Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Braun’

Vacating Awards

July 25, 2013

Now that Ryan Braun is officially a scumbag (now there’s a really scientific term) some people want to take away his MVP Award. I remember the same thing happening when Ken Caminiti came clean (OK, it’s a bad joke) about juicing and the same kind of thing happened. there seem to be three options running around. Some thoughts on each.

1. Take the award away and give it to the runner-up. Are you kidding? What makes anyone think the runner-up isn’t guilty of the same offense? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But in this age of PEDs, how exactly do you tell?

2. Vacate the award. This means you simply take away the award and don’t hand it out that year, which is kind of like saying that Gone With The Wind shows the KKK favorably and we can’t have that, so the Best Picture Award for 1939 goes to no one. The problem with this is that it completely downgrades the other players. “Sorry, no one but Joe Scumbag was good enough to win the award this year and he’s a jerk so he can’t win it.” Really?

3. Leave it alone. Thank you, rational people. Look, I think Braun and the other PED boys are first rate jerks, but you can’t just go around taking awards away because we decide they broke some sort of code. If you do that how far back do you go? Barry Bonds used steroids in his final four MVPs, therefore he’s a jerk. And we can’t have a jerk winning an MVP so we take away the other three he won back before we suspect he was juicing. That’s silly, isn’t it? Besides, where do you stop and what kind of offenses are to be included? Is Cobb to be stripped of his Chalmers (bet they won’t be able to find the car) because he was a racist and we think that’s just awful?

There’s an article on NBCnews.com that mentions some bigwig in Tulsa, Oklahoma who was a Klansman in the 19-teens and ’20s (when a whole lot of people were) and has a street and a couple of buildings named after him. Some want to take his name off those things (especially the street) because he was a Klansman. Others argue that it makes his KKK membership define him and that he was more than just a Klansman, he was a real civic leader. The article is worth reading even though it isn’t about sports. Don’t know what’s right there, but it does seem to me that baseball is in the same fix. We’ve decided that certain conduct (PED use) is offensive and players should be punished for doing it. Fine by me. But don’t be vacating or stripping awards. Don’t forget that some of them, like Caminiti’s, will be posthumous, and the guy has no chance to defend himself.

Obviously I favor leaving the awards alone but I understand those who don’t. Feel free to disagree.

Braun, Rodriguez, and a ray of hope

July 24, 2013

So Ryan Braun is gone for the season and Alex Rodriguez is next under the gun. Normally I’d be horrified at that. But after all the other stuff that’s come out about the steroids era, I’m almost too tired to be horrified. I do find one little ray of hope out of all this. It involves the Player’s Association.

Ever notice how the union has, in almost every case, done everything they can to help the offenders and hamper the commissioner’s office. OK, I know it’s the job of a union to protect its members, but it seems to me that the player’s association went overboard in throwing up roadblocks. As usual, they failed to consult the players who weren’t using steroids (or other PEDs) about the course of action. It reminds me of when MLB tried to suspend Albert Belle for almost killing Fernando Vina on the base paths. When MLB decided to do something, the union sided with Belle and left Vina high and dry.

This time it appears to be different. I’m hearing the player’s association beginning to soften its “our guys never do anything wrong” stand. They seem to be saying that “we’re listening to our other players and those players are saying ‘enough already’ to steroids.” That, to me, is a hopeful sign. Maybe it will go a long way toward stopping some of this mess if the offenders realize that their formerly most staunch supporters are no longer willing to stand side-by-side with them. (I won’t hold my breath).

BTW—name the royal baby Leroy.

2012 Awards: MVP

November 1, 2012

Lefty Grove, 1st AL winner of the modern MVP Award holding the 1931 MVP trophy

Part three of this series looks at the MVP award.

NL–There seems to be a building consensus that this is Buster Posey’s award. OK, fine by me. Posey led the NL in average (and tied for first in sacrifice flies), was second in OBP, fourth in slugging, and sixth in RBIs. That’s a good enough season, but it’s not overwhelming. Ryan Braun, in particular, had an equally fine season. I know he will be punished for the steroid allegations. But remember he beat those and without reference to how he did  so, he is to be considered innocent. That won’t matter, he’ll still be stiffed. Melky Cabrera has the same problem, although there’s no question of his guilt. So I have no real problem with Posey winning, but if that’s the most valuable season in the Nl, then it wasn’t a great year for individual play in the NL (as opposed to great team play). Having said that, if I had a vote, it would go to Posey.

AL–Nearly everyone agrees this is a two-man race: Miguel Cabrera vs Mike Trout. I have no idea which will actually win, but my guess is there are enough traditionalists voting that the Triple Crown will push Cabrera over the top. I would vote that way myself.

