Picking on the pollsters: Checking out the worst MVP ballots
This year, we're going to take a look at a few MVP ballots and award them their own awards, since these are a bit out of control.
I'm not going to delve too deeply into statistics because honestly, most of the issues with this ballot are self-apparent. If you've been paying attention to Major League Baseball this year, you know exactly what's wrong with these ballots and why.
First, we'll take a look at the "Homer of the Year" ballots for each league. This award is given to the writer who ignores reality and votes with heavy bias towards players from their home team.
In the American League, John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune is the hands-down winner.
1. Josh Donaldson, A's
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Chris Davis, Orioles
4. Mike Trout, Angels
5. Adam Jones, Orioles
6. Jason Kipnis, Indians
7. Robinson Cano, Yankees
8. Evan Longoria, Rays
9. Coco Crisp, A's
10. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Hickey not only is the only one to cast a 1st place vote for A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, he was also the only person to cast a 9th place vote for A's outfielder Coco Crisp. To give an idea of how other voters felt about these players, consider this: Only one other voter mentioned Crisp on their ballot at all, and it was a 10th place vote. Donaldson, who had an amazing season, wasn't listed higher than 3rd on any ballots.
In the National League, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch easily won the "Homer of the Year" award. Here's his ballot:
1. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
2. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
4. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
5. Freddie Freeman, Braves
6. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
7. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
8. Allen Craig, Cardinals
9. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers
10. Russell Martin, Pirates
Hummel went with two Cardinals players in his top two slots.
Hummel also wins the National League version of "Least Valuable Ballot," for several reasons. For starters, going with Carpenter over Paul Goldschmidt is inexcusable, in my opinion. The fact that he also included Freeman over Goldschmidt is downright offensive. No matter how much you think team performance matters in the MVP vote, how can someone possibly believe that someone could be more valuable than another player who is offensively AND defensively superior at the same position? That's exactly what you have with both Carpenter and Freeman getting votes over Goldschmidt.
Not to mention the fact that Hummel has Braves closer Craig Kimbrel 4th. Kimbrel was outstanding, but a closer 4th overall in the MVP vote? That's honestly ridiculous. Only one other voter had Kimbrel higher than 8th on their ballot. Kimbrel finished 4th in the NL Cy Young, but this guy gave him a 4th place MVP vote? Wow.
Last but not least, Hummel completely omitted Joey Votto and Carlos Gomez, two of the best hitters in the league, and included Russell Martin, who hit .226 with an OPS+ of 100. That's exactly average. He doesn't even belong in the discussion. Hummel was the only one to give Martin a single vote, and was one of only three voters to omit Votto (154 OPS+).
In the American League, the LVB award goes to Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. His ballot had some of the most ridiculous inconsistencies that we've seen this year. Check it out:
1. Chris Davis, Orioles
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Josh Donaldson, A's
4. Robinson Cano, Yankees
5. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
6. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
7. Mike Trout, Angels
8. David Ortiz, Red Sox
9. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
10. Evan Longoria, Rays
Most people would agree that Mike Trout is the best overall player in baseball. For some reason, that hasn't equated to him winning an MVP award, because that seems to go to the best overall hitter, with complete disregard to base running and fielding. I get that. I realize it's easy for some people to put Miguel Cabrera 1st on their ballot. I honestly don't even blame them that much, since his numbers at the plate really are transcendent.
But still… to have Trout 7th is unforgivable. What's the logical argument for voting Robinson Cano over Trout, for example? Both play excellent defense. Both play on teams that missed the playoffs. But in slightly fewer at bats, Trout has more runs, the same number of hits and HR, only 2 less doubles, more triples (9 to 0), slightly fewer RBI, and a considerably higher slash line (.323/.432/.557 vs .314/.383/.516). Trout's OPS+ was 179, compared to Cano's 145.
I don't mean to pick on Cano. He's a great player. He just wasn't a better MVP candidate than Trout in any conceivable way.
The worst part about Ballou's ballot, however, is that he has Chris Davis 1st. Even if you're firmly entrenched in the anti-Trout camp, how could anyone possibly vote for Davis over Cabrera?
Yes, Davis had 9 more HR and 1 more RBI. Davis also had a significant edge in doubles (42 to 26). But literally all of Cabrera's numbers were better. His slash line(.348/.442/.636) led the AL in every category, and his OPS+ (187) was the best in baseball as well, and considerably higher than Davis (165).
Ballou's ballot really has no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever and for that reason, he's your AL Least Valuable Ballot award winner.
Check out the BBWAA site for AL and NL MVP voting, and see if you can find any ballots that are egregiously wrong, like these ones. Let us know what you think in the comments below.