A Final Note on the MVP

We’ve had enough Matsuzaka talk here for Sox fans to forgive a testy YF one last comment on this year’s AL MVP award voting. This is something that’s been touched on previously here, but it seems an important point, and worthy of its own post. For Yankee fans like me, it’s obviously disappointing that Derek Jeter did not win this award. His case, purely by the numbers, was as deserving as any—probably more deserving than any. That said, we would merely have been disapponted, and not upset, had the award gone to Joe Mauer or David Ortiz. Reasonable arguments can be made for either of these players. But reasonable argument can really not be made for Justin Morneau. And the frustration here is not so much that the wrong person has been given an award, but that the baseball community (or at least the community of entrenched writers who vote) refuses to accept the objective tools of analysis that have been the product of the game’s Jamesian revolution. We don’t all need to be hard-core sabermetricians. There are aspects of sabermetrics that are, of course, debatable. But that’s the way any putatively scientific investigation works. For example, educated citizens need to accept the fundamental principles of evolutionary theory, even as the latest biological research coming out of academia is put to the test. The GMs who have followed in Billy Beane’s footsteps (nevermind the Branch Rickeys and Gene Michaels of history) understand this process, and are remaking the game with their knowledge. Writers are obligated to understand what’s happening. A vote for Justin Morneau is an indication of ignorance, and this, rather than the snub of one player or another, is why it is so offensive. On that, we should all, Yanks and Sox fans alike, be able to agree.

Okay. I’m done on this subject. We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

30 comments… add one
  • Holy Crap. I really wish he would have just won the damn thing. This sob-fest if absolutely crazy.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 10:38 am
  • The Post ran a story in which Joe Cowley fails miserably in defending his ballot.
    Mike Vaccaro doesn’t think that Morneau’s selection was an outrage. He does in write about anti-yankee/jeter bias, and warns that Jeter will get the same treatment when he is eligible for Cooperstown.

    attackgerbil November 27, 2006, 10:44 am
  • That’s just silly. How can you listen to ESPN or Fox broadcasts for just five minutes and get the idea there’s an anti-Jeter bias? There might be some joy taken in knocking down the Yankees, which should be expected considering their position as the top year-to-year team in baseball, but to say that it affects balloting for individual players, particularly in the Hall of Fame, is ridiculous.
    OTOH, while I agree that Morneau falls behind Ortiz, Jeter, Mauer, Santana, Dye and Hafner in the MVP race (in no particular order), let’s get a grip here, yfs. You act like this is the first nonsensical MVP choice or the first time a deserving winner got snubbed. 1999 has been mentioned a lot, but I think that was a far more egregious example in which deserving players were snubbed for even pettier, non-statistical reasons than this year.

    Paul SF November 27, 2006, 10:48 am
  • Must have been a cheery Thanksgiving at the YF household. We can see it now…
    “Pass the turkey, please”
    “f*cking Joe Cowley, now there’s a turkey”
    “and the stuffing, too, when you have a chance”
    “You know who should stuff it? Cowley, that POS. That’s who. I can’t eat”.
    “Relax, son, it’s Thanksgiving“.
    “Can it, Mom”.
    Fun times.

    SF November 27, 2006, 10:53 am
  • …sounds like you sox fans after the aaron and gg’s were announced…funny though sf…[dc]

    godwin November 27, 2006, 11:05 am
  • Note the irony of George “I don’t vote for pitchers — except when I do” King writing a story about writers’ inexplicable voting choices.

    Paul SF November 27, 2006, 11:09 am
  • I must have missed the five threads we started about the Gold Glove travesty…

    Paul SF November 27, 2006, 11:10 am
  • I just realized that the Thanksgiving banter at the YF household must have perfectly echoed that at the Jeter household.

    SF November 27, 2006, 11:17 am
  • Paul, you are correct with your FOX and ESPN broadcasts, but those are for the most part east coast entities. Look at the voters for the MVP its much more diverse.

    Seth November 27, 2006, 11:20 am
  • I’m not sure how I can be more clear that the issue here isn’t Jeter. And the fact that awards have been given to the wrong man in the past seems irrelevant to me. Past wrongs don’t make new ones okay. The point, if fact, is that the new ones are worse, to the effect that we now know more about the game than we did in the past. It’s easy to overlook the good-faith errors of astronomers before copernicus. but the flat earthers who persist in their beliefs after new information becomes available….that’s what’s wrong here.

