Joe Strauss slams "spreadsheet voters"


Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch was asked in a chat yesterday about last year’s Cy Young Vote and whether he thought Keith law and “others in the sabermetric crowd” had undue influence in awards outcomes. His response:

There increasingly appears a
campaign to discredit pitcher wins as a consideration. They are
considered by some as a derivative of “luck,” much like RBI, in the
estimation of some spreadsheet voters. Law didn’t give the vote to
Lincecum. However, there is an increasingly strong
smartest-guy-in-the-room element that frowns on more traditional
numbers now assigned the pejorative “peripherals.” Personally, I
thought Wainwright the NL’s best pitcher in 2009 only to later be
informed he was merely “luckier” than Lincecum. Who’da thunk?

I’m guessing that, in the past, there have been other writers who are not named Keith Law and who aren’t “spreadsheet voters” who voted differently than Strauss, with such differences changing the outcome of an awards vote. I don’t recall people responding so defensively to those legitimate differences of opinion, or those voters being called out like Strauss calls out Law and others here.

Likewise, I know of no other field besides sports writing where ignoring relevant data, scoffing disdainfully at advancements in analysis and belittling those who seek to broaden knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand is thought of as a positive thing. 

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.