Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Dayn Perry of Fox Sports

I have a rule: it's OK to frequently write critical editorials provided you acknowledge when whatever you are critiquing deserves praise. Otherwise, the criticism loses any validity since nothing is bad all the time, just like nothing is good all the time. With that sentiment in mind, the much-maligned Dayn Perry did an excellent job of handing out the MLB individual awards.

His MVP picks were Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia. As Perry says, there is just no debating Pujols as the pick in the NL. He put up dominating numbers in comparison to the rest of baseball, let alone the NL. I'd argue that MVP candidacy, as a general rule, should require that your team be in contention late in the season and the Redbirds were. But Pujols was so dominant (with a torn elbow tendon right?) that he'd probably be an appropriately rare exception to the rule even if the Cards had been garbage. As for Pedroia, I disagree but that's probably because I hate the Red Sox. He has been damn good for a contender and the Sox were not as offensively loaded on the field as they looked on paper. I'd vote for Justin Morneau, but, as Perry pointed out, every candidate is seriously flawed so Pedroia isn't a bad choice (I just threw up a little).

Perry's Cy Young picks were Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee. Stellar picks and arguments on both accounts. I'd just add that, although I generally agree with Perry that wins/losses are a horrible barometer of a pitcher's value, there is a pretty obvious exception. When a pitcher puts up an excellent winning percentage for a bad team, it is significant because that pitcher must typically perform at a higher level to win or avoid losing than one on a better team. Both Lincecum and Lee exemplify this exception, which is why I don't think the race is as close as Perry (and this is from someone who would have handed the award to Roy Halladay a month ago). That said, I don't think many of the voters firmly grasp baseball enough to see through Brandon Webb's gaudy win total. I think the Franchise might get screwed and that would be a travesty.

Trust me on this. I am a die-hard Giants fan so I have seen every single Lincecum start of 2008. Bias aside, there is no adjective or superlative to adequately describe him; his is more than the Freak and the Franchise. The most effective way to describe him without lapsing into a cantos about the kid is to describe the batters leaving the batters box. They usually look either confused or indifferent, sometimes they even smile. They are almost never angry; this tells me a very small number of pros expect to hit him and only when he is at a disadvantage.

But back to Dayn Perry. His picks for Manager of the Year are Lou Pinella and Joe Maddon. Again, no debating Maddon for the reasons Perry mentions. As for the NL, I wrote a longer piece on why I think the obvious choice is Fredi Gonzalez. While I still think he is the choice, I have to admit that managing the Cubs to the high expectations placed on them in the pre-season is almost as impressive as the job Gonzalez did. Toss in the injuries to Alfonso Soriano and the sub-par season from Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (by their standards), and Pinella's job is actually more impressive than it first appears. I'd still go with Gonzalez, but much like Pedroia, I can't say Pinella is an unworthy pick.

The obvious choices for Rookies of the Year are Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto. I'm not sure I've even heard any other names mentioned by anyone; it would be a pretty egregious stretch, but both could turn up in the MVP discussion. Perry only gets credit here for not trying to be flamboyant by bucking the trend.

I'm the first to decimate Dayn Perry when he writes from the deep end, which he does with disturbing frequency considering that he rights for a national sports powerhouse. But he nailed these picks and it's not an easy year to do so.

Let's just hope the rest of the voters are as astute as this version of Dayn Perry.

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