Charlie Hayes and MVP Voting

My latest Wall Street Journal piece that went live today looked at other Placido Polanco situations from the last 20 years, where a down-ballot MVP vote just makes you scratch your head and wonder what point the writer was trying to make. There’s no way that someone really thought Polanco was one of the ten most valuable players in the AL, right? There had to be some kind of subtext that the vote represented, I would imagine.

Anyway, in researching the article, I found quite a few of these types of votes, where you can tell that a writer is just trying to shine a light on someone whose skills they may feel get overlooked. Scott Podsednik got a lot of credit for his base stealing, even though he wasn’t any good in 2005. Deivi Cruz got a vote for his defense, even though he couldn’t hit to save his life. Scott Eyre and Jeremy Affeldt got votes because one SF writer likes left-handed middle relievers.

But there was one guy on the list who I just can’t figure out. In 1995, Charlie Hayes got four points, good enough to finish 16th in the MVP voting. Four voting points equals four tenth place votes, two tenth place votes and one ninth place vote, two ninth place votes, or one seventh place vote.

Hayes hit .270/.340/.406 in 1995, making him the exact definition of a league average hitter. He hit 11 home runs. He played third base. The Phillies finished below .500 and did not make the playoffs. Trying to figure out what the voter(s) saw just leads to bewilderment.

He did finish 23rd in the National League in RBIs, I guess. He led the league in… double plays grounded into. That’s probably not it. He made 14 errors and never won a Gold Glove while playing a non-premium position, so it doesn’t seem likely that they were rewarding his defense.

What happened here? This isn’t a George Bell scenario, where an overrated slugger is racking up counting stats. Hayes didn’t do any of the things that normally generate MVP votes. He was a pedestrian player who had a mediocre season on a team that didn’t win.

Did he just have the best personality of all time? And if so, why didn’t that matter two years prior, when he hit .305/.355/.522 in Colorado, led the league in doubles, and drove in 98 runs?

If there’s an explanation for multiple voters putting Charlie Hayes on their ballot, or one guy thinking he belonged in the top seven, I’d love to hear it. Because, from this point in history, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t matter of course, but it is one of those things that you have to wonder what happened.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

37 Responses to “Charlie Hayes and MVP Voting”

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  1. Roo Man says:

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2009/11/24/breaking-down-my-nl-mvp-ballot/

    This is the dude who had Affeldt 10th. He calls it a tip of the cap to a guy who was overlooked, even though he knows that Affeldt really wasn’t one of the 10 most valuable players in the NL.

    Interesting, this guy mentions things like Win Shares and Pythag record and Petco suppressing offensive numbers, yet he also puts Hanley way down on the list for lacking leadership.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      I don’t mind that. Nobody said you have to make your decision solely off of stats – but you should at least use the right ones.

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    • Matthew McExpos says:

      I thought that Baggarly was well-informed, candid, and rather funny throughout his piece. I have no problems with his decision – a tenth place vote wasn’t going to change anything.

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  2. Will says:

    Sorry I can’t provide any insight, but is there any breakdown of how the votes were apportioned in 95?
    I hope that Hayes received a 7th place vote, because otherwise it means at least two voters thought he was one of the ten best players in the NL, which would make this even more puzzling.

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  3. Robbie says:

    Maybe it was one of those dude’s who’s a year or two behind in recognizing players.

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  4. Todd says:

    I think Robbie just referenced about half of the voters.

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  5. joser says:

    There’s at least a chance this was a gag, or somebody fullfilling a bet, or something like that. This is Phillie we’re talking about, after all. Sportswriter shares a backyard fence with Hayes, Hayes does something nice for his kid or something, and the writer jokes that he’s going to vote for him for MVP. Hayes thinks he’s kidding. He is, but only sorta.

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    • Kinsey says:

      “There’s at least a chance this was a gag, or somebody fullfilling a bet, or something like that.”

      1995 was the year Mike Schmidt was inducted into the HOF. Although it’s completely ridiculous, it still seems believable that someone would toss a vote to Charlie Hays as a ‘tribute’ to another Phillies MVP 3B that season. Fairly certain that Hayes was the guy who replaced Schmidt when he retired during the 1989 season.

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  6. kds says:

    Did anyone else notice that Ryan Howard only got 31 votes? I’d like to give a big shout out to whoever left him off their ballot!

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    • David says:

      I used to think that. And I wouldn’t have voted him anywhere near second place. But the argument for putting him in the top ten is strong. WAR puts him at 11** and WPA puts him 4th. I’d say that’s top ten quality.

      * Morgan doesn’t count, because he switched teams.

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      • tom s. says:

        What does changing teams have to do with the mvp? Changing leagues I understand (cliff lee, holliday) as a disqualifier, because you either end up considering a half-season of data or a season’s worth with a half season in a league not covered by the award. Who cares if a guy goes from one nl team to another?

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    • hk says:

      Before you give that shout out, you should see who was on that voter’s ballot. For instance, if he voted Andre Ethier – if you’re looking for him on the WAR leaderboards, you’ll find him below Andy LaRoche and Carlos Lee and above Adam LaRoche – instead of Ryan Howard, you might want to keep that shout out silent.

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  7. Rocco says:

    There are these kind of votes in every sport’s major awards. What it always boils down to is some sports writer trying to get some attention.

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  8. Frankie Tooten says:

    I’m not so sure why people are giving the BBWAA so much credit for not screwing up the CY and MVP awards. 3 of the 4 (Greinke, Mauer, Pujols) were super-obvious to the point where they were unanimous or near-unanimous. Whether it was proponents of advanced analysis voting, or anti-stat guys who love good old RBIs and batting average and ERA, or guys who are kind of in the middle of the 2 extremes, those 3 players were going to win regardless.

    But when you see that Lincecum only got 11 first place votes, while the guy with the most wins got the most first place votes for NL CY Young, it tells you that this so-called progress that is being made probably isn’t very significant. Remember, we’re talking about trying to figure out who the very best was. This shouldn’t be so hard that only 11 out of 32 of them picked correctly. Double that number, and I would have been much more encouraged.

    And it is more depressing when you look deeper into the MVP ballots with the lack of appreciation for Utley and Zobrist and the overratedness of Howard and Morales. These voters mostly still love RBIs and HRs and playing on a winning team. it’s the only explanation for how Howard and Morales finished so high.

    I know some could argue that the most important thing is just getting the 1st place guy right, which they did. But once again, this should have been obvious this year so I’m not going to give them some huge pat on the back for not being a complete moron.

    But I think the results for 2 through 10 are also important and that’s because some of these writers, even the ones who are becoming more open to advanced analysis, still use MVP/CY voting as part of their HOF criteria. You’ll hear all the time about how certain hitters, although they have impressive rate or counting stats, weren’t truly dominant players because they rarely finished in the top 5 or top 10 of MVP voting. Bernie Williams will probably be a victim of this when he is eligible for HOF since the highest he ever finished in an MVP race is 7th. And the Yanks were a winning team and he still couldn’t finish higher than 7th! How dominant could this guy really have been? Whereas a guy like Jim Rice had 5 top 5 finishes in MVP voting, so he was very dominant. Or that’s how they’ll argue it anyway. I’m not saying that Bernie and Rice should or shouldn’t be HOF worthy players. The point is, the MVP vote should be 100% disregarded when considering these guys for HOF. The MVP vote is too heavily influenced by team performance and basic stats that we know are not very good indicators of greatness, such as RBIs or batting average or Wins.

    So when I see a guy like Utley getting consistently screwed over it annoys me, especially when he is constantly shoved below Howard in these results. Maybe 20 years from now the people voting won’t see any impressive MVP finishes for Utley so he won’t quite make the cut for HOF.

    Then there are guys like Adrian Gonzalez who have amazing years but play for a losing team, so they don’t even make the top 10. 20 years from now it will be just another good but non-dominant season when HOF voting comes around. I don’t know why voters allow an award that is so heavily influenced by team success alter their perception of a guy for an individual honor such as the HOF.

    So the point is, I am not encouraged by what I’ve seen here. Yeah it’s great that they gave a guy with 15 wins the CY award. But it was super-close and depending on who the chosen 32 voters are next year, they could easily screw it up even with the same exact performances from the top pitchers in the league. And looking at how the big RBI/HR guys still finished ahead of the clearly more valuable players like Utley and Zobrist in the MVP race, I don’t think significant progress has been made. Utley didn’t even appear on almost half of the ballots. And Zobrist wasn’t listed on more than half the ballots. And Howard and Morales finished way too high. This isn’t progress to be overly proud of.

    They got the no-brainers right, they almost screwed up the NL CY…and we are praising them for this? I don’t get it.

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    • Neil says:

      Utley’s absence from half the ballots has to be the most disturbing trend of all – he gets no credit for being the premier hitter at his position year in and year out, and even less for being (arguably) the best defensive player in the league. And maybe – maybe – I could see someone being ignored if they only brought one or the other to the table, but to be both of those things is an insanely rare combination that (arguably) should have had him in the running for first-place votes. Instead, he doesn’t even rank a mention from half the voters. If the best player in the NL who isn’t named Albert can’t finish any better than 8th, then the award remains as meaningless as it ever was.

      So it’s great that voters were able to get first-place right. But let’s be just as smart in our assessment as we would be if this were a game, and not a vote – just because the result was good doesn’t mean that the peripherals aren’t ugly, and it most certainly doesn’t project well for the future.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      ~~~This shouldn’t be so hard that only 11 out of 32 of them picked correctly. Double that number, and I would have been much more encouraged. And it is more depressing when you look deeper into the MVP ballots with the lack of appreciation for Utley and Zobrist and the overratedness of Howard and Morales. ~~~

      I think you solved the same situation you mentioned …

      The voters DON’T put a high value on sabermetrics. The guy who won the NL CY with ONLY 15 wins just happens to be the K leader and 2nd in ERA .. AND the reigning CY … AND ‘The Next Great One’. It’s not they had to reach or explore a bunch of stats to select him.

      Had Wainwright and Hernandez won 20 games, instead of 19 (‘specially in this day and age), they might have won in their leagues, and it might not have been as close as some think.

      As you pointed out, if they really valued sabermetric numbers, Zobrist would be high on lots of ballots … he isn’t. Neither is Figgins.

      You’ll know sabermetrics is “seriously considered” when a guy like Zobrist (a lesser known, high OBP, player at a middle infield position) challenges a 40HR 130RBI for the MVP … and a 13-11 pitcher (not named Lincecum) with very good FIP gives a 21-8 pitcher all he can handle in the voting.

      I have a feeling it’s going to take a very loing time for that to happen. I’m 36 … maybe in my lifetime. Maybe not.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Boy, you are sure making a lot of friends here.

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      • hk says:

        CircleChange, we’ve butted heads before, but I agree with you 100% here. This year’s votes don’t show me any progress except for the publicized votes of Law and Carroll. Greinke, Mauer and Pujols won because even the BBWAA couldn’t screw up those votes and the Lincecum win was the most telling in that it was tighter than it should have been because Lincecum had fewer wins than the two STL pitchers.

        As long as the Howards and Texierias of the world keep getting more votes than the Utleys and Zobrists and as long as none of the group-thinking members could think outside of the box long enough to consider that Vazquez or Haren might have deserved a 3rd place vote, I won’t consider it progress.

        The only hope is that more Neyers, Carrolls and Laws are chosen to replace some of the older mainstream writers when they retire.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        VEP,

        As I said, I don’t generally post on things that I agree with or obvious.

        Unlike most people in this world (seemingly), I incredibely enjoy having friends with very different, even oppossing viewpoints. The last thing I want to do is discuss a topic at a website where the local celebrity author can say whatever and then everybody falls in line with varying “I agree, you’re the best” posts.

        I know what comes with that, but it’s better than the alternative of just hanging around with everyone who thinks like you.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Fair enough. However, all of your arguments are contrarian, you argue against evidence, and that quote thing you do is really annoying. Just put a

        text

        to make a quote so it’s easier to read.

        Back to the point of what you are saying. When you have the Cy Young pitcher expressly saying, in the New York Times, that he “likes FIP”, that’s a hint that Sabermetrics are becoming more prominent in baseball. When you have a Cy Young vote, who filled out his ballot using FIP WAR, that’s a hint that Sabermetrics are becoming more prominent in baseball. When both of the Cy Young awards go to pitchers who finished 3-4 wins behind the leader, and they each had the best FIP’s, that’s a hint that Sabermetrics are being seriously considered in baseball. When the AL MVP was awarded to the player on the basis of a high OBP/SLG (not counting stats) and postional value, that’s a hint that Sabermetrics are being seriously considered in baseball.

        I’m really not sure how you can argue against that. Of course, people are exclusively filling out their ballots using WAR (I wouldn’t), which is why you see guys like Zobrist finished well back (although I’m sure that has to do with people not buying his +27 defensive rating, and the fact that the Rays finished way out of the playoffs this year).

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Crap, I meant to write

        text

        Replace the dash with an actual /

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Okay let’s try that again, fuck, I wish FanGraphs had previews.

        ~blockquote~text~/blockquote~

        Replace the ~ with a where appropriate.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Vivaelpujols,

        First of all, thanks for the help in things like “quote” advice and things of that nature. I’m new here and don’t know all of the formatting things associated with the website, and I occassionally post from my iphone where things like the “reply” button are not visible or featured.

        As for being contrarian … I completely agree. That’s likely NOT the best way to jump right into a new forum/situation, and I apologize. I’ve made a stink in some areas where I wish I could go back and edit some of my comments or at least change my approach. I’m not really trying to be a dick, but understand how that could be the case. I’ll work on it.

        As far as sabermetrics not being as prominent as some think …

        [1] I think, in some areas, players and FO people (and especially some fans) are WAY ahead of where some voters are, and I was specifically talking about the prominence of sabermetrics in awards VOTING … not specifically about the prominence of sabermetrics in general.
        [2] I would also point out that sabermetrics are also being included in next generation video games, which is pretty cool to me as I was thrilled to see Win Expectancy included in 2K baseball games, as I am a video game nut going all the way back to Microleague on Apple 2e and Earl Weaver Baseball on IBM.
        [3] At this point, I am like 70/30 in my approach of (A) traditional baseball thinking, and (B) “new” thinking (sabermetrically). So, I likely have some advancement to make in my own thinking.
        [4] Building on #3, I (and I believe others too) learn far more in a debate (even losing the debate) than I/we do in any manner of discussion.
        [5] What I and others that are fairly new to sabermetrics need is more “teaching” or explaining and less “you’re an idiot” stuff.
        [6] When I do argue “against evidence” I am not so much arguing against the “consensus”, but the application of the “consensus” to all situations. Ex: I believe Jeff Kent’s drastic change in 2002 performance was due to hitting in front of Bonds rather than behinid him, although I am aware that there is no overall or general merit to the “protection” arguement. I also think it depends on the hitter being ‘protected’ and the hitter providing ‘protection’.

        Most of the other stuff I’ve been getting hammered on, namely giving extra points to AW50 and CC29 for pitching outstanding down the stretch run, or pitching for a winner is more preference than it is evidence.

        So, I will tone down much of my contrarian postings as I generally get along with everyone and don’t want to cast a negative tone on what I view as a very valuable website, I would also request more “instructing” in responses and less bashing. I certainly understand that when one comes on too strong, that the approach might not warrant anything more than a “you’re a moron” response. The ol “you make you bed, now lie in it” thing.

        Having said that, I would rather be HERE getting schooled on things that I might not know so much about, than be elsewhere having others just agree with whatever I say because I had a lot of success as a player and coach … if that makes sense.

        So, I would like to apologize to all for my initial approach and tone, and being contrary as a newbie to the site. I should have “teo-tested” the waters, before just “cannonballing” into the pool … splashing water on everyone.

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  9. The BBWA always gets it wrong, even when it gets it right. Chase Utley doesn’t even get a top five vote; that’s ridiculous (click the name link for more info). And how does Affeldt get ANY votes? Jeez…

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  10. KJOK says:

    Hayes got a lot of talk about being a ‘gold glove calibre’ 3rd baseman, compared favorably to Mike Schmidt, and his fielding numbers 1992-1996 are fairly good.

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  11. Chris V says:

    My guess is that whoever voted for Mr. Hayes was voting based on his play up until June 25, 1995, when Charlie was hitting .316 .399 .474 and had helped the Phillies to a 4.5 game lead in the NL East. He had some good games leading up to that high water mark for the Phillies that year as well. When it came time to vote, I think whoever voted for him thought “well, he did help carry the Phillies to first place for the first two months and a bit of the season”.

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  12. cygar13 says:

    Yeah Podsednik got some MVP consideration in 2005. I don’t care about his numbers that year. He was the reason they were where they were in the standings throughout the year. He was everything they needed in the line up. A line up that ended up winning it all. I don’t understand how he didn’t get more votes. MOST VALUABLE PLAYER.

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  13. kehrsam says:

    Actually, Rick Schu was supposed to Schmidt’s replacement in Philly. Which explains the logic behind the Charlie Hayes votes: Schu was already out of the league.

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  14. Colin says:

    I am curious about the money angle. Anyone else think the writer is getting some income from this somehow? A bet like someone said with his friends or even some kind of underground baseball awards betting network where you can predict the number of votes someone gets and you get big odds on lousy players. Then they have someone place a bet for them knowing they have voting power.

    Pretty elaborate and unlikely, but I like to imagine that’s what is going on.

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  15. jpdtrmpt72 says:

    I was feeling all happy about the voting. really, really happy. but then i read these comments and reality hit me. I’m pissed as hell now. Utley didn’t even get a mention on half the ballots?
    ok, I’m a huge phillies fan, but i feel justified in calling utley one of the three best players over the last three years (Pujols, Mauer, and Utley).

    And there isn’t anything that we can do about it, is there. I mean, other than write angry letters and stuff like that. we can’t actually change anything.

    God, this was a terrible revolation for thanksgiving day.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I don’t get the whole Utley thing. You don’t even need to know a thing about Sabermetrics to appreciate his value.

      Well, maybe you do. He’s never finished higher than 7th for MVP voting, which is just weird since his average ranges between .280 and .330 and he’s basically a 30HR 100RBI 100RS, 4-time AS 4-time SS guy … and plays on a winning team (to say the least).

      Once you factor in his position, and how much better he hits than the average 2B, and it’s ridiculous he’s no a perennial top 5 MVP candidate.

      I lloked at the voting and players of the 06-09 years, and well, some of those years there are just some monstrous offensive performances. But, in 08 he finished behind 3 pitchers, Geovany Soto, and Ryan Howard’s 48HRs. I think we could say he should not finish behind either of those 5. Even this year, he’s still finishing behind the corner sluggers with big counting numbers. Doesn;t look like many voters are willing to put a guy with 30HRs in front of guys with 40 HRs, unless his name is Hanley Ramirez.

      Even Sandberg had 3 years of top 5 final voting, including the year he won it (84).

      Maybe the 09 post-season clued the country into who is the “real deal” in red pinstripes. I just love watching his short, powerful stroke. I can’t figure out how any pitcher is able to throw anything by him.

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  16. B says:

    Didn’t Hayes make a comeback from a pretty serious injury? I seem to remember something happening to him, but I don’t remember the full story. It’s possible that it happened after ’95, but I’m not sure.

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  17. B says:

    Or maybe it was an homage to his 1993 season. Did he get any votes that year?

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  18. Mike Green says:

    Hayes apparently was hit in the face by a pitch early in the 1994 season:

    “July 4, 1994 I was at the Cubs/Rockies double-header at Wrigley Field. The first game had a long rain delay, the second went 15 innings. Midway through game 2 nearly everyone had gone home, and 2 friends and I were sitting in the first row, right behind the visitors on-deck circle. We had been taunting and drinking all day (I’m not a Cubs fan, so I was taunting both sides :D ), and then Rockies 3rd baseman Charlie Hayes stepped into the on-deck circle. Hayes had gotten hit by a pitch earlier that season, breaking his cheek bone. Thus, he wore a clear plastic shield on his face for protection. Of course, this was too much for us to resist.”

    The amazing thing for me is that Bichette finished 2nd in the voting and Maddux finished 3rd. Bichette had 0.3 WAR; Maddux had 8.8. FWIW, Hayes had 1.2, and was an above-average defensive third baseman according to TZ for years. Of course, 1995 was a decade before sabermetrics was invented. :)

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    • Terminator X says:

      I have no idea where you’re getting that .3 WAR from, but I refuse to believe it. Dude put up a .984 OPS that season, .413 wOBA, 40.8 wRAA in the COF. He was basically 2008 Matt Holliday in terms of offensive value, playing time, and positional adjustment. 50-55 runs above replacement before taking fielding into account. To get him down to .3 WAR you’ve got to put him at -50ish UZR. That’s twice as bad as Adam Dunn was in 2008. I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

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      • Bill says:

        If I remember right, Bichette was a poor fielder, but he had a decent arm. He was never as brutal a fielder as Hawpe or Dunn.

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  19. greg says:

    can it be because he had 30 more rbis than anyone on his team and led his team hrs on a team that improved 15 wins in his first year with the team

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