Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 at 1:56pm

Dancing with the (NL) Stars

Posted by BW
Joey Votto on Dancing with the Stars

Leading the league in on-base, slugging, and cha-cha.

A travesty is what it was. A travesty.

Oh, sure, in the end, the right dancer won. From the second week of the season, it was clear that Jennifer Grey Pujols and Votto were the best out there. No arguing with the outcome, even if it was clear that Votto only won because the baseball writers have Pujols fatigue. Which is kind of perverse, since they never seemed to get Bonds fatigue, and even granting Barroid the legitimacy of his dope-fueled home run rampages, Pujols is the more valuable player. You show BallWonk a team that would take late-career Bonds over mid-career Pujols, and BallWonk will show you a team that won’t be going to the playoffs. But be that as it may, there’s no arguing with Votto and Pujols finishing 1-2 .

It’s after the winner’s circle that you’re like, “Whoah, what the hell happened to the integrity of American reality TV?” Kyle Massey Carlos Gonzalez? Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. The kid didn’t even dance! He mostly just stood there and shuffled gently from side to side, like the weeds and rushes of the wide Potomac in a summer breeze, while Lacey danced up a storm. Clearly, the baseball writers couldn’t remember which Gonzalez was which, so they voted for Colorado’s Carlos and San Diego’s Adrian just to be safe.

But that’s not even the worst of it: What about Bristol Palin Jason Werth and Ryan Howard? Oh, yeah, sure, their mommy is the Phillies, so they get to advance to the finals despite being consistently outclassed week in, week out, and never really putting in anything like their best efforts this season. Sure, baseball writers, go ahead and vote for Werth and Howard because we all know how much the lamestream media has it in for the Phillies and that’ll show ‘em. Puh-leeze. Look, BallWonk is sure that Werth and Howard are nice kids. They seem to have their heads on straighter than the rest of that dysfunctional family, and anyway the Phillies seem more interested lately in making splashy news with big signings that actually trying to win the World Series, so whatever. But, you know, this is a dance competition, not a who’s-mommy-do-we-like-more competition. And don’t get BallWonk started about how the Phillies got booed in the first week. Was there booing? Sure. But it was the Phillies fans booing their own team, because that’s what Phillies fans do. They don’t call it the City of Brotherly Goddammit You Suck for nothing. So spare us the sympathy votes, OK? Werth and Howard didn’t belong anywhere near the finals, and you know it.

At the end of the day, BallWonk isn’t saying that Brandy Zimmerman and Dunn should have won. Jennifer Votto and Pujols earned it fair and square. But any way you look at it, Z-Man was robbed big time. OK, so his home run total stumbled a bit, and his dancing partners let him down on the RBI front. Hard to drive ‘em in if they don’t get on, you know, and how is that Z-Man’s fault? Look at what he did do: 7th most wins-above-replacement by a position player. 5th most win-producing hitter. 8th on the batting list, 7th in on-base, 8th in OPS, 7th on OPS-plus. Any way you slice it, by the stats that actually mean something, Z-Man was at least the 8th most valuable player in the 2010 National League. At worst. And you can make a strong case that he was more like the 5th most valuable.

So naturally the baseball writers voted Z-Man 16th. Sixteenth! Behind obviously less-valuable Werth and Howard, behind Ryan Braun, behind even Buster “Doesn’t Appear on the Top Ten in any of 43 Offensive Categories” Posey. Voting off the Hoff the first week, BallWonk wouldn’t have done that, but he can understand. Keeping Kurt around after week 4? You can make an argument. But Ryan Zimmerman finishing 16th, with not a single vote higher than 7th (and only two of those)? That’s enough to make BallWonk doubt the integrity of the entire reality TV industry.

“But BallWonk,” defenders of the baseball writers might say, “You and I both know that Z-man was easily the 7th most valuable player, but we’re looking at the stats that measure real value. Many of the baseball writers are still stuck in the mud of counting home runs and RBIs.” And BallWonk could accept that, but if if that were true, then Adam Dunn would have finished more like 2nd than 22nd. Dunn was right there at the top of all the old-school glamour stats, and heck, he was even in the top ten on some of the newfangled stats like win-probability-added. No, it’s not that the judges had the wrong standards. They had it in for Nationals contestants from the start.

It was unjust, and a travesty, and if you want to know the truth BallWonk isn’t sure he even wants to watch Skating with the Stars now. That’s probably rigged, too, and Ovechkin Jonny Mosely is going to get cheated just like Z-Man and the Dunn. Screw it; somebody wake BallWonk when The Closer is back on.

© 2010 Ball-Wonk: Baseball Inside the Beltway