As you are keenly aware by now, last night the Baseball Writers Association of America voted Mike Trout and Bryce Harper the 2012 Rookies of the Year. Trout’s selection was unanimous while Harper edged Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks, grabbing 16 first place votes to Miley’s 12.
We know this because the BBWAA publishes the full ballot on their website, including all the individual votes cast by their membership. This is new twist for BBWAA voting and, as the coming weeks are sure to demonstrate, is not an insignificant development.
Pouring over the voting breakdown, we see all the hometown bias proper journalists aim to eschew. We see John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer gave Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds one of his two first-place votes. We learn a San Diego writer give a third place vote to Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, who led NL rookies in games played and not a heck of a lot else. We learn that honorary BBWAA member Jeff Horrigan, who no longer appears to even write about baseball, voted put Bryce Harper in third place, behind Wilin Rosario of the Colorado Rockies.
None of these crimes are especially egregious because the “right” player won the award and because they’re just post-season baseball awards. The voting shenanigans in the AL Most Valuable Player bloodsport are going to get ugly and, most likely, personal.
In some ways, the transparent ballots might “shame” voters into avoiding controversy by ignoring their “better” judgement and voting along with the status quo. Or, far more likely, writers embrace their inner troll and put ridiculous names on the ballot. Oh how they’ll laugh as the angry at-replies roll in, picking up radio hits like pebbles on a beach.
So long as the outlier votes are made with intellectual honesty, we must resist our inner urges to shout down the attention-seekers and dinosaurs when it is the process that is at fault. Letting inactive or otherwise ill-informed writers cast ballots does a disservice to the fans and readers who hotly debate these topics, not to mention the small matter of award incentives tied into some contracts.
The writers are self-appointed guardians of these awards, entrusting the delicate task of saying “he good, he better!” to the only people they truly believe in: themselves. Pulling back the curtain on wonky votes and self-interested ballots is certainly a step in the right direction.
And the Rest
What causes infield popups? Great stuff from Jeff Zimmerman exploring the root causes of the automatic out. [Fangraphs]
The various shapes improvement might take for the Houston Astros. Read: not only a few more wins. [Houston Chron]
Breaking down two of the Orioles “out of nowhere” success stories – lucky or good? [Beyond the Boxscore]
Wait, nobody bothered “teaching” Alfonso Soriano how to play the outfield until this year? Apparently defense doesn’t matter (even though it does) [Baseball Prospectus]
Now that they have a manager and hitting coach in place, Fish Stripes rolls out their official Marlins offseason plan. Nothing about an insurrection/march on the ownership box, unfortunately. [Fish Stripes]
The Dodgers will happily spend all the dollars [Hit and Run]
Keith Law with an Insider piece explaining his Rookie of the Year ballot. He (correctly) extended a third-place vote to Nori Aoki of the Brewers, who I shouldn’t have to remind you is awesome. [ESPN Insider]
Promote from within or bring in a new guy? How have the Blue Jays fared historically fared when hiring managers? [Shi Davidi]