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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Your Thursday afternoon tizzyThere is some brewing discontent over the NL Cy Young vote, as two members of the webby portion of the BBWAA -- our friends Keith Law and Will Carroll -- did not include Chris Carpenter on their three-man Cy Young ballots. Keith voted Javier Vazquez second (Lincecum first and Wainwright third) and Will voted Wainwright first, Lincecum second and Danny Haren third. They were the only ones who included Vazquez or Haren on their ballots.
A comment about this from reader Ron in the thread below my earlier post:
“Two voters, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN.com, did not include Carpenter on their ballots.” Nice. Leave the best pitcher in the NL off of your ballots to insure the saber-metric favorite wins. The BBWAA guys might not be the best at voting, but the saber friendly guys don’t have the right to accuse them of manipulating the vote anymore.
Ron, I love you. You've been reading this blog longer than just about anyone and I always appreciate your input. But you're factually wrong here inasmuch as even if Will changed his vote for Haren to Carpenter and and Law did the same with his Vazquez vote, Lincecum still wins. And really, if Will was really trying to throw it to Lincecum, wouldn't he have voted him first?
But I don't mean to single out Ron. I posted his comment simply because it stands at the somewhat extreme end of the discontent I've read at a few message boards. There really are people out there scratching their heads at this, and I imagine there will be at least a little grousing about their votes over the next couple of slow news days.
For my part, I wouldn't have voted the same way Keith and Will did -- neither Vazquez nor Haren would have made my ballot -- but they explain their rationale and I understand why they voted the way they voted even if I disagree with it. At the very least I understand docking Carpenter based on innings pitched, and that seems to be the point of controversy here. I'm a bit more of a romantic than Keith and Will are, I think, so I'd probably have included him on my ballot for reasons associated with his comeback from injury and all of that, but it's certainly legitimate to not include him.
I predict that some people will use Keith's and Will's votes in some argument that statheads shouldn't be given the franchise over the next couple of days. Such an argument, if it comes, should be rejected out of hand. At most this is some down-ballot curiosity, the sort of which we see on the votes for every award.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:24pm
Ron gets some Shyster-love… not that there’s anything wrong with it.
Posted 11/19 at 05:30 PM
James K. said...
Not sure I’d consider Will Carroll a “stathead”, outside of his association with Baseball Prospectus.
Posted 11/19 at 05:37 PM
Craig, just to clarify, I never said Carpenter should have won. But for both of those guys to leave him off of their ballots? It’s worth questioning.
I don’t know enough about Carroll. I’ve read his stuff and like most of it. But considering Law’s anti-Cardinal bias, you definitely have to wonder about how he voted.
Posted 11/19 at 06:15 PM
I don’t see how voting purely sabermetric stats is any different than voting traditional stats. Or personal bias.
To say one group of voters is wrong to do it thier way, and then claim another way is the only right way just smacks of hypocrisy to me.
Posted 11/19 at 06:18 PM
Keith Law, like Rob Neyer, gets accused of personal bias against all 30 teams on a regular basis. It’s pretty funny, since they’re as objective as they come.
I think it’s clear that there IS only one right way to pick a winner here: pick the guy you think, based on some sort of reasonable thought process, is the best pitcher. If you picked Carpenter because you were impressed by his ERA or picked Vazquez #2 because you were impressed by his FIP, good for you. If you picked Wainwright because he was credited with a few extra “wins” or Verlander because you write for a Michigan newspaper, you fail.
Posted 11/19 at 06:24 PM
Both Law and Carroll say that the main deciding factor for them was Carpenter’s time lost due to injury. While I would not personally dock him for that (he qualified for the ERA title, which is sufficient for me), many people would and have said so and I find the position defensible.
Posted 11/19 at 06:30 PM
If one side starts saying that the way other voted is “un-American,” then one could easily mistake this for a debate by the US Senate.
Posted 11/19 at 06:36 PM
The only reason traditional or sabermetric statistics exist is because they have been counted or calculated for the purpose of drawing quantitative conclusions about player performance. Basing one’s votes for performance awards on one set of statistics compared to another is simply saying that you thing those stats a better meters of performance. You can reject the sabermatricians’ premise that their stats are better, but there isn’t any particular hypocrisy in using what you feel is the best tool to do a particular job. To that extent, every vote belies a personal bias.
Regarding Keith Law’s bias, it seems you are suffering from a little confirmation bias.
Posted 11/19 at 06:36 PM
I agree with Bill. Both Law and Carroll took the time to explain their vote and even if you disagree with their conclusions, each presented a transparent account of their logical thought process. The whacked out ballots turned in by some of the old guard sports writers typically have some sort of hometown bias or reliance solely on the win column. That kind of stuff is indefensible.
Posted 11/19 at 06:39 PM
Given that there are only three positions on the Cy Young ballot, I don’t see how this could be construed as an attempt to block Carpenter from winning the Cy. This isn’t the MVP that has what, 10 places on the ballot?
Posted 11/19 at 07:19 PM
Wonder where all this moral outrage from ‘writers’ such as Jon Heyman was when that doofus from Detroit voted Verlander first because of ‘his courage under adversity’ et al. Or maybe that was because that guy was, you know, a fellow sportswriter of the classical mould and not a so called ‘sabergeek living in his mother’s basement’ that both KLaw and Will Carroll are in their eyes. Unlike the Detroit fool, both Law and Carroll at had numbers backing up why they voted the way they did.
