And the MVP Goes To…Who?

Since we are hitting mid-August, you knew it was only a matter of time before the baseball MVP discussion began to turn serious and baseball writers began to make their annual discussions about who “deserves” to be called the MVP. And like clockwork, Hall of Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons has gotten the ball rolling with his ESPN column, making the case for Cubs rookie catcher, Geovany Soto, for NL MVP. Jayson Stark beat him out on the topic by discussing the AL MVP 5 days earlier (although, he was posed the question on That’s Debatable, which makes me want to believe it wasn’t his fault), debating between Josh Hamilton and Carlos Quentin. For the record, he chose Carlos Quentin.

While I’m not opposed to prognosticating MVP awards and making cases for our favorites to win, I’m a little tired of the direction the MVP discussion takes, especially when trying to negate certain players from the discussion. Essentially, the whole debate has somehow gotten twisted and turned upside down and as a result, random criteria has been inserted to determine who should win the award. In no particular order, here are the 3 things that must be fulfilled for a player to be seriously considered for the MVP:

  1. Your team must make the playoffs, or come really close (and if you make it against all odds, that’s even better).
  2. You must be the most valuable player on your own team. In other words, you better hope there isn’t someone on your team that has done something semi-remarkable during the year, or else you’re toast.
  3. No pitchers allowed, and God help you if you are a closer.

I’m sure you’re familiar with these talking points because they appear every year the MVP is debated. In fact, both Gammons and Stark use these commonly employed persuasive tools to discount people like Josh Hamilton and Alex Rodriguez.

Rule number one plays against Josh Hamilton since his team is currently 15.5 games out of first place. This rule should be nicknamed the Texas rule, as A-Rod fell victim to it throughout his tenure there. I suppose the logic is that if his team wasn’t able to compete for a playoff spot, then his offensive output didn’t do much for his team in the long run and therefore his presence was not “valuable” to his team.

Rule number two is used against A-Rod’s current MVP candidacy. Stark says that Mike Mussina has been more valuable to the Yankees than their 3rd baseman. This argument plagues candidates with teammates who have accomplished something semi-remarkable, like played more than 2 positions during the year, consistently produced with runners in scoring position, or put in several quality starts.

And finally, rule number three is used against Mike Mussina (and all pitchers for that matter), who is apparently more valuable than A-Rod, but is unofficially disqualified from the award because pitchers have their own award: the Cy Young. And even if you are going to consider a guy like Mussina, don’t even bring up Francisco Rodriguez who has had a better year than Mussina. I don’t care how many saves he has and how valuable that makes him to his team. He’s a closer, and closers only go out for 70 innings a year and half the time they are given cushy leads to finish the game.

Well, I think you get the idea: the arguments go round and round until we are left with a strong leader for a team that somehow made it to the playoffs against all odds and who also has some obscure statistic to support his MVP status despite the majority of his numbers being sub-par in comparison to his strongest competition. In other words, enter Geovany Soto, who could win the MVP based on catching for a variety of good pitchers and producing decent offensive numbers for a playoff caliber team.

The MLB MVP: oh, what joy.

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3 thoughts on “And the MVP Goes To…Who?

  1. the DH is almost as big a pariah as a pitcher for this award – but your explanation is as confusing as the arguments from “the baseball gurus” – however, de rosa plays all over the field, and is an offensive threat for the teddy bears, so the soto argument has flaws, which is what you were pointing out –

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  2. Rocky Mountain high, you bring up a good point with DeRosa and I think he is a prime example for why I dislike the MVP award as it now stands. I suppose the argument for Soto is based on him being “more valuable” than DeRosa since Soto is the catcher and somehow plays a role in how his pitchers pitch. And since the Cubbies have had pretty good pitching this season, that makes him in-valuable and therefore the Cubs MVP and the contender for the NL MVP.Now, what’s frustrating here is DeRosa has slightly better numbers than Soto. But, DeRosa’s numbers are highly average when not compared to Soto. And I doubt anyone will be making the case for DeRosa as NL MVP, so why would Soto deserve to be considered? This is the essential flaw in the MVP discussion, and the reason why I hate it.In my opinion, David Wright is a much better choice for NL MVP over Soto, primarily due to his fantastic offensive production and secondly (and in that order) the fact that he’s helping lead his team to the playoffs. Even still, I would choose Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Ryan Ludwick, and Chase Utley over Soto at this point.

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  3. NL “SMEN-L,” I’m not quite sure who deserves it there. All I know is playoffs or not A-Rod deserves another MVP award. The guy’s a stud and put up remarkable numbers while spending considerable time on the DL. He isthe most feared hitter in the A.B. era (After Bonds). I think Berkman is well deserving of the award in the NL though, this guy is a threat from both sides of the plate, plays in a very good pitching division and has never gotten enough credit for how good of a hitter he is. This would be more than enough credit for Lance. I’m out like Big Papi trying to steal 2nd base.

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