In filling out his MVP ballot, Evan Grant placed Michael Young at the top. No, not as the Texas Rangers DH MVP. No, not even as the Texas Rangers MVP, where he also would have been wrong.
Evan Grant voted Michael Young as the American League MVP.
I understand that Evan and I are probably never going to agree on the importance of baseball statistics more advanced that batting average. That's fine. Contrary to popular belief, most proponents of advanced statistics strongly believe that simply voting according the WAR leaderboards is a poor approach. Evan’s ballot, however, is not a disagreement between traditional statistics and advanced statistics. This is a question of credibility and whether Evan Grant has any after this absurd vote.
At best, this vote is disingenuous. I simply cannot believe that Evan Grant truly felt that Michael Young was the most valuable player in the American League this year.
If Evan Grant wants to rely on batting average and RBI, then he should have voted Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez higher than Michael Young, who were both in the same realm as Young but hit 30 and 27 home runs, respectively, compared to Young’s 11 home runs. While it is true that Young played a third of his games at a non-1B/DH position, both the eye test and all of the defensive measures we have available to us indicate that he was quite bad when playing at those positions. Furthermore, introducing defensive flexibility brings in even more candidates by Grant’s measures who also had high averages and lots of RBI, except they actually played well defensively: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Robinson Cano. Even by traditional statistics, Michael Young is a terrible pick atop the AL MVP ballot this year.
If performing well for a contender who dealt with injuries is the major element, then Curtis Granderson should have been his AL MVP. The best position player on a team who lost its highest paid player for a third of the season and only had one pitcher clear 200 IP, Curtis Granderson’s 41 HR and league leading 119 RBI for the team with the best record in the AL should be enough to overcome his lower average.
If Evan Grant decided that he wanted to use the 'eye test' to determine his MVP, then he needs to at the very least take into account the fact that he watches one team far more than any other. Voting for Michael Young for the reasons that he listed completely ignores whether anybody else could have met these (strange) criteria. If everybody voted according to Evan Grant's guidelines, then every year, the MVP would go to the most media-friendly player in the market that harbored the most members of the BBWAA.
At worst, however, this is quid pro quo biased writing to the point that everything from this point forward should be read highly critically. Conflict of interest is an issue that being in the fields of medicine and science perhaps leaves me more sensitive to, but it’s important to keep in mind potential conflicts of interest if one is going to invest the time reading or listening to another’s point of view. The information that came out regarding the perks that Jamey Newberg gets from the Rangers to write about the organization and its prospects has led me to have a more critical eye when reading his work.
While we do not have evidence to suggest something truly nefarious at play here between Grant and Young, it is important to realize that Grant undoubtedly receives a benefit in having a player on the team who is always willing to give him quotes and is considered to be a very media-friendly player. There is little doubt in my mind that greater interaction between the people who cover the Rangers most frequently and Michael Young has led them to view him as a friend; it would be almost callous for this to not happen. However, at what point do the benefits received begin to color the analysis too strongly?
How did Evan Grant miss the boat so badly that he cannot even identify the most valuable player on the team that he covers? Again, even by traditional measures, Young’s .338 average is less valuable in light of his paltry 11 home runs and visibly/measured poor defense, especially when one considers the three 30-homer players who all played excellent defense. This is not a WAR-based argument, where the selection of Young looks many times more absurd. Evan Grant is embarrassing himself amongst national baseball writers who seemingly have as much of a distaste as he does for FanGraphs.com.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I was under the assumption that being a member of the prestigious Baseball Writers Association of America meant that you had to consider all of the players by the same measurement. By whatever measurement you choose to apply, Michael Young never ends up as the Most Valuable Player ... unless, of course, number of interviews given to DFW beat writers is factored in.