Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII
Before we turn to reviewing the history of Cy Young voting, I would like to take a closer look at the eccentricities of the MVP vote.
What we found in the last go-round was that the voters in the expansion era seemed to have a contenders-only bias. The correlation between performance (i.e., Win Shares) and voter attention (i.e., MVP award shares) dropped in the expansion era, leading me to this conclusion. However, I wanted to put it to a more thorough test.
I added to more categories for each player's team, position in the standings and winning percentage. How well do they correlate to award shares?
Here is a table showing how award shares correlated to all three stats:
To Tm POS
To TM WPCT
Those results are somewhat of a surprise. It appears that team position and winning percentage have had less and less influence over voters as the expansion era has progressed.
Perhaps the pool of players is too large. The above population is all players with more than zero Win Shares. Maybe there's more and more noise in the data as rosters have expanded.
Let's change the threshold to 10 Win Shares so that all credible MVP candidates (and then some) are included, but the general noise of bench players and part-timers is reduced. Here are the results:
10 WS Min
To Tm POS
To TM WPCT
We still see results similar to those above. So what's the deal?
I submit that the Fifties, in which these correlations first started to drop, were followed by a slight backlash as expansion started in the Sixties (note the numbers jump back up). At the same time many factors (amateur draft, talent compression, free agency, etc.) were causing more and more competitive balance throughout the game.
The voters have this sense that they are belying the award's ideals by voting for players from less than highly competitive teams even though a) they are in actuality voting more and more for those players and b) these supposed ideals were formulated in the slight drift back toward more competitive teams in the Sixties.
I submit that in a decade or two the MVP award will be going to the best player independent of how well his team faired. What we are seeing now is the dying gasp of these supposed ideals.
So to quote Mike LaFontaine in "A Mighty Wind", "Wha' 'appened?" I think that better player distribution (parity, if you will) has outpaced the voters' reaction to underneath it all be more inclusive (no matter what they may say publicly). There are some signs that the voters are seeding the "viable" candidates based more on individual performance than on team performance and even that they might be willing to embrace candidates regardless of their team's performance. We'll have to see how this progresses, but I'm optimistic, which is rare for me.