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Deep thought: with the awards, it's not stats vs. scouts

Sep 24, 2010, 12:04 PM EDT

I promise I’ll get off this Cy Young Award voting thing soon, but I had one more thought.  Or rather, Dan Levy over at Press Coverage had one more thought, and it’s a good one.

While so many baseball arguments tend to break down into a stats vs. scouts, sabermetrics vs. my-own-damn-eyes debate, the AL Cy Young award should not be one of them.  VORP and WAR have been thrown around a bit in the whole Felix Hernandez vs. The World debate, but it’s hardly necessary.

Why? Because the things that separate the candidates — innings pitched, strikeouts, wins, run support — aren’t sabermetric concepts. They’re things that have been a part of baseball — a discussed part of baseball — since they wrote the damn rules down and started playing the game.  The difference in opinion is simply an application of differing values and common sense. That doesn’t mean that each opinion is as good as the next — an informed opinion beats an ill-informed one every time — but it does mean that you should probably ignore anyone who couches the argument in terms of “Moneyball” or “stat geeks” or “crusty old sportswriters” or whatever, because that’s all kind of beside the point.

For my part, it doesn’t take much math to think Felix Hernandez is the Cy Young winner. Those who disagree likewise shouldn’t need to appeal to their experience or authority (or other stats like wins as if they’re the be-all, end-all) and think it ends the debate.  This is really a straightforward baseball and horse sense kind of thing in my mind.

Anyway, check out Dan’s piece. He covers this pretty well, I think.

  1. Sam Lee - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    What are sabermetric concepts? The movement routinely appropriates things that have been part of baseball forever. Hell, Dave Cameron thinks getting on base is an “advanced” stat. I wonder if it was considered in the very first game ever played.
    Just because Felix is a dominant choice that can’t be ignored, doesn’t mean it isn’t the stat geeks, who ironically seem to be bereft of statisticians, versus all of baseball, including the players, coaches and managers. That’s the only concept I’m aware of.

  2. John_Michael - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    I’m guessing that the old thinking went along the lines of: run support probably averages itself out over the course of a season, and certainly a career, so a better pitcher will accumulate more wins than a poorer pitcher. Plus, a pitcher should be gritty/gutty and pitch better when it’s a close game in order to fight for the W.
    And you know what, that makes a lot of sense. This thinking came from an era when pitchers owned the game they started. There weren’t any specialty relievers. If each pitcher goes 9, who won the game?
    I almost buy into that. Except that it’s supported by a false premise. Run support does not even out, it is not there when you need it, and even if the pitcher hits, like in the NL, it’s not something that he can really control. Therefore, using wins as the barometer for pitching effectiveness is just plain bad.

  3. Jonny5 - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    I think regardless of the hubub. Felix wins the AL CY. partly Because of all the backlash people like Craig and Rosenthal are dishing out. Mostly because the facts are in black and white.You cannot hide from facts, you can ignore them for only so long as well. The fact that Grenkie won does tell me there are people who do vote based on the truth. Which when it’s all said and done is simply “Who was the best pitcher in the AL in 2009”? or “Which pitcher gave his team the best chance of winning?” I think it’s still Felix ,after all it isn’t his fault the rest of his teammates are a bunch of poopy pants. To pick CC over Price or Felix is complete douchebaggery, with a hint of ignorance as a garnish.

  4. Panda_Claus - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    OK, I give up. Give the award to Hernandez. The woeful run support isn’t his fault and he should be dutifully rewarded for owning a .500 record. We all know that our country’s values are now based upon what is fair and just, not about what is deserved or earned.
    Just please stop calling him King Felix. Kingdome Felix? That I can live with if only for the irony. But being the second best player on a dreadful team doesn’t make anyone a king. King Suzuki? Maybe. Anyway, it’s sort of like being named King of the Junkyard. It’s a place that doesn’t really warrant a king.
    Who knows, maybe the king title is only supposed to be given to those expected to advance to greatness, not actually to those that have reached it. How else to explain it? Otherwise we’d have King Kobe and King Tommy (Brady) ruling over the sports world. Instead we have King Felix and King James, neither of whom has won anything.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    This is the best line of the article…and the one that totally defines me as a baseball fan…”I can totally see if a writer wants to reject BABIP or xFIP or VORP or even ERA+ as a fair way to measure how good a player is. Frankly, most of the people who use those metrics have no clue how they are calculated. But devaluing pitcher wins is not an advanced stat. It’s common sense.”
    I couldn’t agree more. Pitching wins is common sense. If you watched both the Mariners game and the Yankers game, your eyes will tell you that Hernandez outpitched both CC and Price. That’s what the anti-stat guys(like myself) say, right…use your eyes? Rob Parker is not “old school” and he shouldn’t be put in the same category with the “anti-stat” guys. He is just a moron.

  6. Jonny5 - Sep 24, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    I think w/l should not have an effect on the Cy Young award. Pitching quality isn’t fairly represented in that category.

  7. JBerardi - Sep 24, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    My favorite part about these anti-stat crusaders is that, if they’re trusting their eyes/guys/other non-brain body part so much, why do their totally awesome, non-stat-based observations so often lead them to vote for the RBI and Win leaders? They’re more beholden to stats than everyone. They’ve just got their panties in a twist because they’ve been completely outflanked by a bunch of upstart bloggers.

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