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The Posey and Heyward omitters speak

Nov 15, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

Yasushi Kikuchi, the writer who left Buster Posey off his Rookie of the Year ballot, explains himself:

Kikuchi said he left Posey off his ballot because of the late-May promotion. “Obviously it was a tough decision,” Kikuchi said. “To me, Rookie of the Year is the best rookie player throughout the whole season. “On the other hand, I know Buster had a very big impact for the Giants. I know how important his role was to contribute to the Giants winning the championship.”

Like I said before, though I don’t agree with it, I at least understand how someone can have a thought process that goes “the players who were there all season get more credit.”  It’s a crude way to go about things, and in this case I think such an approach steered Kikuchi into the ditch, but I see what happened, and that’s about as much as you can ask.

Dejan Kovacevic is the guy who left Heyward off the ballot.  He did have Posey first, however, so we should probably keep things in perspective.  As for his inclusion of Pirates Neil Walker and Jose Tabata, Dejan has been defending himself on Twitter this afternoon.  Some of his comments, edited slightly for clarity:

Felt very firmly about Posey, thus chose him 1st. Felt Walker/Tabata had strong years, comparable to rest of class . . . Neither Walker nor Tabata is off-the-board choice, as seen from list of NL rookies with 400 PA, ranked by OPS.

At that point Dejan linked to this leaderboard. I guess I understand what he’s saying about Walker and Tabata not being “off the board,” but it’s worth noting that they’re lower on the board in nearly every significant category — including the one he cited, OPS — than Jason Heyward was.  Dejan goes on:

[I] Obviously saw way more of Walker/Tabata than others, but that also gave perspective on them performing at high level in poor lineup/setting . . . Feeling always has been with voting that broadest variety of perspectives bring best results. Few can argue final overall tally, I’d think . . . No one else cast a vote for Walker, an easy-to-make case for a top-three ROY performer. That, to me, underscores importance of local views . . . Local writers will see/appreciate things a player can do that others might not. That counts, for a player’s good facets and bad . . . Felt firmly that my first-hand view of Walker/Tabata merited their ROY votes. I also respect right of anyone to disagree/vote differently.

I appreciate Dejan defending his votes, and — if you look at some of the replies to specific questions to others in his Twitter feed — him being very gracious and polite about it.

Still, while the explanation is welcome, it doesn’t do much to persuade me, to put it lightly. Not that he’s trying to persuade me or anyone else of course. It’s his vote and if he wanted to tell us all to pound salt, he could do so. I disagree with him and think he whiffed badly in this instance, but the same can be said for a lot of these votes, and we’re not entitled to an explanation, even if we want one.

With respect to both Kikuchi and Kovacevic:  the only serious question I ever have when I see an outlier awards vote is whether there was any funny business. Was someone trying to make a political point, or were they not taking their task seriously. While I think Kovacevic saw the vote through black and gold colored glasses, I don’t see any way you can accuse him of funny business here. Same goes for Kikuchi whose vote was principled, even if misguidedly so. In either case, anyone saying silly things like their votes should be taken away (Really Jon?) is off base.

But at the same time, I’m not going to simply wave my hand and say that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” I mean, they are, but that doesn’t make their opinion unassailable. Opinions can be wrong if they’re based on bad facts and poor reasoning, and in this case, I think Kikuchi and Kovacevic’s were.

  1. tomemos - Nov 15, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    My response to Kovacevic is that the RoY vote is not intended to “underscore the importance” of anything or anyone, and it shouldn’t be used for that purpose.

  2. aman2345 - Nov 15, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    The “not up all year” point holds no water. Yes, if a guy was called up for 6 weeks or 2 months, fine, but Posey was up more than 4 months. The problem with that argument is that Posey WILL NOT get another chance at the ROY. You get one shot. That’s it. Obviously, here it doesn’t matter, but we’re talking about a future situation where things may be closer and a guy like Posey may lose out because of that one voter. Let’s say Heyward hadn’t hurt his thumb and beat Posey because of the one voter who left Posey off his ballot completely. That would be a stupid way for Heyward to win. Either you were good enough or you weren’t. Just because your team didn’t need you, or kept you down for arbitration eligibility reasons — that’s bogus.

    • tomemos - Nov 15, 2010 at 5:58 PM

      “The problem with that argument is that Posey WILL NOT get another chance at the ROY. You get one shot. That’s it.”

      I don’t think I see your point. That would be the fault of the Giants front office, not the voters. It’s not on the voters to make sure Posey gets the ROY if he doesn’t have the games to support it. Someone who plays two games clearly does more to help his team than someone who plays one, all else being equal (which they might not be).

      You seem to be saying that the award should go to the most clearly phenomenal rookie every year, regardless of playing time. By that standard Strasburg is the clear winner.

      (By the way, am a Giants fan, and though I thought Heyward should get it, obviously Posey is a totally deserving winner.)

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2010 at 7:18 PM

      The problem with that argument is that Posey WILL NOT get another chance at the ROY. You get one shot.

      Edinson Volquez laughs at your idea that you only get one shot at RoY…

    • fivetoolmike - Nov 16, 2010 at 2:51 AM

      Stephen Strasburg threw 68 MLB innings this year. Neftali Feliz threw 69. Just like to point that out.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 16, 2010 at 9:01 AM

        In fairness to Feliz, he wasn’t up against Heyward and Posey.

  3. thegoche - Nov 15, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    They are on the board for OPS, in that the board has a 400 PA minimum, and they are both among the 10 NL rookies that had 400 PA.

    • thegoche - Nov 15, 2010 at 8:17 PM

      Also, as I said earlier, his “first-hand view” of Heyward “merited” at least some solid consideration given that Heyward was 16-34 with 2 2b, 1 3b, 2 HR, a .561 OBP and a .765 SLG.

      The Walker vote a fine one (though not ahead of Heyward), and he deserved more press, the Tabata vote really is a joke, which actually I think totally ruins any cred his Walker outrage might have had.

      His argument is basically “it’s not inconceivable” (a false premise) and “I see them every day, so I appreciate them” (i.e. I’m a homer).

  4. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Nov 16, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    “the only serious question I ever have when I see an outlier awards vote is whether there was any funny business” like there was last year with Keith Law’s vote on the NL Cy Young award. Kikuchi and Kovacevic’s votes did change who got the award. Law’s did and did not pass the smell test.

    • Kevin S. - Nov 17, 2010 at 12:10 AM

      Carpenter lost by six points. You get five points for first, three for second and one for third. Had Law inserted Carpenter second (ahead of Wainwright, whom he obviously felt was better), Carpenter still loses. Quit crying about how Law cost Carpenter the CYA. It just isn’t true.

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