Shame on You, Steve Kornacki!

November 17th, 2009 by Nerdicus Finch

I was very happy to read this afternoon that Zack Greinke had won the AL Cy Young Award, which means, at least for one year, that the baseball writers voted for the best pitcher in the league, rather than the one with the most wins and/or the one on a winning team. They should be commended for making the right choice. Well, not all of them. Not Steve Kornacki of Booth Newspapers in Michigan.

Rather than voting for Greinke or Felix Hernandez (which would have been the wrong choice, but a defensible one), this clown voted for Justin Verlander and, in doing so, added himself to the list of embarassing “homer” voters that have marred the major award voting over the years.

Here are Greinke’s (25 first place votes) numbers: 16-8, 229.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 242 K, 6 CG, and a .230 BAA. Kansas City did not make the postseason.

Here are Hernandez’s (2 first place votes) numbers: 19-5, 238.2 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 217 K, 2 CG, and a .227 BAA. Seattle did not make the postseason.

Here are Verlander’s (Kornacki’s first place vote) numbers: 19-9, 240 IP, 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 269 K, 3 CG, and a .243 BAA. Detroit did not make the postseason.

If this were Highlights for Children, we’d ask, “Which of these doesn’t belong?”

By the way, Greinke’s ERA was the lowest in the AL since 2000, when Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 mind-bender. But that doesn’t impress Kornacki. You know what does? Three more wins and 27 more strikeouts. Oh, and playing for his hometown Tigers.

I guess Kornacki thought that Verlander’s additional strikeouts and wins were a dealbreaker, despite the fact that he allowed 1.29 more earned runs per nine innings than Greinke.

Kornacki should be ashamed of himself and he should never be allowed to vote for another major MLB award again. Also, he should apologize to Greinke.


Kornacki has posted a feeble defense of his first place vote for Verlander. Here’s the key quote:

“Verlander received my first-place vote because nobody was tougher on the mound with the season on the line for his team.”

It’s really strange. I checked Verlander’s player page on Baseball-Reference and I didn’t see a stat category for toughness. It must be one of those newfangled sabermetric things.

Also, over Verlander’s final five starts (Sept. 14 – Oct. 4), when the Tigers were battling the Twins for the division crown, Verlander, despite going 3-1 over these starts, posted a 4.62 ERA and .280 BAA, which suggests that he was actually much worse when the team’s season was “on the line.” If Kornacki had spent five minutes looking at what actually happened, he would have realized how untenable his position was.

Kornacki also cites the fact that Verlander had more strikeouts this year than any AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2000. He doesn’t mention ERA, though. I guess striking guys out is more valuable than preventing runs.

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4 Responses to “Shame on You, Steve Kornacki!”

  1. I just think we should perpetually award the Cy Young to Pedro in 2000.

    2000 AL runs/game: 5.30
    2000 Pedro Martinez RAA*: 1.82 (Pedro! only allowed two unearned runs)
    2000 Pedro Martinez Awesomeness**: 2.91

    2009 runs/game: 4.82
    2009 Zack Greinke RAA: 2.51 (9 unearned runs)
    2009 Zack Greinke Awesomeness: 1.92
    2009 Verlander Awesomeness: 1.30
    2009 King Felix Awesomeness: 1.58

    2000 Pedro is .99 more awesome than 2009 Grienke.

    *RAA is like ERA with unearned runs included.
    **Awesomeness is defined as league runs per game divided by pitcher RAA. It’s RA+, with a better name and no park adjustment.

  2. Vorpy McNerd says:

    This isn’t Detroit’s first instance of homerism. In 2007, A-Rod won every first place vote on every MVP ballot except for two.

    The only two first-place votes that didn’t go to Rodriguez were from Tom Gage of The Detroit News and Jim Hawkins of The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich.


  3. Toffer Peak says:

    “Rather than voting for Greinke or Felix Hernandez (which would have been the wrong choice, but a defensible one), this clown voted for Justin Verlander”

    I’m sorry but his vote, while most probably a homer move, was no more ridiculous than your claim that Hernandez is a more defensible choice than Verlander.

    The fact is Verlander has Hernandez beat in K%, BB%%, tRA and xFIP. He was by most statistical measures a better pitcher than Felix and ridiculing a writer for choosing Verlander over Felix looks ridiculous when you are wrong on the facts.

    BTW, Greinke’s xFIP was behind Lester and Halladay. Not that Greinke shouldn’t have won it, but he was extremely lucky with HRs off of flyballs and is highly unlikely to repeat that feat.

  4. Toffer,

    Thanks for the extra-nerdy analysis. I’m totally on board with advanced statistical metrics, but I’m a dabbler, so I’ll defer to you on the relative merits of the 2009 versions of Verlander and Hernandez. Or to Prof. Nerdtron, should he care to boot up and weigh in.

    While I admittedly did not look into the relative xFIP or tRA of Hernandez or Verlander, I’m not sure that completely undermines my criticism of Kornacki, since I was intending to ridicule Kornacki for choosing Verlander over Greinke, with the Hernandez discussion as an apparently not well-reasoned sidebar.

    Any thoughts on Verlander’s Toughness Quotient(TM), as compared to Hernandez?

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