November 19, 2006

AL MVP?

The American League Most Valuable Player will be announced on Tuesday.

Derek Jeter easily topped the MVP voting at Baseball Prospectus (from both the staff and public) and he won the Aaron Award as the AL's top offensive player. This gives me a pretty good feeling that he'll also be the favourite of the BBWAA.

Back in mid-September, many scribes proclaimed Jeter as the logical choice, especially after David Ortiz missed eight games with heart palpitations. In mid-September, Bob Ryan of the Globe wrote: "It would be a mockery to anoint anyone else."

However, even with Papi's time off, Jeter played in only three more games (154 to 151), so there is no reason why Ortiz's absence should count against him. Nevertheless, The Man himself has no expectations of winning: "Apparently, a designated hitter doesn't win it ... I was very frustrated in 2004 when I didn't win the award, but I don't think about that anymore."

So, after finishing the second-best season of his career, the Yankee shortstop and captain is the favourite. For Red Sox fans, the discussion can perhaps be boiled down to this question(s): Was Jeter the most valuable player in the American League in 2006? (And if not, who was?)

The first problem -- and perhaps the biggest obstacle -- is figuring out exactly what a "Valuable Player" is. The voting standards on the official ballot are open to multiple interpretations. Ryan admitted that the concept is nebulous:
How much stock are we really supposed to put in the word "valuable"? Is "valuable" actually a synonym for "irreplaceable," and if that's the case, why should a player be penalized if his team has an adequate substitute for him, thus rendering him less "irreplaceable"? I must tell you I have a real problem when people harp on this word "valuable," as opposed to, for example, "outstanding." I'd like to introduce another word: worthy. Most Worthy Player. How does that sound?"
Not much better. "Worth" is no easier to pin down than "value".

Here's my definition of the MVP: If I was building a team for 2007, my MVP would be the guy I would choose first if I was guaranteed his 2006 performance.

I looked at ten worthy contenders -- Jeter, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, and Travis Hafner -- and looked at how they did in three categories: hitting, fielding, baserunning. (Johan Santana will get some much-deserved votes, and he's in my Top 10, but I'm looking only at non-pitchers.)

Here are some basic hitting stats and each player's ranking among AL hitters (I've listed them by OPS):
           AVG  R   OBP  R   SLG  R    OPS  R
Hafner .308 17 .439 2 .659 1 1.097 1
Ramirez .321 8 .439 1 .619 4 1.058 2
Ortiz .287 38 .413 7 .636 2 1.049 3
Thome .288 37 .416 5 .598 5 1.014 4
Dye .315 12 .385 12 .622 3 1.006 5
Giambi .253 71 .413 6 .558 7 .971 6
Mauer .347 1 .429 3 .507 20 .936 7
Morneau .321 7 .375 18 .559 6 .934 8
Rodriguez .290 32 .392 9 .523 14 .914 13
Jeter .343 2 .417 4 .483 29 .900 15
Jeter finished second in the AL in batting average and 4th in OBP, but his lack of power gives him the lowest OPS of these 10 players. His slugging percentage was a distant 29th -- 176 points behind Hafner.

Of Jeter's 214 hits, 158 of them -- 74% -- were singles. By comparison, Hafner had 47% (66 of 140), Ortiz 47% (75 of 160) and Manny 56% (81 of 144). Mark Loretta, who appeared to hit only singles this year, had 79% (143 of 181).

Baseball Reference's Top 10 in OPS+ (which is park-adjusted):
Hafner    183
Ramirez 168
Ortiz 164
Thome 156
Giambi 154
Dye 152
Mauer 144
Guerrero 144
Thomas 141
Morneau 140
Jeter came in at 138.

Runs Created as calculated by Baseball Reference, The Hardball Times and ESPN (and each player's AL ranking):
           BR  R   THT  R    ESPN  R
Jeter 123 8 138 1 128.2 3
Ortiz 146 1 127 2 141.8 1
Thome 122 9 124 4 122.8 5
Morneau 125 6 121 5 119.7 8
Hafner 130 2 121 6 124.4 4
Dye 128 3 120 8 120.4 7
Rodriguez 116 117 9 113.5 13
Ramirez 124 7 112 15 116.7 11
Giambi 100 111 16 106.5 20
Mauer 114 106 20 107.6 19
THT says its formula is "the most complicated version, which includes the impact of hitting well with runners in scoring position, and is adjusted for ballpark impact", so I ranked the hitters according to them.

Grady Sizemore was #3 at THT (124), #4 at BR (128) and #2 at ESPN (134.1). ... And even though he missed all of September, Hafner did amazingly well.

Runs Created per 27 Outs (ranked according to THT):
           BREF    THT  R   ESPN  R
Hafner 10.77 10.4 1 10.31 1
Ramirez 10.24 9.9 2 9.64 2
Thome 9.15 9.6 3 9.21 4
Jeter 7.58 9.1 4 7.90 7
Giambi 7.71 9.0 5 8.22 6
Dye 8.77 8.8 6 8.25 5
Ortiz 9.50 8.6 7 9.23 3
Mauer 8.23 8.4 8 7.76 8
Morneau 7.92 8.1 9 7.59 9
Rodriguez 7.18 7.8 11 7.03 15
Jeter had the third-most PA in the AL (715), so this rate stat bumps him down a bit. According to BR, a lineup of 9 Hafners would score nearly 3.2 more runs per nine innings than a lineup of 9 Jeters -- and Giambi was actually the top hitter in the Yankees' lineup. (What's with the differences in Jeter's and Giambi's THT numbers?)

Baseball Prospectus' Equivalent Average (EQA) (and Al ranking):
            EQA   AL
Hafner .355 1
Ramirez .342 2
Ortiz .334 3
Thome .328 4
Giambi .326 5
Mauer .321 6
Dye .320 7
Jeter .316 8
Rodriguez .311 10
Morneau .308 13
EQA measures "total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching." EQA also considers baserunning, but not fielding, and "is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average".

SABR member Bill Gilbert compiled the 2006 leaders in Bases Per Plate Appearance (BPA). This is the formula: (TB + BB + HB + SB - CS - GIDP) / (AB + BB + HB + SF). Here are the 14 MLB players with a BPA over .600 in 2006:
Hafner    .703
Howard .700
Pujols .694
Ortiz .681
Beltran .667
Thome .659
Berkman .658
Ramirez .654
Dye .637
Giambi .634
Soriano .632
Sizemore .605
Johnson .604
Cabrera .604
and six more with a .600+ BPA, but who did not have enough plate appearances to qualify:
Luke Scott     .667
Barry Bonds .647
Chipper Jones .629
Ryan Theriot .621
Chris Duncan .615
David Ross .613
(This was Manny's 9th straight season over .600.) I emailed Gilbert and asked for the BPA of the other AL players we are looking at. Putting them together:
Hafner    .703
Ortiz .681
Thome .659
Ramirez .654
Dye .637
Giambi .634
Sizemore .605

Morneau .573
Rodriguez .573
Jeter .562
Mauer .535
Regarding Mauer, Gilbert wrote: "Not much power and too many GIDP."

One stat in which Jeter led the AL was Win Shares, a complicated formula invented by Bill James. Here are each player's batting and fielding WS and their rounded total:
          Bat  Fld  WS    WSP
Jeter 28.0 4.6 33 .882
Mauer 21.3 9.5 31 .970
Ortiz 29.3 0.1 29 1.093
Ramirez 26.9 2.1 29 1.008
Morneau 25.5 2.0 27 .765
Ibanez 24.0 3.1 27 .737
Guillen 21.5 4.3 26 .769
Dye 23.7 2.8 26 .812
Thome 25.9 0.0 26 1.089
Young 18.5 7.7 26 .679
Hafner, Sizemore, Santana and Slappy all had 25 WS. (In the NL, Pujols (39), Beltran (38), Berkman (34) and Cabrera (34) topped every AL player.) Note: James explains that Win Shares do not discriminate against players on losing teams on pages 168-173 of his book Win Shares.

