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Stat guys not so monolithic after all

11/17/2009

I didn't have a BBWAA award ballot this season, so for me everything's still theoretical. But Keith Law had a ballot (more on that tomorrow, from him), and so did Baseball Prospectus writers Christina Kahrl (American League Rookie of the Year) and Will Carroll (A.L. Rookie of the Year). Kahrl, in particular, did exactly what you'd like a voter to do. She went to a great deal of effort in putting together her ballot, and then she wrote about it.

Kahrl's ballot:

1. Elvis Andrus

2. Andrew Bailey

3. Gordon Beckham

My ballot would have looked like this:

1. Brett Anderson

2. Elvis Andrus

3. Jeff Niemann

Our ballots are quite a bit different from the actual results -- Bailey won, followed by Andrus, Rick Porcello, Niemann, Beckham, and Anderson -- but they're quite a bit different from each other, too.

Carroll didn't write as much, but here's his ballot:

1. J.A. Happ

2. Andrew McCutchen

3. Tommy Hanson

Carroll prefaces his ballot with this: "In the end, I voted by the numbers."

Really? I thought that's what I do, and yet my ballot would have looked like this ...

1. Randy Wells

2. Andrew McCutchen

3. Tommy Hanson

... with Happ and Coghlan and Garrett Jones fighting for fourth place. Hey, it was a good year for rookies. My point is that all of us go with the numbers, from the veteran BBWAA member to upstarts like Kahrl and Carroll and Neyer. What's different is which numbers we look at, and what we see when we look at them. And while Kahrl and Carroll and Neyer might tend to look at the same numbers, we're all going to see different things.

There's this notion floating around that every writer who grew up with Bill James or the InterWeb thinks exactly the same way. Which is just bat-guano crazy.