It’s that time of year again when the baseball season is winding down and the debate begins, who is the MVP? Who is the Cy Young? Who is the Rookie of the Year? Well I wanted to tackle perhaps the toughest one to decide, this year’s American League MVP race. I have my own set of criteria for the MVP, so I will list each point and eliminate the contenders that fail to meet that bit of criteria.
The contenders: Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Jonathan Papelbon, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Miguel Tejada, Magglio Ordonez, Justin Verlander, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Francisco Liriano, Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Travis Hafner,
1. Winning helps – I would never say that it’s impossible for a player on a losing team to win the MVP. However, they would have to have a season that is just far and above the best season of anybody and nobody on a losing team this year has distanced themselves like that.
Eliminated – Travis Hafner, Miguel Tejada
2. Pitching – Pitching wins championships, it’s true. But it’s mainly true because pitching wins playoff games. Offensive players are more valuable during the regular season, they are playing everyday. Much like a player on a losing team, I would never say a pitcher can’t win the MVP, but they would have to have far and away a better season than anybody else.
Eliminated – Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Francisco Liriano, Johan Santana
3. Designated Hitter – Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those ultra purists who hate the DH and thinks it should be thrown out, nor do I think a DH can’t win MVP. However if you have two guys who are equal in offensive stats, but one guy DOES contribute in the field then shouldn’t that put him over the top?
Eliminated – David Ortiz, Jim Thome
4. MOST Valuable – It’s called the “MOST Valuable Player” not the “I’m really valuable but oh yeah there’s another guy just as good as me and just as valuable Player”. If you are a MVP candidate, and a MVP candidate bats before or after you, then neither of you MVP candidates. You can’t have TWO most, there is only one most. And if your lineup can take out a MVP candidate and still have a MVP candidate then chances are they’re still pretty good without you.
Eliminated – Manny Ramirez, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye.
5. Stats, stats, stats – Once you get a good idea of who the finalists are compare the stats. Who has the best numbers? Who doesn’t match up?
Eliminated – Magglio Ordonez
That gives us two finalists: Derek Jeter and Justin Morneau
6. Most VALUABLE – This can be tricky, because sometimes you can tell how valuable a player is by how well the team does when he’s playing well, or how well the team plays when the MVP candidate is playing poorly. The correlation between Jeter’s stats and the Yankees win-loss record is all over the place. The first month of the season Jeter hit almost .400 but the Yankees had a worse month that month than the next month when Jeter only hit .290. July was Jeter’s best month, but that was the month the Yankees were believed to be out of the East. Now in August the Yankees have retaken the lead in the East, but Jeter is having his worst month. On the other hand, Justin Morneau’s numbers and the Minnesota Twins’ record are eerily similar. I know that the media and the baseball experts would have you believe that Francisco Liriano single handedly put the Twins on his back and carried them back into contention, but not so fast my friend, let’s look at some numbers.
Twins Record in April: 9 – 15
Justin Morneau in April: .208 8 R 5 HR 15 RBI
Twins Record from March 1 – June 7th: 16 – 18
Justin Morneau from March 1 – June 7th: .254 17 R 6 HR 23 RBI
Twins Record from June 8th – July 3rd: 21 – 2
Justin Morneau from June 8th – July 3rd: .428 20 R 11 HR 33 RBI
Twins Record from July 4th – July 31st: 15 – 8
Justin Morneau from July 4th – July 31st: .393 17 R 6 HR 17 RBI
Twins Record from August 1st – August 13th: 7 – 6
Justin Morneau from August 1st – August 13th: .298 5 R 2 HR 15 RBI
Amazing isn’t it, at every point in the season, when Justin Morneau hits the Minnesota Twins suddenly win games. When Morneau stops hitting the Twins stop winning. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Justin Morneau’s hottest streak in the season came simultaneously with the Twins winning streak and remarkable 21 out of 23 games. Justin Morneau is the reason the Twins win and lose that’s why he is the American League MVP.