More AL MVP Talk

21 Sep

As I posted earlier, the next week will be, or at least could be, incredibly intriguing because of the three Twins/White Sox games and the scenarios that could happen because of whatever happens in those games. But there is also something else for Twins fans to watch through the season’s final week, and that is the American League MVP race.

There are a lot of hitters hitting very well this year in the league, but none that are head and shoulders above the rest. I think there are ten guys whose names should be in the discussion, to some degree. In my mind, there are really only five guys that really should be in the discussion. Interestingly, those five players come from just three teams. Both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau from the Twins should be in the discussion. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youklis who warrant strong consideration this year. The other is Carlos Quentin of the White Sox who, despite missing the last three or four weeks of the season, still has to be in the discussion. Others that have been solid enough statistically to have their numbers mentioned include Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, Aubrey Huff of the Orioles, Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Grady Sizemore from Cleveland.

In my mind, the choice is easy. Even without my obviously homer-ish tendencies, I think that Justin Morneau is the choice for AL MVP. Both Phil Miller of the Pioneer Press and LaVelle E. Neal of the Star-Tribune penned articles on Justin Morneau’s MVP Candidacy over the weekend.  

Let’s start by looking at the more typical statistics to compare the favorites:

 

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

XB Hits

RBI

Runs

Justin Morneau

310

382

518

900

73

128

93

Dustin Pedroia

324

376

492

868

70

79

116

Carlos Quentin

288

394

571

965

63

100

96

Kevin Youklis

311

384

556

940

71

107

87

Joe Mauer

329

415

448

863

40

79

95

Alex Rodriguez

304

393

581

974

68

101

103

Aubrey Huff

311

367

568

934

82

107

95

Josh Hamilton

308

374

538

912

70

124

94

Miguel Cabrera

297

356

548

905

72

125

83

Grady Sizemore

275

381

520

901

76

89

97

If you look at these more basic statistics, you have to wonder how the two Twins are in the discussion. Morneau leads the league in RBI, a statistic many voters put a lot of value upon. Valuable hitters drive in runs, particularly in big spots. I think it is important to look at more than just home runs, so I put extra base hits in the conversation. If you go by that, you understand why Aubrey Huff is mentioned, and again have to wonder why Joe Mauer is included. If OPS is your favorite statistic to show value (getting on base and total bases are important), then Alex Rodriguez is the clear winner. Again, if you just look at these numbers, you can lump all ten of them together and it would be impossible to really pick a winner. So, we have to look a little deeper, at some more advanced statistical analysis.

 

RC

Clutch

WS

WPA

VORP

Justin Morneau

124

13.5

28

4.1

51.6

Dustin Pedroia

105

-4.6

23

3.2

59.8

Carlos Quentin

102

3.6

24

3.9

51.3

Kevin Youklis

111

13.2

24

1.6

49.7

Joe Mauer

98

2.6

27

4.6

52.5

Alex Rodriguez

93

-13.2

23

0.3

65.7

Aubrey Huff

117

2.8

23

2.4

62

Josh Hamilton

114

2.4

27

3.8

57.4

Miguel Cabrera

111

2.5

19

3.8

49.4

Grady Sizemore

123

-1.1

27

3.5

67

Alright, here are some other statistics, four at The Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus and Fan Graphs.

·         Runs Created shows Justin Morneau at the top of the list, one point ahead of Grady Sizemore, and significantly ahead of the rest of the pack.

·         Clutch is obviously something that shows value, and again, Justin Morneau is at the top of the list, with Kevin Youklis the only one even close.

·         Justin Morneau is also at the top of the Win Shares list, which does factor in defense.

·         Win Probability Added obviously shows which hitters consistently come up big in important situations. Morneau comes in second in that category. Two whom? Teammate Joe Mauer has a big lead in that category.

·         Some will say that Value Over Replacement Player is important to the league MVP discussion. I do think that it has to be considered, but at the same time, the league MVP award is not a position ranking, it’s a league award. That said, this statistic again shows me that Grady Sizemore has been very good on a team that has played quite well down the stretch, although too late. Really, each of the players is doing well in this category. Of course, at 1B, there are more players who do well, so to still have a VORP that high is very impressive.