There seem to be two arguments for Trout. One revolves around the stat WAR. In researching this post I read everything I could find on WAR that explained how it worked, what it showed. I found two problems with it. First, there seem to be two versions of the stat and I’m supposed to bow down before the baseball god that WAR has become when I don’t know which version to bow before? Gimme a break. Second, most of those articles included a sentence that went about like this, “WAR is flawed, but…”. And it’s the word “flawed” that bothers me. In the last half-dozen or so years WAR has become the queen of stats. Lead in WAR and you’re somehow a baseball god. But if experts admit it’s flawed why use it more than any other stat (all of which are flawed) as the be-all, end-all of statistics? This is not an indictment of WAR as a statistic, but an indictment of the idea that because someone leads his league in WAR, or average, or OBP, or OPS+ or God knows what else, that it automatically qualifies him for MVP. 

Another part of the WAR argument is that a 10.7 WAR is so rare that it merits an MVP. Any feat that is particularly difficult to accomplish must be worth more than one that’s at least a bit more common. If you buy that argument, then you vote for Cabrera. Trout is tied for 20th (with Willie Mays and Ted Williams) on the yearly WAR list (according to Baseball Reference). Know how many times someone won the Triple Crown in the entire 20th Century? Try 13 (and two more in the 19th Century). Apparently it’s harder to win the Triple Crown than it is to post 10.7 WAR.

The other argument for Trout deals with his impact on his team.The argument goes like this.  His team was floundering. They were supposed to be good, but they were having a rough time. So they brought up a player to fill in a key defensive position and the team went nuts, putting up winning numbers. That’s a good story, but it’s also the story of Pete Kozma at St. Louis, of Marco Scutaro at San Francisco and to some extent Brandon Inge at Oakland. No one (including me) has any of the latter three in the debate over the MVP. At least Kozma, Scutaro, and Inge helped their particular team to the playoffs. My point is that Trout did indeed provide a  spark to his team but so did other players. If your premise is that Trout showed up and helped a floundering team and that’s the sole reason you want Trout as MVP, it’s just not enough in my eyes. Trout may have been a better player than either Kozma or Scutaro, but I’m not sure he was more valuable. I understand that both Kozma and Scutaro were in the other league, but I  want to make the point that just revitalizing your team may not be enough to make you the MVP, especially if someone has great numbers and a winning team.

I know others will tell me I’m wrong (they’re entitled to make a mistake 🙂 ). But that’s my position. I’d vote for Cabrera and I hope the MVP voters do also.

One question about WAR about which I couldn’t find an answer. Is the replacement level player pool recalculated yearly? For instance in 1924 that level would include a guy named Gehrig. Today it wouldn’t. Does that make a difference?

2011 NL MVP

October 10, 2011

Having gone out on a limb for the AL MVP, let me do the same for the NL. I’m going to propose someone who I know isn’t going to win, but I think he may truly be the “most valuable” for his team. I know Ryan Braun, or Prince Fielder, or Matt Kemp is going to win, but let me put in a good word for Lance Berkman.

No player meant more to his NL team this season than Berkman meant to his Cardinals. And you have to admit that the Cardinals couldn’t have expected what they got from Berkman. When Albert Pujols went down, when he didn’t play well, Berkman picked up the team. When Matt Holliday was injured, Berkman stepped into the role. With Adam Wainwright out and pitching weak for the Cardinals, Berkman gave the team an unexpected third hitter in the middle of their lineup. Try thinking of the Cardinals in the playoffs without Berkman. Ain’t gonna happen.

Again, I know he isn’t going to win, but I think there’s a solid case to be made for him.

Awards, 20 Games Out

September 13, 2011

With about 20 games left in the season, it’s time to start thinking about MLB’s postseason awards. I’ve never been very good at this, so don’t bet the farm on any of my comments. I’m going to tell you who I think should win a few (not all) and am aware that with 20 games to go it could all change.

AL Cy Young–this is easy. Justin Verlander. The only question is whether he picks up the MVP too.

AL MVP–Curtis Granderson. The Yanks are in first, Granderson has had a seismic year, his closest competitor is a pitcher. It’s his unless the wheels come off entirely.

NL Cy Young–Clayton Kershaw. He leads the NL in ERA and strikeouts, he’s second in wins (by 1) and second in WHIP (by 0.05), and he plays on a team just below .500.

NL MVP–I like Ryan Braun, but doubt he’ll win. He’ll lose votes to Fielder on his own team and that may let Upton slide in with the award.

NL Come-Back Player of the Year–Lance Berkman easy. If he’d kept up in July and August what he did in April, May, and June, he might be MVP.

No call yet on Rookies or Managers, but I’ll bet Leyland gets a lot of support.

Feel free to disagree.