BBWAA, Get Your Act Together!

< rant >

Earlier this week, I poked some good-natured fun at the BBWAA for their Rookie of the Year award voting. See, Edinson Volquez of the Reds finished fourth in the balloting, yet he is not a rookie. Just because nobody heard of him prior to this year does not automatically deem him eligible as a rookie. I mentioned how numerous bloggers, myself included, had been running a year-long ballot for the three major end of season awards, and we knew from the get-go that Volquez did not qualify. I thought a transgression like this could forgotten, but after seeing the voting totals for the AL Cy Young Award today, I legitimately felt like finding the addresses of some voters and berating them until they gave solid enough reasoning for their selections.

Cliff Lee deserved to win, so let’s clear that up right now. My anger has nothing to do with his victory. He would have had my vote if I were so privileged. He may not repeat this performance next season, but a 2.54 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and K/BB above 5.0, combined with a 5.96 WPA and league best 4.76 WPA/LI is definitely worthy of an award honoring the best pitcher of the season. Halladay may faced stiffer competition, and twirled nine complete games, but honestly, Lee deserved this.

My anger stems from the balloting after that, even though a correction ultimately would not have changed the result. Roy Halladay finished in second place, which is appropriate. In any other season, Doc likely would have run away with the award, with his 2.78 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 246 innings logged, K/BB above 5.0, and 4.27 WPA/LI. He even received four first-place votes, meaning four writers and voters felt he legitimately had a better season than Lee. Lee, of course, finished in second place on each of those ballots.

Given how these two pitchers were, far and away, the cream of the crop in the junior circuit, I expected to see Halladay register anywhere from 20-24 of the remaining second place votes. How many did he register? 15. A little math shows then that, of the 24 remaining ballots that did not put Halladay as the top candidate, nine voters felt someone else was legitimately better and more deserving.

Now, given that Francisco Rodriguez broke the saves record this season, I then expected that those remaining nine second-place votes belonged to K-Rod. A quick glance at the total tallies showed that K-Rod only received seven of those nine second-place votes. So where did the other two go? Thanks for asking, they went to Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox. Yes, the same Daisuke that posted a 2.90 ERA, lower than Halladay, a 4.03 FIP, a full run lower than Halladay, a K/BB ratio under 1.70, and who didn’t even record 170 innings pitched.

Two voters felt that Daisuke had a better season than Halladay. Even using the W-L record, Daisuke did go 18-3, but Halladay won 20 games and did it on a team with an offense considerably worse than the Red Sox. Clearly, voters have to know this, right? Further, Daisuke wasn’t even the best pitcher on his own team, as Jon Lester ran away with those honors. And Lester received NO votes at all! In essence, we have a situation where two second-place votes were given to a pitcher who not only did not deserve them over the rightful owner, but had no business receiving more votes than another pitcher better than him on his own team.

With my anger brewing, my eyes shifted to the third-place column, where I expected to see that Roy Halladay had racked up 9 votes. After all, there are 28 ballots, and he received 4 first-place and 15 second-place votes. I haven’t taken arithmetic since the second grade, but that leaves nine unanswered ballots for Halladay. Guess how many third place votes he had. Six. Nine minus six equals three. That means… wait for it… three voters felt that Roy Halladay had no place on their ballot?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I mean, seriously, are you kidding me!? I don’t even care if Mariano Rivera had a much better season than K-Rod, or that Lester had a better year than Daisuke, or that Ervin Santana had a better year than BOTH Lester and Daisuke. No, what I care about is that three voters filled in a name under first place, second place, and third place, and none of those names were Roy Halladay. Three writers filled out AL Cy Young Award ballots with some combination of Lee-Rodriguez-Santana or Lee-Rodriguez-Rivera, or Lee-Rodriguez-Daisuke, or Lee-Daisuke-Mussina, or any of the other possibe combinations sans Halladay.

To me, this is absolutely atrocious, and if I were in charge, it would be grounds for revoking voting privileges. Even the caveman baseball stats peg Halladay as better than pretty much anyone other than Lee. I write two articles per day here at Fangraphs, 1-2 per week at Statistically Speaking, 4-8 a month at Baseball Prospectus, and chime in every now and then at The Hardball Times, WHILE managing the workload of a graduate business student, responsibilities as a screenwriter, a tax preparer, and a few other web-based jobs, and I was still able to find 10-15 minutes to really analyze the numbers of all of these candidates. None of this is designed to toot my own horn, but rather to show that I am equally as busy, if not moreso, than those with voting privileges.

And yet, someone who “doesn’t live in their mother’s basement,” who is “around the players” and “at the ballpark,” with nothing to do other than meet their deadline with an article full of drivel, cannot do the same? I honestly don’t know what else to say on this one. If Albert Pujols doesn’t win the NL MVP award, well…

< /rant >

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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13 years ago

I didn’t bother to look at any of the results for this very reason. I had a feeling that the voters did some bad, bad things, but I never guessed Ervin Santana would enter the mix, or even Dice-K for that matter. Wow.