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Did “bullies” give the Cy Young Award to Felix Hernandez?

Nov 22, 2010, 9:29 AM EDT

Scut Farkas

Murray Chass spoke with Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune about the American League Cy Young Award results. Rogers, who voted for David Price, wondered about the outcome:

“I wonder how much of it was bullying on the Internet. There were a lot of columns written in September saying no one should be stupid enough not to vote for Felix. Maybe that’s what happened, but I hope not.”

To which I respond: if a given writer is so spineless and unsure of himself and his analysis of baseball that he’d actually vote for someone whom he did not think was deserving simply because some other writers said he shouldn’t, he should have his voting privileges taken away.  But personally, I don’t think such a beast exists. I don’t agree with every baseball writer I’ve ever met, but I’ve never met one who I thought could be bullied like that. They can be persuaded, of course, because they’re mostly reasonable people. But bullied? Please.  I’d be curious to hear which of his colleagues Rogers thinks doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.

But Rogers wasn’t the only one who told Chass that he thinks his colleagues are incapable of doing their jobs. Here’s Tracy Ringolsby, offering his opinion of Hernandez’s win:

“It’s the trendy thing to do, and everybody wants to be part of the trend.”

So there you have it. Two of the longest tenured and most respected baseball writers in the business think that the BBWAA voting pool is full of wimpy sheep, cowed into voting for Felix Hernandez by the intimidating style-mavens of the sabermetric set.

How the stat guys got so tough and trendy while eating Hot Pockets in their mothers’ basements is an open question.

  1. Drew Silva - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Mmmm… hot pockets.

  2. Ari Collins - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Nice takedown. Also screencap.

  3. Kevin S. - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Wonder if Rogers or Ringolsby were among the “bullies” screaming at Keith Law and Will Carroll last year.

    • woodenulykteneau - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:39 AM

      Nope. From a Larry Stone article in Nov. 17, 2009, in which he quoted opinions from other writers:

      Tracy Ringolsby, Inside The Rockies.com, Colorado (formerly Rocky Mountain News): “Zack Greinke, Kansas City. He led AL in ERA, and, yes, he won “only” 16 games, but he had nine games in which he allowed two or fewer runs and didn’t get a win — six no-decisions and three losses.”Zack Greinke, Kansas City. He led AL in ERA, and, yes, he won “only” 16 games, but he had nine games in which he allowed two or fewer runs and didn’t get a win — six no-decisions and three losses.

      Tracy Ringolsby, Inside The Rockies.com, Colorado (formerly Rocky Mountain News):

      “Zack Greinke, Kansas City. He led AL in ERA, and, yes, he won “only” 16 games, but he had nine games in which he allowed two or fewer runs and didn’t get a win — six no-decisions and three losses.”

      • woodenulykteneau - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:41 AM

        Second on should read:

        Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune:

        “I don’t have a vote. If I did, I would have had it Greinke 1, Felix 2. Greinke, in my opinion, answered questions about him by winning three of his last four starts to get to 16 wins.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:33 AM

        Will Carrol and Klaw had the NL CY vote last year, not the AL one. A quick net search didn’t come up with anything for either writer unfortunately.

      • lateralsymmetry - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:59 AM

        Still, it’s important to note that Greinke “answered” Phil Rogers’ “questions” by “winning three of his last four starts to get to 16 wins.” So I guess it’s a good thing KC wasn’t shut out in any of those games.

  4. BC - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    Two of the longest tenured and most respected baseball writers in the business think that the BBWAA voting pool is full of wimpy sheep, cowed into voting for Felix Hernandez by the intimidating style-mavens of the sabermetric set.
    Yes, that’s exactly what happened!!! Hello???!!?

    • tomemos - Nov 22, 2010 at 12:53 PM

      So all of the people who are disagreeing with you, have we also been bullied, or is it possible that people believed in good faith that Felix had the better season?

      • BC - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:26 PM

        It was the trendy pick. Sabremetrics are the cool thing these days. To me, I don’t much care about WHIP, or UZR, or VORP or BURP or whatever. Who did I think was the best pitcher? Period. I thought it was Price. No biggie. Felix had a great year.

      • spindervish - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:56 PM

        You don’t care about WHIP? Really? The number of baserunners a pitcher allows per inning indicates nothing meaningful to you about his performance?

