In 2008, Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race. It was a close battle, and the recount took eight months. We're going to steal that excuse and say it took us that long to count, recount and recount again before we could declare a winner in the Internet Baseball Awards' unbearably close AL Player of the Year vote. Today, we can. Without further ado, here are your picks for the 2015 Greg Spira Internet Baseball Awards.
AL Player of the Year
The winner: Josh Donaldson, 21 percent of total points
The runner-up: Mike Trout, 20.8 percent of total points
The relic they'll dig up in a 2015 time capsule 100 years from now: Kevin Kiermaier, 13th place
The player the IBA and BBWAA were most split over: Adrian Beltre (7th in BBWAA, 18th in IBA)
I included the total point percentages because I’m about to show you that this was the closest POY race in IBA history. Trout got 99.2 percent of Donaldson’s vote total. Here are the previous first-runner-ups’ performances over the past decade:
- 2014: Michael Brantley, 34 percent of Mike Trout’s vote total
- 2013: Miguel Cabrera, 82 percent of Mike Trout
- 2012: Miguel Cabrera, 80 percent of Mike Trout
- 2011: Jacoby Ellsbury, 83 percent of Jose Bautista
- 2010: Miguel Cabrera, 69 percent of Josh Hamilton
- 2009: Derek Jeter, 44 percent of Joe Mauer
- 2008: Joe Mauer, 88 percent of Dustin Pedroia
- 2007: Magglio Ordonez, 55 percent of Alex Rodriguez
- 2006: Joe Mauer, 80 percent of Derek Jeter
- 2005: David Ortiz, 79 percent of Alex Rodriguez
- 2004: Manny Ramirez, 65 percent of Vlad Guerrero
- 2003: Carlos Delgado, 56 percent of Alex Rodriguez
- 2002: Miguel Tejada, 64 percent of Alex Rodriguez
- 2001: Alex Rodriguez, 65 percent of Jason Giambi
- 2000: Alex Rodriguez, 91 percent of Jason Giambi
- 1999: Derek Jeter, 71 percent of Pedro Martinez
Those are just the AL margins, but rest assured, nobody in the NL has come close to toppling Donaldson/Trout as the fight of the century, either. (Closest: Derrek Lee, 87 percent of Albert Pujols’ votes in 2005.) Now, the most frustrating thing about running something called the Internet Baseball Awards is that it inevitably involves the internet, and the internet inevitably involves a troll or 15, which is, coincidentally, the number of ballots that left Trout off entirely. Is there any case for not including Trout? Of course, just as there’s no case for putting CC Sabathia first (as one person submitted) or Trayce Thompson second, or Mark Buehrle third, or Brad Brach fourth, or Abraham Almonte fifth, but that dude’s got to have his fun I guess. Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but this vote turned on, essentially, two or three ballots, and the result kept Trout from winning his fourth IBA POY in a four-year career, and from threatening Barry Bonds’ record five-straight IBA wins. I guess when you think about it, it still doesn’t matter, but if you’re a Trout partisan looking for injustice in this world, there you go.
(BP Staff actually picked Trout.)
Russell Martin was named on two ballots, in sixth place each time. He had a higher WARP than Chris Davis, if you’re trying to calibrate how effective our pitch-framing-is-Baal outreach campaign has been.
Here are the top 25:
National League Player of the Year
Naturally, the other league had one of the most lopsided results in IBA history, though not quite as lopsided as a couple of Bonds and Pujols wins, which is fitting, because Harper is probably not quite at those guys’ level yet.
Goldschmidt’s vote total was 51 percent of Harper’s. This undersells it, actually; Goldschmidt got less than 1 percent of Harper’s first-place vote total, and simply cleaned up on second-place votes. Harper got 90 percent of all first-place votes, a figure that goes up to 93 percent if you chuck the nine voters who left him off the ballot. Hate you, nine.
Pujols got 95 percent of first place votes in 2009, and Bonds got 92 percent in 2002.
Is there any case against a first-place vote for Harper? Here are the others who received votes, grouped by plausible (if unconvincing) explanation:
Played for a playoff team
Pitchers are just more valuable
Pennant race performance specifically
- Yoenis Cespedes, two votes
More complete player
- Buster Posey, two votes
Forgot the category, year, and/or where I am right now
- Madison Bumgarner, one vote
- Yadier Molina, one
That leaves Goldschmidt (three votes) and Joey Votto (two), who both played for losing teams and played offense-first positions and also hit, by really any measure, worse than Harper. Both were phenomenal, though, so the most likely explanation is simply “were great, and I like them more.”
Yasmani Grandal was named on zero ballots. He was 13th among position players in WARP.
AL Pitcher of the Year
Staff vote was exactly split, with Keuchel and Price tying for first. The interesting question, perhaps, is what IBA votes use as their guide for this vote, especially because cFIP and DRA were both introduced last year. So, first, here are the top 14 starters:
As to those starters, this is how they ranked in the AL by DRA:
The big divergence here is Yordano Ventura, the one player whose DRA is wildly out of contact with his vote totals. Otherwise, DRA/voting would look like a pretty direct relationship.
