BiCoastal Maps the Race for AL MVP

For the last two months, it’s been a certainty that David Ortiz would win his first American League MVP award outright this season. Suddenly, that’s gone from a sure thing to just one possible scenario. What’s happened in between? The Boston Red Sox are falling quickly from the playoff race, and Big Papi is in the hospital with an “irregular heartbeat.”

That makes this a fascinating time to try to prognosticate on the most valuable player of the American League. As far as the BiCoastal Bias is concerned, the MVP should come from a ball club that won more than they lost. I also think the MVP discussion should start with run production. So here’s a list of my MVP candidates, based on their total of runs scored plus RBIs at the time of writing; (yes this equation gives an advantage to homerun hitters, but that’s typically what MVP candidates are, so I feel good about this).

David Ortiz, Boston – 220
Troy Glaus, Toronto – 188
Jason Giambi, NYY – 187
Jim Thome, CWS – 185
Jermaine Dye, CWS – 185
Justin Morneau, Minnesota – 184
Vladimir Guerrero, LAA – 182
Manny Ramirez, Boston – 177
Paul Konerko, CWS – 174
Derek Jeter, NYY – 173

Travis Hafner is really the only statistical omission from this list, with a number of 209; but he’s disqualified by Cleveland’s record. Regardless, he should end up in the top 5 when the votes come in. As you can see, I’ve also omitted all pitching candidates for the MVP, even though I actually do believe pitchers deserve consideration; I can’t statistically compare them, making this discussion moot.

Obviously, if the season ended today, Ortiz would win the award. But some time off will give the rest of the field some room to catch him, and the colder the Red Sox season gets, the less friendly the voters will be. So, let’s turn to the other candidates. The Blue Jays have ended disappointingly, nixing Glaus; and unless the Angels have a September streak on the back of Big Daddy Vladdy like they did in 2004, he’s also out of the running. That pretty much leaves us looking at Giambi, Thome, Dye, and Morneau.

I just don’t think that the voters will go for a known ex-juicer like Giambi; plus the fact that some writers are honestly trying to prop up his teammate Jeter as a serious candidate will diminish his perceived impact. Now we’re down to two White Sox and a Twin. (Doesn’t that sentence sound weird when you ignore the fact that those are baseball teams?) This combination makes perfect sense. The AL central is where it’s at this year, and the battle for the wild card between those two teams is going to be legendary, with the final three games of the season pitting them head to head. The rest of Dye’s numbers give him the edge over teammate Thome, so maybe it comes down to Dye vs. Morneau for the American League MVP?

I realize these aren’t two names that have come up in the discussion previous to now, but that’s why I think this is such a fascinating time to look at the race. If one of these two really pushes his team over the hump to take the last playoff spot, he gets my vote for the MVP trophy.

There are three pitchers whose names should be thrown into this discussion, Johan Santana, Justin Verlander, and Jonathon Papelbon. In fact, Verlander or Papelbon could become the first player(s) ever to finish top 5 in the voting for MVP, ROY, and Cy Young. (I didn’t actually do the research to see if anyone’s done that before, but if someone could for me, that’d help a lot.)

So finally, let me give you my top 10. In the hopes that Ortiz comes back safely and quickly, I’m going to leave him at the top, but keep in mind what I said about that AL central.

1. David Ortiz
2a. Jermaine Dye
2b. Justin Morneau
4. Travis Hafner
5. Justin Verlander
6. Jason Giambi
7. Jim Thome
8. Jonathon Papelbon
9. Johan Santana
10. Vladimir Guerrero

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2 thoughts on “BiCoastal Maps the Race for AL MVP

  1. your OPINION is noted – yet oh, so flawed — there is no way you can put a guy who doesn’t use any tool but a lathed piece of maple as the mvp – baseball is offense AND defense! ortiz & papelbon are “homer” picks to keep your neighbors from stringing you up!no way a guy with you brain power and capacity can think such abominable thoughts –you go jabberwockie!

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  2. If relief pitchers can be the MVP, which Eckersley, Hernandez, and Fingers have all done in the last 25 years; I’m pretty sure a DH can. (A relief pitcher typically contributes to the offense about as much as a DH contributes to the defense.)

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