October 23, 2000
My IBA Ballot
Our Staff Makes the Call
(All next week, we'll be bringing you the winners of the 2000 Internet Baseball Awards. This week, we'll be running some ballots submitted by the Baseball Prospectus staff, along with their commentary. We begin the series today with Michael Wolverton.)
Alex Rodriguez had a monster season, putting up some of the best offensive numbers in the majors while playing Gold Glove-caliber shortstop, but it was only good enough for second place this year. Pedro Martinez had one of the most valuable pitching seasons in history, valuable enough to make him the clear winner over Rodriguez in my opinion.
People will notice who's not on this list as much as who is on it. It's not that I believe designated hitters--in this case, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas--should be ineligible for the MVP. I do think that they should pay a big penalty for playing that "position". My personal philosophy is that they should be treated as if they were worse than the most damaging defensive player in the league. Doing so--deducting, say, 20 or 30 runs from their offensive production levels--is enough to knock Martinez and Thomas out of the MVP picture.
I could probably be convinced that any of the top three people on my ballot is the NL MVP. It's tough to decide exactly where Randy Johnson fits among the position players, or how much weight to give Andruw Jones's otherworldly defense. But it's hard to argue with Jeff Kent in the top spot. He put up monster offensive numbers in a pitchers' park while playing a solid second base.
The thing that people can and will argue with is the omission of Mike Piazza. I don't think Piazza was one of the NL's ten most valuable players for three reasons:
AL Cy Young
I voted for the Cy Young Award according to Support-Neutral Wins Above Replacement (SNWAR), mixing in a token reliever. I think Pedro Martinez will probably win the BBWAA vote, but it will be interesting to see whether David Wells and Tim Hudson--and their 20 win-seasons--receive any support.
NL Cy Young
Randy Johnson isn't the runaway winner like he was last year, but his first half was good enough to keep Kevin Brown from catching him in the second half.
I'm not going to say for certain that the extra leverage of Gabe White's innings outweighs Tom Glavine's huge advantage in quantity of innings, but sticking White on the ballot in there makes things a little more interesting than just relisting the Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement standings.
AL Rookie of the Year
It wasn't a great year for rookies in the American League; you could make a case for any of these three guys as the Rookie of the Year. (I believe Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ben Molina are a notch below them.)
Mark Redman didn't have the roster time of the other two, but he did a lot with the time he did get, putting up a fine Support Neutral record of 10-7. The other two were basically average offensively for their positions.
NL Rookie of the Year
Rick Ankiel was 2.0 wins better than the average starter according to Support-Neutral Value Added, while Rafael Furcal was 1.4 wins (about 14 runs) better than the average shortstop offensively according to Runs Above Position. It gets closer when you consider Furcal's defense, but I'll give Ankiel the nod.
Chuck Smith may not get any votes at all from the BBWAA, but he's arguably had a better season than the more famous guys (Mitch Meluskey, Matt Herges, Jay Payton and Adam Eaton). Besides, giving him the #3 spot gives me a chance to take a pot shot at Rangers' GM Doug Melvin for giving Smith away.
Michael Wolverton can be reached at email@example.com.