    YF November 27, 2006, 11:21 am
  • Reading the Vaccaro piece more fully, I can see the view that Midwest and West Coast writers may well hate the Yankees and look for ways to stick it to their players, unless it’s overwhelming (although that doesn’t explain the vote for Rodriguez, probably the most unlikable of the Yankees who haven’t admitted in some way to cheating). But he certainly is ignorant or dishonest by saying the HOF voters are made up of the same pool of voters. If all 28 BBWAA MVP voters this year left Jeter off their HOF ballots (assuming they all have votes, and they probably don’t), Jeter still would go in on the first ballot easily. So it remains a silly leap to say that because the MVP voters snubbed Jeter in 2006, the HOF voters will snub him en masse in 2015.

    Paul SF November 27, 2006, 11:24 am
  • To be fair, YF isn’t carping focussed on Jeter’s snub. His central argument:

    ..the frustration here is not so much that the wrong person has been given an award, but that the baseball community (or at least the community of entrenched writers who vote) refuses to accept the objective tools of analysis that have been the product of the game’s Jamesian revolution.
    -and-
    ..this, rather than the snub of one player or another, is why it is so offensive.

    I’m in complete agreement here. The award carries significant weight in the annals of baseball history, and the fact is that it is at serious risk of being marginalized as farcical by the ignorance of the writers.
    Maybe this does not matter. Perhaps it is best that it loses it’s luster since it may not be fixable, but when I think back on what the award represented to me young fan, it seems to be a bit of a shame to see it become a joke.

    attackgerbil November 27, 2006, 11:26 am
  • Argh. Should have previewed, that’s a mess of a post.
    YF isn’t carping or focussed on Jeter’s snub
    and
    what the award represented to me as a young fan
    Fatherhood=lack of sleep=lack of acuracy whne tpiyng.

    attackgerbil November 27, 2006, 11:29 am
  • Reading the Vaccaro piece more fully, I can see the view that Midwest and West Coast writers may well hate the Yankees and look for ways to stick it to their players, unless it’s overwhelming (although that doesn’t explain the vote for Rodriguez, probably the most unlikable of the Yankees who haven’t admitted in some way to cheating).
    Easy, Paul. Everyone loves the Yankees, and thinking that they don’t drool over Jeter and the rest of the team is a terrible mistake on anyone’s part. May the wrath of the internet tough-guy be upon you for assuming such craziness.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 11:39 am
  • For every article you read that portrays the idea of “yankee hating” or “Jeter bashing”, there are ten more that offer praise. I know this as fact. I’ve been told so by a professional.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 11:41 am
  • right on again gerb…i also used to believe that these awards are a big deal…when i heard someone one a big string of gg’s or 3 or 4 mvp’s, that was something…it’s still somewhat of a big deal though because the winners are not exactly chumps, just maybe not always the best choice [as measured by opinion of what’s important to the individual with the opinion]…do i think there’s a widespread anti-jeter movement?…no…no more than the notion that a twin won the mvp because of a groundswell of pro-underdog sentiment…but a little bit of each could have leaked into the voting…human voting to decide the outcome of something has always been flawed, because emotions are a part of the process, and always will be…

    dc November 27, 2006, 11:48 am
  • DC, I agree with you but what’s the alternative: MLB’s version of the BCS?

    Brad November 27, 2006, 11:52 am
  • More weight should at least lower volatility – perhaps more voters might help, though that’s really a bandaid..

    Lar November 27, 2006, 12:05 pm
  • “We’ve had enough Matsuzaka talk here for Sox fans to forgive a testy YF one last comment on this year’s AL MVP award voting.”
    Or not. ;)

    attackgerbil November 27, 2006, 12:34 pm
  • So Brad,
    Your point above “Everyone loves the Yankees, and thinking that they don’t drool over Jeter and the rest of the team is a terrible mistake on anyone’s part. May the wrath of the internet tough-guy be upon you for assuming such craziness.”
    is that Jeter NOT getting the MVP is some sort of anomaly that took place because even though everyone loves Jeter and the Yankees they really really love Justin Morneau more?

    walein November 27, 2006, 12:35 pm
  • Would MLB be better served by rewording the MVP to state “position player”? As it is, I think the MVP was really Johan Santana. But through a selfish logic, many writers (and YF himself) exclude pitchers, even though they aren’t excluded from the vote by rule. That’s a personal imposition that can have great impact on the just awarding of this trophy and to me that’s an opening to controversy. Though I personally believe that an MVP can be (and oftentimes is) a pitcher, I am not averse to this change being made in the interest of clarity. Certainly it would change the voting a bit, and who knows whether or not Johan Santana being excluded from the vote would have helped Jeter (or Morneau, for that matter). Why can’t MLB fix this? Why is there no push for clarity?

