As I alluded to in the previous post, I wasn’t all that upset by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s voting for the AL MVP. It’s not who I would’ve selected, but it wouldn’t take much of an argument from anyone to convince me that the top five vote getters were the top five best players in the league this year.
My ire was reserved for one first place vote in particular, the one given to Michael Young by Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, no stranger to previous voting controversy. According to fWAR, Young was the eighth best player on his team in 2011, but thanks to Grant’s vote, he ranked as the eighth best player in the league according to baseball writers.
Back in September, while participating in an online chat, Grant revealed some of the reasoning behind his belief that Young was deserving of some post season hardware.
Michael Young is emerging as a legit MVP contender. To me he has been the most valuable player, but people don’t know the intrinsic value he brings.
I’m sure that this is much like the intrinsic value that Jose Bautista brings to Toronto, or Dustin Pedroia brings to Boston, or that Curtis Granderson brings to New York. The very fact that it is intrinsic means that its incomparable to what other players do. So, by definition, it shouldn’t be used to judge and compare with other players. The fact that Grant seems aware of other people’s ignorance of Michael Young’s intrinsic value, but unaware of his own ignorance when it comes to the intangible value of other players is completely inconsiderate and evidence of something less than an objective approach.
They see that he’s hitting .338 and has 105 RBIs, but they don’t see that his 14 games at 2B probably had some impact on Ian Kinsler staying fully healthy for the first time in his career.
So, by playing 14 games at second base and costing his team multiple runs with his defense even during that limited time, he should be considered the most valuable player because he played horribly at a position that allowed a better baseball player to play more.
They don’t see that he gave Ron Washington an attractive option at first to try and rest Mitch Moreland, particularly against lefties.
Please notice that according to Grant, Young’s two most important contributions come from acting as a replacement player. Young was not an attractive option at first base. Again, according to every defensive metric, he cost his team on defense.
They may not be aware that he hit in the 3 spot when Josh Hamilton was hurt, took over the 4 spot for most of the year and hit No. 5 as well.
No, we may not be aware of this, but I do understand that Young had 73 more plate appearances with runners on base than Adrian Beltre did this season and within those 73 extra chances, he had a single more run batted in than the Rangers full time third baseman. This might lead me to believe that his position in the batting order had a little bit more to do with Ron Washington than his performance compared to other hitters in the lineup.
They don’t know that Derek Holland has met with him after almost every start lately for a critique and that Young and Holland have a special player-pitcher rapport. They don’t know that Mike Napoli, who is having a career year, lockers next to Young and has followed him around like a puppy dog.
I suppose that for next year’s awards, pitching coaches should get Cy Young consideration and bench coaches should should get MVP consideration. After all, these are the type of contributions that a manager or team of coaches make that isn’t relevant to how a player performs on the field.
No, they will see stats. They will see his WAR or his OPS and believe that others are more valuable. I can’t see how one player meant more to all facets of his team than Young.
Yes, we will look at stats because they offer us the most objectivity and show us who was actually the most valuable in terms of creating runs for his team and stopping runs against his team. I’d hazard a guess that Grant can’t see how one player meant more to all facets of his team than Young because he didn’t follow another team for the entirety of the season, collecting quotes and forming a narrative around them.
If he had worked in Toronto, he might have seen Jose Bautista unselfishly playing third base for a portion of the season to cover for the shortcomings of others. If he had worked in Boston, he might have seen Dustin Pedroia have more total chances on defense than any other player in baseball while trying his best to lead a divided club house. If he had worked in New York, he might have seen Curtis Granderson meet all the demands placed on him by the team and media off the field to have one of the best seasons of a center fielder in recent memory.
Grant doesn’t work in those places. He works in Dallas. And he saw first hand how Michael Young replaced and coached his way into being the Most Valuable Player in the American League. Then again, maybe I’m the one in the wrong. After all, Young’s BARBI is off the charts.