Ryan Howard got a second place MVP vote. That actually happened.

19 Comments

It has become ritual for we blogger-types to scan the awards ballots to find the oddities, outliers and outrages of the BBWAA vote, so I dutifully do so now.  No real outrages here.  Any reasonable person figured that Votto, Pujols and maybe — maybe — Carlos Gonzalez were your huckleberries, and they finished 1-2-3.  So to the extent there is any reason to complain here it’s of the “downballot snarking” variety, not the “this is outrageous!” variety. To wit:

  • Ryan Howard got a second place vote, a third place vote a fourth, two fifths, two sixths and a seventh. He’s a poor defensive first baseman who ranked 17th in OPS, yet he beat out Buster Posey on the ballot.  I know he’s a popular player and everything — and I would never say that he’s not a good player — but is there a player in the league for whom there is a greater disconnect between perceived value and actual value?
  • Roy Halladay was sixth. I haven’t thought hard about it, but it sort of feels right.  He didn’t have a case or anything, but I want voters to get back to seriously considering pitchers for the MVP.  There will come a season soon when someone goes, like 24-4 with 300 strikeouts and a low walk total. When he does, I want that guy to win the MVP.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez got a fourth place vote, but no other votes.  No man is an island. Except, that is, for the man who voted Jimenez fourth.
  • Dan Uggla got five votes. I can now officially taunt Marlins fans by saying that the Braves traded Omar Infante and Mike Dunn for an MVP candidate.  Wait, that’s silly. There aren’t any Marlins fans.
  • Deep thought: how can Omar Infante beat Joey Votto onto the All-Star team and not be considered more valuable?!  It’s the All-Star game, people!!
  • Adrian Gonzalez was the highest ranked player who got left off of someone’s ballot.  Voters can pick their top ten. I don’t believe that voters have to vote for ten players, however, so that could explain it. I mean, if a voter figured “top three is all that matters”  it makes sense to leave him off. But if the guy who left off Gonazalez actually voted for ten other dudes, that seems a bit nuts to me. UPDATE: reader Whitakk points out that there were 32 10th-place votes cast, so each voter must have turned in a complete ballot.  So someone didn’t think Gonzalez was top-10 material.  Odd.

Like I said: no basis whatsoever for outrage. Votto deserved it in my view, and there were no atrocities on the ballots.  But it’s fun to talk about it all the same, so we talk.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
Mark Brown/Getty Images
9 Comments

Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?