BBWAA fail NL ROY voting

Accountability. Does this concept exist in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA)? Reading up on their web site, the mantra for this group is as follows:
“Its purpose is to ensure proper working conditions in press boxes and clubhouses, and to ensure its members have access to players and others in the game so members’ reporting can be accurate, fair and complete.”
For this discussion, I am most concerned with the latter statement and the irony that plays out from the message.

Few things in life bother me as much as seeing the fallout from MLB award voting breakdowns, voted on by the BBWAA. Each year there seems to be abnormalities that make me question the integrity of this group and wonder if accountability ever comes into play. Nothing was more disturbing than last year’s NL Cy Young voting when 2 writers decided not to place Chris Carpenter on their ballot. Apparently pitching for a division winning team, ranking #1 in {ERA, WHIP, W%} and #2 in {CG, W, QS%} was not sufficient enough to garner Cy consideration. While placing Carpenter may not have ultimately altered the outcome, the lack of reasoning to substitute Dan Haren/Javier Vaquez on the ballot is mind boggling.

This year, the screws have come loose even earlier with the voting breakdown for the NL Rookie of the Year (ROY). Again, the final outcome is not the contentious issue here; Buster Posey was a deserving winner (over Jason Heyward) and my pick for the ROY. The problem comes from 2 writers who decided to not place Posey or Heyward on their ballot; both for reasons that are not satisfying to me. The first culprit was Dejan Kovacevic, a beat writer for the Pittsburgh (hint hint) Post-Gazette who decided that Neil Walker and Jose Tabata, both of Pirates fame, were more deserving of a ROY vote than Jason Heyward. Let’s just look at the numbers for comparison sake:

  • Heyward = .277AVG, .456SLG, .849OPS, 18HR, 72RBI, 11SB, 95.2RC, 33.3VORP, 4.8UZR
  • Walker = .296AVG, .462SLG, .811OPS, 12HR, 66RBI, 2SB, 68.4RC, 29.8VORP, -10.8UZR
  • Tabata = .299AVG, .400SLG, .746OPS, 4HR, 35RBI, 19SB, 56.8RC, 14.9VORP, 7.8UZR

Walker could be argued for based on his strong hitting numbers, however he was widely considered a defensive liability. Tabata on the other hand was a strong defender but paled in any significant hitting category outside of average, most notably in the modest power numbers. Hewyard’s value over replacement player topped even Buster (32.5) all the while helping Atlanta secure a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

Kovacevic has been defending himself all afternoon on Twitter however most of his responses appear defensive in nature, almost pleading for others to find justification in his picks. Another gripe I have with his selection is the callous feeling that voting beyond Buster was inconsequential, as interpreted from this tweet:
“Feeling always has been with voting that broadest variety of perspectives bring best results. Few can argue final overall tally, I’d think.”
Writers would be allowed 1 vote if that were the case. 2nd/3rd place votes can make a difference, in this case, if others had thought more highly of Heyward. This careless train of thought leads me back to integrity, or lack there of for writers in the selection committee. It’s not a coincidence that the 2 Pirates were only placed on the ROY ballot by Dejan, leading me to wonder how he can keep his vote in Association. This fellow would be working for Billy Beane in Oakland if he has the vision to recognize talent others overlook. Otherwise, it seems as though the Pirates’ misfortunes since 1992 have made some in the area delusional and desperate for any form of success.

The second delinquent coming out of the voting saga is Yasushi Kikuchi, of the Kyodo News in LA-Anaheim. This guy appears to be getting less flack for his selections due to his otherwise genuine choices in Gaby Sanchez, Jason Heyward, and Jaime Garcia. 2/3 ain’t too bad? How about forgetting to include eventual winner Buster Posey on his ballot! This is arguably more blasphemous than Kovacevic’s Heyward slight. How can one take this guy seriously if he is unable to place the winner on his ballot? In my opinion this should be cause for revocation or at minimum, suspension of membership. His reasoning is reckless and selfish:
“To me, Rookie of the Year is the best rookie player throughout the whole season”
Yasushi should not be judge of who deserves rookie consideration. If MLB confirms a player is eligible for rookie status, that player should automatically be taken into account by all writers. Posey’s 406AB still tops Ryan Howard’s 312AB from his 2005 ROY season. Kikuchi’s tunnel vision did not appear to recognize Buster’s contributions which included a 21-game hitting streak, and ignition to the Giants’ unexpected NL West pennant. This, to compliment NL rookie leading AVG (.305), SLG (.505) and OPS (.862) numbers (forgive Buster for falling 1HR short of Gaby’s total of 19 in 166 less AB).

Let’s revisit the BBWAA’s 3 pillars in their foundation:

  • “accurate” = writers can omit the eventual winner from their ballot altogether
  • “fair” = writers can vote for local talent who are not recognized by anyone else
  • “complete” = writers can omit players with league leading numbers from their ballot

I’m as big a Blue Jay fan as anyone, however I would not place Jose Bautista for AL MVP, over more deserving candidates (Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano). Sometimes common sense has to supersede inbred bias. I think it’s time this Association takes a look at the voting history and start holding its writers accountable.

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