Today, Rob Neyer says let’s not anoint Pujols just yet, and poses the following question:
Maybe Pujols really is the best player in the National League. He probably is. But there’s a .365-hitting shortstop with power, playing for a contending team. Shouldn’t we at least take a deep breath and think a few thoughts?
Don’t worry, Rob. I’m on it.
The MVP Award is always tricky, because nobody can agree on the best way to measure “value.” One very good way to measure value is to look at a player’s wins over replacement, and his contribution to overall team WAR.
Let’s do this thing.
We’ll start with Pujols, whose WAR is 6.4, which represents 22 percent of the Cardinals WAR.
Then there’s Chase Utley, whose WAR is 6.8, which represents 22 percent of the Phillies WAR.
Finally, there’s Hanley Ramirez. Behold, the Marlins WAR pie. As you can see, Ramirez’s WAR is 6.9, which represents 27 percent of team WAR.
That’s right, Ramirez has the highest WAR in the league among position players, and the highest percentage of team WAR. And that’s a pretty good indication that he’s been the most valuable.
But guess what? There’s another guy worth mentioning. Tim Lincecum and his 7.2 WAR should be in the discussion for NL MVP. He’s responsible for 25 percent of the Giants WAR. Without him, San Fran would be totally screwed.
Of course, Lincecum won’t be a serious candidate despite his league leading WAR, because he’s a pitcher. But he should be.
And Ramirez won’t win the award, because Pujols has more RBI and home runs, and those are stats that voters traditionally care a lot about.
But while Pujols is great and has had a great season, there are clearly more deserving candidates.
NOTE: All WAR values come from the always awesome Fangraphs.