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A note on awards season

Sep 19, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

Mike Trout AP

I had some fun with the Ted Williams post this morning, but I would like to make one observation about the upcoming MVP debates and awards season in general:  they matter and they don’t. And that’s not necessarily a contradiction.

Remember that time when the voters got the MVP vote wrong and we all died? God, that sucked.  Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. Because no one is truly harmed if the MVP voters screw up. Amazingly, that even held when Alan Trammell was ripped off in 1987, and I was pretty sure that was going to kill me. In that sense, no, the awards debates don’t truly matter.

At the same time, the opposite reaction — that since it’s just baseball awards these debates are not even worth having — is also dumb.  We’re baseball fans. Arguing about awards is the best possible way to spend one’s time when actual games aren’t on. What the hell else should we do? Pretend there isn’t interesting baseball stuff to consider? Act like we’re above having a time-worn bar argument about which player is better than another? Jeez, that would make us friggin’ communists.

Where to find the balance? I think it’s just like anything else: we should jut be suspicious of extremists. People who think the wrong guy winning is tragedy of some kind are silly. If you’re a Mike Trout guy, the world is not going to end if Miguel Cabrera wins the award and vice-versa.  At the same time, however, people who tell me that it’s not worth even engaging in the exercise are off base too.  Go not have fun someplace else, please.

Anyway, I’ve not sat down and considered any award fully. I’m seriously leaning Mike Trout for the MVP, of course, but I could theoretically have my mind changed. And if that doesn’t happen I’m not gonna consider it an atrocity if Cabrera wins.  It’s just baseball.

But dude, if a bunch of writers try to argue that base running and defense is some sort of esoteric sabermetric invention, I will take up arms and fight until either death or glory is achieved.

Wait … gotta re-read my own post again.  Damn.

  1. jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I wouldn’t mind if Cabrera won. In my mind, he should have won last year. I understand that Trout brings more to the field and is the only reason the Angels are playing for even a slim hope of cool weather baseball, and I think he’s the most valuable player in all of baseball. But Cabrera’s not too shabby.

    • number42is1 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      I thought that Michael Young should have won it last year???

      • ptfu - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        It goes without saying that Michael Young should win it every year. We are discussing who should come in second.

      • Reflex - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Jeter, of course.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        If it weren’t for those damn SABR nerds, sabotaging everything with their narratives and rhetoric…

      • kevinbnyc - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:07 PM

        The writers don’t appreciate intangibles, and its really a shame.

  2. dwrek5 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I think the award(s) that gets me most fired up are the Gold Gloves. Our eyes can be our best friend and worst nightmare in that debate.

    • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      The biggest problem with the Gold Glove is that players who provide an offensive boost have an advantage over purely defensive shortstops.

      Which is maddening to even think about.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        It’s pretty irritating. But I care a little less about those since they’re not as celebrated. They give away 18 of them every year so they’re not talked about as much. I do get a little worked up about CY’s and MVP’s, though. As a fan I always want to see the most deserving guy get it, and of course that’s a subjective opinion…but narratives can be a bitch.

    • kevinleaptrot - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Remember when Rafael Palmiero won the GG for 1st base in 1999 and only played 28 games at the position. That award lost all significance for me at that moment.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        That’s just embarrassing. Voters nowadays are definitely a little more forward thinking than that, at least. Not as much as we’d all like, though…

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Here’s what *kills* me about the Gold Glove:

      It’s voted on by managers and coaches. Let’s say your Jim Leyland and you doing your vote off the eye test.

      Brendan Ryan leads the AL in dWAR by a pretty large margin. There are faults in dWAR, but we can all agree he is pretty great defensively.

      Leyland has seen Ryan play in 5 games this year. Looking through BBRef’s game summaries, approx. 11 ground balls were hit to Brendan Ryan and 4 pop flys/line drives. That means, all year, Leyland seen Ryan make 15 plays. That’s it. He is basing his Gold Glove vote not on a season’s worth of fielding, but *15 plays*.

      Imagine doing other awards this way. If coaches and managers voted for the MVP, Buck Showalter might consider Jeff Francour the MVP (1.025 OPS vs Orioles)!

      • 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        Nice work, Falcon.

      • blacksables - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        Yeah, stupid managers thinking they know something about the game. How dare they?

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM

        Hey blacksables, here is my rebuttal to your argument:

        Rafael Palmeiro, 1999.

        He won a gold glove at first base. Where he played 28 games. The rest of his games were as a DH.

        I win.

    • Detroit Michael - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      Just look at the Fielding Bible awards for the best fielding players at each position. Problem solved.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        True, but still, it’s not about me knowing who the best fielders are, really. As a fan I just like to see the right players get the recognition they deserve, the fielding bible awards will probably never be too mainstream.

  3. kevinleaptrot - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I don’t care who wins what, but please God, don’t let any of the winners have happen to them what happened to Ryan Braun last year. No failed drug tests, no leaked information about failed drug tests before appeals are heard, none of that nonsense. Please.

    • kiwicricket - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      I don’t get it…. What is more entertaining than a urine scandal?

