Your Thursday afternoon tizzy

There is some brewing discontent over the NL Cy Young vote, as two members of the webby portion of the BBWAA — our friends Keith Law and Will Carroll — did not include Chris Carpenter on their three-man Cy Young ballots. Keith voted Javier Vazquez second (Lincecum first and Wainwright third) and Will voted Wainwright first, Lincecum second and Danny Haren third. They were the only ones who included Vazquez or Haren on their ballots.

A comment about this from reader Ron in the thread below my earlier post:

“Two voters, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN.com, did not include Carpenter on their ballots.” Nice. Leave the best pitcher in the NL off of your ballots to insure the saber-metric favorite wins. The BBWAA guys might not be the best at voting, but the saber friendly guys don’t have the right to accuse them of manipulating the vote anymore.

Ron, I love you. You’ve been reading this blog longer than just about anyone and I always appreciate your input. But you’re factually wrong here inasmuch as even if Will changed his vote for Haren to Carpenter and and Law did the same with his Vazquez vote, Lincecum still wins. And really, if Will was really trying to throw it to Lincecum, wouldn’t he have voted him first?

But I don’t mean to single out Ron. I posted his comment simply because it stands at the somewhat extreme end of the discontent I’ve read at a few message boards. There really are people out there scratching their heads at this, and I imagine there will be at least a little grousing about their votes over the next couple of slow news days.

For my part, I wouldn’t have voted the same way Keith and Will did — neither Vazquez nor Haren would have made my ballot — but they explain their rationale and I understand why they voted the way they voted even if I disagree with it. At the very least I understand docking Carpenter based on innings pitched, and that seems to be the point of controversy here. I’m a bit more of a romantic than Keith and Will are, I think, so I’d probably have included him on my ballot for reasons associated with his comeback from injury and all of that, but it’s certainly legitimate to not include him.

I predict that some people will use Keith’s and Will’s votes in some argument that statheads shouldn’t be given the franchise over the next couple of days. Such an argument, if it comes, should be rejected out of hand. At most this is some down-ballot curiosity, the sort of which we see on the votes for every award.


Print This Post
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
tadthebad
Guest
tadthebad

Ron gets some Shyster-love… not that there’s anything wrong with it.

James K.
Guest
James K.

Not sure I’d consider Will Carroll a “stathead”, outside of his association with Baseball Prospectus.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Craig, just to clarify, I never said Carpenter should have won. But for both of those guys to leave him off of their ballots? It’s worth questioning.

I don’t know enough about Carroll. I’ve read his stuff and like most of it. But considering Law’s anti-Cardinal bias, you definitely have to wonder about how he voted.

Ron
Guest
Ron

I don’t see how voting purely sabermetric stats is any different than voting traditional stats. Or personal bias.

To say one group of voters is wrong to do it thier way, and then claim another way is the only right way just smacks of hypocrisy to me.

Bill@TDS
Guest
Bill@TDS
Keith Law, like Rob Neyer, gets accused of personal bias against all 30 teams on a regular basis. It’s pretty funny, since they’re as objective as they come. I think it’s clear that there IS only one right way to pick a winner here: pick the guy you think, based on some sort of reasonable thought process, is the best pitcher. If you picked Carpenter because you were impressed by his ERA or picked Vazquez #2 because you were impressed by his FIP, good for you. If you picked Wainwright because he was credited with a few extra “wins” or… Read more »
ecp
Guest
ecp

Both Law and Carroll say that the main deciding factor for them was Carpenter’s time lost due to injury.  While I would not personally dock him for that (he qualified for the ERA title, which is sufficient for me), many people would and have said so and I find the position defensible.

John_Michael
Guest
John_Michael

If one side starts saying that the way other voted is “un-American,” then one could easily mistake this for a debate by the US Senate.

Dave
Guest
Dave
@Ron The only reason traditional or sabermetric statistics exist is because they have been counted or calculated for the purpose of drawing quantitative conclusions about player performance.  Basing one’s votes for performance awards on one set of statistics compared to another is simply saying that you thing those stats a better meters of performance.  You can reject the sabermatricians’ premise that their stats are better, but there isn’t any particular hypocrisy in using what you feel is the best tool to do a particular job.  To that extent, every vote belies a personal bias. Regarding Keith Law’s bias, it seems… Read more »
Jay
Guest
Jay

I agree with Bill. Both Law and Carroll took the time to explain their vote and even if you disagree with their conclusions, each presented a transparent account of their logical thought process. The whacked out ballots turned in by some of the old guard sports writers typically have some sort of hometown bias or reliance solely on the win column. That kind of stuff is indefensible.

