A Few Random Thoughts on the 2014 Postseason Awards

Sandy Koufax's 1965 Cy Young Award

Sandy Koufax’s 1965 Cy Young Award; note the trophy is right handed


Now that the postseason awards are over, here’s a few comments on them:

1. For American League Rookie of the Year, did anybody not have Jose Abreu? He had this thing locked up well before the season ended. As for Jacob DeGrom, my reaction is “why not?” MLB is full of Rookies of the Year who have the one great opening season (sometimes really just a handful of opening months) then flame out (Joe Charboneau, anyone?). I have no idea what will happen with these two, but I wish them luck and hope they have long and productive careers.

2. The Manager of the Year Award generally comes down to one of two types: the guy takes a team that’s done nothing and makes it a winner or the guy takes a team that is full of adversity and makes a winner out of it. This year adversity takes the prize. With multiple players injured both Matt Williams and Buck Showalter took teams to the playoffs. I think Showalter is one of the better managers in baseball and I’m glad to see him win. Williams? As with DeGrom, “sure, why not?” BTW in case you haven’t noticed, Showalter was Manager of the Year in 1994, 2004, and 2014. You might want to get a bet down on 2024.

3. Again, did anybody not have Clayton Kershaw for the National League Cy Young Award? If so, I have this great bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in. I’ll sell it cheap. I’m one of those who thought Corey Kluber should have won the AL Cy Young, so I’m happy there, but would have been neither upset nor surprised had Felix Hernandez gotten the award.

4. Over at ESPN there’s a story on Kershaw winning the award. It’s a nice little story and included with it is a factoid box that works as a great example of what’s wrong with cherry picking stats and facts. It states that Kershaw is one of six pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in three out of four years. Here’s the list: Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Kershaw. That’s nice, isn’t it? Well, it’s not really as great as it sounds. They fail to mention that both Maddux and Johnson won not three out of four Cy Young Awards, but actually won four out of four Cy Young Awards. They also don’t tell you that Koufax won his when there was only one Cy Young Award given, not one in each league (and he’s still the only pitcher to win three by unanimous vote). Kershaw is good enough without having to cherry pick stats. Writers (including me, unfortunately) tend to look for ways to make someone sound good and forget that you can use stats to prove about anything. I remember when George Brett was about to retire someone found out that he and Willie Mays were the only guys with a specific number of home runs and stolen bases who also hit .300 (I forget the numbers involved). Of course if you move one of the home run or stolen base numbers around (not to mention change .300) you can get Mays alone or no one at all or twenty different guys. I try not to do that (at least not too often) but we’re all prone to it.

5. So the third time really was the charm for Mike Trout. I always find it interesting when someone wins a big award for a year that isn’t his best when he’s previously failed to win for a better year. Happens all the time. Now it becomes interesting to see what happens. Frequently a player keeps getting touted for an award, finally wins one, then sort of gets forgotten by voters. Wonder if that will happen to Trout?

6. And the ugly “can a pitcher win an MVP award?” question is upon us again. I always figure that it’s for the “most valuable player” not the “most valuable hitter” or “most valuable fielder” or “most valuable pitcher.” And the idea that between 1968 and 2014 no National League pitcher was more valuable than all the league’s hitters each and every year is simply silly. Of course the key word is “valuable.” I’ll be the first to admit that I define “valuable” differently than others (and if you’re honest, so do you). That’s actually one of the great things about “valuable”, it’s not self-defining. That makes it just nebulous enough to make it worthwhile to debate.


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4 Responses to “A Few Random Thoughts on the 2014 Postseason Awards”

  1. wkkortas Says:

    Personally, I have no problem with Kershaw as the MVP–if you embrace the “new stats”, Kershaw had the highest WAR in the league, and you can argue that if you replace Kershaw with a run-of-the-mill starter, the Dodgers maybe don’t win the division and maybe miss out on the wild card as well. So I’m good with Kershaw doubling down on the awards.

    You’re right about the ESPN thing, and it’s something they do all the damn time with the data sliciing. I remember one things I saw on the site where some writer decided that Miggy Cabrera was having a Lou Gehrig/Ted Williams kind of season, so he went and sliced the data so narrowly that he found a set of figures that only Miggy, Gehrig, and Ted had done. Just the tail waggin’ the dog.

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I think they should get rid of the MVP award and just give a Chalmers Model 30 automobile to the most deserving guy.

    Seriously, though, you made me think when you brought up about Buck Showalter winning the Manager of The Year three times. That really does seem like an achievement. In your opinion, do you think that things like the “Manager of The Year” thing should be fodder (or mudder) for consideration for Hall of Fame consideration?

    And do you happen to know what managers won “Manager of the Year” the most times without being in the Hall of Fame? For example, how many times did Billy Martin win “Manager of the Year”? It had to be at least three times. (I’m going to guess it’s once with the Rangers, once with the Yankees, and once with the Oakland A’s).


  3. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    It’s funny, but after a little research (VERY little research), Billy Martin NEVER got the Manager of the Year Award.

    Now, I KNOW that Billy wasn’t too popular with the press, but come ON! The press can be a little more objective than THAT, can’t they???


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