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Posnanski pillories the pillars of awards voting

Oct 1, 2013, 11:01 AM EST

Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera looks at the scoreboard in the ninth inning of the Kansas City Royals' win in their MLB game in Kansas City Reuters

The MVP is not the same thing as the best player. An MVP has to come from a winning team. The best pitcher has the most wins. The manager of the year has to be a comeback story.

These are some of the many silly fictions of awards voting. Especially that first one because, man, you think that the BBWAA would’ve invented an award for the best player by now, but some folks would have you believe they never have.

Today Joe Posnanski takes those ideas — he calls them the Four Points of Awards Voting — and explains why he disagrees with them. In doing so he doesn’t scorch the Earth, Brian Kenny-style in explaining why anyone who adheres to them is foolishly walking in the forest of ignorance. He acknowledges that all of these ideas have been drilled into our heads for years and that, because of them, you have to at least engage them.

And when Posnanski engages something, well, he’s quite engaging.

  1. aceshigh11 - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Hurray for alliteration.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      def: a lotta letters alike in a line.

  2. blacksables - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sporting_News_Player_of_the_Year_Award

    There are plenty of awards for Player of the Year, and have been around for a long time.

    Who says the BBWAA has a monopoly on awards, and has to award a Player of the Year?

    The people here who complain about the BBWAA MVP award are perfectly free to ignore it, and instead celebrate the player of the year award’s instead.

    Awards from associations only gain recognition from those who choose to recognize them. Don’t like the BBWAA? Go somewhere else.

    The Player of the Year awards came about as an alternative to the MVP, in which they realized that the MVP award was for one thing, and the Player of the Year award was for another. You’ll see the difference from the start.

    If these organizations can figure it out, why is it so hard for people here to?

    • Detroit Michael - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      I agree with this from Pasnanski’s article: “I think “most valuable” and “best” are just about perfect baseball synonyms. The most valuable player is the best player. The best player is the most valuable one.”

      • Detroit Michael - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        Should be Posnanski.

      • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        I’m not sure that’s true. Take the Yankees as an example:

        Mariano Rivera has been (over the course of his career) the best player on the team in that he is better at what he does than Derek Jeter is at what he does, than Robinson Cano is at what he does and so on. But Rivera’s not the team’s most valuable player because what he does doesn’t impact as many games as what Jeter or Cano do.

        Again, this is not comparing apples to apples since the argument here is really between two position players in Trout and Cabrera

    • crackersnap - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      One certainly could argue that there are mountains of institutions distributing awards, and that there are no restrictions against even more mountains of such institutions granting further awards. However, very, very few such institutions are officially quasi-sanctioned by MLB in the manner of the BBWAA.

  3. anxovies - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Craig: in law school budding lawyers are taught “RTFS” as the first step in any case analysis, something often forgotten in later years. Mindful of that principal, what are the criteria for the MVP award or the instructions given to baseball writers who vote (if any)? Was there a charter or a statement by the BBWAA when the award was first proposed? Everybody thinks that they know what the three words mean and these interpretations vary. If the BBWAA set criteria when it established the award in 1931, I have never seen it mentioned. If the criteria is simply “most valuable” then any reasonable interpretation as to what those words mean is legitimate and everybody is arguing apples and oranges, which is always more fun to watch.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      Craig: in law school budding lawyers are taught “RTFS” as the first step in any case analysis, something often forgotten in later years. Mindful of that principal, what are the criteria for the MVP award or the instructions given to baseball writers who vote (if any)? Was there a charter or a statement by the BBWAA when the award was first proposed? Everybody thinks that they know what the three words mean and these interpretations vary. If the BBWAA set criteria when it established the award in 1931, I have never seen it mentioned

      When I was in school, they taught me to look up the information myself and not rely on others to do the work for me. However, let me help you out here:

      http://bit.ly/15GUh84

      • blacksables - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        Yet you never post original thought here. All you do is respond in a negative way to what someone else has written.

        Let me help.

