American League MVP… Vote for the winner… OR ELSE!

November 21st, 2008 Posted in Rants

As many of you may know, I am a huge baseball nerd.  I follow the sport closely, especially my Minnesota Twins.  Well recently, the end-of-year award winners were announced.  The American League Most Valuable Player, as chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), was Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.

In certain years, there is a clear cut winner of the MVP award.  For example, in 2007, Alex Rodriguez won the award by being named 1st place on 26 of the 28 ballots cast.  In cases like this, where a player was clearly superior to the rest of the league, you expect said player to be on all 28 ballots, but potentially not in first place on all of the ballots.  In 2007, ARod appeared on all 28 ballots, earning 26 first place votes and two second place votes.

This year however, there was no clear cut winner.  Dustin Pedroia, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Kevin Youkilis and Carlos Quentin were all decent choices, but none of them were slam dunks, and all of them had flaws depending on the voter’s individual viewpoint.

Well, Pedroia won, appearing on 16 of the 28 ballots as the first place pick.  Apparently some people out there feel this isn’t good enough, and are outraged that the “unthinkable” has happened: Pedroia didn’t appear at all on one voter’s ballot.

I’m an avid listener of XM 175 (aka. Home Plate on XM/Sirius satellite radio), and since the results were announced on Tuesday, I’ve heard host after host in a twitter over the results: “This guy who didn’t vote for Pedroia should have his post-season awards privileges taken away!”  “What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”  “This is the most unbelievable (BBWAA) voting error ever!”.

Similarly, one week ago, the AL Manager of the Year awards were announced, and one voter chose Ron Gardenhire (from the Twins), while the rest chose Joe Maddon (from the Rays).  Regardless of what my thoughts are on the two managers, both took teams that performed below .500 in 2007 and turned them into contending teams.  Maddon’s team convincingly won their division, while Gardenhire’s team came within one game of the playoffs despite being heavily predicted to finish well below .500.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Gardenhire should be deserving of a few votes.  Why is there a need for unanimity, especially on a topic that lends itself to differing opinions?  Instead we get “This is injustice!”, “They shouldn’t be able to vote”, “I think we need to setup a commission to deem whether these voters should be allowed to vote, based on past votes”

Cut the fucking hyperbole folks.

First off, isn’t this the whole reason there is voting in the first place?  As a group of people, there are bound to be differences in what is viewed as “Most Valuable”.  One person may view power as an important factor.  One person may view clutch hits as an important factor.  One person may view the player’s impact on their team (aka would the team still have won without him).  There are many ways to come to the conclusion on who is most valuable.

Secondly, as I’ve stated above, there was hardly a clear-cut winner, so the omission of a single player, who did play well, but not well enough to be a slam-dunk, should not be as devastating as the talking heads are making it out to be.

I could understand the outrage if Pedroia was a clear-cut winner, but when you look at it, he may not have even been the most valuable player on his own team (teammate Kevin Youkilis placed 3rd in the voting).  This isn’t like the Hall of Fame voting in 2007, where Cal Ripken was inexplicably left off of 8 ballots.  Pedroia was flawed (no power, played on an already talented team, one that may have been playoff bound even without him) and to be insulted that he was left off of one ballot is just downright ridiculous.

Basically, I want to say I support Evan Grant, the voter who left Dustin off his ballot.  He shouldn’t feel that he’s obligated to vote for anyone, and should vote with his heart, regardless of whether it is the popular choice or not.

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