SUMMARY

Again, I wanted to look at as many names as I could to make sure that my belief that Justin Morneau should be the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player. Everyone has their favorite statistics, so I wanted to look at several that people can use to try to get a feel for each. I don’t want to let any one statistic be the reason to pick a player. However, in my mind, an MVP should:

·         Play most of his team’s games. (I think that all of the above names fit this category, you could argue that Joe Mauer and Carlos Quentin could be deducted a little bit based on games played.)

·         Be a hitter unless something absolutely crazy happens (I don’t care how great Cliff Lee was, he only pitched in about one-fifth of Cleveland’s games. I don’t care how many Saves Francisco Rodriguez racked up this season, he pitched in less than half of his team’s games, and if you want to get into it, he wasn’t even one of the game’s best closers).

·         Be from a contending team, or at least a very good team. I don’t subscribe to the thought that an MVP has to be from a playoff team or a division winner, only that his team be in contention most of the season. (That really eliminates the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Aubrey Huff, Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera and Grady Sizemore.)

My Vote (with a week to go in the season)

1.)    Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins

2.)    Kevin Youklis, Boston Red Sox

3.)    Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

4.)    Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins

5.)    Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians

6.)    Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox

7.)    Aubrey Huff, OF, Baltimore Orioles

8.)    Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers

9.)    Cliff Lee, SP, Cleveland Indians

10.)                        Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees

 

What do you think? Any thoughts?

 

With that, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com,

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7 Responses to “More AL MVP Talk”

  1. lookatthosetwins September 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Well I feel like, as much as playing most of the teams games is important, it also is one of the main reasons why morneau is at the top of so many lists – he hasn’t missed a game all year. Now mauer has missed games, but he’s been healthy all year and is second in the league in innings caught, so I feel like that more than justifies his lower counting stats. That includes WPA, where he’s the clear leader despite that also being a counting stat. I’ll give my vote to the guy who is rediculously better than anyone else at a very hard, important position, over the guy who plays every day because he plays an easier position. Don’t get me wrong, I love Morneau, and will be happy if he wins it, but Mauer is a historically great catcher, and Morneau is just another in a long line of great hitting first basemen.

  2. Bobby Ricigliano September 22, 2008 at 7:02 pm #

    I’m curious what the same comparison would show for 2006.

  3. h2oface September 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    justin needs to step it up to deserve to win.
    this is not a best stats award.
    justin has NOT delvered in the cleveland and tampa bay series.
    not like an mvp does.
    pop ups and hitting into double plays with the runners on and the bases sacked with the division title on the line doesn’t make for an mvp.
    but he has 6 games left to sweep to deserve it.
    i’ll be rooting for him!

  4. Seth September 22, 2008 at 11:25 pm #

    An MVP can not ground into double plays or pop up during the season? IF that’s the rule h2o, then no one would win the award.

  5. lookatthosetwins September 23, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    Seth where do you get your “clutch” stat from? Fangraphs has Joe Mauer leading the league with 1.59, while Morneau is 8th at .85. There is no description on how they calculate it exactly, it just says it bases it on how well they do in clutch situations compared to how well they do normally, so a .300 hitter who hits .300 in clutch situations would have a 0 clutch rating. The good news is both metrics have Arod in last by a long shot.

  6. Seth September 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    I think that was in The Hardball Times…

  7. h2oface September 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    sure, all batters are going to hit pop ups and ground into double plays during the season, seth.
    but an mvp rises to the occasion with the intense pressure in those situations……….
    especially those situations…….
    and repeatedly in those situations…………
    when needed the most!
    and doesn’t pop up or ground into a double play.
    that is what makes him the mvp.
    not stats that come with the bases empty perhaps and runs driven in when you already lead by 5 or are behind by 5.
    i am not saying he has not had a great year…..
    and i am familiar with those all his stats…
    the average with runners in scoring position…
    the 23 home runs………
    the rbi’s, etc.
    this next 6 games will show you if he is the “MVP”.
    and you know seth……..
    sometimes there isn’t a real mvp…….
    but since there is a yearly award……
    it is givien out anyway.
    the hall of fame doesn’t have to give out its admittance award every year…. just when it is “deserving”
    but that is a whole other discussion….

    i hope justin shows us he is the mvp
    and crushes these next 6 games………
    4-6 home runs…..
    10-15 rbi’s…….
    hit .400
    and brings the twins to the division title with the pressure on!
    now that is an mvp!

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