You might have seen Nick, Coley, and Sarah’s MVP picks already. If not, then you probably should. Because only then will you be able to appreciate how much better mine are.

Call me VORPy. I believe that “most valuable” means that you were the best in that year. I do not think it’s rational to expect great players to be able to turn turd-ish teammates into 30HR-threats. And I like pie.

So please keep all of these things in mind as I take my crack at my list of MVP-worthy players in the AL and NL. And if any hate mail results from this, I will not read it unless it is accompanied by a slice of pie.

American League

#4: Dustin Pedroia – I don’t know if I have a bias for or against Pedroia. For one, he’s a Red Sox which is a negative (ducking as Sarah justifiably takes a digital swing at my head across the vast world of the interwebs). On the other hand, he’s about my size and as such is totally relatable. Plus, as a former second baseman myself, I appreciate how deftly he handles the position. So I think those two irrational sides cancel each other out. What we’re left with is a guy tied for sixth in AL Win Shares and third in Runs Created despite the fact that he plays a skill position.

#3: Roy Halladay – In a year where no AL hitter distinctively separated himself from the pack, I think it’s only right to recognize what Halladay did. Although Cliff Lee beat him for the ERA and Wins titles, Halladay was right behind him. But what puts Doc over the top is how well he performed over so many innings. His 2.78 ERA is only fully appreciated when one considers the fact that Halladay threw 22.67 more innings than any other pitcher in the AL. That’s over three more games total than Lee who’s second on that list. I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of having a guy with such a low ERA pitching instead of a crappy bullpen. How’s that for value? It should also be mentioned that Halladay finished third in strikeouts, fifth in hits allowed per nine, third in walks per nine, and of course, racked up Complete Games.

#2: Joe Mauer – It’s not just that he has a “very pretty” OBP. He led the AL in Win Shares. I don’t know when was the last time a catcher accomplished this. And while it may be odd for an MVP-candidate to have less than 10 HRs, the man still slugged .451 playing half his games in the Metrodome, which was one of the worst places for hitters in 2008. And with his second batting title in three years, he’s now the first catcher in the American League history to win two of those. The first catcher to win one AL batting title was, of course, Joe Mauer in 2006. Plus, Mauer also led the league in WPA (Win Probability Added) and led all catchers in defensive Win Shares this year as well.

#1: Grady Sizemore – Is there anything this man can’t do well? Power (sixth in HRs), plate patience (third in walks), base stealing skills (38 SBs in 43 attempts), and defense (4th in Revized Zone Rating among CFers and second in Out of Zone plays made). Add it all up and you get just a great centerfielder who finished fourth in Win Shares and second in VORP, which doesn’t even counting his strong defensive contributions.

National League:

#4: Carlos Beltran – If you think that I did a top 4 instead of a top 3 just so that I can get Beltran on this list (say it with me in your best Ed McMahon voice!), you – are – co-rrrrect, sir!!! I’m actually beginning to worry about my propensity to blabber on about this guy. Despite his HR total being lower this year, he still hit well enough to finish in the top 10 in VORP, Runs Created, and extra-base hits. He was third in Win Shares and sixth in walks. And we haven’t even begun to talk about his baserunning skills and defense in center. Although he was only 7th in Revized Zone Rating among NL CFers, he more than makes up for it by easily making the most Out of Zone plays (seriously, it’s not even close).

#3: Lance Berkman – I think it’s odd how little attention has been paid to the Big Puma. Top-5 in BA, OBP, SLG, Runs Scored, Adjusted OPS, Runs Created, Extra Base Hits, and in doing all this also ended up with the most Win Shares in the National League. Played a great first base to boot. It’s really not his fault that Brad Ausmus OPSed BELOW .600. He was a player having a great season on a mediocre team.

#2: Hanley Ramirez – This one hurts. How could I possibly put Han-Ram over Beltran? He deserves it, that’s why. Offensively, Ramirez had a similar season as he did in 2007 – a bit better in OBP, a bit worse in SLG. Didn’t come all that close in SBs, but increased his homerun output. But what I appreciated most about him this year was how much better he had become defensively. His Revised Zone Rating improved dramatically from .773 to .840 (god-awful to very good), and was seventh in Out of Zone. Last year, the only knock I had on him was his defense. Now, I got nothing. He hit 33 HRs. No other shortstop in MLB came close (Hardy was second with 24). He OPSed .940. No other shortstop was even within .100 points of the guy. He’s undoubtedly the best SS in baseball.

#1: Albert Pujols – I know. Ho-hum. But no matter how contrarian I may want to be sometimes, there’s just no way I can deny Pujols this. And that’s all I have to say about that.

9 Responses to “I STILL Know Where You MVP-a-palooza-ed Last Summer”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    “How could I possibly put Han-Ram over Beltran?” You see, I conveniently didn’t rank my also-rans for this very reason. If they’re not my No. 1 pick, they’re just the slush pile. Second-best is the first loser, LOSERS!

