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Fire Phil Sheridan

November 18, 2008 | By Andy Goldstein | comment on this post

I miss Fire Joe Morgan. I know it has only been a week since dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, and Coach officially signed off, but it didn’t hit home until I read this. Honestly, I forgot FJM had closed its doors. I couldn’t wait until it got their hands on this doozy, and I actually logged on just to see if maybe it already had. Seeing the goodbye post at that moment crushed me harder than it had on Thursday. So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do in this situation – tribute by copy-catting.

What follows is my mostly futile attempt to capture FJM’s magic. Next step: Guest appearance on The Office. As FJM’s regulars know, excerpts from the article are in boldface text, and our caustic commentary is in regular text.

MVP Voting is out of Whack

Ryan Howard was the most valuable player in the National League in 2008.

This is actually true, unless you actually use the tools available which best determine a baseball player’s overall value to their team. But I like the gusto this column has already. Succinct, outrageous sentences are money.

That he was not voted MVP by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America says more about the association than about Howard, Albert Pujols or America.

I guess the “or America” part is a joke, because, like, it’s part of the association’s name. But I disagree all the same. This vote was historic because it showed that America can finally judge a baseball player by the stats they accrue, not the whims of perception. Yes We Can!

Pujols was not an embarrassing selection…

Because his numbers were better than everyone else’s, including Howard’s?

…not with his excellent numbers…

Which were better than everyone else’s…

…but was still the wrong selection.

Okay, that’s some solid reasoning right there. Pujols, who had the “numbers” was the “wrong selection” because “Howard was the Most Valuable Player.” Here I was, analyzing OPS, Adjusted Batting Runs, and Batter Wins. How foolish do I look, right now? You won this round, Sheridan.

And that should embarrass the association enough to do what it should have done long ago: get out of the business of voting on baseball’s postseason awards – as well as the Hall of Fame.
That won’t happen because the association is as incapable of being embarrassed…

Not to interrupt the self-hating, but the FJM archives are proof that Sheridan is right, these guys have zero shame.

Imagine Howard’s 2009 arbitration hearing. It will be different because he finished second in this voting as opposed to first. That alone is reason enough for the association to recuse itself from this annual charade.

This sounds like more of a problem with arbitration hearings, rather than the Writer’s Association. But that’s just me. And I thought the overwhelming statistical advantage that Pujols had over Howard meant the former deserved the MVP. So what the hell do I know?

It is similarly impossible to justify the association’s giving thumbs up or down to players from the steroid era who become eligible for Hall of Fame voting.

Umm, okay. Did any of you have that elementary school classwork where you read a paragraph, but some of the information presented wasn’t relevant to the rest of the writing, so you had to cross off the irrelevant portion? I did, and I aced that shit.

It is similarly impossible to justify the association’s giving thumbs up or down to players from the steroid era who become eligible for Hall of Fame voting.

Naaaaiiillleeeddd it.

(Disclosure: I belong to the association because membership streamlines the credential process and because the organization works to improve conditions and access for reporters; I don’t vote on anything.)

So you are 100 per cent absolutely, positively sure that Howard is the MVP of the National League, you have one of the coveted votes, and you abstain? Would this be the result of the Bradley effect!?

When I’ve written about this in the past, earnest members of the association have taken time out of their busy days to explain my ignorance to me.

Can I be a member of this association as well? It sounds like fun.

If the MVP is the player with the best all-round statistical season, a computer could figure that out. And a computer might well have spit out Pujols’ name this season. He was terrific.

It’s actually quite easy to define what the MVP is. It’s the most valuable player. And, yes, a computer would spit out Pujols’ name for the honour. But I forgot Howard has arbitration nearing…

But Howard got hot in September, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 32 runs to carry the Phillies into the playoffs. That’s the very definition of valuable.

Yes, six months into a six-month season, Howard got hot. Granted, he was the MVP of September. But Pujols was consistently (Copyright Joe Morgan) more valuable over the course of the six-month season.

The group-think association argument for Pujols, if I’m smart enough to get it right, is that he single-handedly kept the Cardinals in the wild-card race. That is brilliant, except it ignores the presence of Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus (so much for “single-handedly”), and the fact that the National League wild-card race was a watered-down farce.

Forget for a moment that the Cardinals’ roster doesn’t even come close to the Phillies’ roster; it might be worth pointing out that Philly possessed the third best pitching in the National League. St. Louis was middle of the pack. It probably also didn’t help that the Cardinals had the most blown saves in all of baseball*, while the Phillies had zero. If only Pujols would have gritted out some saves! What a cruel, cruel world.

* Sadly, I didn’t have to look that up, since I started Ryan Franklin on my fantasy team for half the season. Yes, I’m dumb.

The association seamheads love to throw around stats – OPS, VORP, ASPCA – to make a case for Pujols. That’s all great. Yes, he struck out less and hit for a higher average.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being slightly more than a cat sleeping on a computer and 10 being a really smart cat wearing glasses while looking at a computer), Sheridan’s demonstrated understanding of statistics mentioned: -139

But Howard won actual baseball games in an honest-Abe pennant race. He had 11 more home runs than Pujols, scored five more runs than Pujols, and drove in 30 more runs than Pujols. Notice there are no decimal points involved there, only whole numbers that made a difference in real baseball games.

Phil Sheridan’s Guide to Statistics

Stats that have decimal points – Fake
Stats that don’t have decimal points – Real
Stats that don’t have decimal points but make my theory incorrect – Fake

That takes care of the logic.

Really, that was the logical part? Someone has cajones, Phil, you ol’ rascal! Let’s see if we can finish this column with the introduction of more useless information while restating the premise…

Ryan Howard – who has added a World Series ring to his 2005 rookie of the year and 2006 MVP trophies – will survive this voting nicely. The process that produced it should not.

Naiiiilllleeeedddd it.

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