePage and Independent lawyer Eliot Cutler.  Let's see how Michaud is doing in this race and see if his announcement makes a difference in the election.  The below table is how the governor's race looks based on polls from Public Policy Polling.

Date
Michaud
LePage
Cutler
01/21/13
30
34
26
08/26/13
39
35
18
11/12/13
38
36
15

There's a change of about 3% electing to choose "not sure" as an option from August.  With probably a little bit more than 1% switching from Michaud to "not sure."  We can assume this because Michaud generally picks up Cutler supporters.  When Public Policy Polling takes out Cutler from the polling we get the following numbers:

Date
Michaud
LePage
01/21/13
57
36
08/26/13
54
39
11/12/13
53
39

So, we're seeing probably about a 1% or so change in terms of actual voting

I'll also track Michaud's favorability to see if there was a notable difference after coming out in the op-ed.

Date
Favorable
Unfavorable
01/21/13
58
23
08/26/13
53
30
11/12/13
51
33
So, there might be about a 5 point swing in favorability based on that tracking.

Of course, Public Policy Polling asked if his coming out would make a difference in their voting habits.  

More likely
Less likely
No difference
Not sure
12
15
71
2

This is basically what we're seeing in the overall numbers.  There's about 3% of the electorate not really sure who they are going to vote for.  Some of them might be former Cutler supporters who are debating between Michaud and Cutler.  Maybe there is about 1% who are leaving Michaud for "not sure" or LePage, but it's hard to judge.   Of course, to really judge this, we'd want to do a sample from previous Michaud supporters to now.  

Baseball awards: NL Edition

I would like to make for End of Season Awards for baseball, so that it is easier for us to make Hall of Fame cases for players, but I'm sure you already know that.  I'll discuss the All-NL team for 2013.  In case you missed it, last time.  I'm choosing 2 players at each non-pitching position.  Then I'm choosing 6 starters and 3 relievers to round out the 25 man roster.  I'll also discuss who I would choose for the MVP and Cy Young Award vote, if I had one.

If I use a term that you're not familiar with, here is a helpful dictionary for the various stats, I use.

Catcher

Name PA ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Def fWAR WAR/PA
Yadier Molina 541 0.158 0.319 0.359 0.477 0.362 134 -2.2 17.1 5.6 0.0103512
Buster Posey 595 0.156 0.294 0.371 0.45 0.357 133 -4.2 8.2 4.8 0.00806723
Russell Martin 506 0.151 0.226 0.327 0.377 0.315 101 -0.6 22.7 4.1 0.00810277
Jonathan Lucroy 580 0.175 0.28 0.34 0.455 0.345 118 -5.6 10.2 3.6 0.0062069

This one is fairly obvious for the starter's role.  It might be that Yadier Molina is even more valuable if you add in the research that thas been done with pitch framing.  This might not come up with choosing the starter, but I believe that Molina is more valuable than his 5.6 WAR suggests.  Buster Posey had a fantastic offensive season but he was able to rack up even more plate appearances by being plugged in at first base.  Russell Martin added even more value with pitch framing.  Dave Cameron at Fangraphs wrote a fantastic article arguing for Martin's candidacy as an MVP candidate.  I believe that Molina is the starter for this roster.  I will go with Posey as the 2nd catcher but, it's tough.

Starter: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Reserve: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

First Base

Name PA ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Def fWAR
Paul Goldschmidt 710 0.249 0.302 0.401 0.551 0.404 156 0.4 -7 6.4
Joey Votto 726 0.186 0.305 0.435 0.491 0.4 156 -0.6 -10.1 6.2
Freddie Freeman 629 0.181 0.319 0.396 0.501 0.387 150 -1.2 -8.7 4.8
Freddie Freeman had a great season at first base, but it's hard to argue he was better than Joey Votto or Paul Goldschmidt.  The real question is who do I choose as a starter for this team.  While Votto had a superior On-base percentage, his offensive contribution was the same as Paul Goldschmidt.  We're really picking nits at this point.  I think Goldschmidt had a slightly better season than Votto, but it's so close, I'm choosing based on defense and base running.

Starter: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Reserve: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

Second Base

Name PA ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Def fWAR Column12
Matt Carpenter 717 0.163 0.318 0.392 0.481 0.381 147 4.1 1.3 7 0.007344633
Chase Utley 531 0.191 0.284 0.348 0.475 0.356 126 1.4 3.3 3.9 0.004900181
Neil Walker 551 0.167 0.251 0.339 0.418 0.333 114 -0.3 0.6 2.7 0.0109375
This one has an obvious starter in Matt Carpenter.  The backup is pretty obvious, too.  Chase Utley had a good season and deserves to be on the team.

