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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Awards week: general comments but no selections.

You're safe.  No predictions and no critique of voting except in general.

Friday, November 1, 2013  Why two MVP awards?

(when) two leagues merge and there's only one award

The basic problem is that the objectives/purposes of the awards are not well defined or understood.

1. Most Valuable Player (MVP): you're probably hearing the usual blathering about whether it's the player who helps his team the most or the best player.  Obviously, the best player by definition is the most valuable and the traditional fuzzy thinking is losing ground but it's still prevalent.  You know, there's this sliding scale of how good the MVP candidate is v. how good his teammates are and how well the team does.  Teammates are not allowed to be too good because then they don't need the MVP candidate so much.  But the team must do well enough (now reach the tournament) otherwise the team could suck with or without the MVP candidate.  Of course, they might suck a lot worse without him but that usually gets overlooked.

If the MVP candidate was on a losing team, he generally had no chance.  Notable exceptions: Ernie Banks 1958, 1959; Alex Rodriguez 2003.  Even last season some voters used the fact that his team did not reach the tournament as a factor against Mike Trout and in favor of triple crown batter Miguel Cabrera.

Maybe they should first pick the MVP (or best) on each team.  Announce them as finalists.  Of course, teammates could be the best MVP candidates.  This happened in 1960 and 1961 with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle who finished first and second in two of the closest votes from 1931 through 2012.

2. Cy Young (CY): best pitcher.  This one is pretty clear except in recent decades it has been polluted by relief pitchers winning.

Mike Marshall NL 1974
Sparky Lyle AL 1977
Bruce Sutter NL 1979
Rollie Fingers AL 1981; MVP
Willie Hernandez AL 1984
Steve Bedrosian NL 1987
Mark Davis NL 1989
Dennis Eckersley AL 1992; MVP

Fortunately, the reliever trend only lasted 18 years and even excluded the Mariano Rivera 70 innings a season spasm.  In recent years wins and losses became less dominant and other stuff is evaluated.  Some of it even makes sense.

3. Rookie of the Year: my least favorite.  I can name very few winners.  What the heck is a rookie and who cares?  There's some lame definition but it does not address experience playing in other countries.  This became embarrassingly obvious with Ichiro Suzuki who won in 2001 and Hideki Matsui who lost to Angel Berroa.  No kidding.  I looked it up.

Yesterday on the MLB Network Clubhouse Confidential program Jim Kaat said that he favored one leading National Conference Rookie of the Year candidate over another: Florida/Miami Marlin starting pitcher Jose Fernandez over Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig.  Puig had played in Cuba but that was not Kaat's point.  Kaat said, without contradiction from interviewer/host Brian Kenny, that Fernandez was there from the start and that Puig was not.  No other persons on the program contradicted or explored this.  Too bad.

First and last games and team records:
Fernandez: April 7 (1-4), Sept. 11 (54-90); 32.5 games back
Puig: June 3 (23-32), Sept. 29 (92-70); Dodgers won division by 11 games

Puig contributed to a substantial team turn around and played down the stretch.  Fernandez was there from the start as Kaat had said but he was not there at the finish, not that it would have mattered.  The Marlins never contended.

Fernandez pitched in 28 games, all starts; no complete games.  172.66 innings.  162 innings needed to qualify for leading in an average.

Puig had 432 plate appearances.  502 needed to qualify for leading in an average.

Which brings up one final point about awards and records.  Are they easier to achieve on a bad team that is not contending or on a good team that is contending?

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