Come To Think Of It: MLB Writers Take Steps Forward and Back in Award Voting

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer INovember 18, 2009

Perhaps there is hope for the writers who vote for the Major League Baseball awards, after all. Then again, it's always one step forward, two steps back with these guys.

One might hope that the preponderance of advanced statistical evidence might educate voters for awards such as Cy Young, MVP, ROY and the Gold Glove.

After all, as younger and (hopefully) more enlightened writers obtain voting rights, the subjective manner of awarding players should improve.

One possible example of this is Zack Greinke winning the Cy Young award today. In the "old" days, many voters used such sad stats as won-loss records as a judge of the best pitcher. In that regard, Greinke wouldn't have had a chance.

His victory total (16) matched that of Arizona's Brandon Webb three years ago for the fewest by a starting pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in a non-shortened season and was the fewest by an AL starter to win in a full-length season.

But Greinke won in overwhelming fashion over King Felix of Seattle, who went 19-5. This is a positive result because it demonstrates that voters are finally beginning to appreciate that a pitcher's record is largely dependent on such things as park factor, defense, and run support. 

Kansas City scored just 13 runs in his eight losses and 21 runs in his nine no-decisions. He failed to get a victory in six starts in which he allowed one run or fewer.

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Meanwhile, he easily led the league in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and ERA.

Yet just as soon as you think there's light at the end of the tunnel, you harken back to the Gold Glove award. How Seattle's center fielder Franklin Gutierrez could be left out in the cold is almost mind-boggling.

UZR is not the be all, end all of stats and admittedly, defensive metrics have their flaws and limitations.

But a UZR of 29.1 and an RngR (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity) of 29.3 is so far off the charts that it is downright sick.

Even owing to statistical deviations, this was a great performance and more than worthy of a GG. Jones' UZR? -4.7.

Jones' one statistical advantage is his arm. He not only throws out more than his share of runners, but also keeps more than his share of runners from advancing extra bases.

Shane Victorino was another head scratcher, with negative metrics across the board. Nyjer Morgan would have been a much better choice.

Even admittedly fine fielders such as Mark Teixeira did not have their best seasons, at least in terms of the metrics. Yet he also won a GG.

Meanwhile, Derek Jeter seemingly won on reputation, and Orlando Hudson over Chase Utley? Blasphemy.

And on it goes. So maybe we shouldn't give writers too much credit for picking Greinke after all. Maybe it was simply the buzz. At least that's what ESPN's Rob Neyer thinks.

Let's see if FIP leader Tim Lincecum wins the NL Cy Young now, come to think of it.

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