Starter: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Reserve: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

Third Base

Name PA ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Def fWAR
David Wright 492 0.207 0.307 0.39 0.514 0.391 155 4.4 5.4 6
Juan Uribe 426 0.16 0.278 0.331 0.438 0.334 116 1.3 25.3 5.1
Chase Headley 600 0.15 0.25 0.347 0.4 0.33 113 -3 9.2 3.6
Todd Frazier 600 0.173 0.234 0.314 0.407 0.319 100 1.3 11.7 3.3
Pedro Alvarez 614 0.24 0.233 0.296 0.473 0.33 111 0.6 1.8 3.1
Ryan Zimmerman 633 0.19 0.275 0.344 0.465 0.353 125 2.8 -12.3 3













David Wright is the obvious choice as the starter.  As for the reserve, I have to question the defensive metrics that show Uribe to be so valuable.  I know he's a former shortstop moving over to third base, so you'd assume he's a good defender there.  But I don't know if he's worth that much.  But even with that caveat, he had a better offensive season than almost every other third baseman.  So, even if you reduce the defensive metrics to be worth closer to 10 runs or 1 win, then Uribe is still ahead of all of them.  I'm torn.  If Ryan Zimmerman didn't have throwing troubles throughout the season, he'd be the obvious choice.  But I think ultimately, I'll choose Uribe because of his good offensive season, even if I think the defensive numbers might inflate his value a bit.

Starter: David Wright, New York Mets
Reserve: Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers

Shortstop

Troy Tulowitzki 512 0.229 0.312 0.391 0.54 0.4 143 -0.6 11.9 5.6
Hanley Ramirez 336 0.293 0.345 0.402 0.638 0.442 191 -1.1 3.3 5.1
Ian Desmond 655 0.173 0.28 0.331 0.453 0.341 116 3.3 11.6 5
Andrelton Simmons 658 0.149 0.248 0.296 0.396 0.303 91 -1.6 31.6 4.7

This one is basically, how much do you value Hanley Ramirez's season even though he had almost half the plate appearances as the other shortstops.  He had an amazing half season as a shortstop.  I honestly, have no idea.  Ian Desmond had an all-star caliber season in Washington.  Andrelton Simmons would be defensive player of the year if MLB gave out an award like this.  Simmons was a ridiculous defensive shortstop, he had a better than expected offensive season, too.  Ultimately, I think Ramirez's ridiculous half-season should be rewarded.  Even if I get a little upset for devaluing durability a bit.  I'm choosing him as the starter over another injury-prone shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki.

Starter: Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Reserve: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

Outfield

Name PA Iso Avg OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Def fWAR
Andrew McCutchen 674 0.19 0.317 0.404 0.508 0.393 155 5.1 9.3 8.2
Carlos Gomez 590 0.222 0.284 0.338 0.506 0.363 130 6.2 26.5 7.6
Hunter Pence 687 0.2 0.283 0.339 0.483 0.356 133 6.1 -1.9 5.4
Shin-soo Choo 712 0.178 0.285 0.423 0.462 0.393 151 -0.6 -13.3 5.2
Carlos Gonzalez 436 0.289 0.302 0.367 0.591 0.408 149 5.6 2.5 4.9
Jayson Werth 532 0.214 0.318 0.398 0.532 0.403 160 0.3 -9 4.6
Starling Marte 566 0.161 0.28 0.343 0.441 0.344 121 7.2 4.9 4.6
Gerrardo Parra 663 0.135 0.268 0.323 0.403 0.318 96 -0.9 26 4.6
Matt Holliday 602 0.19 0.3 0.389 0.49 0.383 148 2.2 -11.4 4.5
Jay Bruce 697 0.216 0.262 0.329 0.478 0.344 117 0.3 2.8 4.1
Marlon Byrd 579 0.22 0.291 0.336 0.511 0.364 136 0.5 -3.7 4.1
Yaisel Puig 432 0.215 0.319 0.391 0.534 0.398 160 -4.2 -0.7 4
Chris Denorfia 520 0.116 0.279 0.337 0.395 0.323 108 3.1 12.8 3.9
Bryce Harper 497 0.212 0.274 0.368 0.486 0.371 137 1.8 -2.1 3.8
A.J. Pollock 482 0.14 0.269 0.322 0.409 0.321 98 1.5 18.5 3.6
Denard Span 662 0.102 0.279 0.327 0.38 0.313 97 2.4 12.4 3.5
Jayson Heyward 440 0.173 0.254 0.349 0.427 0.344 120 -0.5 9.2 3.4
Justin Upton 643 0.201 0.263 0.354 0.464 0.357 129 5.6 -16.3 3.2
The first two choices for the team are pretty obvious in Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gomez.  Gomez was a great defender, just like we knew he would be when he was traded for Johann Santana.  I'm not bitter or anything.  McCutchen is one of my favorite players in the league.  He is very entertaining to watch.  For the third outfielder as the starter, I'm choosing the best offensive outfielder in the league in Jayson Werth.  For the reserves, I'm adding Choo, because he wouldn't have to struggle playing centerfield for this team.  I'm not thrilled about it but Pence had a great season.  I trust offensive metrics more than defensive metrics so I'm choosing Carlos Gonzalez over Gerrardo Parra for the final spot. But it's super close.

