Tag: mvp

National League Predictions

Everyone else is making predictions, so why not MetsToday? We’ll focus on the National League, since that remains the only professional league still playing baseball, and not some twisted variation of the sport.

Cy Young Award

Obvious Candidates: Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, , Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Carlos Zambrano.

Sleepers: Edinson Volquez, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Cook, Ricky Nolasco.

Prediction: Santana

If Santana remains healthy, he should pitch through the 7th inning at least 25 times this year. If his one-two finishing punch of J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez also remains healthy, Johan could win 20 of those 25, if not more.

Should any of those three suffer a significant injury, my money is on Volquez.

MVP


Obvious candidates:
Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran, David Wright.

Sleepers:
Hanley Ramirez, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Nate McLouth.

Prediction: This one’s too hard, you can’t really choose an MVP without knowing what teams are in the playoffs. I’m going to go on a limb and give it to Votto, who is poised for a breakout year.

Rookie of the Year


Candidates:
Jason Motte, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Jordan Zimmerman

Prediction:
My research on the rookies is awful. I’m going to go with Motte, who could save 25+ games for the Cardinals. After Motte I like Schafer, who is slated to start in centerfield for the Braves.

Batting Title

Another tough one. I don’t see Chipper Jones hitting .364 again, though I wouldn’t be stunned to see Pujols hit .350 again. In fact, with Matt Holliday out of the league, this might be Pujols’ best chance for a triple crown. Someone’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise us all, and I say it’s going to be James Loney.

Saves Leader

Can Francisco Rodriguez save 60 games again? Doubtful — he may not get that many opportunities in the competitive NL East. I’m betting on a neck-and-neck race between Jose Valverde and the “other” Francisco Cordero, of Cincinnati.

NL West Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Dodgers still have Manny, but they don’t have Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, nor Takashi Saito. After Chad Billingsley, the pitching staff looks questionable — even Jonathan Broxton looks like he might take a step back. I like the pitching of the Giants and the Diamondbacks, and think Arizona will have a little more offense and the better bullpen.

NL Central Champion: Chicago Cubs

On paper, the Cubs look to be the class of the NL, with great pitching depth and plenty of offense. However, they won’t run away with the division. I’m betting that the Reds have a surprising season, and that the Pirates climb out of the basement, while Houston and Milwaukee fight for last place.

NL East Champion: ?

This one’s too close to home. If I choose the Mets, I’m supposed to because this is a Mets blog. If I don’t choose the Mets, you wonder how I can’t since this is a Mets blog. So I’ll say this: the NL East is going to once again be a dogfight, and go down to the last weeks of the season. Further, neither the Marlins nor the Nationals will be pushovers in ’09, and the Braves won’t be left behind when it gets down to the wire. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if four games or less separates the Phillies, Mets, Braves, and Marlins when it’s all said and done. The Wild Card also will come from the East.

Agree or disagree with anything? Comment away!

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Most Valuable What?

One of the latest headlines was the news that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was the recipient of the National League Most Valuable Player Award, as voted by the Baseball Writers Association. Was Pujols really the “most valuable”, however? Is it even arguable that he was the “best player” in the NL during the 2008 season?

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

valuable
Pronunciation:
\val-yu-bel\
Function:
adjective
Date:
circa 1576

1 a: having monetary value b: worth a good price2 a: having desirable or esteemed characteristics or qualities b: of great use or service

Based on the above, it can absolutely be argued that Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is valuable. He does have monetary value, after all, and is worth a good price. He definitely has desirable AND esteemed characteristics and qualities. And, yes, he is of great use or service. But is he MOST valuable?

It has always been my belief that a baseball MVP should be the player who is “most valuable” to their particular team. Further, that he should be as close to indispensable as possible. In other words, it should be assumed that his team would not have been able to manage its success without him. Lastly, it is my opinion that an MVP should almost always come from a team that participates in the postseason, or at the very least a team that surprisingly finished in second. And that player should be so valuable, that had he been removed from his team, his team probably would not have been able to finish as successfully as they did.

Again, this is my hard-boiled opinion on what the MVP should be. Many argue that it simply should be the player who had “the best year”, regardless of where his team finishes.

In either case, it’s hard to understand the choice of Albert Pujols as the NL 2008 MVP.

Let’s get this out of the way: I hate Albert Pujols, while simultaneously respecting the fact that he is the second-most talented all-around ballplayer on the planet, next to A-Rod. He may even transcend A-Rod at this point in each player’s career. But, talent alone does not make him “most valuable”, and doesn’t make him “best” in a particular year. His performance in 2008 was very good — it was borderline outstanding. But it wasn’t the “best” of 2008, and it certainly wasn’t “most valuable”.

First of all, his basic, non-SABR numbers: .357 AVG., 37 HRs, 116 RBI, 100 Runs. I focus on the non-SABR numbers because these have been the ultimate, final distillation of the value of a player, in every era going back a hundred years. You want to know who is most valuable based on VORP, Runs Created, etc., go to Hardball Times or Baseball Prospectus (both fine resources) — we don’t do that here, and I’m openly willing to admit the atrocity of my old-school, hard-headed ignorance.

But I digress … back to the Pujols story.

Pujols’ .357 batting average is indeed outstanding. But it wasn’t the best. His 37 homers were also a strong output, but it was far from the best. The 116 RBI are good, but again, not the best. To score 100 runs is a great and unusual feat, but, not the best. What Pujols did better than anyone else in the NL was collect total bases, which led to his leading the league in slugging, and when combined with his high walk rate allowed him to lead the NL in OPS. So from the single-minded perspective of the Billy Beane worshipping sabermetrician, Pujols’ NL-leading 1.114 On-Base-Plus-Slugging percentage was enough to deem him the “best” player, or perhaps “player of the year”. But if that OPS is also evidence that he is the “most valuable”, I have a bone to pick.

The main reason for my argument is this: in spite of this monstrous OPS, the St. Louis Cardinals finished in fourth place. FOURTH PLACE. Say all you want about the value of getting on base — bottom line is, Pujols’ individual performance meant zilch to the Cardinals’ final win total. I don’t care that he also led the league in “batting wins” — those didn’t help the Cardinals smell the wild card. I may be going out on a limb here, but I believe sincerely that St. Louis would have finished in fourth place even if they didn’t have Albert Pujols. Crazy, I know, but I just don’t see either the Pirates or the Reds being much of a threat last year.

On the other hand, there is Ryan Howard, who led the NL in homeruns and in RBI. For those unaware, RBI stands for “runs batted in”. When a player bats in a run, that means his team scores. When his team scores more than the other team, it results in a “win”. The more “wins” a team has, the closer it gets to being the “world champion”.

In addition to batting in 146 runs (30 more than Pujols), Howard also scored 105 (5 more than Pujols). So it can be argued that Howard was 35 runs better than Pujols.

The knock against Howard was his low batting average — only .251. Well, nobody’s perfect. The point is, when Howard DID hit safely, he usually either drove in a run, or eventually scored one.

Those 146 RBI and 105 runs scored helped his team finish in first place, and win the World Series. Anyone who witnessed Howard’s barrage on NL pitching in September, when he mashed at .352 clip and drove in 32 runs in 25 games, can account for his “value” in propelling the Phillies over the Mets in the final weeks of the season. Yes, Pujols also had an outstanding finish, but all he did was help his team get a little closer to third place. I’m sorry but the drama leaves something to be desired.

And when it comes right down to it, Pujols wasn’t even the second-most valuable player in the NL. I’d give that to Manny Ramirez, hands-down. Anyone who thinks the Dodgers would have made their way to the postseason without Manny, either wasn’t paying attention or doesn’t understand baseball. No Manny = no playoffs for the Dodgers. That in itself makes Ramirez more valuable than Pujols — he singlehandedly carried a .500 team to the NLCS.

Finally, there’s enough argument to suggest that Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, and C.C. Sabathia were more valuable to their teams than Albert Pujols.

But in the end, it appears that this year’s vote had very little to do with a player’s value to his team, and more about the player with the most INDIVIDUAL value. Hooray to the number-crunching SABR crowd — you’ve won this round. Maybe that’s why I’m getting more and more disgusted with MLB with each passing year. At every turn, it’s trying to be the NBA, focused on promoting individual players and the stats and awards they can accumulate, rather than the concept of team. Which is too bad, because it’s with a cohesive team that the best things get done in both sport and society.

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MVP, Cy Young, ROY, Etc, Awards

Who do you think will / should win the NL MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and every other individual achievement award?

(Since the American League doesn’t play baseball, but some distorted version of it using substitute hitters and other such anomalies, we won’t discuss their individual achievements here.)

Comeback Player of the Year: Brad Lidge

Lidge already won the award, and deservedly so. I saw Ryan Ludwick garner significant votes, but I’m not sure what he was coming back from — he was NEVER any good, was he? Maybe there should be an award for “Late Bloomer of the Year”.
Mets CPOTY: Fernando Tatis

NL Rookie of the Year: Geovany Soto

Jair Jurrjens is up there too, as is Jay Bruce, but Soto put up the best numbers for a rookie catcher in a long time. Edinson Volquez would be tied with Soto, but he pitched just enough in the junior circuit to remove his rookie status.
Mets ROY: Daniel Murphy. Tough luck for Danny Boy, as he exceeded rookie status by one at-bat — so no chance to vie for this award in 2009.

Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella

This was a really tough one, as it was a neck-and-neck decision between Piniella and Charlie Manuel — and I had to give Dale Sveum consideration as well. Laugh all you want, but Sveum found a way to manage a team that appeared to be dead and buried, and was 2 1/2 games out of the wild card with six games to play, into the postseason.

I chose Piniella over Manuel because he managed around several key injuries during the season and still led the Cubs to the best record in the NL. At various points, the Cubs lost Alfonso Soriano, closer Kerry Wood, and ace Carlos Zambrano for significant periods. Further, Piniella inserted Wood into the closer role, and moved previous closer Ryan Dempster to the rotation — two moves that made a huge impact on the team’s success. Piniella also gets props for his ability to mix and match his middle infielders and center fielders for maximum performance. Finally, Piniella did an excellent job of bullpen management, an area where Charlie Manuel also did very well.
Mets MOY: Jerry Manuel (runner up: Willie Randolph)

NL Cy Young Award: Brandon Webb

The National League has not seen a 20-game winner since 2005, and that benchmark gets more and more difficult to reach as today’s game continues to degenerate by relying heavily on bullpens. The award is named for Cy Young because he won more games than anyone else in history — not because he was necessarily the best all-around or most-skilled pitcher. In the spirit of that, Webb gets the award by a landslide.
Mets CY: Johan Santana

NL MVP: Manny Ramirez

Scream all you want about Manny only playing half a season (actually, less than that). Bottom line is this: without Manny, the Dodgers don’t come close to the playoffs, much less win the NL West. There are strong arguments for Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and C.C. Sabathia, and if you said I can’t pick Manny because he played in only 53 games, then I’d go with Howard. If the Mets made the playoffs, Carlos Delgado and David Wright would easily be in this conversation.
Mets MVP: tie, Carlos Delgado and David Wright

Post your choices below.

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