Zack Greinke- does this mean sportswriters are getting smarter?

I’m not a heavy duty sabremetrician by any means. Still, it’s always frustrated me when sportswriters automatically gave the MVP award to the RBI leader on playoff-bound teams, and the Cy Young Award to the guy who won the most games (even if it was largely because he played for an offensive powerhouse).

In the past, I suspect a guy like Zack Greinke wouldn’t have won the Cy Young award, simply because he didn’t win enough games. Historically, a guy who went 21-8 with a 3.50 ERA has gotten the nod over a guy who went 16-13 with a 2.25 ERA.

But over the past few seasons, I’ve seen several signs that maybe, just maybe, sportswriters have gotten over their older prejudices, and are starting to factor in the newer stats when casting their votes.

What do you think- is Greinke the start of a welcome trend, or is he just a fluke?

I wish it was a new trend. But remember, last year there were still voters who cast votes for a non-rookie in the Rookie of the Year award.

I listen to Mike & Mike in the morning, and Mike Golic’s stupidity is making me reconsider. He kept ranting about how there’s no way to give it to Greinke because of the lack of wins. The argument that a pitcher on an offensive team doesn’t have to pitch as hard is an even weaker defense (which he constantly uses). It’s just ridiculous. I really want to ask him what the requirements are for a starting pitcher to be credited with a win - I guarantee he doesn’t know. I’d also like to ask him why he thinks a team statistic somehow measures individual performance. Ridiculous.

Arguing for “fluke” is the fact that none of the win leaders got 20 wins; I don’t know if Greinke wins against a 20-game winner.

Somewhere in between. We are making progress, but it is slow. The gg awards were still ridiculous though to be fair writers aren’t the voters there. And it might be less people getting smarter, and more the next generation starting to take over. For the first time BP writers had votes this year. However, as Tom said, if Sabathia wins 22, I don’t think Greinke takes home the award.

It’s not unheard of, but it is rare.

Some writers are comparing Greinke’s win to Steve Carlton winning the Cy Young in '72 with a terrible Phillies team, though Carlton’s '72 season was so dominant that it’s hard to believe anyone could have voted against him, no matter how bad his team was.

I’m also reminded of Andre Dawson, who won the '87 MVP for the last-place Cubs.

All I know is Greinke is the worst interview in pro sports, if his acceptance speech is anything to go by. He talks like he’s been lobotomized.

Which may just show that sports hacks were voting for one of their own.

To answer the title question - they can’t get any dumber, so they either have to remain where they are or get smarter. I don’t think many are doing the latter.

Be gentle. It’s only been recently that he’s gotten his social anxiety disorder under control well enough to pitch.

Boy, do I feel like a dick.

Greinke’s been fighting depression and social anxiety disorder the last several years. I’m sure it’s not easy for him to get out there in front of the cameras and microphones.

This is a great article that talks about Greinke’s stathead tendencies.

Grienke isn’t by any means the first pitcher to win the Cy with a less than spectacular W-L. Pedro won his first going 17-8. Brandon Webb won it at 16-8.

I’d assume this sort of thing happens when nobody else has a dominating W-L record, but then again, Denny Neagle went 20-5, 2.97 in Pedro’s first Cy year, so maybe it’s random.

Dawson was a terrible mistake. Grienke was OK.

Pedro also had a 1.90 ERA that year, which was practically unheard of after 1968.

ETA: And he pitched 13 complete games.

We really need to get rid of wins as a statistic for pitchers. Aside from the run support issue, I never understood why a guy who throws 4 2/3 innings isn’t eligible for a win, but the middle reliever who throws four pitches and is stupidly lucky enough to have his team follow with a run, is. Maybe start recording quality starts instead?

Bill James was just asked this question (“Are sportswriters finally seeing the light?”) on his propriety site, and he answered, “I’ve declared victory more often than Casanova, so we’ll have to see if this pattern holds.”

Agreed, it’s outmoded today, but it won’t go away easily. I’d be in favor of eliminating the 5-inning rule and the go-ahead-run rule, and just giving the win to the guy who got the most outs and the loss to the guy who gave up the most runs.

Then we can work on the save rule.

It wasn’t JUST Greinke that made me raise the question, though he was a good test case.

Over the past few years, there have been several awards that surprised me a bit, and that made me wonder if more sportswriters were starting to question some of their old assumptions, and to take newer stats more seriously.

The fact that Albert Pujols won the 2008 MVP award, even though the Cardinals had a bad year, was significant to me. In prior years, I strongly suspect voters would have shunned him because of his team’s status, and voted for a Ryan Howard (guy with lots of homers and ribbies for a division-winning team).

I know, I COULD be making too much of isolated incidents, but I’m wondering if tha statistical revolution is having an impact even on writers who were once wedded to the conventional wisdom.

It’s become common for sports writers to use about ‘new’ stats like WHIP, ERA+ and OPS, so I think the answer is yes. These stats have penetrated the mainstream.

You can never eliminate wins/losses as an important statistic. It is the most important statistic of all. Whether it tells all you need to know is questionable. But it is certainly not irrelevant.