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Behold: the worst Hall of Fame ballot you’ll see this year

Jan 4, 2011, 3:00 PM EDT

BJ Surhoff.php

ESPN has a whopping 18 Hall of Fame voters in its employ, and today they released their ballots.

It’s hard to follow because they do it by player (you have to read the names underneath) but Jason at IIATMS has made a grid out of it.  The following ballot submitted by ESPN news editor Barry Stanton sticks out:

Jack Morris, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, and BJ Surhoff.

Tino and B.J. Surhoff? Guess you had to be there.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Matthew Flint - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    That ballot sucks really bad, but I have a bigger problem with the fact that the sports tabloid station has 18 freakin voters.

    • sdelmonte - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      Not that it excuses so much power in one outlet, but some of these guys were members of the BBWAA from their old jobs, no doubt. Parker, O’Connor and Rubin only came to ESPN in the last year from NYC print outlets.

      • heiniemanush - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        Parker got fired from the Detroit News last year but he caught on with ESPN NY. He’s a complete and utter bonehead.

  2. Tapps - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    I like how they have Tim Raines in an A’s hat. What, they couldn’t find a picture of him with the Orioles?

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Raines will always be an Expo.

  3. chemjobs - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    The HOF should have a QC dept. and if your ballot sucks this bad, they should be able to take away your voting privileges. That or you should be made to produce a full-length explanation of your B.J. Surhoff election…wtf?

    • BC - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      Maybe he felt sorry for Surhoff and gave him a vote just so he could say he got one?

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM

        HOF pity votes?

      • disulfide - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        We should all pity BJ Surhoff.

      • JM Lattanzi - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        I think Stanton mistakenly put Surhoff on his HOF ballot when he meant to put him on the Swell Guy Hall of Fame ballot.

        I guess we’ll know for sure when Jose Canseco gets a vote for the Swell Guy HOF.

      • disulfide - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Canseco is only eligible for the swollen guy HOF

      • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

        I don’t mind those throwaway “hey, I liked you” votes as long as you’ve already voted for everyone you think is actually deserving and have a spot left. Tino over Bagwell is probably the hardest decision to explain away that one could possibly make with this ballot (other than I guess Baerga but not Alomar or something).

      • JM Lattanzi - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM

        Tino and Mattingly over Bags and Morris but no Blyleven. You’re right, I don’t mind Surhoff so much as I do the other votes.

  4. Adam - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    I’ve always wondered how it works with voters. Everyone seems to know that nobody will be on everyone’s ballot and everyone seems to know that certain people will get some votes but not enough to stay on the ballot. Do they all call each other and come up with who’s voting for whom? How does that work Craig?

  5. quintjs - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    That ballot has caused a major major problem. It almost makes me respect Heyman’s ballot.

  6. bigtrav425 - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    i totally agree with Flint.18 votes for 1 company??.. and how the hell does Larry Walker only get/have 1 vote??!…Those guys at ESPN are tards..i really wish another sports station would pop up so i wouldnt have to watch ESPN…altho i havnt had cable in over a yr so i guess i cant complain to much lol

    • disulfide - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Just be glad that Rob Neyer and that Law dude don’t have votes.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:58 PM

        Ya, because votes thoughtfully reasoned out based on on the players record shouldnt be made…

  7. Jack Marshall - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    I suppose using a HOF ballot to express symbolic admiration for a player who has no chance of being elected is OK, as long as a more worthy player’s vote wasn’t sacrificed. Stanton still didn’t use all of his votes.

    The fact that NONE of his choices belong in the Hall is alarming, however….

    • Adam - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      I beg to differ, Edgar Martinez is a HOF. Best DH of his era and one of the best hitters in his era. That’s what a HOF player is.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        Which brings up the question of DH HOF worthiness.

      • hackerjay - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        Is a DH any less worthy then a position player that was so bad at his job that he cost his team games like Chipper Jones or Derek Jeter?

    • bobbcronin - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:55 PM

      Edgar Martinez is considered the best DH of all time. If there isn’t a person who is a hall of famer just because of the position, don’t make the position. Closers are now in the Hall of Fame, why not DH’s. Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame, also. Though I do not believe Mattingly belongs in the HOF, at least there is strong argument for him. Like the author said, “Tino and B.J. Surhoff?” because these are the two least deserving of those five selected.