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

Given that there are only three positions on the Cy Young ballot, I don’t see how this could be construed as an attempt to block Carpenter from winning the Cy.  This isn’t the MVP that has what, 10 places on the ballot?

Yamen
Guest
Yamen

Wonder where all this moral outrage from ‘writers’ such as Jon Heyman was when that doofus from Detroit voted Verlander first because of ‘his courage under adversity’ et al. Or maybe that was because that guy was, you know, a fellow sportswriter of the classical mould and not a so called ‘sabergeek living in his mother’s basement’ that both KLaw and Will Carroll are in their eyes. Unlike the Detroit fool, both Law and Carroll at had numbers backing up why they voted the way they did.

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons

The Cy Young and ROY award ballots should have (at least) five spots instead of three.

Ted
Guest
Ted
I just listened to a Keith Law interview he did with a St. Louis radio station, and I have to say that Law comes off not so great. He sounds very arrogant and makes himself sound like he is above everyone else. I know he works at ESPN and worked in a front officer (not very successfully, but in a front office non-the-less). But he doesnt even listen to anyone elses opinion. FIP is a good stat, and it shows true talent of pitchers, but it has its limitations and he seems to look at as a end all be… Read more »
Rob²
Guest
Rob²
Of course, the fundamental problem with the conspiracy theory is that it’s a total straw man.  Ron is simply inventing the rationale behind Law’s and Carrol’s votes on no other basis than his own opinion of those writers, and then applying that rationale to anyone who disagrees with him.  Both of them explained their ballots in print, so it’s really silly to claim “anti-Cardinal bias” or any kind of conspiracy argument. If you question Law’s voting, you ought to at least read his rationale.  If you think he’s lying, then say so. If you think that Carpenter was so clearly… Read more »
MJ
Guest
MJ
All stats are subjective, No they aren’t, and you honestly can’t believe that.  How is BA/ERA/SLG/OPS/K/BB/etc a subjective stat?  You either hit the ball, walk, struck out, etc or you didn’t.  Things like UZR or Dewans +/- are somewhat subjective, but none of those was quoted as a reason why Carpenter was “left of the ballot”. If Keith Law can insult the old school writers for voting for someone for Cy Young because of the number of wins he had, then he can certainly be questioned himself for not voting for Carpenter due to his innings pitched. And the Vasquez… Read more »
Aaron Moreno
Guest
Aaron Moreno

I’d say Greg nailed it. If the ballot had five men on it, you’d see Carpenter there, instead of the “off the ballot entirely” bullshit that’s going on.

SharksRog
Guest
SharksRog
I think Will Carroll showed himself to be an objective observer.  He voted for Adam Wainwright over Tim Lincecum even though back before Tim had thrown a single pitch above Class A he answered a reader question by saying Tim was the pitcher he would take as his franchise pitcher for the next 10 years. If Will had been self-serving, wouldn’t he have voted for Tim? I will say that I strongly disagree with Will’s leaving Chris Carpenter off his ballot altogether.  But I suspect Will had decent reasons for doing so, perhaps including that Chris missed several starts. I… Read more »
Rob²
Guest
Rob²
“Two voters, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN.com, did not include Carpenter on their ballots.” Nice. Leave the best pitcher in the NL off of your ballots to insure the saber-metric favorite wins. The BBWAA guys might not be the best at voting, but the saber friendly guys don’t have the right to accuse them of manipulating the vote anymore. Ron, re-read this quotation.  It’s clearly implied that the “saber friendly guys” both left Carpenter off their ballots to “ensure the saber-metric favorite wins.”  Suggesting that two or more people secretly plotted to manipulate the vote,… Read more »
Matt
Guest
Matt
MJ, thank you for finally bringing up statistics in a debate about individual awards. Reading the first 20 or so comments was kind of painful. They were so damn normative. Ron, in response to your “When did I say Carpenter deserved to win” statement: you called Carpenter “…the best pitcher in the NL” in the snippet Craig posted. Do you not think the best pitcher should win the Cy Young? Also, at first glance I was shocked Law and Carrol left Carpenter off. But then I looked at Vazquez’s and Haren’s stats. In Vazquez’s case he tossed roughly 30 more… Read more »
The Common Man
Guest
The Common Man
@civilwarmike Of course Joe should be docked for the month of time he missed.  But here’s where Carpenter and Mauer differ.  When Joe returned, he was so much more productive than other American Leaguers that his overall value for the season still makes him the best player in the AL.  With Carpenter, even though he was terrific, the time and innings he missed are just enough to make him less valuable to his team over the course of the season than Lincecum (and potentially Wainwright, Vazquez, and Haren, but I don’t want to make that argument).  Everything that players do… Read more »
Joe
Guest
Joe

