So How Did the BBWAA Do?

With Tuesday's announcement that Ryan Braun had been named the NL MVP came the end of the 2011 BBWAA awards revelations. All the major hardware has now been handed out, leaving us with nothing left to do but complain.

Here at Beyond the Box Score, the BtBWAA held our own awards votes for the Rookies of the YearCy Youngs, and MVPs. Judging by the winners (and assuming that our voters are infallible), the BBWAA hit just 2-for-6 in their major player awards: we agreed on Justin Verlander for AL Cy Young and Craig Kimbrel for NL Rookie of the Year, but we would have allocated the other trophies very differently.

But to look only at the winners is too simplistic. The first-place finishers are all that really matter, I suppose, but there's a big difference between the rightful winner finishing second and him finishing, say, seventh or eighth.

In order to assess how much we and the BBWAA agreed across so many awards with different amounts of voters and scoring systems, I broke down each group's results in every category by easy-to-compare award shares. Here's how the results came out:

Some of the results line up pretty well. Assuming for simplicity's sake that only the players who got at least one vote from one of us were legitimate candidates for the honors, there's an .89 correlation between our AL Cy Young award shares and the BBWAA's, and while we disagreed about the winners, our AL MVP and NL Cy Young votes have correlations of .84 and .85, respectively. The NL MVP (.71) and NL Rookie of the Year (.68) votes were more diverse, but the real differences came in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, in which the correlation between our results was actually negative (-.16). I think it's safe to say the BBWAA done goofed on that one.

Wondering which individual players we disagreed on the most? Here are the 10 players who the BBWAA most underrated, as determined by the differences between their BtBWAA and BBWAA vote shares:


BtBWAA BBWAA Δ
Michael Pineda (ROY) .75 .08 .67
Danny Espinosa (ROY) .45 .02 .43
Roy Halladay (MVP) .53 .12 .41
Roy Halladay (CY) .96 .59 .37
Dustin Ackley (ROY) .38 .04 .34
Clayton Kershaw (MVP) .35 .06 .29
Jose Bautista (MVP) .86 .59 .27
Brandon Beachy (ROY) .25 0 .25
Dustin Pedroia (MVP) .36 .12 .24
CC Sabathia (CY) .56 .32 .24

And the players the BBWAA most overrated:


BtBWAA BBWAA Δ
Jeremy Hellickson (ROY) .05 .73 .68
Mark Trumbo (ROY) 0 .45 .45
Prince Fielder (MVP) .08 .51 .43
Freddie Freeman (ROY) .05 .44 .39
Albert Pujols (MVP) .06 .37 .31
Clayton Kershaw (CY) .61 .92 .31
Ryan Braun (MVP) .60 .87 .27
Robinson Cano (MVP) .03 .29 .26
Craig Kimbrel (ROY) .75 1 .25
James Shields (CY) .09 .34 .25

All in all, these lists are about what I would have expected. Aside from Sabathia (I was shocked that he fell below second place in the Cy Young vote) the former list is full of saber darlings and players who seem to be underrated by most fans, while the latter group is full of big names and players with strong narratives (anyone think another player with Pujols' numbers would have ranked so highly?). They're the kinds of players who it would be nice to see win.

These lists also reveal what may be the most ridiculous part of the entire BBWAA results (besides Michael Young and Ian Kennedy getting first-place MVP and Cy Young votes): Clayton Kershaw was simultaneously one of the most under- and overrated players in baseball. I realize there's a different batch of voters for each award, but how crazy is it that Kershaw walloped Roy Halladay for the Cy Young but finished well behind him for MVP?

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