  8. marshmallowsnake - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    It is obvious he does not care and should have his privilege revoked.

    • BC - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      Maybe he had Joe Morgan fill it out for him.

      • marshmallowsnake - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:14 PM


  9. bloodysock - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    He must have been thinking about some other BJ at the time and inadvertently penciled in Surhoff.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      He read the HBT Truthiness post before submitting his ballot.

  10. stevejeltzjehricurl - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    You can make arguments for Edgar and Morris, although I don’t agree with either one (and every argument I’ve seen for Morris has been effectively refuted). But this guy needs to be sentenced to some suffering, baseball-style. Depending on his fandom, I think we can come up with something — based on these choices, I’m guessing he’s a Yankees fan or possibly a M’s fan. We can figure out a punishment based off that — for example, if he’s a Yankees fan he could be forced to watch the last four games of the 2004 ALCS on a continuous loop for the entire off-season.

  11. nps6724 - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    6 players received only 1 vote. Stanton voted for 3 of them.

  12. Panda Claus - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    This really shouldn’t turn into a battle to putdown BJ Surhoff. While being a number 1 overall pick guarantees nothing, he was a very good catcher and outfielder during his career.

    Not sure he’s truly HOF worthy and he may not even be in the Brewers’ or Orioles’ Halls of Fame yet. Still the guy was and is an outstanding citizen and was well above average as a player. It’s not like Stanton voted for John Rocker.

    I also don’t see a problem with ESPN having 18 voters. HOF voting rights are earned by a sportswriters who cover baseball and belong to the BBWAA for ten years (unless this has changed), and those rights are portable if they leave that company. All this really says is that ESPN has a lot of senior baseball writers and this actually reflects well on the network more than anything else.

    • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Ya, I don’t have a problem with their 18 writers either. I would say the vast majority of those guys started as local press, and moved their way national. I know Caple started in St. Paul at the Pioneer Press prior to moving on to ESPN. I am sure all the guys that vote and write for ESPN:LA, ESPN:Boston, ESPN:NY, etc. were local beat writers for teams in those cities prior to moving to ESPN. I would be surprised If any of those voters started at ESPN.

    • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:31 PM

      and it’s worth noting that NONE of those guys got their BBWAA appointment by working for ESPN. The BBWAA was print writers only until just a couple years ago. Neyer, Law and probably some others are members now, but the ones who can vote on the Hall (and thus have been members for ten years) all started out at a newspaper or magazine somewhere and gravitated to later on.

  13. disulfide - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Stanton takes the process very seriously….What ESPN didn’t show is that he did have some write-ons on his ballot. They included Steve Sex, Dan Gladden, and Paint Can Boyd.

  14. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    1) I don’t know if one of the eighteen is Keith Law, but if it is lookout. He voted Javier Vasquez before Adam Wainwright in 2009 costing him the Cy Young. 2) Disqualifying Edgar Martinez solely because he was a DH for many years makes no sense. He would have found a position in Seattle if the DH wasn’t instituted. Don’t dis him just because of a stupid rule change. 3) I’m not sure a QC committee is the answer but at least an unwritten rule that platoon players have no place in the Hall. Sorry B.J.

    • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      Kieth Law has only been a BBWAA member for I believe two years now. He is not yet eligible to vote.

    • disulfide - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      Right on with Keith Law…guy’s a turd who can type.

    • paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      Of course, Waino wasn’t the best pitcher that year, but let’s disregard that. I’m a Cardinal fan; the right guy won.

      • Reflex - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:22 PM

        I’m a huge Wainwright fan. He wasn’t the best pitcher that year, the right guy won. Glad a Cards fan can see it, I’m sick of this spudchukar making this claim. One could jigger any number of other votes to turn other pitchers into the winner too. Its besides the point. Wainwright had a fantastic year, but not the best one in the league.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        A good argument can be made for either Lincecum or Wainwright, no good argument can be made for Vasquez.

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:31 PM

        If you think no good argument can be made for Javy Vasquez as #2, then you obviously didn’t read Keith Law’s good argument defending his ballot.

    • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Law’s vote was right on and was very ably explained by the man himself, and if that vote was what got Lincecum his deserved Cy Young (note: it didn’t), so much the better.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        I read Law’s arguments numerous times. Here are the 2009 stats. IP/W-L/ERA/SO. Wainwright 233/19-8/2.63/212, Lincecum 225.1/15-7/2.48/261. I included the SO totals because they are included in many people’s mind as being important. To me they barely, above meaningless. They are the slam-dunks of Baseball. Lincecum wins the award almost solely on his SO numbers. Shouldn’t Induced-Grounded-Into-Doubleplays, be a category clearly superior to SO. One pitch, 2 outs, vs. 3 pitches (at least) and only 1 out. Certainly, 4 more wins outdistances the .15 difference in ERA. Hell, the 8 extra innings almost do that

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        Right, but shouldn’t you be comparing Vasquez’ and Wainwright’s stats? If I’m reading you correctly, your beef is not that Lincecum was voted first. Also, when batters ground into double plays that means two things: 1. there is a runner on base. 2. the defense made the play. I’m not saying that having higher than average tendency to induce ground balls isn’t a repeatable skill, but it also relies on more luck and defense. You can disagree with Law’s arguments, but you seem to be denying them entirely.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        If you think wins mean anything to Keith Law, you don’t know him very well. Keith Law is a Stats guy. Javier had a better WAR(Fangraphs), XFIP, FIP, SO/9, SO/BB, BB/9, and WHIP to name a few. To Law, that means he was a better pitcher that year(I personally agree).

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:59 PM

        Law is a former scout, not a “stats guy”. The reason pitcher wins don’t mean anything to him is because they give all of the credit for a team achievement. Law, like many others, prefers using metrics that only credit players for what they do, not for what their team mates do.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:17 PM

        Here are the stats for Carpenter and Vasquez. Again it goes, IP/W/L/ERA/SO, Carpenter 192.2/17-4/2.24/144 and Vasquez 219/15-10/2.87/238. So unless you place an extraordinary importance on SO, Vasquez is clearly dragging hind tit. I would be the first to question the Win totals. It is a factor, primarily because the ultimate goal is to win, but yes other factors can influence wins. ERA is probably the most reliable of all statistics, which is why Hernandez deserved this year’s win, but I would make the argument that a .15 ERA did not offset the 4 wins, but as originally stated a good discussion can be constructed for Wainwright, Lincecum, and Carpenter but comparatively Vasquez is a distant fourth unless an extreme importance is placed on SO, which is why the Grounded into Double Play stat was initiated to show the meaninglessness of SO.

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:27 PM

        When evaluating a pitcher, SO are very important. Nearly 100% of SOs (excepting those few that reach first via WP) turn into outs. In contrast, only about 70% of batted balls are turned into outs, which depends on the defense. As a result, no luck or defense is required for a SO to turn into an out and the pitcher has done all of the work. In contrast, luck and/or defense is required to turn a batted ball into an out.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM

        Paperlions- Well your right that Keith Law was a scout for Toronto and still Scouts as part of his ESPN duties, if you think he is not a stat guy you are wrong. He is an Economics grad from Harvard with an MBA from Carnagie Melon. He was a writer for Baseball Prospectus(A Sabre based website) that got him hired in Toronto as a Consultant. It was once he was AT Toronto that he learned to scout. Stat abilities came before the scouting abilities.

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM

        The problem is that you’re not showing SO as meaningless by demonstrating the GIDP numbers, or if you are, I’m just not seeing it. The reason that Keith Law discounted Carpenter’s candidacy is because he saw the IP as a general wash between Wainwright, Lincecum, and Vasquez, but felt that the ~30 fewer IP for Carpenter meant he was less deserving. I know you say you’ve read Law’s arguments, but you seem not to know them if you’re trying to refute them. Remove the W-L and replace ERA with a statistic that attempts to remove defensive contributions to runs against, and Vasquez definitely belongs as much (more) than Carpenter. That is the good argument for Vasquez over Wainwright (and Carp).

      • Reflex - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        1) Who says the GIDP stat was created to render SO’s meaningless? A SO is the most important kind of out a pitcher can make as it depends entirely upon them and is independent of thier defense. GIDP is a nice stat, but its not entirely within the pitchers control, and is heavily affected by the defense behind them. I don’t know anyone who thinks its better than a SO. Your point that its ‘more efficient’ ignores the fact that to have a GIDP a pitcher has to already have surrendered a hit or a walk, both of which are negatives and inefficient.

