Tuesday, November 18, 2008

AL MVP today, and there will be a lot of foolish votes

On the AL MVP award (to be announced today), the Globe's Nick Cafardo writes that:
While Dustin Pedroia seems to be the front-runner heading into today's American League Most Valuable Player announcement, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Carlos Quentin, and Francisco Rodriguez are all going to garner support, and with good reason.

The first part of that may be true, the last is definitely not. To start with the most obvious problem, there is absolutely no reason for a voter to consider voting for Justin Morneau.

1) He wasn't the best player at his position. Morneau, a first baseman, hit .300/.374/.499/.873. Kevin Youkilis, who also played first base, as well (plus played some third base, which makes any offensive production more valuable) hit .312/.390/.569/.959.

2) He wasn't the most valuable player on his own team. Minnesota's catcher, Joe Mauer, hit .328/.413/.451/.864. As OBP is more valuable than SLG, and as catchers, as a group, hit far worse than first basemen, as a group, Mauer's performance was significantly more valuable to the Twins than Morneau's.

3) The Gold Glove winners at 2nd base, Dustin Pedroia, had a comparable offensive performance (.326/.376/.493/.869). Make a positional adjustment, and there's no debate about which of the two is a more valuable player.

4) He didn't "lead his team" to a playoff spot.

5) He didn't "shine down the stretch," hitting just .243/.298/.398/.696 in September.

Really, the only reason that I can see for even considering Morneau is the long-discredited belief that RBI means something. And if you're an "RBI uber alles" MVP voter (said species sadly not yet extinct), you should be voting for Josh Hamilton, who had more while playing a more valuable defensive position. Anyone who votes Morneau higher than 6th on his ballot should have his voting privilege's revoked. (As should the Cy Young voters that left Halladay off, or voted Matsuzaka over Lester.)

As for Francisco Rodriguez, that's just silly. Yes, he broke the record for saves. Woo-hoo. He pitched well, though not spectacularly, and threw only 68 1/3 innings for a team that won its division by 21 games. Mariano Rivera was a more valuable relief pitcher, and a dozen AL pitchers were more valuable for their teams than he was. Some voters will undoubtably vote for him, dazzled by the saves and oblivious to how little they mean, but that will say far more about them (the voters) than him (the pitcher).

Quentin was a good candidate until he missed the last month. As he did, there are others who passed him.

I haven't had the time to do a full analysis. Based on a pretty quick look, I've got no big problems with Pedroia, Youkilis, Grady Sizemore, Joe Mauer or Josh Hamilton. Results to be announced today...

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