Posted 11/19 at 07:42 PM
I never comment here but read everyday. I figure now is as good a time as any to jump in.
Ron, you mention that voting purely based on “sabermetric stats” isn’t any different the voting purely based on “traditional stats”. Except that it absolutely is. All of the information that goes into “traditional” stats also goes into “sabermetric” stats. It’s just that those sabermetric stats take that information even further and try to figure out the “why” behind the information. Rather than simply relying on the earned runs in ERA, FIP tries to determine how much of the ERA was a result of the way the pitcher actually performed and how much was the fault of his defense and luck. “WAR” or “VORP” or any other value-assigning statistic incorporates everything that would contribute to your more traditional “win” stat, except that it strips away everything the pitcher doesn’t have control over and goes to show exactly how much he actually contributed to the “win”.
That is why traditional stats aren’t cited by sabermetricians. Instead of relying simply on what traditional stats say, they have an interest in finding out the “why” and the “how”.
Posted 11/19 at 08:16 PM
Greg Simons said...
The Cy Young and ROY award ballots should have (at least) five spots instead of three.
Posted 11/19 at 09:07 PM
I just listened to a Keith Law interview he did with a St. Louis radio station, and I have to say that Law comes off not so great. He sounds very arrogant and makes himself sound like he is above everyone else.
I know he works at ESPN and worked in a front officer (not very successfully, but in a front office non-the-less). But he doesnt even listen to anyone elses opinion.
FIP is a good stat, and it shows true talent of pitchers, but it has its limitations and he seems to look at as a end all be all. Striking out someone is good but you win games by keeping the other team from scoring runs and that stat has nothing to do with it.
here is the link, its from the Fast Lane show and is in the audio archive on the front page:
Posted 11/19 at 09:19 PM
Of course, the fundamental problem with the conspiracy theory is that it’s a total straw man. Ron is simply inventing the rationale behind Law’s and Carrol’s votes on no other basis than his own opinion of those writers, and then applying that rationale to anyone who disagrees with him. Both of them explained their ballots in print, so it’s really silly to claim “anti-Cardinal bias” or any kind of conspiracy argument.
If you question Law’s voting, you ought to at least read his rationale. If you think he’s lying, then say so.
If you think that Carpenter was so clearly the best pitcher in the league, tell us why. Feel free to use any quality you can think of. ERA, FIP, grit, clutch, good-looks, whatever. Just don’t tell me that I’m wrong because I must not be watching enough baseball to know you’re right.
Posted 11/19 at 09:34 PM
Aaron Moreno said...
I’d say Greg nailed it. If the ballot had five men on it, you’d see Carpenter there, instead of the “off the ballot entirely” bullshit that’s going on.
Posted 11/19 at 10:24 PM
I think Will Carroll showed himself to be an objective observer. He voted for Adam Wainwright over Tim Lincecum even though back before Tim had thrown a single pitch above Class A he answered a reader question by saying Tim was the pitcher he would take as his franchise pitcher for the next 10 years.
If Will had been self-serving, wouldn’t he have voted for Tim?
I will say that I strongly disagree with Will’s leaving Chris Carpenter off his ballot altogether. But I suspect Will had decent reasons for doing so, perhaps including that Chris missed several starts.
I personally give Chris added CREDIT for bouncing back so well from his injury, but it did lessen his value by decreasing the time had to build up that value.
I would also criticize Will for voting for Wainwright first—but again, I suspect he had his reasons, perhaps including the fact that with outstanding bullpen support Adam could actually have won 25 games.
Posted 11/19 at 11:12 PM
Alex K said...
Ted- Law was being attacked on that radio show. One host told him his analysis was bad. Another host said that he wasted his time by watching baseball because his vote was bogus. Why wouldn’t he defend himself? That’s all he was doing. To me, the hosts of the show come off worse because they were interupting Law, and puting words in his mouth.
Posted 11/20 at 12:08 AM
Smart people now allowed to vote for Cy Young: watching 2-3 games plus Guys Yelling About Sports shows on ESPN no longer enough to proclaim “knowledge.”
The idiots have run the BBWAA for too long. They’re dumbfounded by Will and Keith’s votes because they are incapable of thinking it through. They told each other Carpenter was the best pitcher in the NL, so they thought it was agreed.
The old boys’ network in sports reporting is dying, but apparently they’re going to go down swinging.
Posted 11/20 at 02:57 AM
Can someone point out to me where I said:
If so, I will apologize to each and every person who wants me to. But since I didn’t say any of that, it won’t be possible.
If Keith Law can insult the old school writers for voting for someone for Cy Young because of the number of wins he had, then he can certainly be questioned himself for not voting for Carpenter due to his innings pitched. And the Vasquez vote just reninforces my opinion all the more.
As for Will Carroll, as I said, I read his stuff and I like it, but I can’t see someone as knowledgeable as him not putting Carpenter on the ballot. Was Haren a make-up vote from last year?
All stats are subjective, and no single stat/formula has ever been proven to be the definite benchmark of good or bad. They are good reference points, but that is all. So how does anyone justify voting for a guy based on (any) stats and then leave a guy off the ballot who had pretty much idential stats except for innings pitched and strikeouts?
It boggles the mind.
Posted 11/20 at 04:35 AM