September 22, 2003

A-Rod for MVP?: Have we debated this yet? The issue is should A-Rod be the AL MVP this year. I say no, although I have a feeling that his huge contract is unfairly prejudicing the voters against him.

posted by cg1001a to baseball at 03:15 PM - 25 comments

Stark's article all but sums up why I believe A-Rod is not AL MVP.
Save for this: No athelete who seriously harbors notions that he is the MVP, much less the best player on his team ever thinks, much less suggests trading himself to alleviate the team of his albatross of a salary. Doing so in my eyes immediately removes you from MVP consideration (unless your MJ).

posted by lilnemo at 03:31 PM on September 22, 2003

well ain't that funny. the sunday nyt had an article (midway down) that hinted that the voters would swing arod's way more as a default. reason being? who else is deserving of the award? the whole MVP / Cy young award / ROY award is just getting plain ridiculous if it wasn't already on premise. there's no need for these awards other then the media to create more circle jerk journalism. more garbage for the writers to talk about. just the plain fact that some of these awards this year could go to players on losing clubs proves how ludicrous these awards have become. baseball is a team sport. the fact that the MVP award could go to a player, albeit an incredible player, who played in only 120 games is a joke. add to that, listening to NYC sports talk will drive you crazy (this is supposed to be the town with the knowledgable fans?)....the talk show hosts will have you believe that winning 20 games is a must for any player to be considerd for a cy young. these are the people voting for these awards. what a bunch of garbage. they don't mean anything other then inflating egos and salaries of these guys. toss the's not in the spirit of baseball. it's giving the writers a reason to not write about what's really going on in baseball.

posted by oliver_crunk at 03:45 PM on September 22, 2003

I think Texas could have been 23 games out of first place just fine without A-Rod, so how much value did he really bring his team? You could argue they would be even farther back without him, but last place is last place, regardless of how many games out you are. I would really like these awards to be re-named to the Most outstanding player award or something like that. As it is, any team not in contention, can not have a winner of the MVP IMO. Now if it was the most outstanding player, any one on any team could win it.

posted by Fluxcore at 04:09 PM on September 22, 2003

It was brought up last year and it looks like little has changed. A-Rod is likely one of the best, if not the best overall, player in the AL. His team sucks though and he has no impact on their standin in the division. So is it most valuable to your team or most valuable overall? The debate continues..... (it's a fun one though, so I'll watch).

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:26 PM on September 22, 2003

When you focus entirely on a player's value to a team, that disqualifies players from both top-notch clubs (Yankees) and bottom-dwellers (Rangers). So the only guys eligible to win are the ones from teams that are either flukishly successful or just starting to be good. That seems pretty arbitrary to me. Who says the A's -- a playoff mainstay these days -- wouldn't be there without Tejada? Also, Stark shoots himself in the foot by suggesting Shannon Stewart. If a guy who has only been with his team 64 games is the best MVP candidate on a contender, this is one of the rare years that a non-contender with gaudy numbers should win. My vote goes to A-Rod.

posted by rcade at 04:31 PM on September 22, 2003

I think that's an interesting idea about having a Most Outstanding Player award. At the risk of adding yet another award to our already awards-obsessed sports culture (and diluting the other awards in the process), maybe they could do an MVP award and an MOP award. In hockey, they have the Hart for the MVP and the Art Ross for leading scorer (putting aside the Pearson for MOP, as voted by the players). Although the Art Ross trophy is based on a single statistic (points) that is not really open to interpretation (unlike the numerous offensive stats in baseball, plus whatever plus factors you want to add for defense), my thought is that some sort of MOP award would allow the player with the most impressive overall performance to be recognized, regardless of how his team finishes. It will likely never happen (and my thought is that such an MOP would still be less presitigious than the MVP award), but it is worth considering.

