Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Baseball Post

Haven't done one of these for a while, and I know exactly why: I've really lost interest in the postseason awards.

I'm not really sure why. I'm certainly not any less of a baseball fan than I used to be. I'm just as interested as ever in the HOF, which one would think would be similar. But the postseason awards? If one of the Giants has a shot at it, I'll root for him, and otherwise...well, I'll notice them. I might read a couple of items. That's about it.

I used to vote at the Internet Baseball Awards (I used to vote back when they were conducted over USENET, actually). I don't, any more. Don't even check to see who won most years.

So what is it? Is it associated with age? Anyone else lose interest in the postseason awards as they got older? I mean, I'm not that old. Anyone find themselves more interested now than they used to be?

My best guess is that -- and you're going to think this is silly -- a big part of it for me might have to do with how they changed the way the awards rolled out. Not that the new style is worse. Just that it's different, and that lost some of the fun of it for me. I mean, part of the reason that the postseason awards "count" is because we all believe in them, even those of us who believe in them as a thing to knock down. And one reason I think I believe in them was because they always showed up on the same schedule, slowly, after the World Series. Once they started messing with the schedule, and lately with the rest of the presentation, it just changed it for me. Yes, it's silly.

There are other possibilities. For years, I was involved in regular baseball conversation (usenet, and then I was on one or another mailing list for a long time)...I don't really have an ongoing baseball conversation to capture my attention about whatever's going on. But it's not as if those conversations aren't available to me, or that I don't remain interested in other baseball topics.

Or, who knows, plenty of possibilities. I am curious about whether it's me that's changed or the awards. Who knows: maybe I'll wind up totally into them next year. But for now, not so much.


  1. For me, I think I've just settled into a resignation about the traditional awards, while finding the Internet awards sensible enough that I do little beyond nodding my head in agreement. My son is different ... he is obsessed with the ways narratives overwhelm reality, and he sees society reflected in the ways voters get awards wrong. He's also 38 and I'm 60, so perhaps there's something to your sense that it just gets tiring the older we get.

  2. I do think its a little bit interesting that McCutcheon just won the MVP award with a BA/HR/RBI line of .317/21/84. The BA was 7th in the league, the RBIs were 11th, the HRs 23rd.

    On the other, sabermetric, hand his offensive WAR was almost a full game better than anyone else in the NL.

    It wasn't exactly the question asked, but I take McCutcheon's win as another indication of how completely modern analytics have revamped the way just about everyone thinks about baseball.

  3. Well, maybe, but I think that it was at least as much "best player on the surprise, crowd-favorite good team" that won it for Cutch as it was the actual value he provided as measured by advanced stats.

    Or maybe I'm just cynical after all these years...

  4. But the sabermetrics guys are all tearing their hats into itty bitty pieces about Cabrera winning again over Trout...

    1. That's a funny point - the MVPs were one win for the new school guys (McCutcheon) and one for the old (Cabrera).

      McCutcheon led the NL in offensive WAR; he was third in the bigs behind Trout (10.0) and Cabrera (9.0).

      Suggests a new possible motto:

      The National League: we may never adopt the DH, but at least we embrace advanced analytics.

  5. I judge these awards based partly on the stats, partly on the intangibles, and mostly on whether the person selected qualifies for what the award says it is. Manager of the Year--sure, there could be a few, but Hurdle would be one of those few. I was given to believe that MVP meant Most Valuable Player to a team that did something remarkable, so Cutch clearly is among the few NL guys, and he got it. So apart from the fact that they are both from the team I rooted for from the time I first heard Bob Prince doing the radio broadcasts and asked my father what the difference was between balls and strikes--apart from that, I celebrate these individuals. Cutch is old school, loyal to his team and its city in a way Pittsburgh more than most places understands.

    I don't know diddley about sabermetrics-- sounds like something to do with light swords. I consider what's happened to what used to be called the rotisserie league an abomination, worse that steroids. I like baseball.

  6. As a Tiger fan, I love seeing so many awards go to Tigers the past three years!

  7. I tend to think widespread sabermetrics have rendered the awards a bit more boring. It used to be, we weren't sure what the "right" answer was to these questions-- the statistics were inexact enough that you could argue all winter over whether Cabrera or Trout was "more valuable," with every area of baseball thought (including the definition of the term most valuable) up for argument.

    These days, the numbers basically tell you which of them is better, and the argument isn't over the players-- it's over whether to accept the numbers. And that's a much less fun argument.

    1. This is my take as well. And I wonder if this trend will render future HoF votes less interesting. Down the road, we will have potential inductees who played their entire careers during a time when sabermaterics was mainstream and who will be voted on by writers who are almost universally SABR-friendly.

    2. I used offensive WAR above; obviously there's also a defensive WAR and an overall WAR and I've not the faintest clue how to calculate any of it. I trust that smart people do, and further that there are enough of them that if one makes a mistake a rival will jump all over it.

      Including defense, those smart guys determined that Trout was worth about 9 more wins (vs. the average alternative) and Cabrera was worth about 7.

      Assuming I trust the inputs in the system, arguing that Cabrera is more valuable is like arguing that $7 is more valuable than $9.

      There may be some way to make the case that $7 is more valuable than $9, but I gotta tell ya, I'm completely disinterested in it.


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