Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Legitimate NL MVP Suggestion

In a follow up to my previous writing – and now that I’ve completely dismantled the notion that Carlos Gonzalez is an MVP candidate – I’ll propose my own non-Votto/Pujols, outside chance candidate. And to make it all the more interesting, I’ll only reveal his name at the conclusion of this rant.
First and foremost, and unlike Berthiaume, I’m only saying that I will take this guy in the context of the 2010 MVP. In all fairness, his choice was made with the “…next 10 years…” in mind. That makes his argument a little more legitimate but the wheels fell off with the “…home-field triple crown…” statement. MVP awards don’t go to players who will be good going forward. They don’t always go to the leagues most spectacular player, particularly when that player’s team is incredibly unspectacular. MVP awards go to a fantastic player who was excellently valuable to his team. Typically, that team of his either makes the playoffs or was in the pennant race to the end. Right or wrong, I’m more or less on board with this method. But I do still struggle with that, and if Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals – whom currently leads the NL in WAR with 6.2 – got white hot over the next 5 weeks and won the MVP award, I’d be A-Ok with that. But he’s not my guy.

So far is 2010, Albert Pujols has hit 33 HR and posted a .420 wOBA (.411 OBP/ .597 SLG/ 1.009 OPS). He’s not been quite as spectacular in 2010 and sits at a 5.8 WAR.

Joey Votto has hit 31 HR and posted a .440 wOBA (.423 OBP/ .603 SLG/ 1.026 OPS). He’s not quite the fielder Pujols is but thus far the bat has made up for it, giving him a WAR of 6.0.

My candidate has smacked 13 HR with a .382 wOBA (.368 OBP/ .501 SLG/ .869 OPS). But, he’s also quite spectacularly played 3 positions for his team and posted a WAR of 5.7.

If you wanted to end the argument there, it’s pretty clear that Pujols or Votto would win the MVP award in a toss up, perhaps rightly so. But there are other factors to consider and about 5 weeks still to play. Factors, such as, the fact that my candidate didn’t start playing regularly until May 14th, which was already 5 weeks into the season. Prior to May 14th he’d only taken 66 AB’s, which is an average of 2 per game. It’s also important that said player is most often playing a premium position, centerfield. Perhaps most importantly, he effectively replaced a player who thus far in 2010 has this line: .239 AVG/ .291 OBP/ .386 SLG/ .677 OPS. That line of overall numbers is actually quite shockingly similar to Carlos Gonzalez’s road numbers, especially when you consider his 16 walks to 71 strikeouts. Despite playing more or less half the time over the first five weeks of the season, my guy is only trailing the NL leader in doubles by 1 with 42.

The likelihood that my candidate actually wins the NL MVP award is probably slim and none. In fact, I’d say it’s even much less likely that he’d win than Carlos Gonzalez. That’s obviously not a knock on him – it’s a knock on the complete and utter lack of creativity from the voters. They still live in a world where RBI’s and pitcher wins are incredibly valuable, and diving catches coupled with offensive statistics equal gold gloves. A great deal of his value derives from his excellent ability to cover the outfield as well as his extraordinary speed on the bases. These aren’t exactly the measures the MVP voters are using to crown the leagues best player.

The answer to who the player is, of course, is the centerfielder for the San Francisco Giants, Andres Torres. Think about it Baseball Writers Association of America members. And if playing between Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen – who makes Aubrey Huff in right field look like Deion Sanders – in the (not to mention) expansive AT&T outfield isn’t worth extra credit, I don’t know what in the world is. There can be little doubt that replacing initial leadoff hitter Aaron Rowand with the far superior Andres Torres was paramount. There should also be little doubt that Andres Torres is exceedingly valuable to a team with absolutely no speed, obvious holes defensively, and aspirations to make the postseason for the first time since 2003.

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