        Your willful ignorance is mindboggling.

  5. Jonny 5 - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Actually it’s boogers isn’t it? I thought they ate boogers in their mother’s basement. I think what statheads are actually doing, is they are forcing guys like this to actually think about who they are voting for. Yeah, instead of looking at the win/loss column and glancing at era, they’ll actually have to do a little thinking about it now, or they’ll be laughed at when people publish facts based on a pitchers overall quality. This “he does, or doesn’t know how to win” crap is ridunkulous. What are you going to cry baby? Cry baby, cry!!!…. ha ahahahahahahaha!!!!

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:48 AM

      Mmmm…booger-flavored hot pockets….

  6. yankeesfanlen - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Someone should give Murray Chass a wedgie.

  7. levistahl - Nov 22, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    I think this is much more indicative of how hard it is for us to understand that a majority disagrees with us about an assessment that we feel confident about. Our first response frequently is to assume that something else is going on–that they’re not making the judgment on the merits, but based on something else, be that intimidation, misinformation, whatever.

    I know that I had to really work to get past that feeling after the 2004 election, for example; and the response of many Republicans to the 2008 election seems to suggest that they had a similar response. I still think I was right in my thinking both times, but I’ve at least come to understand that, in 2004, a majority of my fellow citizens, looking at roughly the same evidence I did, really did think that George Bush was a better choice than John Kerry.

    • lateralsymmetry - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:16 AM

      Just to be clear, though, that “majority of fellow citizens” in 2004 that voted for George W. Bush was actually only 50.7% of the total voters. Although I guess that’s a higher percentage than W got in 2000.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:40 AM

        Everybody knows you only need 5/9 of the vote to win the White House.

      • lateralsymmetry - Nov 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM

        “5/9 of the vote”? That’d be a 55.6% landslide.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:00 PM

        (Or just a minute segment of the population who wear black robes in a big building in DC…)

      • lateralsymmetry - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM

        Touche, Ut. Well played.

  8. Adam - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Congratulations Craig, you’re now a bully, apparently. Did you stand up and flex in a mirror when you read his column, glowing in your new found strength?

  9. themarksmith - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    What would the writers be afraid of? A computer virus?

  10. Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    I double dog dare you to vote for Sabathia. ‘Cause I’ll fudge you up if you don’t vote for Felix!!!!!

  11. Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Took a bit more than seven days, but the good doctor’s work with the sabermetric crowd is finally done:

  12. rrrii - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    craig – i get your point. but peer opinion (for lack of a better term) is a pretty powerful force. whether you like it or not, the opinions of peers affect people. and if a lot of peers bang the drum for felix, it’s not unreasonable to think that it may sway an opinion or three. sure, maybe “bullying” was way too strong a term. but certainly the opinion that felix derserves the cy young, which was very widely spoken and supported by very smart people, could have impacted some voters, no?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:51 AM

      I don’t think sway —-> bully is a matter of degree. To be swayed is to hear and ultimately accept an argument. To be bullied is to go against your own opinions out of fear of reprisal. Rogers is not saying that Hernandez voters were swayed. He’s saying the latter.

      I don’t doubt that peer opinion isn’t a big factor. I do take issue with characterizing peer opinion as a force that causes people to abandon reason as opposed to merely accept new ways of looking at things. To say it’s the former is an insult to Hernandez voters.

      • BC - Nov 22, 2010 at 12:22 PM

        I don’t think Hernandez voters abandoned reason. I just think they’re wrong.

      • Charles Gates - Nov 22, 2010 at 12:43 PM

        Cyber bullying is a growing trend. The former Assistant Attorney General of Michigan, Andrew Shrivell. The Rugters student who committed suicide. If a voter was on the fence and unsure between two pitchers, and one choice would result in massive amounts of negative and offensive blog posts, email, tweets etc detailing how stupid the voter was for voting ‘for win totals’ or what have you, I wouldn’t be surprised if that voter chose Felix, at least at a subconscious level, to avoid the flame throwers.

      • tomemos - Nov 22, 2010 at 12:57 PM

        I fear Charles Gates may be serious. Yikes.

