The Should’ve Been-Will Be MVPs: Part Two

For a more comprehensive introduction and the AL portion please refer back to my last incredible post.

Now for Part Two of my stunning, brash, and possibly uncalled for look into the past season’s MVP decision. This time we set our sights on the big boppers of the NL. The NL side of things was quite different from that of the AL as there were a few members who set themselves apart from the rest of the contenders with almost obscene (and similar) numbers. Once again, it comes down to your interpretation of an MVP as the top three vote-getters were on teams that either make the play-offs or did make the play-offs, but did so with a worse record than 4 other NL teams.

Lance Berkman was an unfortunate slugger this past season as practically everything fell apart in Houston, even with a late push to try and take the weak NL Central from the Cardinals. No regular starting player was close to Berkman’s BA, and besides supersub, Mike Lamb, and late call-up, Luke Scott, no one finished above the .300 line. One-season wonder, Morgan Ensberg, missed some time with injury and couldn’t live up to his supposed ball-mashing talent. Along with Craig Biggio these two were the only others to eclipse 20 HR (just barely). Berkman, Ryan Howard, and Albert Pujols all had similarly successful seasons in terms of worth and output for their respective teams. Carlos Beltran is on this list for no other reason to show the drop-off from the top 3 guys to the 4th in MVP voting. Beltran, in my opinion, should have had a better season because of the lineup he had around him (said the Met fan, harshly), but it does show a remarkable improvement from his previous season (vomit) and he had an absolutely ridiculous middle of July. Miguel Cabrera and Alfonso Soriano were also in Beltran’s class, but failed to make the next grade due to lack of power and being surrounded by overachieving rookies (Cabrera) and horrible BA coupled with despicable plate discipline (Soriano). In the top three, Howard took advantage of his lineup and relished his new role post-Abreu, Pujols put up his usual MVP-worthy totals, and Berkman went fucking nuts.

Team – : Team’s stats without Player
Team + : Team’s stats with Player
%Team-Diff: % of team’s stats player accounts for OR how much he changed the team’s percentage in a stat

Lance Berkman 536 95 169 29 0 45 136 98 .315 .420 .621
Team – 4985 640 1238 246 27 129 572 487 .248 .322 .386
Team + 5521 735 1407 275 27 174 708 585 .255 .332 .409
%Team-Diff 9.7 12.9 12.0 10.5 0.0 25.9 19.2 16.8 +.007 +.010 +.023
Ryan Howard 581 104 182 25 1 58 149 108 .313 .425 .659
Team – 5106 761 1336 269 40 158 674 518 .262 .335 .423
Team + 5687 865 1518 294 41 216 823 626 .267 .347 .447
%Team-Diff 10.2 12.0 12.0 8.5 2.4 26.9 18.1 17.3 +.005 +.012 +.024
Albert Pujols 535 119 177 33 1 49 137 92 .331 .431 .671
Team – 4987 662 1307 259 26 135 608 439 .262 .327 .406
Team + 5522 781 1484 292 27 184 745 531 .269 .337 .431
%Team-Diff 9.7 15.2 11.9 11.3 3.7 26.6 18.4 17.3 +.007 +.010 +.025
Carlos Beltran 510 127 140 38 1 41 116 95 .275 .388 .594
Team – 5048 707 1329 285 40 159 684 452 .263 .329 .430
Team + 5558 834 1469 323 41 200 800 547 .264 .334 .445
%Team-Diff 9.1 15.2 9.5 11.8 2.4 20.5 14.5 17.4 +.001 +.005 +.015

Time to analyze the numbers: Forget Beltran for now and focus on those other three. All finished with similar percentages of AB and BB making it easy to interpret the rest of their percentages. Had Berkman a more reliable hitter behind him he would have finished with a better R total than even perhaps Pujols, but nevertheless his percentage was better than Howard. Same value on hits as we pass by doubles and triples. Homer-wise it is again very even, but Howard’s percentage suffered slightly due to the Phillies’ ability to go long. Berkman leads the way with RBI percentage, but it still is close. Berkman helped a weak BA lineup as much as Pujols helped a decent Cardinals team. Howard is king of OBP value to his team, even with Rowand screwing around. SLG value is pretty much even with Pujols leading the way. Now you see how difficult it is to differentiate between these three guys.

Howard was shifted from the 6th spot to the 5th early in the season and finally took over clean-up around the midway point. Keeping him company were Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, and Pat Burrell with Jimmy Rollins starting things off. The order had some weak spots, but on the whole was pretty damn imposing and Howard was well aware of this; he carried this team following the Abreu for 4 Yankee prospects who weren’t Phillip Hughes trade. On the pitching front Brett Myers and Tom Gordon performed respectably, but that was the Phillies’ main flaw (which they have addressed admirably so far). Simply put, Howard was the MVP of this team and the only logical choice for the meaty #4 spot (if anyone utters the phrase ‘man-crush’ I will destroy them, besides, I like Utley better).

Pujols had it slightly harder in the Cardinals lineup, and as a result had slightly weaker numbers. Of course he still had a formidable Scott Rolen and off-but-still-decent-years from Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion. Chris Duncan also put in about a month and a half’s worth of good production. Pujols batted 3rd because of his excellent plate discipline and hitting ability, thus setting the table for Rolen. Besides Chris Carpenter, there was nothing decent at all in the Cardinals’ pitching corps, until the postseason of course.

However hard Pujols had it, Berkman had it that much worse than him. As I loosely mentioned already the batting lineup was remarkably awful with Berkman putting up the only consistently good numbers from the 3rd spot as Ensberg failed repeatedly at clean-up. Besides Roy Oswalt and some bullpen members there is nothing good to say about the Astros’ pitching. I refuse to count Roger Clemens because of his half-season idiocy and the Astros don’t like to give him run support anyway. Brad Lidge pissed off every fantasy baseball owner in the world. Oddly enough, the Pythagorean Winning Percentage matches the Astros with the Cardinals in terms of W-L record (slightly under percentage-wise). What can be expected in 2007? Well, the Astros have addressed the need of a legitimate clean-up guy in Carlos Lee, and despite losing some pitching (Andy Pettitte), they have picked up Jason Jennings and Woody Williams in a move to become more alliterative. Look for Berkman to go berserk this coming season.

So, what have we learned? Besides the fact that Berkman got shafted in voting due to being on a non-playoff team that wasn’t better than a playoff team, there is a never ending list of reasons for you to say one player is more valuable to his team than another (assuming you don’t mention someone like Neifi Perez). Heck, I don’t even think there will ever be a reliable enough stat (every stat has its flaws) to predict who tops who in terms of value (suck it, VORP). All you can do is have a more convincing argument for Player A than your buddy has for Player B, even if the popular consensus is for Player C. Isn’t that wonderful? My article just boiled down to a vague inconclusive conclusion. No, it didn’t. Berkman and Hafner, blah MVP blah. I’m right, so sod off.

2 Responses

  1. Does MVP mean most valuable player for his team (vs. MVPs for each team) or MVP for the league?

    My point is, sure, the team around Berkman sucked, but Howard became feared amongst everyone that had to face him (Forgive him, for he knows not what he does!).

    Or maybe I am a Phillies fan and am finally happy about the fact that I get to watch two superstars, one of which pummels the baseball like no other.

  2. The way I’ve looked at the MVP is the team of which player would suffer most without him. If we are basing it purely on the best stats in the league, then it should be pretty much unanimous each year.
    The trouble is that so many different players get votes for MVP that it seems there are multiple interpretations among the voters.

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