From the other thread:

“Ron said…
The Cy Young award isn’t supposed to be for the pitcher with the best stats, be it Wins or WAR. It’s supposed to be for the best pitcher of the year, and anyone who thinks Carpenter wasn’t really should learn something about the game.”

Let’s see, “The Cy Young award…is supposed to be for the best pitcher of the year…which was Carpenter if you know anything about the game.”

I’m gonna call “close enough” on you saying that Carpenter deserved the CYA this year.

Alex K
Guest
Alex K

Ted- Law was being attacked on that radio show. One host told him his analysis was bad. Another host said that he wasted his time by watching baseball because his vote was bogus. Why wouldn’t he defend himself? That’s all he was doing. To me, the hosts of the show come off worse because they were interupting Law, and puting words in his mouth.

Ron
Guest
Ron
Again, for all of those of you who can’t read, or refuse to: I never said Carpenter should have/deserved to win. I said I thought he was the best pitcher of the year. Just becuse someone is the best doesn’t mean they will win the award. It happens all the time that the best player doesn’ win the award. What I said was, how do you justify leaving the best pitcher (my opinion) in the league OFF OF THE BALLOT. I didn’t say first. I didn’t say second. I didn’t say third. I said the ballot. If you want to… Read more »
Pat
Guest
Pat

Ron, you don’t know what you are talking about.

The Common Man
Guest
The Common Man

@ Ron

It’s easy to leave the best player off the ballot when and if that player was not one of the three most valuable pitchers in the league (I’m not necessarily making that argument about Carpenter).  Value does not necessarily equal most skilled (or best).  For instance, CC Sabathia was probably the best pitcher in the NL last season.  However, in terms of the value he contributed to his team over the course of the year, he was nowhere near the top three in the league.

Joe
Guest
Joe

You also said:

“Leave the best pitcher in the NL off of your ballots to insure the saber-metric favorite wins.”

Which is unsubstantiated conspiracy theorizing.  Both Law and Carrol gave reasoned explanations showing that they left Carpenter off the ballot because they didn’t think he was one of the three most-deserving pitchers, NOT to “insure that the saber-metric favorite wins.”

I bet that if you just said that you thought they were idiots for leaving Carpenter off the ballot, and dispensed with the sabermetric conspiracy theory, we could have avoided pretty much this whole sh!tstorm.

MJ
Guest
MJ
What I said was, how do you justify leaving the best pitcher (my opinion) in the league OFF OF THE BALLOT. I didn’t say first. I didn’t say second. I didn’t say third. I said the ballot. It’s easy, both Carroll and Law thought, and gave explanations why, he wasn’t in the top 3.  Others have said it, but I’ll reinforce just in case, there are only three positions on the ballot.  If you could create a time machine and pluck ‘99 pedro, ‘00 pedro, and let’s say ‘09 Greinke and have them repeat their performance in the NL this… Read more »
Michael
Guest
Michael

Smart people now allowed to vote for Cy Young: watching 2-3 games plus Guys Yelling About Sports shows on ESPN no longer enough to proclaim “knowledge.”

The idiots have run the BBWAA for too long. They’re dumbfounded by Will and Keith’s votes because they are incapable of thinking it through. They told each other Carpenter was the best pitcher in the NL, so they thought it was agreed.

The old boys’ network in sports reporting is dying, but apparently they’re going to go down swinging.

