Mike Berardino of the the St. Paul Pioneer Press had an American League Cy Young Award vote this year. He filled out his ballot as follows:
I respect Berardino’s ballot. As a matter of fact, I applaud it — and not only because he placed the three starters in the same order I would have. That’s a secondary consideration. Far more meaningful is the fact that he included both Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, and not just one of the two.
As a FanGraphs reader, you’re aware that the Cleveland reliever was every bit as brilliant, if not more so, than his Baltimore contemporary. Miller lacked the sexy save totals, but that was due to usage, not performance. As Tony Blengino opined in October, Zach Britton wasn’t even the AL’s best reliever.
Bias against bullpen arms in Cy Young Award voting comes with the territory. That said, 24 of 30 ballots included Britton’s name. Only one included Miller’s.
Did voters feel obligated to include the Oriole — saves! — and at the same time feel uncomfortable with the idea of writing down the name of a second reliever? If they were equally as good — the numbers show that they were — shouldn’t both be on your ballot?
Only one voter followed that logic.
Tonight’s American League Most Valuable Player Award will likely feature its own thought-process puzzler. At least a handful of voters — maybe more — won’t make Mike Trout their top choice for the simple reason that he played on a non-contender. They will, however, give him their No. 2 vote. This is illogical. Either the team you play for matters, or it doesn’t.
Much like Miller belongs on your ballot if Britton is included, Trout should be your top choice or left off entirely. Otherwise, you’re essentially contradicting your own reasoning.