      • kevinleaptrot - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        None of that should have come to light until the appeal was heard. Now we have a reigning NL MVP with a huge black cloud over his head, especially considering the sketchy reasoning behind his exoneration. That said, I’m going to be at Nats Park on Saturday, right behind home plate yelling “cheater” and “juicer” and anything else I can think of (hopeully something witty) every time he comes to bat.

      • ufullpj - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        @kevinleaptrot ….classy. I’m sure you’ll be setting a great example for your kids, colleagues, employees, clients, or anyone else you’re with.

      • uwsptke - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM

        Yes, because those taunts at visiting stadiums have clearly affected his peformance this year. /sarcasm.

        Braun should be the NL MVP this year, in the same way that Kemp should have won it last year. But if the Brewers keep up their surge, he may just win it (or would if not for the jerkoffs who will leave him completely off the ballot).

  4. kiwicricket - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Trout or Cabrera….won’t get too unbalanced if either one wins. What really rips my nightie is when Micheal and Delmon Young get 3rd and 4th. The inexplicably crap votes make a lasting impact on me for some reason.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      You know what I enjoy? The bottom of the ballot. The guys who get 10th place votes.

  5. illcomm - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    unless the angels surge n make the playoffs, there is no real reason for trout to win the mvp. yes his numbers r great, but over the last two months his dropoff when stats count is just too much to ignore. cabrera k/ bb ration is by far better n he leads in avg, rbi, ops, n hr.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      he leads in avg, rbi, ops, n hr.

      First, he doesn’t lead in HR. Second, I love when people bring up things like AVG when he just passed Trout a few days ago after Trout lead for most of the year.

      Also, way to leave out defense and base running as if they have zero responsibilities in baseball.

  6. thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    ” Amazingly, that even held when Alan Trammell was ripped off in 1987, and I was pretty sure that was going to kill me.”

    You know who really got ripped off? As in, no one even mentions it?

    Let’s see
    SS: Alan Trammell 1987: 109 runs, 28 HR, 105 RBI, .343/.402/.551, 155 OPS+, 7.9 fWAR
    3B: Player B 1987:………..108 runs, 24 HR, 89 RBI, .363/.461/.588, 174 OPS+, 9.2 fWAR

    Poor Wade Boggs.

  7. ptfu - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    IMHO Trout is the MVP over Cabrera, based on overall play.
    Hitting + defense + baserunning > hitting a bit more – defense – baserunning

    My one doubt about Trout is with games played. Trout will finish the season with ~20 fewer games played than Miggy, and ~65 fewer plate appearances. It’s the Most Valuable PLAYER award, which implies you have to play to get it. This is comparable to the Cy Young race where we give more credit to pitchers with more innings.

    So my first question to HBT-land is, is Trout’s 20 game/65 PA deficit enough to give the MVP to Miggy?

    Question #2 is, if Miggy wins the Triple Crown then is the historical weight of that accomplishment enough to push him past Trout for the MVP?

    • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      You’d think the triple crown could kind of be its own reward.

  8. thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    My favorite stupid MVP vote of all time:

    In 1980, RIck Cerone got a 1st place MVP vote. Cerone, the Yankees catcher, had a respectable season, hitting .277/.321/.432 with a 107 OPS+ and a 4.5 fWAR. Hardly MVP material.

    That means a voter gave his first place vote to Rick Cerone over….
    …George Brett. Who hit .390/.454/.664 with a 203 OPS+, 9.5 fWAR.

  9. flavadave10 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    I think Trout wins it. Cabrera, Cano, Adam Jones, and Josh Hamilton should get some first place votes too.

    Please note that I will proudly admit that I’m an Orioles homer. Hey, at least I have the guts to admit it. Feel free to troll the heck out of me.

    1. Trout
    2. Cabrera
    3. Adam Jones (Where would the Orioles be without him?)
    4. Josh Hamilton
    5. Robinson Cano
    6. Derek Jeter (Respect. While he doesn’t deserve an MVP this year, he certainly warrants consideration)
    7. Prince Fielder
    8. Austin Jackson
    9. Matt Wieters (Before you laugh, consider the Orioles pitching. Pretty much the entire Orioles pitching staff has overachieved. You don’t think Wieters has a lot to do with that?)
    10. Curtis Granderson

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Let’s see:

      Adam Jones is 33rd in the league in WAR,
      Derek Jeter is 47th in the league
      Curtis Granderson is 51st.

      Yet Adrian Beltre and Edwin Encarnacion are nowhere in your top 10.

      It’s just curious is all.

      • flavadave10 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        I admit I overlooked Beltre. He’s probably in the top 10. It’s extremely hard for me to consider Encarnacion an MVP candidate when his team is that bad. Also, to quote the song:

        “WAR! HUH! YEAH!!!! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”

      • clydeserra - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        well, WAR is good for comparing the value different base ball players give their team for one.

  10. illcomm - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    An mvp picks up his numbers when he is needed most. just for the simple fact that trout’s stats have fell tremendously since July onward, he doesn’t deserve the mvp. he dropoff is a big reason why the angels won’t make the playoffs

  11. moogro - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Votes should be public. When they are challenged, they should be defended. If it’s still indefensible you should give your vote to someone else.

  12. scoregasmic - Sep 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    If austin Jackson doesn’t win a gold glove this year I will give up on that award

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