Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rob Neyer on a roll

Great stuff from Rob today, though it is behind the Iron ESPN Curtain as usual (apparently Rob's blog is free now; awesome!):

What I'm not willing to say -- what I'll probably never be willing to say -- is that Joe Mauer deserved to finish behind Justin Morneau in the MVP balloting again. Two years ago, there was virtually no evidence that Morneau was more valuable than Mauer, yet Morneau finished first and Mauer finished sixth. This year, there is virtually no evidence that Morneau was more valuable than Mauer, and yet Morneau finished second and Mauer finished fourth.

Maybe that's a sign of progress. But for as long as I've been doing this, I've been told that I don't see enough games, that I don't know what it really takes to win, that I don't appreciate the little things that don't show up in the box scores.

And for as long as I've been doing this, every time the MVP voters have a choice between the guy with the power stats and the guy who does the little things, they pick the guy with the big numbers.

This is spot on, and represents perhaps the most absurd aspect of the false dichotomy between the old-timey, out-in-the-sun, scorecard-filling, sunflower-seed-chewing, team-bus-riding, player-interviewing journalist and the new-agey, basement-dwelling, cheese-puff-eating, Internet-surfing, stat-crunching ├╝ber-geek, a dichotomy created entirely by those same journalists.

Journalists use numbers too. They have to. Everyone has to. They just use different (and inferior) numbers. It's left to the stat geek to attempt to pull the little things out of the vast expanses of data routinely ignored by the mainstream MVP voter. And what's the result? The result is that despite the whining by baseball journalists about how little baseball we watch, it ends up being the stat geek that advocates for an MVP candidate by trying to obtain a complete view of the player and the MVP voter who votes on the basis of gaudy numbers.


rklllama said...

Yeah, great clip. I was super relieved to see Pujols win the NL MVP, as the fact that Howard was even in the running was a little embarrassing. I would have taken Mauer as MVP myself, and especially over Morneau, but I would also point out that they did give the MVP to Pedroia. It probably helped that no one in the AL was hitting homers, but at least this year the middle-infielder got it. (I would have given it to Mauer, but whatever.)

John Lynch said...

It's true that this year they got it mostly right, but, as you point out, I think that this is more of an aberration related the fact that there weren't any gaudy numbers in the AL this year.

Again, my main beef is with the fact that journalists act like they and only they are qualified to vote because they see so many games and therefore don't rely on numbers like those geeks. But they do.