Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twins Near the Top

Yesterday, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was named American League MVP, as I and many others expected. Of note for Twins fans is that both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer finished in the top five, with Morneau coming in second behind Pedroia and Mauer finishing fourth behind Kevin Youkilis.

The results of the voting are not terribly surprising. I'm fine with Pedroia winning the award, and it's encouraging to see that Mauer finished in the top five (I'd feared he wouldn't) and that Francisco Rodriguez did not (he came in sixth). Not to slight K-Rod, but for a closer with unexceptional numbers like him to even sniff the Most Valuable Player award would be a pretty major travesty. Naturally, a single voter saw fit to give him a first-place vote.

Star Tribune beat writer La Velle E. Neal III revealed a few of his selections, noting that he ranked Pedroia first, Morneau second, and Mauer fifth. With all due respect, I found it a bit stunning that Neal -- an intelligent baseball mind who seems to be up on the cutting-edge statistical analysis, reads a number of blogs and seems to respect guys who think like Aaron Gleeman -- would rank Mauer fifth, behind Morneau and Kevin Youkilis. (He didn't mention who he ranked fourth on his ballot, but I sincerely hope it wasn't Rodriguez; that would be especially absurd in his case considering his vocal opposition to starting pitchers receiving MVP consideration.) As a Twins fan, I loved watching Morneau all season and appreciated what he was able to do for the Minnesota offense, but looking back, .300/.374/.499 with 23 home runs is just not a very impressive line for a first baseman. Granted, Morneau was terrific with runners in scoring position (.348/.443/.602), Mauer was no slouch (.362/.465/.449). Not to mention Mauer played Gold Glove caliber defense at perhaps the most important defensive position on the field and led the league in hitting, making him the only AL catcher to accomplish that feat other than... Joe Mauer. I just don't see any legitimate argument for ranking Morneau higher than Mauer.

In any case, while I'm a little disappointed in the way Neal voted, I'm not at all disgusted by it. To each his own. And overall I'm just happy to see two Twins finish in the top four, even though I firmly believe their spots should have been switched. What does disgust me, though, is the way some of the other voters cast their ballots. There was, of course, the individual who gave a first-place vote to Rodriguez, who was not only a closer, but perhaps the third or fourth most effective closer in the league. Then there was the individual who gave a fifth-place vote to Jason Bartlett, who posted a stellar 690 OPS. One writer left Pedroia off the ballot completely. Completely!!!

This kind of stuff drives me nuts. I know there are some people out there who say they just stopped caring about how these baseball writers vote on awards like MVP and Cy Young due to the countless examples of sheer idiocy . I know that's a viewpoint that my pal Gleeman has been pushing. But to me, you almost have care about these awards as a baseball fan? What's next, you don't care about the Hall of Fame? Because, like it or not, whether or not a guy gets into the Hall is largely based on how many MVP or Cy Young awards he accumulated during his career. So next you basically have to stop caring about who gets into the Hall of Fame, but man... at that point you're really just ignoring a huge part of the game's heritage and tradition.

Funny, the winners of all six major awards (ROTY, Cy, MVP for each league) have been announced, and I really don't have any problem with a single one of them, but here I am still complaining. I guess that's just the nature of the beast.

On a final note, please make sure to swing by Twins Territory today for the first edition of a series of Offseason Twins Roundtable discussions between Seth Stohs, Alex Halsted and myself (Jesse Lund will hopefully be joining the fray next time around). It's all the nerdy Twins blather you can possibly endure!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who are you to question anyones votes when you think Lidge's 70 innings was more valuable then Lincecum's and Santana's 200+ innings.

Nick N. said...

Is the Cy Young intended to go to the most "valuable" pitcher, or the best pitcher?

A quick glance at the Wikipedia entry on the award yields this first sentence: "The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), one each for the American and National leagues."

I thought Lidge was the best pitcher in the NL this year, all things considered, but it wasn't something I had strong convictions about. I was fine with Lincecum winning it and I'd have been fine with Santana winning it.

Daymonster said...

I agree with Nick on this one, but where do you make the criteria for best pitcher... do you have a minimum amount of innings?

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Nick N. said...

I agree with Nick on this one, but where do you make the criteria for best pitcher... do you have a minimum amount of innings?

I tend to think people get way too worked up over the "criteria" for these awards. Cy Young should go to the best pitcher... I'm fine with people voting for outstanding relievers for the award (though I do think starters should get an edge for throwing more innings, which is why I rarely support relievers). MVP should go to the most valuable player, so I'm fine with people voting for pitchers. What I'm not fine with is first place MVP votes going to perhaps the fifth-best closer in the league simply because he registered a an impressively high number in one particular statistical category.

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