Monday, November 22, 2010

Ryan Howard was MVP Worthy?

In one of the great WTF moments of award season, it appears that some member of the BBWAA gave a second place vote to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.  Well, that's not all.  He also received one vote for third place, one fourth, two fifths, two sixths, and one seventh.  Simply baffling.  (Special thanks to Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra for reporting the story.)  

In 2010, Howard put up the most disappointing season of his career.  In 143 games, Howard put up a .367 wOBA (+22.8 wRAA), -12.6 UZR, and 2.0 WAR.  Just to show you how not valuable Howard was, he finished tied for 10th in WAR (with Derrek Lee) among eligible National League first baseman.  How did he rank in the National League as a whole?  55th out of 73.  55th!  Howard didn't deserve to even sniff the ballot let alone receive eight top ten votes.  It just goes to show that voters are still blinded by RBIs, which are a more a function of luck and opportunity than talent.

It's kind of amazing really.  The AL Cy Young award showed us how far the statistical revolution has come.  Finally, after decades of fighting the good fight, pitching wins are no longer considered the barometer of pitching performance.  At the same time, several MVP voters still seem to think RBI is an appropriate measure for offensive performance.  Perhaps it's time to put away the party hats and streamers for a little while longer.  We stat geeks may've won a battle, but the war is still far from being over.

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