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:
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.
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.