November 9, 2005

He Should Have Won

There was a time not too long ago when I would have gotten really upset about Johan Santana finishing third in the American League Cy Young voting that was announced yesterday. I would have written several thousand words about how much better Santana was than Bartolo Colon, using all sorts of numbers and tables.

And now? Well, I no longer care. Benjamin Franklin once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The Baseball Writers' Association of America consistently screws up the awards voting and consistently does so in the same manner, and I've decided to stop getting worked up about it.

The BBWAA hands out baseball's most prestigious awards, but if you really think about it, why is the opinion of 28 beat writers from local newspapers all that important? Why pay attention to a group of voters who can't look past a pitcher's win total to see that a guy who won 16 games pitched quite a bit better than a guy who won 21 games, except the 16-game winner played on a team that couldn't hit?

None of the three writers who cover the Twins for the Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Joe Christensen, LaVelle E. Neal, and Dennis Bracken -- felt that Santana deserved the award. They saw first hand how well Santana pitched and how little offensive support the lineup provided, yet Christensen and Bracken still couldn't get past the fact that Colon won 21 games.

Neal at least voted for Mariano Rivera, with Santana second. While that's the wrong decision, it is at least a somewhat reasonable one because Rivera dominated in a different role than Santana. To vote for another starting pitcher and say that Colon was better than Santana this year, in my opinion, is not defensible at all.

The front page of the Star Tribune's sports section listed a "why he'll win" and "why he won't" for Colon, Santana, and Rivera. The problem with the BBWAA's voting can be summed up in the responses listed for Colon:

Why he'll win: AL leader in victories, and team won division title. Some writers see Cy Young Award as MVP for pitchers.

Why he won't: Aside from victories, his stats pale next to Santana's.

In other words, Santana was the best pitcher in the league, but because people have the misguided notion that the MVP should be given to someone besides the best player, they make the same illogical decision for pitchers. As if that somehow explains anything but how screwed up the process for picking the MVP is too.

Santana was the best pitcher in the league, and thus deserves an award that is supposed to be given to the best pitcher. The fact that he didn't receive it is fine, but it means the award is probably not worth caring much about. After all, 17 of the 28 voters thought Colon was the AL's best pitcher while only three thought it was Santana, and five of the 28 voters came to the ridiculous conclusion that Santana didn't even deserve a vote.

Imagine if you asked someone which Godfather movie they liked best and they said, "The third one." Wouldn't you immediately stop paying attention to their opinion about movies? Now imagine you asked the same person for the name of a good restaurant and they responded, "McDonald's." Rather than continue to ask for their opinion on such things, wouldn't you just stop paying attention to them altogether? Exactly.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)

Pick of the Day (135-113, +$2,255):
New York PK (-110) over Portland)

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