As much as people love to debate the Cy Young and MVP results every year, the problem is that rarely can anyone be absolutely certain that their suggested pick is the right one. There are so many different ways of evaluating who was the best pitcher or who was the most valuable player that, as much as fans live to call other people and especially the award voters stupid, these awards make it hard, because oftentimes there are so many different but legitimate arguments that there can be any number of players who seem deserving of the honor.
Fortunately, 11 years ago, Major League Baseball invented the Hank Aaron Award. The Hank Aaron Award is very simple. Via Wikipedia:
The Hank Aaron Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) players selected as the top hitter in each league.
Where the Cy Young and MVP awards are always open for debate, the Hank Aaron Award leaves little room for argument. The Hank Aaron Award is to be given to the top hitter in each league. And the top hitter in each league is easy to identify. There are no questions about defense-independence or replacement level or performance in the clutch; it's just a matter of who hit, and who hit the most. Of all the awards baseball gives out, this is the one for which I would feel most confident submitting a ballot.
It's with that in mind that I'd like to point out that this year's AL Hank Aaron Award went to a guy who finished with the same park-adjusted wOBA as Jason Bartlett.
Derek Jeter was very good in 2009. Of that there's no question. But as a hitter, he wasn't more productive than Joe Mauer, or Miguel Cabrera, or Ben Zobrist, or Kevin Youkilis, or Mark Teixeira, or Alex Rodriguez, or Jason Bay, or Jason Bartlett, or Adam Lind, or Kendry Morales, or Shin-soo Choo, or Jason Kubel. Five of those players were approximately Jeter's equal at the plate, and seven were unquestionably his superior. In addition, for an award intended to go to the top hitter in each league, one has to notice that Jeter didn't actually finish #1 in any meaningful offensive category.
I can't think of a single reason why Jeter would've won this over Mauer, nevermind the other guys. Most of the time, when voting results look funny, you can point to a guy's ERA or RBI total and say "well that's why they did that." But here...what is it? Jeter wasn't close to Mauer in batting average. Jeter wasn't close to Mauer in RBI. Jeter wasn't close to Mauer in home runs, or OBP, or SLG, or even control of the strike zone. And while you'd think Mauer might've been penalized for being a catcher instead of an actual everyday player, just last season these people gave the Hank Aaron Award to Kevin Youkilis, who racked up all of 15 more plate appearances than Mauer did in 2009.
It doesn't make sense. It's not that I care, because I don't. It's just an award, an award that by and large is pretty much meaningless. No, the reason I'm posting this is that, at long last, it gives me the opportunity to say this with all the confidence in the world:
Hey, voters. You're stupid.
Over the next few weeks, we'll find out which players were awarded the 2009 Cy Youngs and MVPs. The results may seem fishy, and you may disagree with them. Just know that, however much you might think the voters got those wrong, it is impossible that you will be as certain of the wrongness of the voters as you can be today.
Update: Turns out the voters for the 2009 Hank Aaron Award were - wait for it - the fans. I think I've found the problem.