It was nice to see Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young Award today, chiefly because it showed that the Baseball Writers Association of America is past the point where they believe wins to be the ultimate arbiter of which pitchers are good and which are bad. Well, they’ve been past it a while actually, what with Greinke and Lincecum winning it last year, but this year was certainly significant in that they resisted the urge to give the award to someone who had hit the magic number of 20 wins.
But what of other votes and other magic numbers? Such as the Hall of Fame and 300 wins? Will the Hall of Fame voters finally let Bert Blyleven off the hook this winter for “only” getting 287 of them and let him have his plaque? Will they finally let go of the old “Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s” thing and cease his undeserved march towards induction? Will they — like they did with Felix Hernandez — look deeper at what a pitcher actually can control and what actually makes him better and reward it, rather than the wins?
I’m not hopeful. Partially because there is so much more of a time investment and an emotional investment in Hall of Fame voting than in Cy Young voting, and it won’t be easy for the Jon Heymans of the world to reverse themselves from silly positions they’ve taken in the past. It’s a lot easier for someone to have foolishly overlooked Pedro Martinez in a given year and vote for Felix Hernandez this year than it is for them to simply reverse course on Blyleven or Morris when they have a lot of ink invested in arguing against, or for, their induction. In for a penny, in for a pound.
But the biggest reason this won’t change is because we’re talking about different voters for the most part. There are only a couple of dozen of voters for each postseason award, and they tend to be active reporters who are deeply involved in the day-to-day of baseball, including the debates over player value. It’s a smaller but smarter set than the large, bloated Hall of Fame voter pool, many of whom haven’t actively worked in baseball for some time, if they ever did. They’re going to lag, I fear, and lag badly.
So yes, today’s Cy Young vote was nice. But a month or two from now, when we get into Hall of Fame season, look for us to be right back into arguing why wins shouldn’t matter when assessing pitchers, and look for that argument to continue to be largely unheeded.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP