Which one of these players received more points in the American League Most Valuable Player award voting in 2010?
A) CC Sabathia
B) Ichiro Suzuki
C) Rafael Soriano
Alright, this probably qualifies as one of those questions in which one answer is so ridiculous, it has to be the correct response. Dingdingding! If you guessed Soriano, with 21 vote points, you'd be correct.
The definition of "MVP" is so vague that the voting breakdown is always interesting because it reveals how voters feel "value" is defined. Josh Hamilton ran away with the award last season, even though Miguel Cabrera had a higher on-base percentage, Jose Bautista hit more home runs and Evan Longoria had a higher wins-above-replacement.
And Rafael Soriano was 12th in the voting.
There's a great excerpt from a recent column by Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated that sums up the absurdity of MVP voting:
*Speaking of awards and 1967, you probably know off the top of your head that Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown that year. In addition to that, he had one of the great final months in baseball history and led the Impossible Dream Red Sox to the World Series. I would say that no matter how you look at baseball — stat-oriented, gut-oriented, clutch-oriented, believer in the heart, whatever — you had to vote Yaz as MVP. When you take into account the countless ways that people look at baseball, I would say that Yaz in 1967 was the all-time MVP slam dunk. Right?
No. Yaz received 19 of 20 votes. The other vote? Minneapolis’ Max Nichols voted for Cesar Tovar. You know what Cesar Tovar hit in 1967? .267/.325/.365. Obviously, Wins Above Replacement was not a thing in 1967, but Tovar still finished ninth ON THE TWINS. I think we can retire the trophy. That’s the worst individual vote in Baseball Writers history. Max Nichols went on to have a long and admirable career in journalism, by the way. That was, however, the last year he covered baseball.
In the spirit of Cesar Tovar, here are a few guys that have absolutely, positively no viable claim to the MVP award, along with an argument in favor of each.
Adam Dunn (.163 batting average, .290 OBP, 11 home runs, 40 RBIs) – No matter how anyone feels about the validity of WAR, the stat hits the nail on the head with Dunn. Dunn's WAR is minus-2.5, meaning he's costing the White Sox 2 1/2 wins below what a normal Triple-A player would provide.
Why he deserves a vote: Dunn has proven his value by showing White Sox fans that Alex Rios isn't the worst player in the world. Rios at least owes Dunn a steak dinner for that.
Orlando Cabrera (.244 average, 20 extra-base hits, minus-0.8 ultimate zone rating) – Once upon a time, Cabrera was a defensive upgrade over Nomar Garciaparra. Now he's an upgrade over, I don't know, a rock?
Why he deserves a vote: The quality of the Giants' pitchers is well-documented, but when one considers how terrible the defense behind them has been — so bad that they traded for Cabrera to get better defensively — it gives us a renewed appreciation for Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong.
Vernon Wells (.215 average, .395 slugging average, 156 total bases) – In his final season in Toronto, Wells compiled 304 total bases. His 162-game average for his career is 298. He's on pace this season for 201 this season.
Why he deserves a vote: If not for Wells' untradeable seven-year, $126 million contract that runs through 2014, the Angels might have been tempted to ship out Wells for a player that could help them catch the Rangers in the AL West standings. While that might help the Halos in the short run, it could create a roadblock for top prospect Mike Trout, who looks like he's just about ready to be a full-time big leaguer. So in a way, Wells' massive, franchise-killing contract is actually helping the Angels' future.
Mark Reynolds (.226 average, 30 home runs, 154 strikeouts) – The Orioles first baseman has had a great season, if we're judging on 1970s standards. His 14.8 at-bat per home run rate is fourth in the AL, but he doesn't reach base even a third of the time and he's a dominant strikeout hitter (only Dunn has been whiffed more often).
Why he deserves a vote: The O's only average about a dozen fans per game, give or take, so anyone with an outfield seat this season has faced good odds of catching a Reynolds home run ball. Call him The Souvenir Candidate.
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