The Most Valuable Player award was given out last night to deserving candidates Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. There is really no argument that they weren’t the correct choices. But, when I began looking at how each writer voted, I was startled when I came across the ballot for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s own Brewers beat writer, Tom Haudricourt.
Haudricourt is no slouch with the pen. He was named Wisconsin Sports Writer of the Year in 2011 and 2012, and is obviously extremely knowledgeable about the Milwaukee Brewers. With that being said, however, I’m calling his 2014 MVP ballot into question.
Here’s how he voted:
1. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
2. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles
5. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
6. Anthony Rendon, Washington
7. Buster Posey, San Francisco
8. Matt Holliday, St. Louis
9. Hunter Pence, San Francisco
10. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh
I really have no problem with anyone on the list or how they were ordered. I mean, Matt Holliday would have been six miles away from my ballot, but I’m not going to argue about it. However, how Haudricourt gave Adrian Gonzalez a fourth-place vote is beyond me. How he voted for him ahead of Jonathan Lucroy is even more utterly ridiculous.
Gonzalez finished seventh overall in the MVP race, but Haudricourt gave him the highest nod. Here’s how many other votes Gonzalez received.
1st: 0 votes
2nd: 0 votes
3rd: 0 votes
4th: 1 vote
5th: 4 votes
6th: 2 votes
7th: 0 votes
8th: 3 votes
9th: 3 votes
10th: 1 vote
You can find the complete National League ballot here.
Haudricourt clearly overvalued Gonzalez, as 14 of the 30 writers didn’t even cast a vote for him. In Haudricourt’s explanation of his picks, he fails to even mention Lucroy or Gonzalez, so we really have no idea what he was thinking or where he was coming from. It left a lot to be desired. So, I’ll attempt to break it down a bit and to try to figure out what inspired Haudricourt to vote the way he did.
Gonzalez led MLB in runs batted in and was among the top 20 in home runs this past season. Those were probably the two leading factors that went into Haudricourt’s decision. And that’s where he went wrong. RBIs are relatively useless and don’t tell us much about the skill set of a player. For example, Ryan Howard racked up 95 RBI last season, and yet, finished with a negative WAR.
The silly thing is, Haudricourt didn’t even need to use a sabermetric stat to come to the realization that Gonzalez wasn’t worthy of an MVP vote. Gonzalez’s on-base percentage of .335 just barely placed him in the top 70. Does that sound MVP-worthy to you?
But it’s not that Haudricourt voted for Gonzalez that grinds my gears, it’s the fact that he thought Gonzalez had a better season than Lucroy. There is honestly no argument that can be made defending that. Lucroy received one second-place vote (from FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron), 13 fourth-place votes and six fifth-place votes, among a few others. Only two ludicrous writers left him off their ballots. What I’m trying to say is, almost every writer valued Lucroy over Gonzalez, except Haudricourt.
Now, I understand Haudricourt isn’t sabermetric-savvy, so he probably doesn’t care about pitch framing. And that’s too bad, because that’s where a lot of Lucroy’s value comes from. According to StatCorner, he saved 22 runs by expanding the strike zone for his pitcher.
But let’s look solely at hitting. Based on this table, try to figure out who had the better season.
Lucroy wins hands down. To even further Lucroy’s cause, he and Gonzalez had almost an identical amount of plate appearances. Did I mention that Lucroy is a catcher?
Not much more needs to be said on the matter. It’s a shame Lucroy was robbed by Haudricourt. He deserved better from his beat writer, fair and simple.