posted by holden at 04:35 PM on September 22, 2003

I'd vote for Rodriguez to win that award ... oh, wait. I thought you said MOPE. Rcade, are you saying that if Jason Giambi hits .320-40-130 for the Yankees and they win it all, he shouldn't be considered? Even if he has terrific pitching and a good team around him, a player on a winner has to be given some credit for success. ARod, however, has helped his team to a stunning 70-86 mark, placing them a scant 23 games out of first. I don't give a crap how wonderful of a season you are having. If it doesn't lead to the postseason, or at least a run or some kind of spectacular turnaround from the year before, you're SOL on the MVP. I guess the MOP would fix this ... but who cares? You know what the award is for being ARod? His freaking contract.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:59 PM on September 22, 2003

AMEN! Hallelujah and pass the collection plate!!

posted by lilnemo at 06:01 PM on September 22, 2003

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, unless Seattle steals the wild card and then Brett Boone gets it. And you can't believe how much it pains me to think that Boone could win the MVP. NL MVP: Barry Bonds wins his 6th MVP. Never has a man carried a team more than Barry has this year. Pujols has had a good year, but he's had a LOT of help from Edmonds, Renteria and Rolens. Barry is SO far above the rest of his teammates, that you have to add .500 points of OPS to then next highest regular player (Grissom) to equal Bonds. He has more HR than the next two guys combined (Cruz, Grissom). He's is EASILY the most valuable player in the NL.

posted by grum@work at 08:55 PM on September 22, 2003

I 100% agree with Grum: Pujols is a bad vote, although not an embarassing one, but the fact remains Bonds has carried the Giants the entire way. They are 8 games above what their runs allowed/scored ratios suggest, because of his ridiculous offense- he's on base all the time, and has hit some very timely homeruns for the Giants. His 88 RBI is an shame given his 44 HR, but it only underscores how much he has made his bat work for them, and how hopeless they are without him. The Cards won't be making the playoffs, but though Pujols has meant a lot to the team, they wouldn't be that far off their current pace without him. A-Rod is not as compelling an MVP as he was last year, but still damn good; no other player has much of an argument. As I believe Rob Neyer noted, if Saint Cal can win on a losing team, why not A-Rod? And should we recall Ichiro's 2001 MVP because the 116 win M's would have made the playoffs without him? Manny Ramirez I'd say is the closest, and current best MVP candidate outside of A-Rod (although the Sox are so deep, and so much a "team", that's a tough call either way), again barring a miracle in which Boone puts on a show this last week and hauls the M's into the playoffs (or even if he doesn't, one might argue he's a good vote). Fact is, all good evidence suggests A-Rod has added more wins to his team than any other player in the AL. And that, my friends, is the very definition of "Most Valuable": as bad as the Rangers are, A-Rod has contributed more runs created and more wins collectively through his play than any other player. If A-Rod were on the Mariners or the Phillies or the Marlins, etc, those teams would have cakewalked into the playoffs. Otherwise, you really are doing what rcade describes, in which the players on the non-contenders, as well as those on the best teams, are disqualified, and you only get to pick one player from the one or two teams that "shouldn't have made the playoffs but did." Fluxcore: I would really like these awards to be re-named to the Most outstanding player award or something like that. What's amazing is they did just that, and no one noticed. They have the MLB Hank Aaron award in its 5th year now:

This coveted honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in both the American LeagueŽ and National LeagueŽ. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.
Which A-Rod has won twice in a row, as has Bonds, to little fanfare (it's barely acknowledged at There's also the Ted Williams award, given by the Boston chapter of the BBWAA, to the best hitter in the game.

posted by hincandenza at 11:33 PM on September 22, 2003

<ob _rant>Baseball is not a team sport.</ob_rant>

posted by tieguy at 12:41 AM on September 23, 2003

Hal, if you support ARod for MVP for leading the AL in RC, why not support Pujols for MVP for leading the NL in RC?