  2. I am a Red Sox fan, so it might seem pretty biased that I make a case for Pedroia for MVP, but there is an extremely legit case for it that I hope voters take a look at. Sure the story lines are there: “No one believed in him,” “He holds the clubhouse together,” “He would be the shortest MVP ever” (unsubstantiated), but statistically, this guy has been unreal. We are not talking about a David Eckstein hitting .320 on infield hits and heart, here.

    We all love VORP. Pedroia is currently ranked #3 in the AL in VORP. Only A-Rod and Grady Sizemore are above him. Both had great years in spite of their team sucking, but there has to be some value in helping your team to the playoffs. The next two VORP leaders on teams in contention? Joe Mauer and Youk, at 7 and 8, respectively. Morneau? 14th (I only add this because he was something like 13th the year that he won it, and voters are stupid).

    What about CLUTCH ratings? This measures the difference in performance in “high pressure situations” compared to regular performance. Guess who is #1 in the AL… That’s right, Pedroia. He is followed closely by Mauer (who, admittedly, is a stud and a fixture on my fantasy teams). Pedroia is the only Red Sox in the Top 35 rated players in the CLUTCH ratings, making a case that he is more crucial to his team’s success than Mauer or Morneau (since they are both in the Top 13 in this index). On a fun and irrelevant note, A-Rod is the worst in the American League in this stat (remember, this is compared to their own performance, not others).

    There are also pretty cool “real number” cases for Pedroia. I read the other day that his “43 hits and 33 runs in 26 games in August marked the first month that any player has accumulated those numbers in that few games since Lou Gehrig’s 48-hit, 35-run June in 1936.” The guy is a badass. Go Sox. Vote for the little guy.

  3. Paul Moro says:

    I won’t be upset if Pedroia wins. But you and I seem to have fundamental differences about what MVP means. Again, I think that the best player was by definition the most valuable. If all else was equal, then yes, the tie-breaker would probably be things like “played for a playoff team” or “was by far the best player on his team”.

    But just because his Red Sox teammmates underperformed in clutch situations doesn’t make Pedroia a better player than Sizemore. And while I do rely on VORP quite a bit, I also love defensive contributions, which VORP doesn’t take into account.

    And I never pay attention to things like so and so was the first player since blah blah to have done yada plus yada yada plus yada yada yada over X amount of games. It’s all arbitrary. If you look hard enough, you can find equally impressive stats over such a short period time for a lot of players.

    Look, Pedroia had a great year. Which is why I had in fourth. I just don’t think he was the best.

  4. 99% agree on making an anecdotal case for MVP (especially based on a sample size of 1 month of a season), but it’s not every day a 5’4″ middle infielder puts up numbers that were last seen by Lou Gehrig. That’s the type of thing that resonates with a lot of sportswriters. I can understand why.

    Also agree on the point that Mauer should not be penalized for Morneau’s ability to hit in the clutch, but if you look at value as a measure of reliance on a person’s contributions, you can make a case that the Sox had to rely more on DP in crucial situations.

    You can make a great case for centerfield and catcher being the most crucial positions in the field, and use this to help Sizemore and Mauer. But I don’t think you can penalize Pedroia for not playing that position. When you compare those three to their peers they are all top defensive players. Pedroia’s Zone Rating was #2 in MLB for 2B. Sizemore was #4 for CF. Catchers are obviously a bit harder to quantify this way.

    But when it comes down to it, there is only one reason why Pedroia wins: Mauer rhymes with flower. That is lame. Sizemore rhymes with poor (as in his team’s performance). Pedroia rhymes with Destroyer (Boston dialect). Case closed.

  5. Paul Moro says:

    “But when it comes down to it, there is only one reason why Pedroia wins: Mauer rhymes with flower. That is lame. Sizemore rhymes with poor (as in his team’s performance). Pedroia rhymes with Destroyer (Boston dialect). Case closed.”

    There’s just no possible way that I can argue against this.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Also, you can rhyme “Dustin” with “Lustin’.”

    And his initials are an acronym for double play.

    This MVPedroia thing was just meant to be.

  7. Wait, you don’t even have Ryan Howard in your top 3!!!??? Is this site run by Mets fans?

  8. Sarah Green says:

    Well Cheese, Paul *is* a Mets fan. But Coley is a huge Phillies fan, and even he didn’t have Howard in his top 3. I think the answer is that this site is run by people who think the run-batted-in is pretty much the dumbest stat around.

  9. Coley Ward says:

    In Howard’s defense, he did lead the league in home runs and a home run is the best possible outcome a hitter can produce. So I did consider him for MVP. But by every other meaningful measurement, Pujols, Beltran, Ramirez and a host of other NL sluggers had better years.

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