September 24 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:
“HERE’S A PLEASANT little conundrum to ponder while waiting to see whom the Phillies will play in the first round of the playoffs:
Pitching is supposed to be the backbone of a winning team, right? Experts tap a few buttons on their calculators, nod sagely and tell us it’s 90 percent of the game. And they may well be right.
So why does all that go out the window when the Most Valuable Player voting comes around? In the last 5 years, no starting pitcher has finished higher than sixth in his league. None has been named on even 30 percent of the ballots.
Which could make for interesting reading when this year’s results are revealed by the Baseball Writers Association of America in late November.
The Phillies are almost certain to finish with the NL’s best record. Ballots, with 10 blanks to fill in, are due at the end of the regular season. Nothing that happens after that counts. So the Phillies should be well represented.
Except that, upon further review, the usual suspects in candy-red pinstripes have all been hurt or inconsistent this season. Or both.
This isn’t even open for discussion. The most valuable player of the 2010 Phillies is Roy Halladay. With all due respect to Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels and Placido Polanco, it isn’t close.
But that isn’t likely to be evident when baseball’s biggest shout-out is revealed.
Halladay has a great chance to get some hardware. He has to be considered the Cy Young Award front-runner. And that’s part of the problem.
The ballots for MVP voting come with guidelines. The last one reads: “Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.”
The reality, though, is that most voters seem to subconsciously rationalize that pitchers are recognized with the Cy Young so the MVP should probably go to a position player. One way to rectify that would be to create another category – The Babe Ruth award, say – which would annually be given to the top hitter in each league. That would open up the MVP for pitchers to get more consideration. A trial balloon to that effect was floated a few years ago, but was quickly shot down.
Jayson Werth made an interesting observation the other night that sort of got lost in the general buzz after a big win over the Braves. He made the comment that the Phillies have made a quiet transition from a team that hammers teams into submission offensively to one that wins on the strength of excellent pitching.
So these facts bear repeating: The Phillies have 19 shutouts this year, tied for the major league lead and the most this franchise has had since 1951. The staff earned run average of 3.71 is almost a half-run lower than it was last season. They’ve won 23 times when scoring three runs or less, including an astonishing six 1-0 victories.”
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