        2) Carpenter was not the second best pitcher that season because he did not pitch a full season. He was very good when he pitched, but he did not pitch all year, and a pitcher who threw the equivilent of nearly three complete games more than he did is inherantly more valuable, especially when he did so while compiling a far above average ERA. Yes, pitchers who pitch significantly less innings tend to get marked down for that, just as David Price was this year in the AL.

        3) ERA is *not* the best stat. ERA does not factor in team defense at all, nor how efficient a pitcher is, or anything else. A lot of things can make an ERA look good when the pitcher isn’t that great. WHIP is a marginally better stat, although it still leaves defense in the equation. ERA+ is probably better than both.

        4) Nobody on this forum gives a rat’s ass about W/L records because those are team stats, not pitching stats. So quoting those won’t gain you any traction in your argument here.

        My ranking for 2009 NL Cy Young:

        1) Lincecum
        2) Wainwright
        3) Vazquez
        4) Carpenter

        The gap between Lincecum and Wainwright is actually quite large in my mind. And you can swap Wainwright and Vazquez and I probably could not argue with you too strongly about it, their seasons were remarkably similiar.

      • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Yeah, if you think strikeouts are meaningless, there’s your problem right there — you don’t understand how pitching (and defense, run prevention in general) works.

  15. paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    This has always been a problem with the BBWAA….editors are given votes, many of the worst ballots ever cast are from sports editors, many of which are not and have never been sports fans, much less covered baseball.

  16. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Arguing that WAR should be a statistic of value in Cy Young voting is preposterous. The only comparison’s should be the immediate competitors not all the other players one could replace. Stats like SO/9, SO/BB,and BB/9 etc. are tools to evaluate players, primarily their potential which is Law’s background. As a scout they are valuable, but what irks me is when Law conflates meaningful(to an organizations scouts) potential evaluating stats with performance stats. Law has gone so far as to argue that performance should not be the only tool used to vote for season award winners. This is ludicrous. One shouldn’t be voting for who one believes is the best player, but simply the one who plays the best. It is why we play the games. And the best indicator’s still are 1) ERA followed by 2) Wins tempered by 3) Innings Pitched. When strikeouts start directly influencing wins both as a player or a team then they can be deemed important..

    • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      1) ERA is flawed in its own right, as it is so dependent on luck/defense, or human element in deciding whats an error in whats not
      2) If you still think wins are important you are delusional and I am not going to get into that argument. Wins are a team stat, not an individuals
      3) I agree IP is an important indicator of value.

      But when you mention SO/9, SO/BB and BB/9 as tools to evaluate potential, you are wrong. Those are stats that actually happened. ERA is determining the amount of Earned runs per 9 innings. SO/9 and BB/9 are the same thing, except the pitcher has far more control of them as opposed to Earned runs. SO/BB is a rate stat on what the pitcher has done. Actual Stats.

    • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      Sigh all you want, George Plimpton, but give me a pitcher who goes 7 or 8 and gives up a run or two and strikes out 6 over the guy who whiffs a dozen, goes 6 or 7 because his pitch count is up due to the number of guys he retired with an inefficient number of pitches and gives up 3 or 4 runs. You keep your strikeout guys and you can watch my team play in October while you brag about your awesome KO numbers.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        hm… If your backing Wainright/Carpenter so much, I am assuming you a cardinals fan. May be wrong, but wasn’t your team sitting at home this year with those two players?

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:45 PM

        Obviously, everyone would prefer the individual performance of the first pitcher in your example, but the problem is that’s not what we’re arguing about here. Did the pitcher A walk anyone? How about pitcher B? I think you’re the one that’s started to talk about performance going forward rather than what actually happened.

      • okobojicat - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:57 PM

        I would probably take the longer inning guy. But that’s not the comparison above between Wainwright/Lincecum/Vazquez. They all thew a comparable amount of innings, and comparable ERA. However, on the other factors, FIP,xFIP,ERA+,BB/9,K/9, Lincecum was better.