Matt
Guest
Matt
@ MJ, Not sarcasm at all. I actually appreciate someone using facts to back up their opinion, or even better actually using facts to form an opinion. Sorry if it came off sarcastic. @ Ron, The statement you made can be interpreted in one of two ways. By saying “best pitcher in the NL” you either meant Carpenter was the most VALUABLE and deserved to win the Cy Young, (Which is what I believe we all thought you meant) or you felt he is the most TALENTED pitcher in the NL and thus automatically deserves to be placed in the… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Ron
Can someone point out to me where I said: sabergeek, living in mom’s basement, conspiracy theory, Carpenter deserved to win, or that I was anti-sabermetric? If so, I will apologize to each and every person who wants me to. But since I didn’t say any of that, it won’t be possible. If Keith Law can insult the old school writers for voting for someone for Cy Young because of the number of wins he had, then he can certainly be questioned himself for not voting for Carpenter due to his innings pitched. And the Vasquez vote just reninforces my opinion… Read more »
civilwarmike
Guest
civilwarmike

Hmmm…
To dock Carpenter because of innings pitched? Does that mean Joe Mauer will should not be the MVP because he missed the first month of the season? Just wondering.

Rob²
Guest
Rob²
“What I said was, how do you justify leaving the best pitcher (my opinion) in the league OFF OF THE BALLOT. I didn’t say first. I didn’t say second. I didn’t say third. I said the ballot.” Again, if you read the published explanations from both writers, you would know exactly how they justified leaving Carpenter off the ballot.  They both though two other guys were better.  You obviously disagree, but I still haven’t seen why you think Carpenter was better. Oh wait, there was something there about how I must have a lot to learn about baseball.  Thanks for… Read more »
Grant
Guest
Grant
“To dock Carpenter because of innings pitched? Does that mean Joe Mauer will should not be the MVP because he missed the first month of the season? Just wondering.” I think it’s worth considering, but it’s also worth considering that Joe Mauer was so astonishingly good from the catcher’s position to more than balance that out. You’re comparing Mauer to a bunch of guys who play less hard positions, often less well than he does catcher (Jeter is probably the only other candidate that plays a tough position, right?, and let’s not get into his defense). Carpenter is being compared… Read more »
Jason
Guest
Jason
I never comment here but read everyday.  I figure now is as good a time as any to jump in. Ron, you mention that voting purely based on “sabermetric stats” isn’t any different the voting purely based on “traditional stats”.  Except that it absolutely is.  All of the information that goes into “traditional” stats also goes into “sabermetric” stats.  It’s just that those sabermetric stats take that information even further and try to figure out the “why” behind the information.  Rather than simply relying on the earned runs in ERA, FIP tries to determine how much of the ERA was… Read more »
Glen L
Guest
Glen L

@Ron –

Dude, you STILL have not explained WHY you think Carpenter was the BEST pitcher in the NL this year, you simply scream he should have been on the ballot … WHY does he deserve to be on the ballot over Vasquez?

Required
Guest
Required

Something to think about:

Keith Law worked for JP Ricciardi up in Toronto from 2002-2006 and he was instrumental in convincing JP to remove Carpenter from the Blue Jays 40-man roster.

So of course Law didn’t vote for Carpenter, doing so could have possibly helped Carpenter win the Cy Young … which would have made Keith’s & JP’s 2002 decision look even worse.

Do you really think Law would vote for the same guy that he convinced JP Ricciardi to dump?

The Common Man
Guest
The Common Man

This idiot is making the same claim all over the internet.  He made the same comment on my blog (http://the0common0man.blogspot.com/2009/11/keith-law-is-smarter-than-youget-over.html), on this random Cards page (http://moondogsports.com/2009/11/19/keith-law-left-chris-carpenter-off-his-cy-young-ballot-wtf/), and now here.  Dude, Carpenter also would have been a free agent after 2003 (when he wouldn’t have even pitched for the Jays), so there was no reason for the Jays to hold on to him in 2003 when there was no guarantee they would have in in 2004.

The Common Man
Guest
The Common Man

*would have HAD him.

Dumb people make me a bad typist.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Yes.

Something else to think about.  In 2002, Carpenter was a guy with a career 4.83 ERA (98 ERA+) and a 1.51 WHIP.  Furthermore, he had a shoulder injury that would force him to miss the entire 2003 season.  Given that the Blue Jays couldn’t cut his salary by more than 10%, they would have been forced to pay him over $3 million to rehab his shoulder.  Removing him from the roster was entirely reasonable for the Blue Jays, and Keith Law probably wasn’t the only guy who thought so.

wpDiscuz