Admittedly, the two toughest to predict will be announced next week: American League Most Valuable Player on Monday and the NL version on Tuesday. But though I was confident in my selections for American and National League Rookies of the Year, I don’t think they were slam dunks.
Now, as far as today’s announcement of Chris Carpenter as the NL Cy Young winner, I think we see just how much two things matter in the minds of the writers: total wins and team wins. Both Cy Young winners topped 20 wins and pitched for division champions.
As for the Carpenter vs. Dontrelle Willis debate, the Marlins left-hander may have won one more game with an ERA .20 lower than Carpenter’s figure, but there were four other significant categories in which Carpenter had clearly better numbers: winning percentage (.808-.688), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4:18-2:93), batting average against (.231-.243) and WHIP (1.06-1.13). As for the last one, say what you want about fantasy baseball stats, but walks plus hits divided by innings pitched is not only a good indication of a pitcher’s average inning-by-inning effectiveness, but also a figure that has, more and more, been cited in mainstream baseball reporting.
I just took ESPN.com’s poll on the awards and find it interesting that the top three results, at least as of this posting, reflect the actual voting of the BBWAA for AL Cy Young, NY Cy Young and AL Manager. And the NL Manager results only differed in that the writers think more of Tony La Russa’s second straight 100-win season and 11-game division runaway than the fans do. They, as I was, were more impressed with Phil Garner’s turnaround of the Astros’ season (I picked him to be second; he was actually third). SportsNation also gave Frank Robinson heavy props for getting the Nationals off to a fast start, giving him enough votes to rank third, ahead of LaRussa. Or maybe the nation just finds Tony LaRussa annoying.
Even though four of the six awards in the poll have been announced, ESPN continues to run the poll and ask for America’s opinion. (“America voted …”) Because the poll is apparently asking the country whom they think should win the award as a fan’s opinion rather than a question of how they think the awards will actually turn out, it should remain open for votes. But if there are people out there voting after the fact and selecting the actual winners where that applies, that will obviously skew the results a little bit. But with 37,521 votes cast as of 2:43 p.m. ET (about 2,000 more than were posted 10 minutes earlier), I think the sample size will balance out those votes that are influenced by the announcements already made.
Now we’re down to just two. After the MVP annoucements next week, we’ll once and for all put the 2005 season behind us and, with the Winter Meetings coming up in early December, start to turn our attention full-bore to 2006.