But Ventura undermines that, so by which measure does he excel? Here’s cFIP,
and that brings him in line with the voters. So that must be it, voters love cFIP. Except that the rest of this is a jumble. Estrada trails such heavyweights as C.J. Wilson and Mike Pelfrey by this more predictive stat, yet makes our top 15; Keuchel trails Carrasco by plenty in cFIP but gets 175 times more vote points. And now Kazmir, who looks terribly underserving by cFIP and marginally undeserving by DRA, has no convincing case. So what loves Kazmir?
Cleaner than cFIP, but looks like DRA is still dominant. Do we dare go one step further?
Whew. Comfortable “nah” on that one. So, as is probably not that surprising, different voters used different ways of assessing pitcher goodness, and no leaderboard can explain the voting overall. As is probably how it should be. And, eyeballing it, DRA carried the day more than any other. As is probably how it should be.
NL Pitcher of the Year
The winner: Jake Arrieta
The runner-up: Clayton Kershaw
The relic: Jeurys Familia, 11th place
IBA/BBWAA split: Kershaw actually led the IBA in first-place votes; in the BBWAA vote, he got only three of 30, trailing both Arrieta and Greinke.
So Kershaw got the most first-place votes, but Arrieta won the most competitive Pitcher of the Year race whether it was the BBWAA or internet fans voting. (Kershaw got 96 percent of Arrieta’s overall vote total; Greinke got 90 percent of Kershaw’s vote total. BP staff picked Kershaw.)
In talking about the AL vote, we concluded that different voters chose different methods of sorting the top pitchers. But this suggests something even more nuanced. As Joe Sheehan pointed out in October,
Seems to me that you can either make a "what happened" case for Greinke, or a "should have happened" case for Kershaw. Arrieta #2 in both.
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) October 5, 2015
Arrieta had neither the predictive stats to stand above Kershaw, nor the results stats to top Greinke. (He was also third in DRA, though it was about as close as you’re probably imagining/hoping.) Arrieta’s chances rested on voters prioritizing something else entirely—like his wins, or the season leverage of his second-half performance—or by being such an overwhelming second-place choice that he overwhelmed a lack of a first-place candidacy. But that’s not what happened here: Arrieta actually got just four fewer first-place votes than Kershaw, and considerably more than Greinke. Which suggests not that the Results voters and the DIPS voters each voted their positions and unintentionally split the baby, but that individual voters themselves split the baby, opting for the a blend of the two philosophies. This is a fairly humble (perhaps agnostic) approach to stats. Kind of refreshing. Unless it was just his wins.
It’s fascinating how closely the IBA split on Correa/Lindor hewed to the BBWAA split on Correa/Lindor, and for that matter the BP staff vote on Correa/Lindor.
- IBA: Lindor got 83 percent of Correa’s vote total, 65 percent of his first-place votes
- BBWAA: Lindor got 88 percent of Correa’s total, 76 percent of his first-place votes
Actually, no, that’s slightly interesting. What’s fascinating is that the BBWAA was the one who leaned toward the WAR favorite, and the IBA voters who chose the narrative candidate (winning team, called up to energize contender, dingers, slightly more hyped prospects, 1:1 pick, etc). By all three major WAR models, Lindor was the better player:
- Lindor: 3.3 WARP, 4.6 bWAR, 4.6 fWAR
- Correa: 2.7 WARP, 4.1 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR
You could certainly imagine a scenario where the internet savaged the voters for choosing the worse-WAR player, but in this case it was the internet who even more emphatically chose the worse-WAR player. Is this the first time ever that the BBWAA has so convincingly beat the internet on a question of WAR? Might be?
Get hyped: We predicted baseball! Kris Bryant was the staff’s preseason pick for the award, and you are Jack’s complete lack of surprise that he won. But Rookie of the Year is deceptively tough to get right—rookies being inherently unpredictable, of course, but also the complications of playing time, call-up dates and age upon promotion. Here’s how our preseason rookie picks all finished in IBA voting:
|7||Archie Bradley||No votes|
|8||Hector Olivera||No votes|
|10||Marco Gonzales||No votes|
|10||Kyle Crick||No votes|
|10||Raisel Iglesias||No votes|
Not named: Matt Duffy, who got only three first-place checkmarks from IBA voters (fewer than Syndergaard and Kang) but who nearly lapped the field for second-place votes. All in all, though, we could have done a lot worse.
No, really, we could have done a lot worse.
|8||Alex Meyer||No votes|
|11||Brandon Finnegan||No votes|
|14||Ryan Rua||No votes|
|14||Dylan Bundy||No votes|
|14||Micah Johnson||No votes|
|14||Chi Chi Gonzalez||41|
We can actually do last place, because in the IBA every manager usually gets named on at least one ballot. Weiss finished behind two managers who were fired midseason.
MOY voting is such an unrevealing thing, of course. As we all know, it’s just a proxy for asking “which team did better than you thought they would,” or sometimes “which team did better than their payroll rank.” But what about over a few years, when these swings can smooth out a bit? Here are the Manager of the Year vote rankings over the past three years combined, limited to managers who were employed in all three seasons:
I don’t know, does that come close to your own personal rankings for good managing? Closer than any single year, in my case, but it’s still not the order I’d hire those 20. Sure puts Robin Ventura’s continued employment in perspective, though.
Thanks to everybody who voted, and we’ll do this again in 10 months or so.