There were 32 voters for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.
Ryan Howard received votes from 31 of them.
Let that sink in for a moment. Thirty-one of 32 voters put Howard somewhere on their ballot, which has room for 10 players. But one voter didn't think Howard, who led the majors in home runs (48) and RBIs (146) and led his team to its second consecutive National League East championship (keep in mind these votes come before the postseason), even ranked among the top 10 most valuable players in the National League.
I was curious about that, so I called Rich Campbell from the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance Star, who left Howard off his ballot, to ask why.
Campbell declined comment.
But what could he say?
Regardless of his reason, it's embarrassing not to have Howard somewhere on the ballot because anybody who followed baseball, especially the final month of the season, knew how valuable Howard was for the Phillies. Here is how Campbell's ballot looked: 1) Albert Pujols, 2) David Wright, 3) Lance Berkman, 4) Chase Utley, 5) Hanley Ramirez, 6) Tim Lincecum, 7) Chipper Jones, 8) Matt Holliday, 9) Johan Santana, 10) Manny Ramirez.
Now, it should be noted that Campbell's vote (or lack of vote) wouldn't have changed the result, but the BBWAA, which prides itself on its voting body, suffered another black eye, in my opinion. First, three uninformed voters gave Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez second-place votes for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. That would be OK, except Volquez is not a rookie. And not to have Howard anywhere on your MVP ballot? Terrible.
Phil Sheridan thinks the BBWAA should no longer vote for postseason awards, based on the embarrassing Howard and Volquez votes ... and a few other things, too. It's an interesting argument. Could the players, coaches and managers do better? They could, but it also would not be perfect. Remember, managers and coaches gave Bobby Abreu a Gold Glove in 2005 and Rafael Palmeiro a Gold Glove in 1999, when he played 135 games as a DH. How could that happen? Because sometimes these Gold Glove votes and Players Choice Awards go like this:
First coach, in a room full of coaches: "Hey, who's having a good year in right field?"
Second coach: "No clue."
Third coach: "I can't think of anybody."
Fourth coach: "Isn't Abreu having a good year?"
First coach: "Sounds good to me. He's my Gold Glover."
That said, the MLBPA voted Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum as its pitchers of the year, Pujols and Josh Hamilton as its players of the year and Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto as its rookies of the year. That's on mark with the BBWAA, with the AL MVP to be announced later today.