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hypocrite

      • moogro - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        I gotta agree with church on this one. Unless you are on your smartphone that sucks to interface with, and you mention it, please use the google first. Or figure out a different way to be conversational without floating the lazy “hmm, I wonder” when we’re all sitting in front of super god-like, zero effort information terminals.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        Yet you never post original thought here. All you do is respond in a negative way to what someone else has written.

        Let me help.

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hypocrite

        Let me get this straight. I’m a hypocrite, because someone calls out Craig for not doing any research, and said person proceeds to not do any research. By pointing out this hypocrisy, I become a hypocrite?

        Please explain that logic fail for me.

        As for original thought, you got me there. I’m actually a bot that just regurgitates stats whenever someone mentions WAR improperly.

      • anxovies - Oct 2, 2013 at 6:55 AM

        They taught you to look up stuff by using Google? How old are you? 13?

    • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      I recently posted this in the comments of one of the Trout v Cabrera articles. It is a copy of the instructions the voters get, and I copied/pasted it from the BBWAA website:

      “Dear Voter:

      There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.

      The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:

      1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.

      2. Number of games played.

      3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

      4. Former winners are eligible.

      5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

      You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.

      Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.”

      – See more at: http://bbwaa.com/voting-faq/#sthash.jtaCz6aI.dpuf

      • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        Two things, to me, jump out from this. One is that anyone can define “valuable” any way they want. Thus the arguments shall continue forever.

        The second is that the MVP does NOT need to be from a winning team. Thus, if a voter feels Carlos Gomez was clearly a better player this year than Andrew McCutcheon, then that voter should vote for Carlos Gomez ahead of Andrew McCutcheon. For me, this is the key piece of the instructions because it is this that tells me the votes should be a top ten, in order, ranking of who the voters thinks is really the best player. (The first line unfortunately still gives an out to those who want to give a player credit for being on a more talent laden roster.)

      • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        There it is – “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means.” People in the game are trying to quantify it and I give them credit for the effort, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a subjective decision based on what you consider as valuable.

        It doesn’t say that the winner HAS to come from a playoff team but it also doesn’t say that the team’s playoff position shouldn’t have any bearing on an individual voter’s decision making process. So if a voter wants to look at Trout and Cabrera and say, “Well without Trout the Angels still don’t make the playoffs but if you take Cabrera off the Tigers they might not make the playoffs” (s)he can do that and be 100% correct in letting that influence their vote.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        Yep, Chip, the voters can use any criteria they want no matter how much I disagree. I think the instructions hint at the award being for the best player, but that is my opinion. Thus in these debates, I state my opinion and why, and do not insult anyone who thinks differently. If the person does not use advanced metrics in stating their opinion, then I do not use them when replying with my own.

        Frankly (and I’ve joked about this elsewhere), a voter could say A-Rod is the MVP because he has the highest salary. It would be crazy, but he’d be making a completely valid vote.

  4. spudchukar - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Mixed feelings here. And I have no answers. But what I do recognize is there is a difference between “Most Valuable”, and “Best Player”. Perception is reality. And while if I had to choose I would lean toward the award going to the “Best Player”. But I also realize that there is nothing wrong with the “Most Valuable” designation.

    However, the separate award option rings hollow. It would cheapen the MVP award, and that would have historical consequences. Again, I do not have a resolution, does anybody?

  5. brianc6234 - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Only a retard would say the MVP has to come from a winning team. There’s no rule that says that. Just like Cy Young can go to a pitcher on a bad team the MVP can go to a player on a team that misses the playoffs.

    • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      It doesn’t say it has to go to a player from a winning team, but it also doesn’t say that team record should not factor into the decision. Just that a voter can use it or not as they see fit in their decision making process.

  6. moogro - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    The MVP criteria are muddier than “best player,” and that’s unfortunate. It’ll probably stay spooky that way to cover the voting writers’ opinions. If they changed it to a clear “best player,” then they would have to think, do research, vote for someone in another city, be open to easy attack, etc.

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