Breaking Down the AL MVP

Money Mouth already gave you the lowdown as to how the sports writers are making this year’s MVP races ridiculous. Now I’m going to bring the argument back into the rational world, starting with the American League. And for those who doubt that I have the chops, don’t forget that I almost perfectly capped the 2006 award around this time two year’s ago.

Now, as I as I did then, I say the discussion should start and end with run production. When it comes time to decide who is the best free agent, those average stats like OPS are important, but the MVP argument starts with what you brought to the table. Usually run production is calculated as Runs Scored + RBI’s – HR’s. For this discussion, I won’t subtract out homeruns, since MVP voters like to see more of that stat anyway, I won’t have to factor it in later. In the A.L., here are the top 7 players with at least 170 runs plus RBIs as of last night’s games:

  1. Josh Hamilton – 199
  2. Carlos Quentin – 195
  3. Justin Morneau – 180
  4. Aubrey Huff – 174
  5. Ian Kinsler – 173
  6. Nick Markakis – 172
  7. Kevin Youkilis – 170

For you A-Rod lovers out there, he came in 12th on this list, barely deserving of consideration as far as I’m concerned. Shockingly to probably everyone, there are two Orioles on this list, and a third came in eighth.

The problem with the way that the MVP is currently discussed, is that journalists want to first narrow down the field based on non-statistical elements such as who is going to the playoffs, who is the only bit hitter in their team’s lineup, etc., and then they start talking about statistics. I say we narrow down the field with statistics first, and then we’ll talk intangibles.

I think this race really does come down to just Hamilton and Quentin. They are head and shoulders about the rest of the AL sluggers, as the tally above points to. They’re both in the top 4 in HRs and RBIs, both hitting above .290, both actually play the field, and as for the often overlooked stat (but pretty important when you think about it) of runs scored, Quentin is third and Hamilton is 12th.

So after looking at the numbers, you could easily make a case for either of these guys, but only one is looking at a potential playoff spot, and that’s Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox. When the end of the season rolls around, if Chicago is still heading to the playoffs, then I’d expect the MVP voting to look like 1. Quentin, 2. Hamilton.

However, should Chicago fall in the A.L. Central, then we have a new situation at hand. Now these two players should be compared straight up. Keep in mind, Hamilton’s Texas Rangers are not a bad team even though they are out of the playoff hunt. He has them hovering around .500 and second place in the west, something the Rangers never did during Alex Rodriguez’s tenure there, even in his MVP season of 2003 when the Rangers completed their fourth straight last place finish. So there is absolutely no reason Hamilton should be penalized for the Rangers position, unless it comes in the form of rewarding another player whose team is in the playoffs.

Continuing with this scenario, if Chicago falls, that means the Minnesota Twins are in, and if Morneau (number 3 on the list above) has an above average month of September, then we’ve got a three way MVP race on our hands.

Keeping all of this in mind, here is BiCoastal Bias’s current MVP ranking, (and yes, K-Rod deserves to be on the ballot for shattering Thigpen’s saves record, he just doesn’t deserve to win).

  1. Carlos Quentin (CWS) 35 HR, 100 RBI, .979 OPS
  2. Josh Hamilton (Tex) 28 HR, 116 RBI
  3. Justin Morneau (Min) 20 HR, 102 RBI
  4. Kevin Youkilis (Bos) 90 RBI, .957 OPS
  5. Francisco Rodriguez (LAA) Ridiculous amount of Saves
  6. Jermaine Dye (CWS) 32 HR, 82 RBI
  7. Ian Kinsler (Tex) 102 Runs, .319 average, 26 SB
  8. Aubrey Huff (Bal) 28 HR, 91 RBI
  9. Milton Bradley (Tex) 1.035 OPS
  10. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) 28 HR, .980 OPS

There are three Texas Rangers on this list, and I can see how this will be used against Josh Hamilton, but it’s pretty tough to quantify little things like that. The Rangers lead the majors in runs scored, so it should be no surprise that several of their hitters are having career years. There is one glaring omission from the list, and that is anyone from the Tampa Bay Rays. What can you say about this, clearly the Rays are playing team ball, they’ve lost Longoria, Crawford, and Percival to the D.L. and they haven’t missed a beat. So while the Rays are missing out on the individual awards, they won’t mind as long as they keep playing so well as a team.


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