Monday, April 14, 2008

Love Hank Aaron; Hate the Hank Aaron Award

If there’s one thing I’m tired of in baseball award voting (and there are many), it’s the claim that players on losing teams have no claim to the MVP, because it’s not for the best hitter; the Hank Aaron award is for that.

(In case you don’t believe that it happens, I cite two instances in which this very claim is made by Tom Verducci, a baseball writer for Sports Illustrated:, in which he writes, “So yes, the award discriminates against guys on losing teams (generally) and rewards those that play on winners. I believe in applying context to the MVP. It is not purely an individual award; there are other awards that take care of that (Hank Aaron Award, Silver Slugger, Players' Choice, etc.).” Also seen here:

See, here’s the thing. With all due respect to Hank Aaron, one of the greatest players to ever play the game, no one gives a shit about the Hank Aaron award.

Okay here’s a quiz. Name last year’s Hank Aaron award winners. Go.

I didn’t think so (if you actually did know them, just pretend you didn’t for my sake). If you guessed the MVPs, A-Rod would have been right in the AL, but Prince Fielder won the NL. The Hank Aaron award was begun in 1999 – what prestige and history. In the first year, it was determined by an objective point status, in which hits, home runs, and RBI factored in to the total, leading to awards for Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa. In 2000, the system was changed to voting by television and radio announcers for each team, and in 2003, fan voting was added, which would constitute 30% of the totals. The award even has a sponsor, Century 21.

For some interesting thoughts on the matter, and ideas on how to make the Hank Aaron award relevant check out:

If you don’t think someone should win the MVP while on a losing team, at least just say it. Don’t say it’s because they’ll get another award which is better suited to them. In baseball, right now, there are only two awards with that kind of clout, and they are in the MVP, and the Cy Young, and hitters only have access to one of them. Most writers showed they can occasionally put standings behind them in 2003 when they voted for Alex Rodriguez for AL MVP from the last place Rangers. (Also the recipient of that year’s AL Hank Aaron award.)

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