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Wainwright fires at sabermetric voters

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright tells those who value baserunners more than runs scored where they can stick their views.

    St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright must have remembered what his manager Tony La Russa tweeted back on November 25 about the 2009 National League Cy Young Award voting process.

    “Respect Tim, but Adam & Chris earned CY. Computer data best when aid to personal observation & analysis.”

    In a Monday radio interview on 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Wainwright teed off on several voters’ thought processes for the Award. The 28-year-old finished third behind San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum and his Cardinals teammate Chris Carpenter.

    Adam Wainwright (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)“I was bothered that two guys didn’t vote for Chris Carpenter. I think that is absurd. Of course, they are entitled to their own opinion, but there is no possible way that you can look at numbers and see that he wasn’t one of the top three pitchers. I think there were three deserving candidates and I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them,” Wainwright said.

    After remarking that wins apparently no longer matter to voters, a category in which he led the NL in 2009 and Carpenter finished second, Wainwright was asked if he thinks sabermetrics is overrated in the voting process.

    “I think it is overrated because it doesn’t matter how many people you get on base or whatever, if you don’t give up runs… If I walk one more guy an inning than Tim Lincecum or Javier Vazquez, it shouldn’t matter if they don’t score.

    “They can take all that sabermetric stuff and stick it where the sun don’t shine, as long as you don’t have people that score. The name of the game is going as long as you can, keeping your team in the game, winning ball games and not letting people score. And if you are not letting people score, then you are doing your job.

    “I don’t care if you walk the bases loaded every inning and strike the side out, or get out of it every time without any runs scoring, you are doing your job – as long as you are going deep (into games).

    “So if you are going out there and throwing a ton of innings, which Tim did anyways, if you are going out there and keeping your team in the games, which Tim did, he is a deserving candidate.

    “But the sabermetrics argument is just a bunch of hogwash to me,” Wainwright concluded.

    Link to audio

    Looking back to November, ESPN’s Keith Law had left Carpenter off his ballot, placing Vazquez second. His logic was partially based on Carp having thrown fewer innings and Atlanta’s Vazquez pitching in what he feels is a more difficult division, the NL East.

    Stats he used to justify his rankings included FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), VORP and WAR. In FIP specifically, Vazquez ranked second in the NL, just ahead of Carpenter. Carp was second in VORP, with Vazquez seventh. In WAR, Carpenter was sixth among NL pitchers, with Vazquez second.

    Law specifically noted he does not consider wins. Link to explanation (ESPN Insider article)

    Injury expert Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus was the other voter who did not include Carpenter in his top three. He placed Wainwright and Lincecum ahead of Dan Haren. Carroll also considered Jair Jurrjens.

    Like Law, Carroll cited Carpenter’s fewer innings pitched as a factor. Though Carroll’s article included a table with stats categories including WARP3, SNLVAR and SNWP, he did not specifically mention their role in his thought process.  Link to explanation

    Carpenter led the NL in the most traditional measure of run scoring, ERA, but like wins, it was not cited as a factor by these two voters. In re-reading their articles, I did not sense the high level of focus on baserunners over runs scored that Wainwright emphasized, however.

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    Brian Walton

    Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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