The Most Valuable Player Race
Now the MVP this year is a hard award to give, especially in the AL where no real standouts have so jumped to the forefront to make themselves obvious leaders for he award.
In the NL it’s a two horse race though there are a few shadows on the field. So let’s start there.
Barry Bonds: The only way Barry doesn’t win the NL MVP is if his competitor Albert Pujols wins the Triple Crown. Pujols has a legitimate chance at the crown. He leads the NL in average, but trails Bonds by a single home run, and the struggling Preston Wilson by 13 RBIs.
Both Bonds and Pujols are the key players for their teams but while the Giants rely on Barry and pitching the Cardinals have a better-balanced offense to rely on. Both are key men to their teams but Bonds carries the Giants on his back in a way Pujols does not have to.
Gary Sheffield is a real dark horse candidate and is hurt by playing for such an offensively dominating team. His contribution is buried with the rest of the Jones’.
Jim Thome is another dark horse candidate. He is certainly the offensive heart and soul of the Phillies this year and has done far better than most experts thought he would since changing leagues. He has picked up and carried the team despite the disappointing seasons of Pat Burrell and David Bell.
So why does Barry win the award in my book?
I think he is the most feared hitter in baseball and rightfully so. In 2001 he had 156 hits -73 or 47% of his hits were home runs, in 2002 39% of his hits were home runs (46 of 147) and so far in 2003 35% of his hits are home runs (43 of 124). That's pretty scary with a guy batting .347. That's why I feel that the Giants are not the same team without him.
Consider that the highest average on the team after him is .292 and the next highest home run total is 19; it's obvious that he is the center of the team, and that's with all the "great pitches"* that the rest of the team gets since opponents would rather pitch to them than Barry. He has also driven in 13% and scored 15% of their runs year.
The Giants offense as of the 16th was tied for 19th overall in the Majors. If you removed Bonds - or just cut his runs scored 10% they fall to 25th, by 25% the Giants fall to 26th offensively. If you cut his runs scored by 50% the Giants fall to 28th (just behind the Mets).
I don't think there is another competitive team in baseball that matches up poorly offensively when compared to the Giants if you exclude Bonds. (actually the Dodgers might).
That is why I think Bonds is so important to the Giants and why he would have my vote for MVP barring Pujols winning the Triple Crown.
A lot of names have been bandied about for the AL MVP award. In truth its one of the closest races in years because no one has head and shoulders stood out from the crowd. In fact some of the best players statistically play for teams that are so far out of the playoff race that it hurts their chances since many people believe that a MVP should come from a winning or contending team.
So who are the players that most experts are calling contenders?
Carlos Delgado: 35 HR, 126 RBI, 106 Runs, .298 AVG. He’s driven in 15.4% of the Toronto runs and scored 12.9% of them.
Alex Rodriguez: 43 HR, 109 RBI, 116 Runs, .298 AVG. He’s driven in 14.3% of the Ranger runs and scored 15.3% of them.
Ichiro Suzuki: 13 HR, 54 RBI, 105 Runs, .309 AVG. 31 SB. He’s driven in 7.4% of the Seattle runs and scored 14.3% of them.
Magglio Ordonez: 27 HR, 90 RBI, 90 Runs, .324 AVG. 9 SB. He’s driven in 12.5% of the White Sox runs and scored 12.5% of them.
Carlos Beltran: 23 HR, 94 RBI, 88 Runs, .303 AVG. 36 SB. He’s driven in 12.5% of the Kansas City runs and scored 11.7% of them.
Nomar Garciaparra: 25 HR, 97 RBI, 113 Runs, .309 AVG. 16 SB. He’s driven in 10.8% of the Boston runs and scored 12.6% of them.
Brett Boone: 33 HR, 108 RBI, 101 Runs, .285 AVG. 14 SB. He’s driven in 14.7% of the Seattle runs and scored 13.8% of them.
Manny Ramirez: 33 HR, 96 RBI, 108 Runs, .324 AVG. 3 SB. He’s driven in 10.8% of the Boston runs and scored 12.1% of them.
Carlos Lee: 30 HR, 104 RBI, 91 Runs, .294 AVG. 18 SB. He’s driven in 14.9% of the White Sox runs and scored 12.7% of them.
In addition there are a handful of dark horse candidates including Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi (both of whom have similar stats to most of those above except that their averages are in the .250 range).
Also in the mix have to be considered several starting pitchers - although it’s definitely not a fan favorite choice to have a starter thrown into the mix for MVP. Those pitchers are Tim Hudson, Roy Halladay and Esteban Loaiza.
Tim Hudson: 15 wins, 2.66 ERA 150 Ks, 16.7% of team wins.
Roy Halladay: 20 wins, 3.30 ERA, 180 Ks, 26.3% of team wins.
Esteban Loaiza: 19 wins, 2.73 ERA, 185Ks, 23.8% of team wins
I however want to throw one more name into the mix.
Dmitri Young: 28 HR, 75 RBI, 70 Runs, .285 AVG. 2 SB.
Realize that his stats are deceiving. He has driven in 15% of the Detroit runs and scored 13.6% of them. Only A-Rod has been involved in a higher percentage of scoring and Delgado is the only player who has been involved in an identical percentage of team scoring. However what’s really amazing about Young is that he has essentially done all of this in a lineup with zero support and no real threat batting behind him. Without Young in their lineup the Tigers would have been hard pressed to even win 30 games.
If what the MVP really means is the guy most valuable to his team then only Roy Halladay, Esteban Loaiza, Carlos Delgado, A-Rod, and Dmitri Young have contributed enough to be considered. Of these only Young has had to do it all himself. If the MVP is given to a non-contender and the voters do not seriously consider Dmitri Young then there is a serious flaw in the voting process.
If the MVP must go to a contender then as of this writing I would list Brett Boone as my favorite due to his overall excellent level of contribution and keeping the Mariners competitive this season. His involvement in 28.5 of the team's scoring wins him my vote.
Still there are another 2 weeks for someone to make a late surge, because in my heart I think if the voting were to happen today I see a pitcher as the most valuable player to his team after Dmitri Young - and that pitcher is Roy Halladay (who probably will not win the Cy Young).
*quotes were from Marquis Grissom
** Bonds numbers were as of 9/16