For the first time in history, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will be announcing “finalists” for each of their Major League Baseball awards.
Before I go any further, allow me to explain why I put “finalists” in quotes. This is because it is widely believed that the “finalists” will simply be the top X number of vote-getters for each of the awards in question.
For example, each voting member of the BBWAA can fill out a ballot with up to 10 names on it for the Most Valuable Player in the league for which said member can vote. Cy Young has five name ballots, while Managers and Rookies of the Year awards are limited to ballots of three names each.
As for how many “finalists” will be announced, X=5 for MVP, and X=3 for Cy Youngs, Managers, and Rookies.
Okay, moving along to the point of this column.
If you heard my appearance on Brewers Weekly last week Thursday on the Brewers flagship radio station AM 620 WTMJ, you’ll know my feelings about this already. (If you missed it, you can find it here: http://wp.me/p1wIvV-98Ka) Regardless, allow me to expound on those feelings a bit further.
There are two voters in each Major League city who vote on these awards. For the National League, this last time, that means that 32 voters can cast a ballot for NL MVP, NL Cy Young, NL Manager of the Year and NL Rookie of the Year.
As stated on the BBWAA’s own website, points are awarded based on votes in the following way:
For all awards, there is a point system that is weighted by the spot on the ballot. For the MVP, a first-place vote is worth 14 points. From second to 10th, the ballot spots are worth 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points, respectively. For the Cy Young, the points are 7-4-3-2-1. For the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year, the points are 5-3-1.
In other words, the highest point total that any player can receive for Most Valuable Player is 448.
I could summarize point totals for a while, but getting on with it…
If the assumptions are correct and the “finalists” for MVP are simply the five players who received the five-highest point totals, I’ll spit nails if Ryan Braun isn’t announced as one of them.
As stated on the BBWAA’s website, here is the criteria to be considered when casting ballots for Most Valuable Player:
There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.
Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.
As simplistically as I can state the following words, allow me to share with you the following:
There were not five players in the National League more valuable to their 2012 teams in the regular season than Ryan Braun was to the 2012 regular season Milwaukee Brewers.
(I originally hadn’t included “regular season” in either position in the previous, but wanted to do so to remind us all that play in the post-season cannot be included when considering any balloting because ballots must be cast prior to the post-season.)
As I also said during my Brewers Weekly appearance, I can accept (even though disagree with) arguments supporting Buster Posey for MVP. You can even make reasoned arguments for players like Matt Holliday, or Andrew McCutchen for example. You cannot name five players more valuable than Braun, however.
Therefore, should Ryan Braun’s name not be listed among those called out as the five “finalists” for NL MVP this evening, I shall be, as gently as I can relate, put…out.
Furthermore, when full balloting is ultimately revealed we will learn how many votes in each position each player received. This will occur next week Thursday, November 15th when the award winners are revealed. At that time, if I can’t add up Braun’s votes to 32 regardless of where on a ballot he fell, I will be more than a little bit miffed.
Look, I’m not a fool nor am I some naive fanboy blinded by love. I understand that there are likely to be several pompous, arrogant, and oblivious windbags who feel that they are protecting some pristine award from the filth of dirty, dirty cheaters by penalizing Braun for leaked reports of a failed test which was overturned on appeal based on the sample tested being scientifically invalid.
But I would like to be able to believe that penalizing Braun won’t interfere in their own professionalism to their craft and their responsibility to vote results on the field and circumstances that certainly occurred instead of things based on fallible reports from a season ago.
Let’s wait and see together as we learn all about Braun’s fate over the next eight days.