    SF November 27, 2006, 12:37 pm
  • All this “everyone loves Jeter” or “there’s an anti East Coast bias” stuff is hooey. YF nails it: the voters are basically stupid antiquarians/luddites, unable to differentiate between gaudy power numbers and other, less obvious types of value.
    Jeter is a (mostly) beloved and respected player, basically everywhere but in Boston (though I imagine the voting writers in Boston would be pleased as punch to vote Jeter MVP, such that it gives them more material to write/brag about). And he barely missed out on the MVP, to a player with big power numbers, from a team that pulled off a major comeback to win a division. It’s not hard to figure out why Morneau won the award, even if is shouldn’t have been his to get. This is a BBWA brainpower issue. Questions of “belovedness” shouldn’t even matter. Most of the voters have little interaction with any of the candidates, other than those on the local beat.

    SF November 27, 2006, 12:43 pm
  • No, Walein. I meant it in the sarcastic way. I absolutely belive there is a anti-Yankee and Jeter bias (a negative one, I mean) in the Midwest and West Coast. I think the Midwest does in fact have some sort of addiction to the underdog, small(er)-market teams. It’s not a knock on Jeter at all, but I definitely think it had something to do with it. But, saying outloud that people might not admire Jeter the same way as NY fans and those who get to see him play everyday get’s people’s underwear bunched up.
    People think that the writer’s are stupid. They’re not stupid, they just don’t admire him as much as Yankee fans think they should. Maybe I’m off base, but I don’t think so. SF definitely has a point, but I don’t agree with the whole sentiment. I think writers look at the Yankees and Jeter’s numbers, then look at the Twinks and make a biased decision based on environments and jealousy. They are after all, writers in other parts of the country, who are trying to appeal to a certain fan base (say, a Tigers or White Sox following). I don’t know, man.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 1:30 pm
  • How about this, Brad:
    The writers have biases. No argument. They are human beings, after all. But the question remains whether or not that the collection of all the different biases from all the different writers (including those biased towards Jeter) add up to enough to deny or award someone a trophy. In my opinion, that’s hard to know, and impossible to prove. I think it all comes out in the wash.
    And I do agree with YF. Though “stupid” may be too strong a word, the writers are certainly habitual, and it shows in this year’s AL MVP choice.

    SF November 27, 2006, 1:47 pm
  • agreed. i don’t think it was entirely the reason, SF. But, I do think it contibuted to the outcome.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 3:21 pm
  • how is there any anti-ny bias when 7 different yankee players received votes? maybe there was too much yankee love. an NL player with a very similar statistical year received only 3 votes total. is there a pittsburgh bias i don’t know about?

    sf rod November 27, 2006, 4:44 pm
  • Yes. There is. I hate the Steelers. Roethlisberger is the worst QB since Trent Dilfer to win a Super Bowl. Man I hate Pittsburgh.

    SF November 27, 2006, 5:42 pm
  • Roethlisberger is the worst QB since Trent Dilfer to win a Super Bowl. Man I hate Pittsburgh.
    Uhh.. Jake Plummer?
    Did I mention that those days are over in Denver?
    On Pittsburgh, I can’t really comment other than to say that without Jake Plummer in the NFL, Big Ben looks really, really bad.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 5:44 pm
  • Oh, to WIN a super bowl… Oh well, other than that, I stand by my comment.

    Brad November 27, 2006, 5:46 pm
  • What YF, Gerb and SF said: this is mostly a “MVP voters are morons” issue. Not a “Jeter shoulda won issue.” I never did decide whether I would’ve ranked Jeter 1st or 2nd (to Mauer). That’s a tossup. If Mauer had won, fine. If Santana had won, fine. I’d have had a little more trouble with Papi. Not because he plays for Boston. I actually respect the hell out of him and like him… I’d happily root for him in any other uniform. I just think Jeter, Mauer and Santana have better cases than Papi. I think I ranked him 4th or 5th. But still, he’s a better candidate than Morneau. I had that guy somewhere between 9th and 12th.
    And that’s the issue. Morneau was a bad choice. Jeter, Mauer, Santana, Papi… and several other guys would’ve been far better choices.
    Did anybody notice that Frank Thomas came in 4th?! Nutty.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) November 28, 2006, 11:48 am

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