Starters: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals

Reserves: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

Starting Pitchers

Name IP K/9 ERA FIP xFIP fWAR RA9 WAR fWAR/IP RA9/IP Average
Clayton Kershaw 236 8.85 1.83 2.39 2.88 6.5 8.8 0.02754237 0.037288 0.032415
Adam Wainwright 241.67 8.16 2.94 2.55 2.8 6.2 5.4 0.02565482 0.022345 0.024
Matt Harvey 178.33 9.64 2.27 2 2.63 6.1 6 0.03420625 0.033645 0.033926
Cliff Lee 222.67 8.97 2.87 2.82 2.78 5.1 5.3 0.02290385 0.023802 0.023353
Mat Latos 210.67 7.99 3.16 3.1 3.56 4.4 3.9 0.02088575 0.018512 0.019699
Jhoulys Chacin 197.33 5.75 3.47 3.47 3.97 4.3 4.2 0.02179091 0.021284 0.021538
Jose Fernandez 172.67 9.75 2.19 2.73 3.08 4.2 5.7 0.02432385 0.033011 0.028667
Cole Hamels 220 8.26 3.6 3.26 3.44 4.2 3.1 0.01909091 0.014091 0.016591
A.J. Burnett 191 9.85 3.3 2.8 2.92 4 2.7 0.02094241 0.014136 0.017539
Madison Bumgarner 201.33 8.9 2.77 3.05 3.32 3.7 4.4 0.01837779 0.021855 0.020116
Stephen Strasburg 183 9.39 3 3.21 3.15 3.2 3.3 0.01748634 0.018033 0.01776
Homer Bailey 209 8.57 3.49 3.31 3.34 3.7 3.5 0.01770335 0.016746 0.017225
Zack Greinke 177.67 7.5 2.63 3.23 3.49 2.9 4.8 0.0163224 0.027016 0.021669

Matt Harvey was so great until he got hurt.  Clayton Kershaw had a great season, again.  Adam Wainwright continued his brilliance.  Those are my first three starters.  Cliff Lee and Jose Fernandez join them.  For the final spot, I narrowed it down between Mat Latos and Madison Bumgarner.  I think Bumgarner had the slightly better season, even accounting for the ballpark.  

Starting pitchers: 
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

Relief Pitchers

Mark Melancon 71 8.87 1.39 1.64 2.05 2.5 2.6 0.03521127 0.03662 0.035915 34 6
Craig Kimbrel 67 13.16 1.21 1.93 1.95 2.2 3.2 0.03283582 0.047761 0.040299 39 5
Kenley Jansen 76.67 13.03 1.88 1.99 2.06 2.2 2.8 0.0286944 0.03652 0.032607 38 8
Aroldis Chapman 63.67 15.83 2.54 2.47 2.07 1.6 1.9 0.02512957 0.029841 0.027485 39 7
Brad Ziegler 73 5.42 2.22 3.4 3.32 0.6 2.1 0.00821918 0.028767 0.018493 37 8
Sergio Romo 60.33 8.65 2.54 2.85 3.2 1.1 1.1 0.01823305 0.018233 0.018233 37 10
Edward Mujica 64.67 6.4 2.78 3.71 3.53 0 1.4 0 0.021648 0.010824 34 6

Outside of Aroldis Chapman's ridiculous strikeouts, it's pretty obvious who the top three relievers were in the National League.  I'd choose Mark Melancon, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen.

Cy Young voting:

5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
4. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
3. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Despite Harvey's dominance with rate stats, he pitched 50 or 60 innings less than Wainwright or Kershaw.  I have a hard time saying that Harvey produced more value than Wainwright or Kershaw.

MVP Voting:

10. Jayson Werth, RF, Washington Nationals
9. Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
8. Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
7. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Matt Carpenter, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
5. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee Brewers
2. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates