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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