The WS stats come from The Hardball Times, which says it has "tweaked James' original formula somewhat".

Jeter topped the AL in WS, but when we look at Win Shares Percent (WSP) -- a measure of the player's contribution, given his playing time -- he drops to 5th on our list.

Jeter also led the AL in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), which measures "the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances." However, when we adjust for playing time and look at VORPr (runs per game), Jeter slips a bit:
          VORP Rank   VORPr  Rank
Jeter 80.5 1 .498 3
Hafner 79.7 2 .611 1
Ortiz 76.8 3 .494 4
Mauer 66.9 5 .470 5
Ramirez 66.1 7 .523 2
Dye 64.6 9 .458 6
Thome 62.6 11 .445 8
Morneau 52.0 13 .336 16
Rodriguez 51.6 14 .339 15
Giambi 47.4 19 .363 14
Looking back at Bob Ryan's article asserting Jeter's worthiness as MVP, he wrote:
The numbers are all in order, right down to categories such as hitting with runners in scoring position and late-inning pressure averages. ... In a season of great Yankees turmoil, he was the absolute rock, the absolute leader, the absolute irreplaceable man. He was, in short, the most worthy player in the American League.
Here is how our candidates hit with runners in scoring position (minimum 150 PA and ranked by AL OPS):
           AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  AL
Hafner .305 .472 .718 1.189 1
Thome .336 .468 .690 1.158 2
Giambi .271 .485 .662 1.147 3
Dye .351 .421 .716 1.138 4
Ramirez .323 .471 .605 1.076 5
Jeter .381 .482 .581 1.063 6
Mauer .360 .497 .544 1.041 9
Morneau .323 .401 .575 .976 13
Ortiz .288 .429 .538 .967 14
Rodriguez .302 .431 .508 .939 19
Jeter finished #2 in batting average (behind Michael Young, .412), #3 in OBP and #10 in slugging. His slugging with RISP was 43 points higher than Ortiz. (Albert Pujols led all major leaguers with a .535 OBP, .802 SLG, and 1.337 OPS with RISP -- and his .397 BA was second to Young.)

"Close and Late" are plate appearances "in the seventh or later inning with the score tied or one team leading by a run; or with the tying run on base, at the plate, or on deck." Again, here are our 10 hitters (minimum 75 PA ranked by AL OPS):
           AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  AL
Hafner .411 .522 .821 1.343
Ortiz .314 .443 .756 1.199 1
Ramirez .262 .459 .525 .983 7
Giambi .222 .421 .556 .977 8
Dye .299 .351 .582 .933
Morneau .299 .343 .540 .884 15
Thome .188 .409 .469 .878 16
Mauer .288 .419 .452 .871 17
Jeter .325 .434 .434 .868 18
Rodriguez .237 .326 .368 .694 56
Hafner (69) and Dye (73) did not have 75 PA, but I put them in the OPS ranking. This confirms Ortiz's standing as a guy who delivers when tight games are in the late innings. Thome and Giambi don't hit but they walk a lot -- and Slappy doesn't do much of anything.

A hitter's RBIs are subject to how many of his teammates are on base ahead of him. BP has a stat called OBI% -- the percentage of all runners on base batted in. Here are our MVP candidates and how they finished in the AL (with PA, ROB (runners on base for the player) and OBI (RBI-HR)):
           PA  ROB OBI   OBI%  AL
Morneau 661 469 96 20.5% 1
Hafner 564 382 75 19.6% 4
Jeter 715 444 83 18.7% 8
Mauer 608 397 71 17.9% 11
Dye 611 430 76 17.7% 13
Thome 610 389 67 17.2% 15
Ortiz 686 485 83 17.1% 18
Giambi 579 410 70 17.0% 21
Ramirez 558 406 67 16.5% 27
Rodriguez 674 534 86 16.1% 32
Is this a better definition of clutch? If so, Jeter tops Papi. Jeter and Ortiz each drove in 83 teammates, but look at their opportunities: even though Ortiz had 29 fewer trips to the plate than Jeter, he batted with 41 more runners on base. When it came to driving in runs, Jeter took better advantage of his situations than Ortiz.

More comparison of Jeter and Ortiz:
        AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS  OPS+  EQA
Jeter .343 .417 .483 .900 138 .316
Ortiz .287 .413 .636 1.049 164 .334

RS RBI BB K RC RC/27 VORP
Jeter 118 97 69 102 123 7.58 79.2
Ortiz 115 137 119 117 146 9.50 75.8
Ortiz makes up for the .056 difference in batting average (which says a single and a home run are equal) by drawing 50 more walks, thus making their OBPs roughly the same. Ortiz was obviously the better slugger, creating 23 additional runs in 29 fewer plate appearances. EQA gives Jeter credit for his stolen bases, but Ortiz still comes out comfortably ahead.

Manny and Jeter:
          AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS  OPS+  EQA
Jeter .343 .417 .483 .900 138 .316
Ramirez .321 .439 .619 1.058 168 .342

RS RBI BB K RC RC/27 VORP
Jeter 118 97 69 102 123 7.58 79.2
Ramirez 79 102 100 102 124 10.24 66.1
Re Jeter's 2006 OPS+ of 138: Manny has never had an OPS+ lower than 143 in any of his 12 full seasons. Ramirez's overall numbers are even more impressive when you learn that Boston's #5 hitters -- the guys batting behind Manny -- were far and away the worst in the AL -- putting up .231/.321/.362 line.

Fielding

Since several of our candidates -- Ortiz, Hafner, Thome -- are DHs, we should ask whether Jeter's MVP chances are helped by his performance at shortstop.

One note: Fielding percentage is just about worthless -- and has been for more than 100 years. A player will not make an error on a ball he can't get to -- he also won't record an out. I'll quickly note that of the nine qualifying AL shortstops, Jeter was 4th in fielding percentage -- middle of the pack -- before we all agree that FP should be immediately retired and never mentioned again (are you listening, Remdawg?).

Fielding statistics remain imprecise, but they are improving. Two of the best known are Range Factor (putouts and assists divided by innings) and Zone Rating (the percentage of balls fielded in the player's defensive zone):
            INN     TC   PO  A   E    RF   ZR
Peralta 1275.1 710 235 459 16 4.90 .817
Young 1356.1 747 241 492 14 4.86 .836
Uribe 1130.0 604 217 373 14 4.70 .868
Tejada 1294.2 675 238 418 19 4.56 .824
Berroa 1117.1 573 188 367 18 4.47 .791
Betancourt 1374.1 701 251 430 20 4.46 .806
Guillen 1235.0 634 178 428 28 4.42 .832
Cabrera 1321.2 645 253 376 16 4.29 .818
Jeter 1292.1 610 214 381 15 4.14 .810
Jeter finished last in RF and 7th in ZR. Among 24 qualifying MLB shortstops (playing 2 of every 3 games), Jeter was 19th. Alex Gonzalez did not play enough to meet the qualifications, but here are his fielding stats (and Alex Cora's):
           INN     TC   PO  A   E    RF   ZR
Jeter 1292.1 610 214 381 15 4.14 .810
Gonzalez 966.1 475 163 305 7 4.36 .863
Cora 434.0 239 66 167 6 4.83 .859
An infielder's RF will be affected if his team's pitching staff allows a higher percentage of ground balls or fly balls, but in Jeter's 11 full seasons, his RF has been above the league average only 4 times (1996, 1997, 2004, 2005). In the last 7 years, Jeter's RF/9 was higher than the league average only once (2005).

Finally, Jhonny Peralta played 17 fewer innings than Jeter in 2006, but he got to 100 more balls. And although Jeter played 162 more innings than Juan Uribe, he handled only six more chances. At a minimum, Jeter would have to be above average in the field to get any push towards the MVP, and I don't see any evidence that he was.

Jeter is a very smart and good baserunner. Here are the stolen base stats for our players, ranked by steals:
           SB  CS   SB%
Jeter 34 5 87.2
Rodriguez 15 4 78.9
Mauer 8 3 72.7
Dye 7 3 70.0
Morneau 3 3 50.0
Giambi 2 0 100.0
Ortiz 1 0 100.0
Hafner 0 0 0.0
Thome 0 0 0.0
Ramirez 0 1 0.0
The breakeven point for stealing second base is approximately 73% -- anything lower than that, and the player is harming his team. Jeter is clearly the best baserunner of the gang. But a player's baserunning is already factored into his EQA -- and Jeter was 8th in the AL in EQA.

Back in September, Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal wrote:
What's harder to see is the resolve, the grit, the fact that Jeter always comes to play, through the good times and the bad, the fact that it's always been Jeter that gives this team it's [sic] toughness. Maybe there is no more enduring image of his heart than the night against the Red Sox in 2004 when he chased a foul ball into the box seats, the ultimate example of hustle.
Maybe ... but that was 2.5 years ago. (And why couldn't you see that "Jeter always comes to play"? He's right there on the field!)

Reynolds notes that although Jeter has
benefited by being on a great team throughout his career ... by always being a part of the ensemble, never having to carry a team on his back, ... never been a guy who puts up the big power numbers, the kind of hits that get on highlight films. ... [But] Jeter is having one of his best seasons, in a year when this Yankee team so needed him to have one. Are there any better MVP credentials than that?
Yes, Bill, there are better credentials. Ortiz had a great season when his team really needed him to have one. Same with all of the other players. Every team needs its best players to have as great a season as possible -- that's pretty basic stuff. Jeter can be as gritty, tough and hearty as humanly possible, but if he doesn't create runs for his team, it won't make a damn bit of difference in the standings.

There was no player in the AL with significant fielding skills that also put up strong batting numbers, so I went mostly with hitting. A fewmonths ago, when I first mentioned doing a long MVP post, I had Hafner and Ramirez in mind for MVP. And even though they both missed games in September -- Hafner broke his right hand on September 1 -- they remain my top 2 choices.

Hafner has led the AL in OPS+ for each of the last three seasons, and he's gotten better each year: 158, 170, 183. And despite Ortiz's numerous game-winning hits, Manny gets the nod for simply being a more productive hitter.
1. Hafner
2. Ramirez
3. Ortiz
4. Santana
5. Jeter

26 comments:

Peter N said...

Hi, and great post. But it seems, at least for the MVP award, that the stats mean less than the public image, the popularity. So I just sit back and wait for it to be awarded, one for each league. And then I'll comment. Hope you are well...Peter

L-girl said...

Excellent post. Thanks for doing all the work.

I have one question. Could there be anything, ever, that could compel you to choose Derek Jeter for any award, ever?

Having known you for more than 20 years, and having listened to your opinions about baseball throughout, I firmly believe the answer is no.

I don't have an opinion on who should win this year's AL MVP. I think the awards are pretty silly and I don't pay much attention to them.

However, I do believe that if Derek Jeter were to have the greatest season in the history of baseball, you would find a way to show that the statistics prove that he didn't deserve the MVP.

You love those stats, but you love the Red Sox - and hate the Yankees - more.

Anonymous said...

Its a compelling argument. I find it difficult to argue for Ortiz, even though he's just inhumanely awesome, for the simple reason that just about every stat says that Hafner had a better year. I guess it comes down to a few things:
1) How much more valuable is a player who plays the field over one who doesn't?
2) How dominant does a pitcher have to be to be MVP?

On the first point, I tend to agree with the post in saying that if the player is not above league average on defense then they shouldn't be accorded any special recognition. Also, if they are below league average, I believe points should be deducted. With this in mind I would actually lean towards Mauer as MVP.

On the second point, I belive if a starting pitcher throws enough innings and the innings are more dominant than any other pitcher, then he should be accorded some consideration. Santana was by far and away the most dominant pitcher in the AL this season. Looking at his pitching stats reminds me of Pedro in his prime. He is head and shoulders above everyone else in the league, and I believe he deserves some serious consideration (not that he hasn't been accorded some here).

Over all, Jeter had a terrific season, but I find it difficult to see where he was the Most Valuable Player. There are clearly players who were more valuable offensively than he, and his defense is not good enough to put him over the top of anyone else.

If I had a vote, I'd vote like this:
1) Santana
2) Haffner
3) Mauer

And thanks for the great reading this season. Keep up the excellent work!

-Matt

redsock said...

Santana was by far and away the most dominant pitcher in the AL this season. Looking at his pitching stats reminds me of Pedro in his prime.

I may have to ban you for this comment.

Go look at what Pedro did in 1999 and 2000. Santana was an obvious unanimous CY choice, but Pedro makes him look like Kyle Synder.

Santana's ERA+ from 2002-06:
148, 151, 182, 153, 161
(Career 144)

Pedro ERA+ from 1997-2003:
221, 160, 245, 285, 189, 196, 212
(Career 160)

What Santana did in 2006 was = to an average Pedro year.

Sean O said...

Joe Mauer, 'nuf ced. The difference between Mauer and the average catcher is light years better than Hafner or Ortiz and the average shortstop.

1). Mauer
2). Sizemore
3). Jeter

Sean O said...

Assume I said average DH, and added "Jeter to the" in the middle of that sentence. Oye, I need more sleep.

And yes, Santana's best years are equal to Pedro's worst Red Sox years. Pedro was the best pitcher in history, Santana's 'just' the best pitcher in the game.

redsock said...

I do believe that if Derek Jeter were to have the greatest season in the history of baseball, you would find a way to show that the statistics prove that he didn't deserve the MVP.

Well, we'll never get the chance to test that theory, will we!

Could there be anything, ever, that could compel you to choose Derek Jeter for any award, ever? ... I firmly believe the answer is no.

Sigh. I should have answered this in the original post and cut it off at the pass!

Jeter had his best year in 1999.

1999: .349/.438/.552, OPS+ 161
2006: .343/.417/.483, OPS+ 138

In 1999, he was #2 in AVG, #3 in OBP, just out of the top 10 in SLG, #5 in OPS, #2 in runs, #1 in hits, #4 in total bases, #2 in triples, #2 in OPS+, #3 in Runs Created, #1 in times on base. A great season.

Yet only 1 out of 24 voters picked him for MVP (which is bizarre). He finished 6th in the voting behind Ivan Rodriguez, Pedro, Alomar, Manny and Palmeiro.

He would have an excellent choice -- perhaps even the logical choice -- for MVP ...

... if you don't vote for pitchers.

(And I do.) :>)

So bad luck for him to do so well in a season in which Pedro put up the 2nd greatest pitching performance since the mound was moved back from 45 feet. (The #1 season came the following year.)

You'll probably see some Pedro bias in there -- and there is -- but a very good case can be made for Jeter as the 1999 MVP.

But the REAL reason why he doesn't deserve it in 2006? He was absolutely terrible at televised horseplay.

Tim Daloisio said...

Great post...I usually would agree with this hook, line, and sinker. But my gut tells me that even though the numbers don't lie, they aren't telling the truth. I agree that statistically, Manny tops Papi as a better overall hitter. But our eyes and our hearts can't believe that to be true.