        Strikeouts are the biggest sign of dominance. K/BB is the biggest sign of efficiency. Double plays are incredibly inefficient and create a risk of a big inning. A runner on base is worth something like .6 of a run. strike out is worth like -.3 of a run. I don’t evaluate W/L. Its a dumb stat that is unimportant to evaluating a.) the talent of the pitcher – and b.) how well he pitched in this particular game. Use WPA which is also extremely flawed but much better than W/L.

        I also suspect if you find out who induced the most ground balls you’ll find a whole lot of not very good pitchers – pitchers who throw a lot of innings but give up a lot of hits and walks and luck into GIDP’s. I can’t find the stat on B-R or Fangraphs, so good luck.

      • okobojicat - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:59 PM


        That’s a very silly argument. The Cards’ offense and rest of the pitching staff outside of the rookie let them down.

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:02 PM

        Which would be fine, but those were not the choices in 2009. Vazquez pitched nearly 30 more innings and struck out nearly nearly 100 more batters than Carpenter. Vazquez averaged 6.85 inn/start and Carpenter averaged 6.88 inn/start. So Vazquez pitched more often and as long into games while personally accounting for a much higher percentage of the outs. Indeed, his difference in strikeout totals accounts for 33.1 innings of strikeouts MORE than Carpenter.

    • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM

      No. I’m sorry, I tried to reason with you, but you’re wrong on a few counts. First, I’d like you to show me where in that instance Keith Law was arguing that he voted for Vasquez using statistics that show future potential. FIP is an indicator of what happened, only instead of ERA which can depend on the whims of an official scorer and the performance of the defense behind the pitcher. It generally correlates to ERA well, AND it is decidedly an indicator of what his performance was. So, you’re wrong in saying that Law wasn’t valuing performance, he was just valuing different performance stats than you do. Also, wins are dependent on team defense AND offense (as well as the performance of the pitcher). Your final point about strikeouts is also ill-informed. As a hypothetical, which would you rather have facing the situation of a runner on third with one out in a tight game: a high strikeout pitcher or a high groundball pitcher? Clearly the strikeout pitcher, right? You are right that innings pitched are important, though.

    • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:46 PM

      “The only comparison’s should be the immediate competitors not all the other players one could replace.”

      That makes no sense. By comparing one player’s WAR to others, you’re making a direct comparison between the player and his immediate competitors, just as you are when you compare their wins or innings pitched.

      With most of the rest of this, you’re just completely and totally misapplying statistics and misunderstanding Law’s argument. And then:

      “And the best indicator’s still are 1) ERA followed by 2) Wins tempered by 3) Innings Pitched.”

      One and two don’t tell you “the one who plays the best” — they tell you some combination of the pitcher’s performance and the strength of the defense and/or offense supporting him. By taking into account strikeouts, walks, HR, and tempering those by innings pitched, then you’re getting at figuring out which pitcher actually played the best, independent of what his teammates were able to do for him.

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 5:47 PM

        This whole argument has made me very tired.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        Your probably tired Mike because you were striving for SOs. Plus others are not hearing what I am trying to say. It is the conflation of statistics. This is not an argument against sabermetrics or any new statistical category. The strength of statistical analysis is that over a lengthy period of time the aforementioned categories can be reliable indicators of success. However, one season is inherently creates a small sample. If a pitcher goes 7 innings on average and gives up 2 runs a game he is the better pitcher than one who goes the same number of innings and gives up 3 runs. Assuming they are earned. It matters not if one guy gave up 8 hits, walked 5, struck out 3 and got out of a number of innings with ground ball double plays versus a guy who gave up 4 hits walked 2 and struck out 11. He had the better outing because he gave his team the best chance to win.

      • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:36 PM

        That’s simply incorrect.

        If you gave up 4 hits, walked 2 and struck out 11, you pitched better than you a guy who gave up 8 hits, walked 5 and struck out 3 (depending on what the hits were, I suppose). That should really be obvious to anybody. If the latter guy’s team won anyway, that’s a good team or good luck — except perhaps in some extreme situation I can’t think of right now, it has nothing to do with how well the guy pitched.

