Monday, August 11, 2008

And... What Happened?

In 1999, an award was finally established in order to recognize the best offensive player in baseball. Fittingly, it was named after one of the game's great hitters, Hank Aaron. It's nice to have an award with such simple guidelines. There's no confusion over what "valuable" means and how much of a role the team's success should play into consideration. Nope. It's simply an award that goes to the best offensive player in each league.

Now, it would seem that only a limited amount of research would have to take place to determine such a recipient, right? Right. Let's take a look at how some of the cases have turned out thus far.

1999 (N.L.)
Winner- Sammy Sosa
Best Offensive Player- Mark McGwire
Many others were much, much more deserving than Sosa, but it really puzzles me how McGwire especially was not chosen. He led Sosa in the following categories: HR, RBI, R, OBP, SLG, OPS+, RC, RC/G, OWP, BtRns, BtWin, and EQA. Even to someone not accustomed to more advanced offensive statistics should easily be able to tell that McGwire had the superior offensive season. Seriously, what were the voters' justifications? Batting Average?

2001 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Jason Giambi
People got too caught up in the high HR and RBI total. Giambi clearly had the superior offensive season. It wasn't even close.

2002 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Jim Thome
See Above.

2003 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Carlos Delgado
This one wasn't quite as bad as some of the others, but Delgado led handily enough in a number of categories for it to be pretty obvious that he was the most deserving candidate.

2003 (N.L.)
Winner- Albert Pujols
Best Offensive Player- Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds had a 231 OPS+, Pujols was at 187. That pretty much sums it up right there, doesn't it? There is no way that Bonds should have lost this award even once from 2000-2004. Also, since 1958, nobody not named Barry Bonds has put up an Adjusted OPS over 230. Although apparently it still wasn't good enough for the Hank Aaron Award.

2005 (A.L.)
Winner- David Ortiz
Best Offensive Player- Alex Rodriguez
I guess things have a way of evening themselves out-- at least partially. There's still a little ways to go for justice to have been entirely served, seeing as Rodriguez has won the award (undeservedly) three times. Ortiz had no business winning this award over A-Rod, though, who was clearly better in every offensive facet of the game.

2005 (N.L.)
Winner- Andruw Jones
Best Offensive Player- Derrek Lee
They should just call this the HR/RBI title award. Apparently nothing else is required. Besides those two categories, Jones didn't even finish in the top five of any statistic except extra base hits, in which he trailed Lee by 21.

2006 (A.L.)
Winner- Derek Jeter
Best Offensive Player- Travis Hafner
The voters went outside their usual way of thinking and picked a player who led absolutely zero major offensive categories. He had a good offensive season, don't get me wrong, but it was nothing compared to that of Hafner. You could also make very strong cases that Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Jim Thome were significantly more deserving as well. This is pretty much the benchmark for just how poor the voting system for this award is put together.

These are just the most obvious, ridiculous ones. If you want to get real technical about it, the most deserving candidates have probably won about 6 out of the 18 times the award has been handed out, with 3 of them being real obvious, amazing Barry Bonds seasons. The voting process is in shambles (broadcasters and analysts currently make up 70% of the vote). If the MLB is going to hand out an award for the best offensive season (which I think is a pretty high and important honor), they should do it right and find a respectable way to go about it. Otherwise, get rid of it altogether. I'm sure the Hammer is already plenty embarrassed.

1 comment:

Grif said...

I love the idea of the Hank Aaron award. The MVP Award is interesting, but there's more to being the most valuable player than just being the best hitter. Being the best hitter needs to be recognized, though.

Additionally, there's this insane dogmatic view that the MVP is for position players and the pitchers have the Cy Young. I think the MVP should encompass all players period. If you make an award for hitters, that becomes less of an issue.

Unfortunately, MLB doesn't take the Hank Aaron award seriously, and has fans and broadcasters vote on it, which creates totally ridiculous results.

Make it as prestigious as the other two. Make it the Big Three awards, and I'd be happy.