jsajsa tells me I stole two NCOY titles from him in Crum in the last four years (the third one I earned), as in both cases he was #1 when the national awards came out, and I was only #2, but I won NCOY anyways. But in both cases, my team had started the season unranked. In the first case, I had finished the last season unranked. In the second case, I was defending a national title but had graduated three starters from the title team and was unranked in the preseason.
So I definitely think there's an element of "did you overachieve" going into it. And not only based on improvement, but also based on what you're expected to do at the start of the season (which is a function of. . . whatever the rankings are a function of. overall rating, IQ, specific rating in key areas? I dunno).