posted by mbd1 at 12:42 AM on September 23, 2003

Two reasons, mbd1 (but kudos for mentioning the RC). While yes, Pujols leads in RC, this is a factor of more playing time. Bonds is a better player this year, by far, when he is allowed to swing the bat, and even when he isn't. What he doesn't have is as many games as Pujols. Granted, as a Neyer would point out, playing those additional games is worth something, and Pujols has been fantastic- that's why I said it would be a bad vote, because Barry is a better vote- but there's no embarassment to voting for Pujols, he'd be a worthy MVP vote. A-Rod leads in RC, AND most counting stats, AND plays shortstop, the most difficult position on the diamond with the possible exception of catcher, AND has missed only one game. So there really isn't a weak spot for A-Rod, other than the team he plays for. Ramirez is also an offensive force, AND up there in most counting stats, AND his team is making the playoffs (sorry M's) BUT he plays left field, BUT he is on a team with more depth, the story of which this year is how many different players (Ortiz, Mueller) contribute each night. Like Pujols, Ramirez would be a good vote, as would several others. I just think the weight leans towards A-Rod and Bonds, in either the "pure statistical merit" or the "means the most to their team in terms of wins" categories. 1) Assume the MVP is just the MOP: In which case, I honestly believe Pujols is not nearly as good as Bonds. Oh, he's very very good, and if the kid is really the 23 he claims to be, the next decade may be known as the "Rodriguez-Pujols Decade". But the only way in which Pujols is better than Bonds is in the "not missing games cause my dad died" category; Bonds has been vastly, vastly more efficient at creating runs, driving in runs (he has come to the plate with men in scoring position only 72 times, to Pujols' 128), getting on base, and almost every other metric related to offense. Defense is at best a wash, since they're both LF.

Checking out this table, we see that Pujols has more games, and more plate appearances. Yet despite that, Bonds has more homeruns, far more walks (ungodly numbers of walks), and a massively higher on base percentage and slugging percentage. It's not an exaggeration at all to suggest that had he played as many games as Pujols, and had better teammates, his counting numbers would be far superior excepting only really doubles. A guy with 44 HR only has 88 RBI? A guy with a .529 OBP only scores 107 times? Yes, Bonds trails in many counting stats, but most analysis shows he's far more effective an offensive machine. If the voters don't pick Bonds, it's not like Pujols was unworthy by any means- I just contend that, pound for pound, and plate appearance for plate appearance, Barry is a far more valuable player. A-Rod makes the point moot in his league by not only leading in counting stats but in most sabermetric stats as well, and adding onto that playing very good shortstop: compare this to Bonds, Pujols, and Ramirez's left field position, where we can and should evaluate them all but entirely on their offense. 2) MVP as "Most Valuable" to a winning team: Okay, here is where the anti-A-Rod argument comes in. But if that holds true, the Bonds over Pujols is a cakewalk- few would contend that SF is a playoff team, much less a team exceeding their expectations by 8 or 9 wins while walking away with their division. Pujols has used his mighty wand to lead the Cards to a whopping 4 games over .500, tied with Montreal. Really, he has apparently as much value to his team as A-Rod does to his. I guess I would also note this peculiar notion that a player can add value to their team in any way other than one at-bat or one play at a time. More than any other sport, baseball is a sport of discrete data points (hence the fondness of statgeeks for the game) like the pitch, the at-bat, the inning, etc. A player walks to the plate and either reaches base or does not, either hits the ball fairly or does not. Any element of a team's success that is not affected by the player's actions is not worthy of consideration in an MVP debate, or in the player's value as a whole. For example, if a player reaches base 300 times, outside of the stolen base he cannot make himself score any more than that; so his runs totals are in the hands of his teammates. The basepaths are no shorter in San Francisco than St. Louis, the game is played the same- you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. If A-Rod played for the Expos they'd be in the playoff hunt right now, because there is no escaping the fact that hitting the ball that often, that hard, and that successfully results in more runs, which means more wins. That he has the poor luck in the MVP voting to be hitting the ball that hard, that often, in Texas, does not mean he isn't valuable. To summarize: I could accept not A-Rod, but not for the reasons given by most- Ramirez or others are good candidates, as Pujols is a good candidate in some ways. However: If NOT A-Rod, THEN Bonds. IF A-Rod, THEN I'd consider Pujols. If the ballot comes to "anyone but A-Rod" in the AL, yet Pujols in the NL, then I call b.s. on that. You can't say Pujols wins without his team making the cut and being barely above .500 while A-Rod doesn't win for similar reasons. Yet the cynic in me expects just that.

