The MVP is not the same thing as the best player. An MVP has to come from a winning team. The best pitcher has the most wins. The manager of the year has to be a comeback story.
These are some of the many silly fictions of awards voting. Especially that first one because, man, you think that the BBWAA would’ve invented an award for the best player by now, but some folks would have you believe they never have.
Today Joe Posnanski takes those ideas — he calls them the Four Points of Awards Voting — and explains why he disagrees with them. In doing so he doesn’t scorch the Earth, Brian Kenny-style in explaining why anyone who adheres to them is foolishly walking in the forest of ignorance. He acknowledges that all of these ideas have been drilled into our heads for years and that, because of them, you have to at least engage them.
And when Posnanski engages something, well, he’s quite engaging.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.