There are some who are critical of the way that Gaslamp Ball handles the SB Nation Awards voting. Some people think we're idiots. Some think that we don't care because we let a non-site manager vote for us. Others think that our methods reveals a lack of talent as baseball writers, which of course is ridiculous, because we've never claimed to be "baseball writers".
I'll explain our thinking, but first... Why even have a SB Nation Awards separate from the traditional awards?
The fact that the BBWAA are allowed to vote subjectively for things like the Cy Young award, the MVP, etc is a beautiful ridiculous part of baseball. Arguments always abound about who's "truly" deserving or not deserving of the awards. There are almost as many arguments about who's "truly" deserving or not deserving of even having a vote in the awards. There are many talented baseball writers who don't get a vote because they write primarily on the internet. There are many more untalented baseball writers who DO get a vote because they happen to write for some dinosaur newspaper that can barely afford to send them to the baseball games of the teams that they do cover, much less encourage them to put out any effort in covering teams that fall outside of their media market.
It's a messed up system that, more often than not, still manages to get it "right".
So, how would you "fix" such a thing?
In our humble opinion, any subjectivity that you wish to eliminate from voting professional baseball writers is not accomplished by leaving votes up to baseball bloggers. With baseball bloggers, you potentially introduce more subjectivity in four ways:
1. Baseball bloggers who want to credit players, not for their accomplishments on the field, but for other irrelevant accomplishments, such as really really liking a guy. Keep in mind that this is some of the same subjectivity that appears with traditional baseball writers. I would admit to this.
2. Baseball bloggers who want to be "smart" baseball writers and therefore vote, not according to ridiculous metrics such as Wins or ERA, but according to "smart" metrics like WAR or whatever other smart metrics get used by Bill James or Baseball Prospectus. In other words, baseball bloggers who want to completely remove subjectivity by being totally "objective" according to a subjective judgment of what metrics are most objective.
My opinion on that? If four different sites calculate WAR four different ways: F_ck WAR. In many ways that makes it worse than ERA or Wins. Have an opinion, robots! (Note: I'm not calling out any of our fellow SB Nation writers as robots. Love my peeps.)
3. Baseball bloggers who are fans of a single team and therefore pay minimal attention to the other teams in the league. This is the East Coast Bias in effect at a granular level. I'm not paid to watch baseball. I have a day job. I watch MY team and rarely watch anybody else. I fully admit to this. Does it make you a better fan because you watched every single baseball game this season, regardless of who played? I guess so. Also makes you a damn liar.
But you know what? Even if you are a "better", more knowledgeable fan, we have a vote and you don't. Am I less qualified to vote than somebody who doesn't have an SB Nation blog? No. I'm exactly qualified to vote in the SB Nation Awards because the qualification is HAVING an SB Nation blog. Sorry.
4. Baseball bloggers who are such big fans of a single team and who own their team rivalries SO much that they are completely willing to vote from the heart and say, "I have no other reason to not give this guy credit for his accomplishments other than I actively do not like the team he plays for."
This fourth thing is what happened with Clayton Kershaw. Managers and coaches can lie all they want about the truly stupid ways that they give out Gold Gloves. Writers can pretend like they know soooooo much more about baseball and therefore don't really need to look at stats to determine who wins Rookie of the Year. These guys are forced to lie and pretend that what they do is rational. That's what happens because they're being held to standards that you hold managers and coaches and writers to.
You know what standard I'm held to? I have an SB Nation blog and I am a fan of the Padres. You know what that means? I f_cking hate the Dodgers. You know what that means don't you? Oops. 5th place vote Clayton Kershaw?
BUT WHHHHYYYYYYYYYY???? HE WAS SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD.
Yep. Probably the best pitcher in the NL. And OOPS. He's a Dodger.
I f_cking hate the Dodgers.
Done and done. Requirement for casting an SB Nation vote: Rationality? Sure. My rationality for that is that we root for the Padres and we hate the Dodgers.
That said, I actually didn't cast that ballot. We let one of our favorite contributors cast our vote, but you know what?
She f_cking hates the Dodgers too. So there's that.
What... You don't really think that stuff like that doesn't happen to the BBWAA do you? How else do you explain some of the crazy choices they've made? I'm pretty sure there are dudes who let their kids vote or who vote because they happened to meet one of the players who made a good impression or bad impression or whatever.
All that said, if it were up to us, and it really isn't up to us, a more interesting argument could be made that we're voting on the wrong things entirely. If we really wanted this award to be given to the player who (objectively) is the best pitcher of the season, then what we should be arguing about is which metrics are most correlated with greatness. Is it WAR? If so, who's calculation? Is it some combination of metrics? Which ones and how do we combine them?
Until we get to that point, then we will happily admit that we're not baseball writers. We are not robots. We are not wannabe baseball writing robots. We are completely biased, consciously lackadaisical, admittedly incompetent, irrational judges of baseball talent.
If you don't like it, argue about it same as you would the real Cy Young Award and everybody's happy.