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        No, I am hearing you. Nonetheless, you’re still wrong. The example you give here is, of course, correct on some level: the point of the game is to score more runs than you give up and therefore the first pitcher had better results in that way. Here, I’ll try to make a distinction between performance and results. I would argue that the performance of your pitcher B was better than that of pitcher A, despite pitcher A achieving better results. The problem with your example is that pitchers with performances similar to pitcher A will rarely have RESULTS that match or exceed the results of pitchers who perform like pitcher B. If I’m following your logic, and you’re still arguing for Wainwright over Vasquez, you’ve probably got a case and you’re free to make it. I don’t remember how I felt at the 2009 awards voting, but I probably would have agreed with Wainwright over Vasquez. Regardless, you seem to still be suggesting that Keith Law was objectively wrong without actually engaging the arguments he (or some of the other commenters here) made.

  17. ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    Ha I know, that one was for funsies… the rest of my arguments are my real ones(and fairly similiar to everyone elses)

    • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      Continuing. Now the new statistical data evaluators will suggest that the likelihood of pitcher A getting more wins or a lower ERA than pitcher B isn’t very high. All well and good. But it is not reality and should not enter into award voting. If Pitcher A does repeat the line outing after outing his sabermetics will not be favorable, but he will still be the better player for his team and for the year he is being evaluated for. This is the reason that BB and SO are essentially meaningless when an outside observer chooses between individuals in a closed study. You can try to say that a such a pitcher was just “lucky” to get out of all those jams, and that next year he won’t be able to repeat. Perhaps you are correct, over a 10 year career, but the voting is for one particular year and who is to say that one persons luck isn’t another persons stragegy. Pitching to contact, conserving strength, for crucial situations, relying on the defense you have versus some imaginary one. What is is.

      • fivetoolmike - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        Again, you’re not engaging the arguments being presented. The arguments for Vasquez over Wainwright are based on what was for that individual season. Javy Vasquez relied on the defense he had, just like Adam Wainwright did, but Vasquez had to rely on them slightly less because he had 26 more strikeouts. You’re the one asking us to ignore what was, not the other way around.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:48 PM

        Billtpa, earlier I created the hypothetical that one pitcher had that line A, and the other line B, but line A gave up only 1 run and line B gave up 2. I thought you understood that. I will still contend the pitcher who gave up 1 run and subsequently won had the better outing than the pitcher who gave up 2 runs and took the loss, regardless of any other stats. I don’t care if pitcher B gave up 1 hit and 1 walk and that hit was a 2-run homer, his outing was still inferior to the one who gave up 10 hits, walked 5 and gave up only 1 run. And if Pitcher B repeats his performance game after game for an entire season then he should win the award not the guy who repeats his line for the entire season.

      • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 7:14 PM

        spudchukar, I don’t think you’re using the “reply” button right. Or statistics or anything else, but anyway.

        I did understand that, and you’re very wrong. If you’re the team, you’d rather have pitcher A’s line than pitcher B’s for that one game, after the fact, because that means your team allowed fewer runs and more likely won the game. But in your examples here, pitcher B was clearly the better pitcher on that day, and there’s no reason not to treat him as such. Fewer runs scored while Pitcher A was on the mound, but he didn’t do anything to make that happen. Pitcher B pitched better, and A got better results through luck or better defense or both. Pitcher A’s team allowed fewer runs, but Pitcher B did a much better job at the only things a pitcher can control, himself, that help prevent runs. The Cy Young Award is meant to go to the best pitcher, not the pitcher who happens to be on the team whose defense allows him to give up the fewest runs or whose offense allows him to get credited with a “win” the most times.

  18. billybeaneismyhero - Jan 4, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    Was the Hall of Fame ballot presented in a vintage Florida style 2000 Presidential election butterfly ballot? Was he was channeling his inner 80 year old Dade County resident by accidentally voting for B.J Surhoff instead of Roberto Alomar? That’s the only acceptable excuse as far as I’m concerned.

  19. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Finally, strikeouts and walks are superfulous. If you strikeout 27 and give up 2 runs, 1 hit and 1 walk, your outing is still inferior to the guy who gives up 15 hits, 8 walks and strikes out none but only gives up one run. If repeated for a season then the SO whiz comes in second for the Cy Young in my book to the lower ERA and Win guy. Yes I would probably trade for the SO whiz versus the lower ERA/Win guy, but if the ERA/Win Guy had done it for a number a years then I would hesitate. But choosing players for your team and voting for a one year award are not synonamous. And that is the crux of my argument with Keith Law and the others who have written today. In the end I will take Maddux and Glavine and you can have Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.

    • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 7:18 PM

      This actually makes the actual subject of Craig’s post seem kind of intelligent and coherent by comparison.

    • billtpa - Jan 4, 2011 at 7:25 PM

      Let’s try it this way.

      You would agree that it takes two things, pitching AND defense, to prevent runs, right? If I filled my lineup card — CF, SS, everything — with Jason Giambi clones, no pitcher would be expected to do a terribly good job of preventing runs, right, because every little dribler up the middle and every looping fly ball into the outfield would fall for a hit?

      So say Lincecum 2009 is on the team with Jason Giambi clones. He strikes out more than 10 guys per nine innings, barely walks anyone and keeps the ball in the park, but because every ball that is put in play falls for a hit, he winds up with an ERA of say 4.50. And Giambi doesn’t hit all that much anymore either, so he goes 12-13 on the season.

      Then, say, Nick Blackburn 2009 is on a team with Troy Tulowitzki clones. Good control, but he never strikes anybody out and gives up his share of home runs just because everybody puts the ball in play, so some are going to leave the park. But the defense gobbles up almost everything hit near them, so Blackburn ends up with a 3.50 ERA. And Tulo can hit, too, of course, so that’s good for a 17-9 line.

      Everything a pitcher can possibly do, Lincecum has done better than Blackburn has. But your contention is still that Blackburn had a better season? Why? Why would we give the Cy Young — explicitly meant to go to the best pitcher in the league — to a guy who was outpitched in every possible way?

  20. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Billtpa, you are skewing the comparisons. They are hypothetical and exaggerated for affect. Immediately assuming that luck or superior defense was the only scenario to explain success is unimaginative and dishonest. A pitcher who pitches brilliantly, statistically near perfection and the always subjective, dominantly, but makes the one mistake that costs him two runs and the win can be pitied. But when that mistake is repeated especially in the season-long time frame the award commands then the performance is inferior to the one who less spectacular but devoid of the one costly mistake that allows those two runs. Your pitcher will not be the one with any chance for post-season heroics.

  21. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Billtpa, you are discounting pitching to defense and trying to excuse a loss on your inferior team. You play for the team you play for. Now it is true defense and runs your team score have an impact on ERA and Wins. It is also historically true that some pitchers have consistently gotten more wins than their ERA indicated they should and some less. My contention is the KOs are a glamourous statistic. Sometimes meaningful, but not necessarily so. Obviously, no statistic is absolutely indicative. However, ERA seems to be the least subjective. New statistics that combine defense and ERA have value, but are rife with problems. Such is the inherent problem with reductionism. It only increases variability expotentionally. Defensive statistics still need a lot of work, and as far as I am concerned; the jury is still out. But even the most ardent sabermetric adherent would admit defense alters ERA little. It is pretty pure, especially when you divide by 5 (for starters) or 8 (for starters and relievers). So the Earned Runs you give up per innings pitched, minorly balanced by the myriad of other factors, with IP and W in the argument will still be the best indicator.

    • paperlions - Jan 4, 2011 at 9:04 PM

      Yes, we know. We also know that your contentions are wrong. This isn’t an opinion, it is fact. Pitchers can control Ks, BBs, HRs (to some degree via controlling FB rate), and that is it. In general, a pitcher has no control over the result of a ball in play. No one effectively “pitches to the defense”, it doesn’t happen. This has been studied repeatedly, and the data (i.e. recorded events) show that pitchers have no control over the rate at which balls in play become hits. Consequently, the pitcher that allows the fewest balls in play, BB, and HR per IP has performed better because Ks become outs at a much higher rate than BIP. You are conflating results and performance, they are not the same.

  22. spudchukar - Jan 4, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    You misunderstand pitching to defense. And no one understands this better than Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. And no the data does not support this. All batted balls are not the same. Ground ball pitchers, the essence of “pitching to defense”, perennially outperform flyball pitchers, on balls put in play. This is by design. As are first pitch strikes, a given when one discusses pitching to defense, because you are going to have more first pitches hit, when you emphasize getting ahead. It then becomes a natural progression throughout the at bat and hitters are even more prone to their tendencies, the further behind in the count they get. This is the Cardinal pitching philosophy in a nutshell. Yes, you are going to give up more hits, but they will be less damaging, and won’t be complicated by walks, defensive players on their heels due to long counts, and avoid hitters counts where the percentages begin to favor the hitter. This is just a tip of the ice berg in the “pitching to defense” philosophy.
    Every hitter is analyzed and defended accordingly and it is the pitcher’s responsibility to perform to the plan and the results will follow. A pitcher does indeed have control of where a ball is put in play by the location and type of pitch. You are conflating the notion that the pitcher cannot catch a ball once batted, with how and subsequently where a batter will hit the ball by adherence to a pre-ordained strategy.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:21 AM

