When the results of the 2016 AL Cy Young voting came back, SI cover model Kate Upton was less than pleased. She embarked on a profanity laced tirade, questioning the legitimacy of the system that awarded Rick Porcello the Cy Young, over her husband Justin Verlander.
He had the majority of 1st place votes and 2 writers didn't have him on their ballots?!! can you pick more out of touch people to vote?@MLB
— Kate Upton (@KateUpton) November 16, 2016
While Kate is completely biased, it doesn’t mean that she is wrong – the voting system is broken. And at the risk of triggering thoughts about how other voting systems in the world are flawed, let’s break down what actually determines a winner.
First of all, there is a set list of 30 people who are allowed to vote on awards. These voters are all baseball writers and their job is to fill out a ballot with five players, ranked top to bottom that they think should win the award. The winner of the award is determined by a weighted sum of the 30 voters cards.
When the votes were tallied on Wednesday, Justin Verlander garnered the most first place votes (14/30), putting him in the drivers seat for the award. Rick Porcello, had only eight (8) first place votes, but dominated the second place position, gathering 18/30 (the majority of his votes coming from, presumably, those who voted for Verlander in first).
None of this would have really mattered except for one little fact. Two out of the 30 voters did not even include Verlander in their top five. Those two writers were from the Tampa Bay area, which led to one of Kate Upton’s tweets mentioning a conspiracy among AL East voters to con Verlander out of the award. In fact, Chris Archer, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays said that he couldn’t pick one of the writers out of a lineup. Fred Goodall is a Tampa Bay baseball writer and he has written all of two articles about the Rays since August – and this guy gets to vote for an award?
Take it for what it's worth, I've been in Tampa for 4 years and I couldn't tell you what Fred Goodall looks like or who he is.
— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) November 17, 2016
Aside from the fact that some of the writers voting for the award hardly even write anymore, is the credit given to starting pitchers “wins.”
Porcello had a great record of 22-4, an ERA of 3.15 and 189 strikeouts. A solid season by most accounts. The problem is that Verlander beat him in just about every category except for wins. Verlander had a 16-9 record which isn’t even close to an indicator of how well he pitched. His +6.6 WAR is much higher than Porcello’s +5.0, which means it’s high time the Baseball Writers of America started embracing these more objective stats – as opposed to stats like wins which are largely dependent on run support and luck.