Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The concept of value is taking a pretty severe beating this week. Reaching a working definition of “valuable” means parsing its use in an “awards” sense versus its use in statistical abstractions, making for muddy waters indeed. A given player’s role on a winning team, the weight given to defense, base running, and everything else not done in the batters box is suddenly up in the air.

Does defense and base running matter? Are positional differences not worth considering? Allow me the indulgence of a simple thought experiment.

If we are to believe base running and defense don’t matter, and that Miguel Cabrera carried the Tigers, let’s use our imagination to put that thinking to the test.

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There are worse crimes in the deep annals of BBWAA vote butchery than voting Miguel Cabrera as the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2012. SB Nation ran down some of the worst winners and extraneous votes from throughout the years. Cabrera’s win does not belong anywhere near such a list.

Miguel Cabrera is not a bad MVP selection by any stretch of the imagination. He won the freaking Triple Crown, a feat unseen in baseball since 1967. His team made the playoffs – though his team plays in a very weak division and the best pitcher in baseball (and Cy Young runner-up) and a $200 million dollar slugger rank among his team mates.

Some twists of fate coupled with Cabrera’s incredible performance placed him atop three key statistical leaderboards, fast-tracking him to immortality (key if largely irrelevant in an “on the field” baseball sense) and delivering Miguel Cabrera the 2012 MVP award. I don’t care how cosy your ballpark: .330/.393/.606 is really, really good! 200 hits is good, 44 league-leading home runs is great.

Cabrera spent the season at or near third base, giving his all at the hot corner. While no one confuses him for Brooks Robinson, his portly friend Prince and many other top sluggers could not pull off the same trick after more than four years on the other side of the diamond.

The problem, if there is one, is that Mike Trout’s season was better. Mike Trout is probably a better baseball player than Miguel Cabrera. He did not hit for as much power as the Tigers third baseman but he reached base at a higher rate than Cabrera, a higher rate than all but two hitters in the AL.

He also ran the bases better than anyone else, he played defense in the outfield better than anyone else, and hit for more power than anyone has any right to expect of a base-stealing fly catcher – Trout’s 30 home runs ranked him 13th in the American League. In 2012, in the eyes of many around the game, Mike Trout was the most valuable player in baseball.

But Mike Trout was not voted MVP – that goes to Miguel Cabrera. Congratulations.

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Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price edged out Justin Verlander by just four points to win the 2012 American League Cy Young Award. Price captured 14 first place votes to Verlander’s 13. It marks the closest vote since 1969. R.A. Dickey was voted the National League’s recipient of the award in convincing fashion, garnering 27 first place votes.

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Tonight, we are all Mark Reynolds. More accurately, let’s have the BBWAA be Mark Reyndols and let Buck Showalter stand in for Buck Showalter. The writers cruelly snubbed poor Buck, handing 16 first-place votes to Bob Melvin of the Oakland A’s compared to 12 for the Orioles’ Showalter. No luck, just Buck indeed. (Full ballot)

Bob Melvin wins the American League Manager of the Year award, likely the least important “major” award handed out during this most silly of silly seasons. Melvin lead the Cinderella A’s to a shock AL West title, falling to the Tigers in the ALDS but chasing down the Rangers during the final weeks of the season. Oakland built their team on home run power and good pitching. Kudos to Bob Melvin for staying the hell out of the way.

The National League nod goes to Davey Johnson for leading the Nationals to the first playoff appearances since moving to DC. Johnson deserves immense credit for his progressive attitudes and forward-thinking lineup construction which allowed the talent on his roster to flourish. The writers agree, giving Johnson 24 of a possible 28 first-place votes. Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy round out the top three. (Full ballot)

Expansive manager of the year thoughts below the jump.

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To the surprise of very few, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper began their inevitable march towards Bird/Magic marriage of marketing by netting Rookie of the Year awards. Trout sweeps the vote with his season for the ages while Bryce Harper posted one of the finest seasons for a teenager in baseball history, edging Arizona starter Wade Miley to take the NL ROY crown.

Not a bad twosome to pull your brand wagon for the next fifteen years, MLB.

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With nothing, at all, going on in the baseball world right now, thank heavens for Melky Cabrera. No, Melky hasn’t signed or committed any crimes against humanity this week but he is certainly here to help the beleaguered bloggers and news editors of the world.

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Awards for managers. What can you say? They certainly do get handed out, don’t they?

Arguing over the best manager in any given year is even more futile than the other awards that the Baseball Writers Association of America hand out at the end of the season. There’s an element of subjectivity in any opinion on what makes one player better than another, but at least those opinions can be backed up by statistics and reason.

Recognizing a manager’s contribution has no such metric on which to base an opinion on. Sure, you can say that the best team in baseball has the best manager because they collected the most wins, but you can also say that the sun and moon kill people because people around the world die every day both when the sun is out and when the moon is out.

It’s a funny correlation, but more often than not, it ends up that good managers have good players. And because baseball is a game in which getting out, or failing three fifths of the time is an extraordinary accomplishment, a manager’s sole responsibility is to put his players in the best position to succeed. And so, you could probably do worse than handing out the best manager awards to Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays for their efforts in 2011.

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