      No, I don’t misunderstand. The general strategy applied by Duncan is to minimize BB and HR (via minimizing FB rates), because these are the easiest things for a pitcher to control….striking out guys is a lot harder than not walking them or not giving up HRs. The reason that strategy is a good one is because mediocre pitchers (e.g. Piniero) can be effective with such a strategy because it requires the other team to string a lot of hits together for a big inning.
      Even Duncan would prefer a pitcher that has the stuff to strike guys out.
      The only reason 2009 Carpenter looked so good was because of his freakishly low, fluky, and unsustainable HR/9 rate of 0.33, which was half that of his 2nd best season and about 1/3 the rate he has given up HRs over the course of his career. In other words, the only reason Carpenter’s ERA looked so good in 2009 was because he got extremely lucky to not give up many HRs. He didn’t “pitch to the defense” better that year than other years, he just got lucky that so few FB left the yard. Last year his HR rate went back to normal and his ERA jumped a run.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:29 AM

      To use Wainwright as an example, the major difference between 2007/2008 Wainwright (when he was a very good pitcher) and 2009/2010 Wainwright (when he was a great pitcher) is his K rate, which went from 6.2 K/9 to 8.3 K/9. His GB rate didn’t change, his BB rate didn’t change, his HR rate didn’t change, and his BABIP didn’t change…he just started striking out a lot more guys.

    • billtpa - Jan 5, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      It’s funny when people who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about lecture other people about what they “misunderstand.”

  23. Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Okay. Two things here.

    1.) Auto-refresh on here sucks big time—and it not only wipes out what you’ve written and not posted, but it also separates the comment from where you were replying. I’m assuming that has something to do with the problem on this particular post.

    2.) I am not saying that exclusively DHs should be excluded simply because they were exclusively DHs. I am, however, saying that they should not be INcluded simply because they are DHs. For one thing, the DH was—and still is—an asinine rule change that applies to only one league. For another, they could potentially keep out as-good, but more well-rounded players, especially with the 10 vote limit.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      Use Firefox – you don’t lose what you’re typing when Auto-refresh decides to fuck with the post.

  24. jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Can we please have 40 posts now on why Pujols was robbed of the MVP in 2003? Because I’m equally interested in reviewing all those arguments too.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      No. It was 2006 that Pujols was screwed out of the MVP. Bonds was a fine choice in 2003.

      • jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:43 AM

        That’s not the bitter argument I remember! Ah, here it is. Those were heady days of the same hometown lobby in full force, just as we see here with Wainwright.

  25. spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    What you continue to MISUNDERSTAND, is the goal. And please refrain from explaining the Dave Duncan pitching strategy, as if it were intended to be applicable to only substandard pitchers. By pitching to contact, a theory both used and proclaimed by aces and fifth starters alike, a team is more likely to win consistently than by pitching with the goal to miss bats. Strikeouts happen, sometimes intentionally in crucial situations, but they are viewed as necessary evils. A one-pitch groundout is the preferred result. If you actually watched Wainwright and Carpenter in 2009-2010 you wouldn’t be making your claims. First of all, you can make the claim that Wainwright was better in 2009 than in 2010. He started slowly, and finished strong. But the net results are similar. However, in 2010 he slumped badly in August, at a time when we were in the race. His sub-standard five starts cost us dearly, perhaps even the division. Carpenter on the other hand was nowhere near the pitcher he had been. To dismiss his year as a return to normality is an exercise in ignorance. Way to many pitches up and in the middle of the plate, more walks, and hanging breaking balls. He would be the first to tell you that. He just did not pitch well. It would be too easy to say that Wainwright’s slump was due to his elevated pitch counts due to his increased strikeout rate. It would support my argument, but the tired arm excuse seems to arise every time a pitcher runs into a rough streak.

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