Grading the BBWAA Voters on 2013 MLB Award Selections
Outside of one week in November and Hall of Fame class announcements in January, the Baseball Writers' Association of America isn't talked about much. Sure, we read the columns and tweets of individual members on a daily basis, especially during the heart of the regular season, but their job isn't critiqued like the actual athletes.
This week, however, the individual members of the BBWAA, including Bleacher Report's Will Carroll, are placed in the spotlight as Major League Baseball unveils the award winners for the 2013 season. With the announcement of the AL and NL MVP selections complete, the full list of major award-winning individuals is finished.
Now, the fun part begins.
Years from now, baseball fans will look back upon the voting with expanded vision, enlightened by a new statistic and progressive lenses with which to view great performances on the field. For now, we have the criteria used by the current members of the BBWAA.
So, were the eight selections correct? Did the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for the right men to take home the hardware?
Without further ado, an attempt to grade the graders. Here's how the 2013 MLB award selections should be viewed.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.
AL Rookie of the Year
BBWAA winner: Wil Myers, Rays
On Monday, the BBWAA started the week off right by selecting Wil Myers as the American League Rookie of the Year. Despite Detroit's Jose Iglesias hitting .303 and displaying dazzling defense at shortstop, the deserving winner was clearly Tampa Bay's young power hitter.
In just 16 seasons as a franchise, Tampa has now produced three AL Rookie of the Year winners. Myers joined Evan Longoria (2008) and Jeremy Hellickson (2011) as winners, per the official announcement from the BBWAA.
Last offseason, Myers arrived in Tampa in the blockbuster trade that sent James Shields to Kansas City to headline the Royals' pitching staff. One year later, he's the centerpiece to Tampa's future and the deserving winner of this award.
NL Rookie of the Year
BBWAA winner: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Yes, Marlins right-handed pitching star Jose Fernandez is great, deserved his name listed on every single NL ROY ballot, and should have been considered on every NL Cy Young ballot as well.
But his selection as National League Rookie of the Year, by a 26-to-4 margin of first-place votes, was surprising to me.
In September, Yasiel Puig was my choice for National League ROY over Fernandez.
Despite the outstanding numbers (12-6, 2.19 ERA) put up by the 20-year-old pitching star, Puig's dynamic rookie season, and what he accomplished in just 104 games, stood out to me in a star-studded rookie class. Not only did Puig contribute his value on a game-by-game basis as a position player, his presence fueled the Dodgers' rise in the National League West.
Years from now, Fernandez and Puig might become two of the most decorated players in the sport. In 2013, the BBWAA made a difficult choice too simple by giving the award to Fernandez in a landslide.
AL Manager of the Year
BBWAA winner: Terry Francona, Indians
Cleveland's manager deserves credit for an outstanding job in 2013, but the BBWAA did not do a great job sorting through a deep field of excellent candidates in the American League.
Among the finalists, John Farrell's work in Boston deserved to be recognized here, but the problems with this selection run deeper.
In truth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, fourth in the final vote, was the best manager in the American League this past season. His ability to keep an injury-plagued roster within striking distance of a postseason spot until the final weeks of the season deserved more recognition by the BBWAA.
Although it's difficult to make a case against Oakland's Bob Melvin, Farrell or Francona not being among the finalists, Girardi deserved a spot.
When the three finalists were named, Farrell's work with Boston's pitching staff should have been enough to put him over the top with the voters.
NL Manager of the Year
BBWAA winner: Clint Hurdle, Pirates
After two decades of futility, Clint Hurdle led the Pirates on a four-year rise from 105 losses in 2010 to 94 wins and a postseason berth in 2013. Among a group of National League Manager of the Year candidates less star-studded than the AL list, Hurdle stood out and was the easy choice for the award.
Too often, narrative trumps reality when discussing the merits of awards. While it's true that Hurdle's performance since taking over in 2011 was about more than just winning baseball games, he didn't exhume 20 years of bad baseball solely on leadership and a positive attitude.
Instead, Hurdle grew into the position by molding young players into contributors, convincing veterans to give him maximum effort and embracing information given to him by a dynamic front office in Pittsburgh.
AL Cy Young
BBWAA winner: Max Scherzer, Tigers
Sometimes, as in the case of the AL MVP, deep thinking needs to happen before voting for a major award. In the case of the 2013 AL Cy Young ballot, the simpler, the better.
Due to all the advanced statistics and prisms through which we can judge pitching, there was extra attention given to Max Scherzer's numbers outside of his 21-3 record. Unlike some 20-game winners that did not deserve major attention for their good fortune in the win column, Scherzer's season passed the test worthy of a Cy Young vote.
Even if the Tigers' righty was 17-11 or 14-14, the award belonged to him. By leading the AL in WHIP (0.970), tossing 214.1 innings and striking out 240 batters, Scherzer was the top pitcher in the American League all season.
NL Cy Young
BBWAA winner: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Was there even a doubt?
Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kersahw was the best pitcher in baseball in 2013. He was definitely deserving of the National League Cy Young. And, as Bleacher Report's Zachary Rymer described, he may be on the verge of a Cy Young dynasty as he enters the prime of his career.
After watching Pedro Martinez dominate baseball for years in Montreal and Boston, I didn't think fans would get the chance to watch another pitcher dominate on a start-by-start basis for another generation or two. Now that Kershaw has risen to a level above his peers, the comparisons to the greatest pitchers in history will begin.
AL Most Valuble Player
BBWAA winner: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
For the second consecutive year, the Baseball Writers' Association of America got it wrong with the American League MVP vote.
In a landslide victory, Miguel Cabrera captured his second consecutive AL MVP. For the second time in two big league seasons, Angels outfielder Mike Trout finished second despite profiling as the better, more valuable player.
To be fair, Cabrera is a great player, deserving of accolades and on the path to the Hall of Fame. But he wasn't the best player in the American League in either 2012 or 2013.
According to Baseball-Reference, Trout was worth 9.2 WAR, while Cabrera was worth 7.2 WAR. Although the Detroit slugger led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, his fade in September due to injuries opened the door for the BBWAA to recognize Trout for a full body of work.
Despite an OPS of .988, 100 walks and 33 stolen bases, Trout wasn't recognized in 2013. If he continues to play at this level or grows into an even better player as his game matures, the BBWAA will have little choice but to eventually award him two or more future MVP trophies.
NL Most Valuable Player
BBWAA winner: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
The year of the Pirates continues.
After receiving 28 of 30 first-place votes, the 27-year-old center fielder was named National League MVP by the BBWAA on Thursday night. One month after leading the Pirates to a 94-win season and a berth in the National League postseason, McCutchen was recognized for his individual excellence.
Despite a great year from Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the Pittsburgh outfielder was the right choice for this award. His all-around stardom—60 multi-hit games, excellent defense, 27 stolen bases, 21 home runs—couldn't be overlooked. Those numbers, among many others, factored into a sterling 8.2 WAR.
Agree? Disagree? How did the Baseball Writers' Association of America fare in the 2013 award selections?
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