When the “best” player who “unquestionably provides the most value to his team” is not the MVP

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I take it back. Heyman’s MVP column was not all that convoluted after all. That’s because I just read Buster Olney’s and I can’t recall anything as confounding. And that’s with 98% of it being excellent.

It’s behind a paywall so you may not be able to read it. But I will do it justice in summary. Really — I am not adding my own gloss here. This is a faithful summary of Olney’s reasoning:

    • Doing something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” is stupid;
    • Voting for MVP award winners based on them being on a winning team is the way it’s always been done and that’s stupid. Writers do it, though, because they are slaves to this precedent which started in the 1930s.
    • It shouldn’t be this way. The MVP should go to the best player regardless of how his team finishes in the standings.
    • “I also think [Mike] Trout is the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value to his team of any player in the sport.”
    • He then says that if he had a vote he’d vote for Miguel Cabrera because “the MVP voting is chained to the past, for now: That’s the way we’ve always done it.  Because the criteria hasn’t changed — and until it does, the precedent should continue to carry interpretative weight.”

I repeat: all of that precedent is stupid. It should no longer stand. But it binds me, Buster Olney, to say Miguel Cabrera is the MVP despite the fact that I think Mike Trout is “the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value.”

I’m sorry. We’re through the looking glass here.

I tweeted the upshot of this post a few minutes ago. Here was Buster’s response to me:

I guess I can get why he might consider my criticism of his stunning incoherence here to be a personal attack (though he’s the one calling people names). However, I personally see it as an instance in which one of the most influential opinion makers in all of baseball is making a strong argument that he himself is afraid to follow.

Question: If Buster can’t listen to his own reason and conscience with respect to this matter, why should anyone else?

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.