Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bud Black and the vagaries of award voting

Awards voting -- MVP, Cy Young, ROY, Gold Gloves, even the Hall of Fame and All-Star teams -- is inherently subjective, and unlike some of my internet-based brethren, I'm fine with that. I don't think we're anywhere near the point of being able to definitively declare off the stats alone that this center fielder saved his team more runs than that shortstop, and this relief pitcher's 70 innings were more important than that starter's 210.

Bud Black is a managerial rarity:
He was a pitcher in his playing days.
What we're getting is a series of historical snapshots of opinion, some gathered in a well-designed way (the BBWAA votes) and some in a haphazard, even idiotic way (All-Star selections). You'd probably have to work really hard to come up with a worse voting system than the Gold Gloves, which is why Rafael Palmeiro once got a Gold Glove for 28 games at first base. The Hall of Fame selection system was broken from the start of the institution, which is why they keep tinkering with it.

Anyway, the manager of the year voting is even more subjective than most. What the heck are voters judging the candidates on, anyway? Won-loss record, sure, but in that case Joe Maddon would have won the AL award, and he finished a distant third.

Expectations are always big to the voters, but ...whose expectations? Answer: those of the voters. The Padres were bad in 2009; they made no major offseason acquisitions and actually offloaded one of their better power hitters; they wound up contending for the NL West to the final weekend. And Bud Black won MOY.

He wasn't the only better-than-expected candidate. Cincinnati was expected to be an also ran in the NL Central, behind the Cardinals and Cubs at least; the Reds won the division. San Francisco was supposed to be better than the Padres but not better than the Dodgers or Rockies; the Giants won the division, which is all the voters know when the ballots are cast.

Two possibilities here:

  • The expectations were right, and the Padres contended on the force of Black's managerial brilliance; or
  • The writers underestimated the Padres at the start of the year.

Since none of us enjoys declaring that we were wrong, the writers picked the first possibility.

No comments:

Post a Comment