Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rich Campbell's EXCELLENT MVP Ballot (And the Knucklehead Abuse he's Getting from Phils Fans)

I would like to call to your attention a little dust-up between one of our much-loved (ok, barely noticed) local Nationals beat writers and the Philadelphia Phillies local press and fans.

Here's the deal in a nutshell. Phillies 1b Ryan Howard came startlingly close to beating Albert Pujols for what would have been yet another terrible embarrassment for the BBWAA.

Pujols was clearly the right choice. He was 2nd in on base percentage, 1st in slugging, 1st in OPS, 1st in runs created, and 1st in VORP. He also was among the very best defensive 1Bs in baseball. Pujols was the man, hands down.

Howard, meanwhile, was nowhere near the MVP of the NL. He was 6th in VORP on his team. Yes, he hit a lot of homers and had a lot of RBI. That speaks very well for his power and the overall quality of the Phillies' offense. But all you need to know to disqualify Howard from the MVP vote is that his OBP was .338. That's worse than 134 players in MLB with 100 games or more. It's the same as Brian Schneider and worse than Marco Scutaro, Ryan Langerhans, or Augie Ojeda. He also plays terrible defense and strikes out a ton, but really the problem is that the big guy just makes far too many outs to be considered for the All-Star Game, much less MVP.

Rich Campbell, who covers the Nationals for the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star (and who is not the former Cal Bears and Green Bay Packers quarterback bust of the early 80s), was the one and only member of the BBWAA with the good sense to leave Ryan Howard off his MVP ballot completely. All voters get to rank 10 players for the award, and Campbell had ten players whom he believed were all better than Howard.

Here's his list:
1. Albert Pujols, StL
2. David Wright, NYM
3. Lance Berkman, Hou
4. Chase Utley, Phi
5. Hanley Ramirez, Fla
6. Tim Lincecum, SF
7. Chipper Jones, Atl
8. Matt Holliday, Col
9. Johan Santana, NYM
10. Manny Ramirez, LAD

This, my friends, is an excellent list. This is a list any BBWAA member could be proud of. In fact, I would bet that this is one of the most legitimately sound ballots from top to bottom of any cast this year.

Of course there's always room to quibble and debate, and inevitably such debates will get overheated (which is part of what makes it fun, of course). Some of you right now are probably thinking something like, "What???? Where's Joe Blow????" But regardless this is a totally solid list with no glaringly undeserving choices. Indeed, of the players left off the top ten vote-getters in the BBWAA's overall vote, the most glaring oversights in my opinion were Tim Lincecum, Chipper Jones and Chase Utley. Campbell has them.

So one would think across the blogosphere, especially among statheads, there would be one big 'attaboy' for the small town beat writer made good. You would be wrong. No, those never-say-thanks Phillies fans, who, one would think are in a good mood these days, have launched a campaign of verbal abuse, harassment, and typical Philadelphian knuckleheadedness against the guy.

He's was first called out by Todd Zolecki, who writes "The Phillies Zone" blog at Philly.com. Then, Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer not only took a series of embarrassingly ill-reasoned shots at Campbell's logic but also stooped to question his professional integrity by suggesting that Campbell's vote was influenced by some personal grudge or fanboy loyalty to the Nationals.

And finally, unfortunately for Campbell's sense of decorum, he was singled out but the Phillies blog The Fightins, which is a blog for, by, and really represents the epitome of the Santa Claus-booing, injury-cheering, wife beating-winking-at-ing, hard core inebriated thug set among Phillies fans.

Rich, resisting what I think was the right move in the first place, to just ignore the abuse, posted a thoughtful, well reasoned response to the criticism tonight, that no doubt earned him nothing but another round of ill-reasoned, foul-mouthed hate e-mail.

So here's what I encourage you to do. Send an email to Rich Campbell. Tell him you agree with his list and that he's brilliant. Or, if you're not quite there, just tell him not to let those bilious drunkards from up I-95 get him down.

Here's his email: rcampbell@freelancestar.com. The Phillies fans have been torturing him with spam, so if you are going to show love, be sure to do it in the subject line, because if I was him I'd be deleting emails by the thousands right now.

And hey Rich--write more on the blog, will ya? You clearly would d be one of the better local pro bloggers around, but you gotta write more. Maybe you can teach Chico Harlan about EqA, or you could teach Tom Boswell about how they got rid of the reserve clause.

P.S. As I've said before in previous posts on the Phillies fan base, the bad apples are for sure the minority. There are many wonderful, kind people from Philly. My in-laws are from Philly. They are wonderful people. Some of my very best friends live in Philly. For their sakes, I'm glad they got a championship this year. And if you are one of these Phillies fans, I apologize. I didn't mean you.


XaK Bausch said...

A tremendous piece and great to see considering the torrent of abuse that has flowed through the media towards Rich Campbell.

I think I was more disappointed that Ryan Howard appeared on 31 MVP ballots than I was surprised only one voter left him off.

As somebody who has followed this closely today, I'm pleased to see the small but strong contingent out there including Keith Law, Rob Neyer, the folks over at baseballthinkfactory and others who understand advanced methods of analysis as they apply to the game of baseball. Baseball is a traditional game and slow to change. But when you have one writer talking about things like VORP and Win Shares it shows progress.

Thanks again for defending somebody whose only crime was doing his job better than a lot of other people out there.

Clark said...

Rich Cambell is a beacon of hope in baseball world that refuses to come out of the dark. Thank you Richard.