Also...if the MVP were to come from the Yankees...one could argue that Damon was the most valuable Yankee in the lineup. Especially early on when all the injuries took their toll on the team, Damon as much as Jeter pulled them through a stretch that could have killed their season.

As far as my MVP vote...I still don't know. In an odd way, Papelbon was the most valuable Red Sox player for most of this season (when they werein it). By the time they started to fall, Papelbon's save chances started dwindling. But injury and a second half where situation didn't allow him to shine make that case mute.

If the Indians were able to live up to potential, I think Sizemore's name would have appeared alot more as a MVP candidate.

Morneau was more valuable to the Twins than Mauer, but noone as much to them as Santana. Without Johan, they have no chance at the playoffs.

Jermaine Dye carried the White Sox for stretches of the season.

Oh hell....Ortiz was the MVP all year. I talked myself in circles...but I keep going back to that stretch of the season that he single handedly won game after game for the Sox.

Tim
http://www.redsoxtimes.com

Woti-woti said...

Thanks for all the work, Redsock. We know that each and every writer with a vote goes through a similar exercise.
Back to reality, the stat I like for situational hitting is the actual number of runners driven in vs. those opportunities. Then a similar one for 'close and late'. Should be one of those selective stats that appear in your local rag every week with the 'Top Ten' hitters. Anyway, as far as the voting goes, it's mostly perception. I've no doubts Jeter gets the votes. But to use your acid-test, I wouldn't even start out with him as my shortstop, I'd want Young, or maybe even that Seattle kid, Yuniesky Betancourt. For someone guaranteed to attract MVP votes, I've got to go with Papi's clutch but Hafner is surely a monster.

Jack Marshall said...

Jesus, what a great and thorough post!
However, much as I love Ortiz, when a catcher wins the batting title and leads his team to a division title, he's the MVP in my book. Also the guy I might pick first if I were assembling a team. Jeter's argument is based on intangibles: when he had two game-deciding clutch hits in the Massacre, I had just about decided that he had the MVP wrapped up.

My ballot:

1. Mauer
2. Ortiz
3. Jeter
4. Hafner
5. Rivera, because without Rivera, the Yankees are just another team.

redsock said...

I did have a bit comparing Jeter to Mauer -- a lot of their numbers are similiar -- but I cut it. I may have sold Mauer short as catcher (I didn't look at his stats behind the plate), but I don't know if I would choose him first (as per my definition).

Also, maybe I should have included Sizemore -- and dropped A-Rod, but I wanted to include him as a refernece point re: Jeter since he got so much crap all season.

There were a lot of good hitting seasons this year -- good arguments to make for many players.

Anonymous said...

but a very good case can be made for Jeter as the 1999 MVP.

Whoa.

I am wrong. And I will save this for future use.

But the REAL reason why he doesn't deserve it in 2006? He was absolutely terrible at televised horseplay.

Oh well, when you put it that way...

redsock said...

There were a lot of good hitting seasons this year -- good arguments to make for many players.

Further thought: your choice really depends on your definition of MVP.

Whoa.

I didn't say he was the MVP. But if you voted for him, I wouldn't call you insane.

redsock said...

And with that Mauer bit, I said he was more valuable than Jeter, both at the plate and as a fielder ... so why isn't he on my Top 5 list?

Hmmm.

------------------

Bonus Tracks!

Alex Rodriguez and Mike Myers think Johnny Damon should be considered for MVP.

A-Rod: "I'll tell you, he's had an MVP-type year. We also have Jeter as having an MVP-type year. Both those guys. He's changed the team this year. He's changed our team. ... Johnny's helped everybody, one through nine. He's just been an unbelievable influence on this team."

Myers: "What Johnny does to that lineup in that spot playing in center field, that's more valuable than what has happened just in one year on the field, all the intangibles that Johnny brings. ... He's uplifted this team in more ways than any reporter will ever know."

