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It’s that time of year.  Time to bring you umpbump’s picks for MVP! Here’s who I tabbed for the sport’s most prestigious award:

American League

It was a really odd down year for MVP candidates – only three players OPS’d over .900!

3. Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox

Not too many people expected the White Sox to contend this year, but Carlos Quentin emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, and absolutely carried this team of aging and inconsistent veterans on his back all year. Despite missing the last month of the season due to a freakish hand injury, he still wound up with 36 home runs and 100 RBI, and the collapse of the White Sox following his absense proved just how valuable he truly was for them.  But players who miss the most crucial month of the season can’t ultimately be MVP, so Quentin winds up third in my vote.

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

Who would have thought that little mighty mite Dustin Pedroia would wind up this season third in the American League in runs created, a stat usually dominated by massive, slugging first basemen and corner outfield types?  But it’s true – in a year in which David Ortiz sucked for a while and then got hurt, and Manny got traded, Dustin Pedroia was the best and most consistent player on a very good Red Sox team.  I mean, he batted .325.  OBP’d .375 and slugged .493. As a second baseman. He played in 158 games and only made 6 errors all season. Not to mention that nobody can stop raving about what a good clubhouse presence he is.

But one player did more…

1. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins

Joe Mauer is a catcher who just played in 145 games this season. That alone is pretty valuable. But we are also talking about a catcher who just won his second batting title in three years, with a batting average of .330. He also put up an OBP of .415 and scored 97 runs with 83 RBI.  Getting that kind of offensive production out of a catcher across 144 games is not just valuable, it’s a gift from the gods. But we also have to remember that Joe Mauer is also the best defensive catcher in the game these days too!  We are talking about a guy who has a career caught stealing line of 41 percent.  As I said when I voted for Joe Mauer as MVP 2 years ago, what we are seeing now in Joe Mauer is something like watching a cross between Mike Piazza on offense and Ivan Rodriguez on defense, when they were both in their primes. Mauer wasn’t quite as good this year as he was in 2006, but in a down year for AL sluggers and on a team he led to the brink of the playoffs when nobody expected it following the Santana trade, Joe Mauer gets the nod.

National League

It’s hard to vote for MVP the conventional way in the National League this season, just picking the best player on one of the 4 playoff teams, because none of the playoff bound teams had a guy put up truly MVP-type numbers.

3. Russell Martin, C, Dodgers

While it’s true that the Dodgers wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they hadn’t traded for Manny Ramirez, they also would not be there without Russell Martin.  The guy is even more durable than Joe Mauer, playing in a ridiculous 153 games, and putting up nearly Mauer-esque offensive production with a .386 OBP and 90 walks to go along with 13 homers and 18 stolen bases – a pretty awesome haul to get out of your catcher. Among NL catchers Brian McCann and Geovanny Soto outslug Martin, but they can’t match his OBP or his durability.

2. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins

Is there any player in baseball that you would rather build a new team around right now than Hanley Ramirez? You’d be a fool if you named any other player because this guy is a shortstop who does absolutely everything you would want, hitting for tremendous average, power, and OBP, playing surprisingly improved defense, and stealing bases at will.  His OPS of .943 was more than 100 points higher than that of the next best shortstop in baseball. All this and he is still only 24 years old.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals

Only one player in all of baseball put up truly elite numbers this season, and his numbers are so much better than everyone else, you feel like he’s ready to be called up to a higher league, if there were one. His OPS is 1.112, 70 points higher than the next best player in all of baseball, Chipper Jones, and Pujols played in 20 more games than Jones. The man is an MVP machine, and this year he is one of the easiest MVP picks in memory.

10 Responses to “MVP-a-palooza”

  1. I agree with both of your final picks for MVP.

    What’s up with Martin though?

    I mean, I write love letters to the guy on scented paper, but holy shit. :o

  2. Fire Ned, I give players more credit as being “valuable” if they play a position where value is hard to come by. In my view, a catcher who plays 153 games and still puts up the offensive numbers Martin did is more valuable than, say, a poor defensive 1B who hits 40 homers but can’t OBP .350.

  3. But is Martin a good defensive catcher? I know he handled one of the best staffs in the majors, but he didn’t have many defensive win shares. Geovany Soto, on the other hand…

  4. Taking nothing away from Martin, I don’t think you can say McCann and Soto, can’t match his durability. I recall earlier in the season when an umpbump post was written about Torre possibly abusing him because he didn’t rest him enough, but now that’s somehow something of merit? The Braves and Cubs obviously saw value in trying to give their catchers rest, unlike the Dodgers. I know Soto was given rest throughout the year whether he needed it or not because the Cubs have a very good backup in Henry Blanco. Soto also got more rest down the stretch due to his team clinching their division with over a week left in the season. Of course, I’m biased but I’m actually more impressed by what Soto did this year considering it was his first full season in the majors. Martin’s a great catcher but McCann and Soto are right there with him.

    I would also add that he may not even be MVP of his own team. They probably wouldn’t have even won their weak division had it not been for the acquisition of Manny Ramirez.

    Carlos Quentin would have most likely been the AL MVP had he not stupidly slammed his bat down in disgust and broken his wrist. Pujols should be the runaway winner in the NL and I also agree with your pick of Mauer in the AL.

  5. One of the biggest issues with the MVP award is the exact meaning of most valuable player. Now admittedly, I may be biased, but the reason I say Pedroia for MVP is he’s been everything the Red Sox needed when they needed it. I will not disagree that Mauer is deserving, however it seems to me one could make the exact same argument about both of them, they came up huge (offensively and defensively) when their teams desperately needed them. But for me, what stands out most about Pedroia was that he did everything. He was a speedster, a slugger, a contact hitter, a leadoff man, a clean up hitter, a wall up the middle, etc.

  6. Coley, the argument isn’t so much how good Martin was defensively. It’s more of how valuable to a team it is to be able to get so much offensive production out of the catcher’s spot. It’s not that hard to find a first baseman who can do what Martin did, but it’s not so easy out of the catcher spot. As long as a player, like Martin, isn’t a bad defensive player, then that’s something that’s quite valuable.

    With that said, I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to put Martin at #3. I mean, Martin was #5 among catchers in VORP, behind Ryan Doumit.

  7. I’m just saying that Geovany Soto had a better year both offensively and defensively than Martin. So if you’re going to pick a catcher for NL MVP candidate, I’d go with Soto. The only way you go with Martin over Soto, as far as I can tell, is if you really, really value stolen bases.

  8. Soto’s OBP was .364 to Martin’s .385 but Soto’s slugging was .504 compared to Martin’s .396, which is more impressive and MVP worthy? In 59 less at bats Soto hit 23 home runs compared to Martin’s 13 and bested him in doubles 35 to 25. Geo’s batting average was .285, besting Russell’s .280. Soto had the better season if you look at all the numbers and don’t just cherry-pick the OBP. Soto was equal to or better in the field with .995 fielding percentage to Martin’s .990. Geo also committed less errors and threw out more base runners. I am not promoting Soto for MVP but he had a better year than Martin. The only way you go with Martin over Soto, is if you really, really love the Dodgers.

  9. Nick-Yeah, I understand that logic, and it’s sound logic. I just don’t think Martin is the best catcher in the league this year.

    Like you said, his durability is amazing, but it’s also the reason he had a late season swoon for a while and his numbers declined again.

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