posted by hincandenza at 02:06 AM on September 23, 2003

Rcade, are you saying that if Jason Giambi hits .320-40-130 for the Yankees and they win it all, he shouldn't be considered? I'm not saying that -- people like Stark are. I think the intangible value-to-team metric is bogus; it's like always giving the coach of the year award in a sport to people whose teams overachieved. To me, A-Rod deserves to be MVP because none of the players on a contending team are even close in terms of overall numbers. He's having another monster year, and in the absence of a worthy rival, deserves the award. There's precedent for players on bad teams to win occasionally, and this seems like it ought to be one of those occasions.

posted by rcade at 07:38 AM on September 23, 2003

Look - Baseball is a team game like football is - you have three different parts to your team - hitting, pitching and defense. The pitchers don't really participate in the other two (with a few exceptions) and the other two don't pitch. A guy like A-Rod can NEVER affect he's team's ability to win games becuase he simply has no impact on his team's pitching. So how can he be punished for doing all he can to win games in the only fashion he can - by being the best power hitter in the L and one of the best defensive shortstops. Contract, schmontract - he does his job better then anyone else out there, all things considered. If Giambi wasn't hitting .250; If Tejada or Chavez weren't miles behind him offensively, If Posada wasn't the most overrated player in the league, If the White Sox were going to win anything, If Delgado (the only guy on the L with numbers that even approach A-Rod's) had any kind of a second half, If any of these things came close then I might consider not giving it to A-Rod. But they haven't and I won't.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:37 AM on September 23, 2003

Wha? Baseball is a team sport like football is? Eh? That's, like, nonsensical. A pure hitter is going to hit pitches, no matter what. [Very, very slight effects based on the guys behind him, but never a serious impact.] A good pitcher is going to throw strikes, no matter what the D behind him is like. A good shortstop can turn double plays with me standing on first. A good QB with no line and no recievers, or a running back with no air game, or a good DB with bad safeties... is meat, 99 times out of 100.

posted by tieguy at 09:09 AM on September 23, 2003

Nice post Hal. I'm pro Pujols and ARod for the record. I've got a few thoughts rolling around my head...... Is Pujols losing credibility in the MVP argument because of the ineptitude of the Cards pitching this year? I understand that he's hitting in the best offensive lineup in the NL. But if the bullpen hadn't racked up blown saves at an astronomical rate, the Cards are a playoff team. Win Shares: Pujols 40, Bonds 39 as of Sept 21. Too close to call. On the other hand, Pujols has a higher percentage of his team's total WS. I don't know if that really means anything in the "take him off the team and what is left" category. Also - baseball is a team sport in the sense that you need 8 other guys to play a game. But the heart of the game is one on one interactions: batter v. pitcher, fielder v. runner.

