Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Clarify the MVP criteria

Major League Baseball is irrationally idiotic and obtuse.

Exhibit A:  Refusing to standardize or remove the DH, causing each league to play a significantly different game.

Exhibit B:  Placing unequal quantities of teams in the AL West and the NL Central, making it easier to make the playoffs in the AL West (and in the American League in general) and more difficult to make the playoffs in the NL Central.

Let me submit a third item.

From this November 2010 OpposingViews.com article by Hardball Times, we learn the guidelines for voting on the league Most Valuable Player Awards.

A pertinent quote:


The BBWAA has been voting on the MVP award since 1931. Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer for the BBWAA, said by email this week: “That award places 'value' on contributions to the team by a player. The only guidelines for the other awards is for voters to select the pitchers, players or managers they feel are most deserving of being honored. It's as simple as that. These are elections, not coronations...
BBWAA members assigned to the National League Most Valuable Player committee are told, “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
“The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.”


Want to know why the MVP debate is convoluted?  Because "it is up to the individual voter to decide" what the award means to her or him."

That's ridiculous.

The Cy Young Award goes to the best pitcher in the league, bar none.  The Hank Aaron Award goes to the best hitter in the league, end of story.  The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award goes to the best rookie in the league, no questions asked.  The Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards are presented, respectively, to the top power-hitter and defender at each position, nothing vague about it.  The Manager of the Year goes to, drumroll, the best manager in each league.

But as for the MVP...

Some writers vote for the best player in the league.  Some writers vote for the best player on the best team in the league.  Some writers vote for the best player on a playoff team.  Some writers vote for the player who was the heart and soul of his team.  Some writers vote for pitchers.  Some writers exclude pitchers entirely.

The Most Valuable Player award is the TOP AWARD.  It's the pinnacle of post-season honors.

Is clarifying the MVP criteria really too much to ask for?  Or is it okay with MLB that your top award is being voted on by people who have no consensus what sort of player they are voting for.

Two easy steps to fix this:

1.  There are writers who refuse to vote for pitchers because they believe, idiotically, that "pitchers have their own award."  Yes, the Cy Young Award is solely for pitchers -- and the Hank Aaron Award goes solely to hitters.  Tell these writers to cram it and start voting deserving pitchers among their top 10.  Or don't.  Disqualify pitchers entirely.  Just make it clear.

2.  Outright specify which is more important to winning the MVP, making the playoffs or compiling huge numbers.  Don't leave it vague.  Give each accomplishment a measure of weight.

Baseball's a great game, but that doesn't mean we should overlook its idiocy.

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