        Charles, if you are serious: any sportswriter nowadays who doesn’t want to be flamed needs to get out of the business. I’m not saying that’s how it should be, but it’s how it is. You should head over to Neyer’s blog and look at the comments that go up when he says something like, “Derek Jeter didn’t deserve the Gold Glove.” And are you under the impression that no one flamed anyone for voting for Felix? Everyone gets flamed for everything, and reporters just ignore it.

      • spindervish - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:48 PM

        You really need to get a handle on your double negatives.

      • dsmaxsucks - Nov 23, 2010 at 12:21 PM

        Perhaps the writer at NBC (parent company GE) who says the media didn’t bully voters might want to include the link where he addressed writers prior to the vote taking place.

        That might sway people into think there was some bullying involved–

        Did you say they were mentally ill?

        Strong argument dude. Here’s the counter. Sometimes bullies are right. But sometimes bullies argue about a fake CC/Felix controversy when the real question is Felix/Price. And the bully can still be right. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a bully.

  13. scatterbrian - Nov 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    We just saw a finger move on the Win corpse.

  14. diamondduq - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    I completely disagree with this “bully” concept of voting. To me, the more people whined and cried that Felix should win just made me think he should win even less. If it was actually as clear cut as the blogosphere was saying then there wouldn’t have been a need to beat it to death (Craig). The result was much less about bullying and much more about laziness. If the overwhelming response on the internet was one for Felix winning and indicating anyone not voting for him was a moron then why wouldn’t a lazy writer vote for him? Additionally, if one person sees the grass is green but everyone and their mother is yelling that it’s blue, how many people are just going to go along with it? A lot! So not bullying but certainly laziness and a little bit of peer pressure/acceptance were at play.

    • tomemos - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:20 PM

      “Additionally, if one person sees the grass is green but everyone and their mother is yelling that it’s blue, how many people are just going to go along with it? A lot!”

      Good analogy. Keep ‘em coming.

  15. ta192 - Nov 22, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    I think I’d go with “trendy” as a more likely explanation that “bullying”, or even, they just thought it was the right way to vote…

  16. billybeaneismyhero - Nov 22, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Do you mean to say Murray Chass isn’t a paranoid old man? Well, I never!

  17. kingfelix4cy - Nov 23, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    I would like to weigh in on this.

    There are 35 different stats one could use to compare starting pitchers. These stats can easily be found at mlb dot com. Between Felix, CC and Price, Felix is #1 in 26 of those categories. Including very important categories like ERA, Innings pitched, strikeouts, opponents batting average, complete games, hits/9 innings, whip, ground ball ratio, etc, etc.. Many of the categories he trails in are either a result of his team (wins, win %, unearned runs) and some are a result of Price’s fewer innings (hits, total bases).

    These stats simply cannot be ignored, and thankfully they weren’t. I agree 100% that David Price deserved to be second, and had he pitched more innings, and kept his ERA where it was, he probably would have won. But the fact is, he pitched over 40 fewer innings that Hernandez, and that is a big chunk of work.

    An amazing fact is that Felix had more SCORELESS innings (209) than Price had TOTAL innings (207). That is mind blowing, really, especially when you consider the fact that Felix was held back this year, and handled with kid gloves somewhat as far as innings pitched went this season.

    There were countless times this season where they never let him finish the game, and pulled him after 8 innings, when he could easily have gone the distance, and had well over 10 complete games.. Heck, they even denied him his closing day start, much to my chagrin, as well as just about every M’s fan out there.

    Just another facet of how impressive Felix really is; how he accomplished so much already, all the while never being allowed to fully extend himself, as the M’s organization are being very careful, and I guess rightfully so, he is after all the 2010 AL Cy Young winner.

    Anyone who feels Felix did not deserve the award either a) is a stubborn Yankees fan b) is just a contrary person in general c) learned everything they know about Felix from a stubborn Yankee fan.

    If anyone were to look at the numbers, and even look at the competition faced- that’s right, Felix fared better than the others vs the best teams in the American League. All the info is out there, but people are too lazy, they would rather just ignorantly argue something they know little to nothing about. Just that Felix had 13 wins. It’s not enough. And this bullying argument? Give me a break. The voters had access to the stats, and they speak for themselves.Super dominant stats translate into dominant sabermetrics like ERA+ and WAR. Dominance is Dominance. King Felix was the best, and he won because of this. Case closed. The end.

    Phil Lush
    King Felix #1 fan since 2005,
    and proud peacock since November 18, 2010

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