posted by mbd1 at 09:10 AM on September 23, 2003

Posada isn't the most overrated player in the league. he's head and shoulders above any other player at his position. I as a Yankee fan still don't trust him in tight games (strikes out swinging for the fences too much) but it's not like he's an outfielder who is expected to post 45 HRs and 120 RBIs. I do think it's a joke that he and Giambi are still being mentioned as MVP candidates, though I do sort of see how Posada could be thought of that way. So many good Yankees had down years but they're still winning, and a lot of that has to do with production from new places, ie Nick Johnson and Posada. (And Jeter doing a pretty good job getting on base and making up for Soriano's low OBP.) The scary thing about Giambi is that he's 90 points below his average from just 2 years ago and still his OPS is near the league lead. He's basically had 3 awful months (april, some of may, july, august) and still has pretty good numbers, aside from average. But still, not MVP caliber, unless they really feel inclined to make up for the year he got robbed, which is not why anyone should win. The thing in the AL that surprises me the most is that A-rod actually doesn't have the same numbers he did last year... his OPS is below 1.000 (though just barely). I think the argument about leaading your team somewhere should carry some weight, but really only as a tiebreaker. He's easily the best player in the league, and has been for several years. In the past, he has been punished for being on a bad team, and hey, that's his fault for being greedy. But this year, there's no one candidate who deserves it more. So I'd vote for him. In the NL, I'd take Bonds for all the reasons Hal listed above. Pujols is amazing too but quite simply Bonds is more valuable, and without him the Giants would be nowhere. To be honest, I'm surprised some of those from-out-of-nowhere Red Sox aren't getting consideration. Ortiz, Mueller, etc. I mean, Mueller is going to win a batting title and before this year I had never even heard of him. The Sox have avoided their annual late season slide despite poor pitching, and their lineup scares the hell out of me for a potential ALCS matchup (though mostly I'm just afraid that one of these years I'm going to have to listen to Red Sox fans taunting all winter because they finally beat the Yankees). That amazing offense has to have an MVP candidate in there somewhere, doesn't it? It's just hard to pin it on one player.

posted by Bernreuther at 09:18 AM on September 23, 2003

Jim Thome!

posted by corpse at 10:43 AM on September 23, 2003

tie guy - I meant that football has three distinct parts to a team - offence, defence and special teams. Usually, the responsibilities don't overlap. Baseball is similar - except that offense and defense are the same guys doing totally different jobs. But they still have special players that are especially good at one or the other. It's not nonsensical, it's just a generalization. And yes - it's all the talk about Posada as MVP that makes me call him overrated. How can a guy who hits fifth be your team MVP - let alone the league MVP? He's damn good as a catcher - top 5 in the sport - but gimme a break. There are people out there who will give it to him over A-Rod?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:53 PM on September 23, 2003

Posada isn't the most overrated player in the league. he's head and shoulders above any other player at his position. Nope. Not the most overrated, but pretty damn close. I will respectfully disagree and just say... Varitek. Even if Posada wasn't on my rival team, I'd still pick Varitek. Varitek is a tremendous catcher. Offensively, he's a force to be reckoned with and having a career year (as is the Red Sox lineup, up and down) and defensively, he is amazing with the pitching staff. Someday, he's going to be an amazing big league manager. Quote me on that one. I have a hard time with the MVP selection this year, but will agree that somewhere in there, you have to give serious consideration to Boston, besides just the usual suspects (Nomar and Manny).

posted by jerseygirl at 01:13 PM on September 23, 2003

well I agree that anyone who gives it to him over ARod is an idiot, and also that Varitek is outstanding... I think that the origin of the thought of him as MVP is just that he's that one guy whose presence has somehow made this a 100-win team despite an extended period of sucking, and two stars whose averages are a combined 150 points down. I wouldn't vote for him, I just understand the logic... every team has that guy whose numbers are more than expected and are what really put you over the top... hell, in 96 it was Mariano Duncan. The team expected him to hit maybe .250 and somehow he pulled .340 out of his ass, and that added production played a large role in turning a good team into a world series team...

posted by Bernreuther at 04:04 PM on September 23, 2003

I'm a bit giddy this morning, you'll have to pardon me. But since we were chatting about it yesterday, this Herald article seems appropriate.

posted by jerseygirl at 09:22 AM on September 24, 2003

The look on Jeter's face when they showed the Walker home run in Chicago was priceless. Count me among the extremely worried NY fans if there's another AL East ALCS. I was really hoping Seattle could catch Boston, but their late season chokes seem to be more predictable than the Sox...

posted by Bernreuther at 10:38 AM on September 24, 2003

Oddly enough, David Ortiz for MVP crossed my mind last night. He deserves as much consideration as the other candidates.

posted by cg1001a at 03:18 PM on September 24, 2003

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