Sure, maybe I said Democracy works. But not when only 30 people have a say. And they can’t even agree on what they’re supposed to be saying. (Best player? What is value? Does the team have to make the playoffs? Do you count just stats? Which stats? Is most Home Runs or RBI best value?)
That’s why the MVP (and other award) voting is so ridiculous (I’ve touched on this previously). Someone actually put Jeter 6th on his ballot. While its OK to think that someone else was the MVP of the American League (this year’s was an interesting and legitimate debate) to think that he wasn’t in the top two or three is ridiculous. There should be some protection for voting irregularities. If one person’s vote egregiously deviates from the mean, then that vote shouldn’t count. A person (particularly is a cumulative point vote context, where there are points for second and third place on down) shouldn’t be able to skew the voting so badly by clearly (and I’m not accusing bad faith, necessarily) underestimating a candidate.
That said, Jeter deserved the MVP. Even Rob Neyer (no Jeter lover, by the way) thinks that Jeter deserved the MVP. And Neyer’s a statistician. He looked at the stats (a lot of different stats, not just Home Runs and RBI) and found Jeter to be the best and most valuable. Every stastistic has some inherent flaw. For instance, Jeter haters, who have no allegiance to Morneau other than he beat out Jeter, will point to Morneau’s 130 RBI. But that’s misleading. Jeter batted second in the lineup all season. He clearly had fewer opportunities for RBI than Morneau. His job is to get on base and get into scoring position. With a batting average of .347, an on-base percentage of .417 and 34 stolen bases (against only 5 caught-stealing, better than 87% – by comparison, Jose Reyes was 79% this season) he did his job. And, in fact, Bill James has a statistic that measures the total impact, called Runs Created. Accounting for all the various ways hitters can get on base, advance runners (or themselves) thereby drive in or score runs, Jeter led the American League in runs created. Kind of reduces the impact of Morneau’s advantage in RBI. In fact, Jeter led the league in two other “value” metrics: Value over Replacement Player and Win Shares. That’s right, “overrated” Jeter, who “gets too much credit for intangibles” and “didn’t deserve the Gold Glove” did three things better than anyone else in the league: Create Runs for his team, create wins for his team and provide his team with a better player at this position than anyone else at any other position. For a division-winner. (Go ahead, make the Yankees stunk in the playoffs argument. Because Jeter hit .500 in the Detroit series. I thinkthat argument strengthens the case, even though it’s irrelevant, because this is a regular season award.) To me, that’s makes a clear and convincing case for the MVP.
Of course, if you’ve got an anti-Yankee bias, and you’ve got the notion that Jeter’s overrated (or the stupider notion that “he’s not even the best shortstop on his own team”) you can’t admit what the statistics and facts show. So you make all sort of bad arguments and machinations to twist Morneau into being a better MVP candidate. And you vote Jeter 6th. And you are, of course, wrong.
Update: The Idiot is Joe Cowley, from Chicago. Some background: he is the same guy who was suspended and lost his vote for a year for embarassing the Chicago Chapter of the BBWAA by completely leaving Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells off the ballot in 2003. This guy also has a history of ridiculous voting, completely deviating from the pack. The year A-Rod won the MVP in Texas, Cowley voted him 5th.
Mike and the Mad Dog interviewed him yesterday (11/21) and they killed him. It was clear from the things that he was saying that this guy voted completely without sense. The only explanation for his voting was anti-Yankee and anti-Jeter bias. Listen to the interview here.