The voters of the Cy Young award are finally starting to vote for the right people. Here’s hoping the same can be said for the MVP award some day.
Another way to word the Cy Young award would be to call it the Best Pitcher of the Year award. Unfortunately, the MVP award isn’t as simple, but it should be.
The voters of the Cy Young award have long been putting too much value on the number of wins a pitcher has even though the rest of the team can be more responsible for that than the pitcher on the mound. This year, the American League Cy Young winner was Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners even though he only won 13 games. Hernandez won the award because he was the best pitcher in the American League. Well done, voters.
When it comes to the MVP award, too much influence is placed on a player’s team’s place in the standings. If a player’s team is in last place, he obviously must not have been valuable enough so he doesn’t deserve the award – this seems to be the mentality among voters. I don’t agree. The award should go the person who contributed the most to his team, regardless of its place in the standings.
There have been exceptions like when Andre Dawson won the 1987 National League MVP for the last-place Cubs or when Alex Rodriguez won the AL award in 2003 for the last-place Rangers. These are cases when the player’s statistics exceed the other competitors by so much, they can’t be ignored. These instances are few.
There is a new statistic that should be considered heavily in MVP voting: Wins Above Replacement (WAR). This calculates the number of extra wins a team accumulates over a season for a player compared to what an average replacement player would accumulate (zero). Josh Hamilton of the Rangers and Joey Votto of the Reds won this year’s MVP awards. According to the WAR numbers, the most valuable players in each league was Evan Longoria of the Rays (7.7 WAR) and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals (7.2). Hamilton’s rating was 6.0 (sixth in AL) while Votto’s was 6.2 (fifth in NL).
It will be a long time before voters aren’t looking at home runs and RBI, but I hope over time they’ll consider the new statistics.
Was Miguel Cabrera less valuable to his team than Josh Hamilton because the Tigers finished with a .500 record? I don’t believe so, but the voters do. Where would the Indians have finished the season without Shin-Soo Choo? If you surround a great player with lesser talent, doesn’t that make him that much more valuable?
What about the clubhouse factor? Can you consider an average player more valuable than an offensive star because he keeps the spirits high and doesn’t let anyone get too down in the clubhouse? Tony Perez was a good player for the Big Red Machine, but his numbers didn’t match up with Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and George Foster. Yet, when the Reds traded him prior to the 1977 season, the team’s production dropped off. How valuable was Perez?
Michael Cuddyer isn’t the best player on the Minnesota Twins, but many believe his unselfishness helps the team in a way others can’t. Does this make him more valuable? I think so.
If the MVP award voting doesn’t change, I can’t complain much. It’s an award. It’s an opinion. It’s only who a bunch of voters thought was the most valuable player of the year. I know Goodfellas was the best picture of 1990 even though Dances With Wolves won the Academy Award. I also know Bob Dylan should have a room full of Grammy awards from the sixties, but the voters didn’t have a clue what they were listening to. I also know Johan Santana was the best pitcher in the American League in 2005.
This is my opinion and a lot of the time it doesn’t agree with what a small group of voters think.