Murray Chass spoke with Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune about the American League Cy Young Award results. Rogers, who voted for David Price, wondered about the outcome:
“I wonder how much of it was bullying on the Internet. There were a lot of columns written in September saying no one should be stupid enough not to vote for Felix. Maybe that’s what happened, but I hope not.”
To which I respond: if a given writer is so spineless and unsure of himself and his analysis of baseball that he’d actually vote for someone whom he did not think was deserving simply because some other writers said he shouldn’t, he should have his voting privileges taken away. But personally, I don’t think such a beast exists. I don’t agree with every baseball writer I’ve ever met, but I’ve never met one who I thought could be bullied like that. They can be persuaded, of course, because they’re mostly reasonable people. But bullied? Please. I’d be curious to hear which of his colleagues Rogers thinks doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.
But Rogers wasn’t the only one who told Chass that he thinks his colleagues are incapable of doing their jobs. Here’s Tracy Ringolsby, offering his opinion of Hernandez’s win:
“It’s the trendy thing to do, and everybody wants to be part of the trend.”
So there you have it. Two of the longest tenured and most respected baseball writers in the business think that the BBWAA voting pool is full of wimpy sheep, cowed into voting for Felix Hernandez by the intimidating style-mavens of the sabermetric set.
How the stat guys got so tough and trendy while eating Hot Pockets in their mothers’ basements is an open question.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?