***

In mid-September, Tim McCarver told the New York Daily News:
"A month ago, I didn't think anyone would beat out David. I thought he had overcome not playing a defensive position, which is hard to do. [Now] I give a slight edge to Dye. When the dust settles, Dye may be ahead of Jeter and Ortiz. And you've got to throw Morneau in it, though he won't win. But if Morneau was playing in New York and Jeter in Minnesota, Morneau would be the favorite. If Dye were in New York, he'd be the favorite."

An AL scout: "[Dye's] been the most important player, the reason they are still in it. He provides offense and he's had a great defensive year. If it was just offense, it'd be Ortiz. Jeter will get some support from outside New York, but he's got a $200-million supporting cast. So he gets hits. Why wasn't Wade Boggs MVP five times if it's all about hits?"

***

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun picked Justin Morneau.

"On June 8, he was hitting .236 with 38 RBIs and the Twins owned a 25-33 record. Since then, Morneau has hit .369 with 91 RBIs as the Twins went 68-30 to clinch a playoff berth. The other top contender — and three weeks ago he was our winner — is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter."

Elliott's ballot: Morneau, Jeter, Frank Thomas, Ortiz, Dye, Magglio Ordonez, Santana, Hafner, Rodriguez, Cano.

***

Finally from SI, May 19, 2006:

Most overrated MLB stars

A recent poll in SI asked major league players to name the most overrated player in the game. The winner, by a fairly decent margin, was Derek Jeter, which has sparked outrage from fans and observers.

So it got me thinking: Who is the most overrated player? ...

But what are those intangibles really worth? (OK, I know that "intangible" means that they can't be quantified since they're not tangible, but cut me some slack.) How many wins is "being good in the clubhouse" worth? To me, the most instructive thing about Jeter winning this unpopularity contest is that it shows that big leaguers don't buy the argument that being good in the clubhouse is an incredibly valuable asset. They're the ones who voted, so clearly not all of them think that the little things D.J. -- or anyone? -- brings to the table are as important as fans and sportswriters do. And they'd know a little better than we would, wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

We know that each and every writer with a vote goes through a similar exercise.

Back to reality,


:-)

Anonymous said...

I didn't say he was the MVP. But if you voted for him, I wouldn't call you insane.

I totally take back that whoa. I already knew this much.

I stand by my original statement.

Which should in no way be construed as meaning I believe Jeter deserves the 2006 MVP!

Anonymous said...

Papelbon was the most valuable Red Sox player for most of this season

He's my pick for Red Sox MVP. I wanted him to win ROY, even though I knew he wouldn't.

Jere said...

Praise you, JoyBoy. Post of the century. 99.5% Perfect. What would've made it perfect is if, at the end, you'd just listed your top 4 :)

Anonymous said...

What would've made it perfect is if, at the end, you'd just listed your top 4 :)

But then I'd have more of a case. This way he can still claim he's not biased. :)

Jere said...

Did anyone see Jeter on the sidelines at the Michigan-Ohio State game yesterday? You're not gonna believe this, but he actually clapped in an effort to make his team do better--just like he does in baseball! A two-sport athelete! He should get the MVP for that alone! (And for that one dive from like two years ago...)

L-girl said...

A two-sport athelete!

Wait... there's another sport?

redsock said...

JoyBoy

Bookman: Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y'got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!

L-girl said...

"Cantstandya!"

Jere said...

That's like an ice cream man named Cone!

redsock said...

I'm wondering if a better Top 6 -- taking fielding into account, thus upping Mauer and dropping Manny (who is not as bad as many people think, but still limited) -- might not be:

Hafner
Ortiz
Mauer
Santana
Ramirez
Jeter

I could probably come up with a plausible different list every day.

We will see what the esteemed gang at the BBWAA comes up with.

Zenslinger said...

Morneau it is!

Not a bad choice. Kinda relieved it wasn't Jeter...average ain't everything.