Friday, September 28, 2007

Who Should be 2007 NL MVP?

As the 2007 baseball season winds down, it's time to start thinking about who is going to win the individual awards. While the 2007 American League MVP award can now be conceeded to Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, the National League MVP award is anything but decided. I'll list those who have been cited by various sources as the leading candidates for the 2007 NL MVP award in alphabetical order. You may vote for your choice amongst the leading candidates in my poll on the right. I'll elaborate further on each of these selections on Friday morning with their PROS and CONS.. Note: stats are through the games of 9/27/2007

Eric Byrnes (D-Backs): .288 BA, 21 HR, 83 RBI, 103 R, 49 SB
Prince Fielder (Brewers): .290 BA, 50 HR, 119 RBI, 108 R, 0 SB
Matt Holliday (Rockies): .338 BA, 36 HR, 132 RBI, 117 R, 11 SB
Ryan Howard (Phillies): .265 BA, 44 HR, 130 RBI, 91 R, 1 SB
Chipper Jones (Braves): .339 BA, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 106 R, 5 SB
Jose B. Reyes (Mets): .284 BA, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 118 R, 79 SB
Jimmy Rollins (Phillies): .295 BA, 30 HR, 91 RBI, 131 R, 38 SB
David Wright (Mets): .321 BA, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 110 R, 34 SB

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Eric Byrnes - What can you say about this guy that hasn't already been said? He's ALL heart and judging by constantly high energy level, I'm inclined to believe that he does indeed drink at least six cups of coffee a day as was reported recently on Fox Sports.

PROS: Numbers are far better than any other regular on the Diamondbacks team. Only other two active regulars are hitting .259 or higher, only one other player on the team (Chris Young) has more than 17 home runs, 63 RBI's, 69 runs scored or stolen more than 9 bases. Only Young and the injured Orlando Hudson have made any sort of significant offensive contribution to the D-Backs. His stat line, hustle, playing style, leadership and intangibles are very similar to that of 1988 NL MVP Kirk Gibson. When Gibson won that award he hit .290, powered 25 homers, drove in 76, scored 106 and stole 31 bases. These numbers are eerily close to those Byrnes has put up this year. Also, Byrnes has stolen 32 bases since the all-star break, and 11 during September's crunch time. He is the engine that makes the D-Backs go and is the primary reason they will more than likely be playing into October.

CONS: He only has 21 home runs and 82 RBI's. Given the lack of consistent talent around him, these numbers aren't really his fault. Thanks to David Wright and Jimmy Rollins both putting up 30/30 seasons, his numbers may get missed by a few people. Also, if the D-Backs somehow stumble out of the playoffs this weekend, then he'll lose a lot of votes. Regardless, I think he will do no better than second in the balloting.

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Prince Fielder - Big Daddy's boy certainly has blossomed this year. His 50 homers at 23 years old make him the youngest player in major league history to reach that milestone, He's also part of the first ever father/son duo to reach that figure.

PROS: His 50 home runs top the senior circuit. Has 35 doubles and two triples to go with the homers. His 119 RBI's are also impressive.

CONS: If the Brewers don't make the playoffs, it would be hard to name him MVP. Additionally, his young "supporting cast" has put up a lot of impressive numbers: Ryan Braun (.325 BA, 34 HR, 14 SB in only 440 AB), Corey Hart (.289 BA, 22 HR, 23 SB), J.J. Hardy (26 HR, 80 RBI's).

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Matt Holliday - 36 home runs, 132 RBI's, a .338 batting average, 117 runs, 209 hits, 48 doubles and five triples. Those numbers are simply GAUDY!

PROS: Has helped carry the Rockies this month with his 12 home runs and 27 RBI's. He's the biggest reason they're now only a game out of a playoff spot.

CONS: His road numbers are "only": a .301 BA, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 7 SB, 53 runs. In other words, he's done most of his damage at home. People will hold his Coors Field inflated numbers against him. If the Rockies don't make the playoffs, it will make it even more difficult to hand him the award.

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Ryan Howard - He got off to an abysmal start and also got hurt early. Look at his numbers where they stood on May 24th: .204 BA, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 13 RUNS and only 29 games played. Other than driving in runs, he was suffering in every category. Now look at the numbers he's put up since he came back from that early injury on May 25th: .279 BA, 38 HR, 107 RBI, 78 RUNS and even 1 stolen base in 112 games.

PROS: For four months he's been arguably major league baseball's best player with the above numbers. The Phillies, partially in thanks to his play over that time are now tied with the New York Mets for the N.L. East lead.

CONS: He just set a major league record for strikeouts in a season recording his 196th and 197th of the year last night. He has MVP company on his own team in Jimmy Rollins. Chase Utley (.331 BA, 22 HR, 102 RBI, 103 R, 9 SB) has also been a big part of the Phillies collective strong stretch run as has Pat Burrell (30 HR).

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Chipper Jones - For a guy who has been battling with nagging injuries the ENTIRE season, he's certainly put up some nice numbers and was the main reason the Braves were competitive this year despite him missing 29 games. If Andruw Jones has a "normal" season, count me amongst those who would say that the Braves would have easily won their division.

PROS: Leads the league in hitting with a .339 batting average. Has put up his stellar overall numbers in 30 games or so less than the rest of the candidates.

CONS: The Braves are not going to be in the playoffs. This all but kills his chances. In spite of Andruw Jones horrible season, others such as Jeff Francoeur (102 RBI's, .292 BA) and Mark Teixiera (.320 BA, 17 HR, 55 RBI in 52 games since his acquisition) also carried their share of the burden.

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Jose Reyes
- Like Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia, he's the engine that drives his team to success (or often failure). And lately the Mets have experienced a lot of the latter...

PROS: Leads the majors in steals with 78, and has scored 118 runs. Despite a drop in batting average, he's walking more, getting on base at a .361 clip as opposed to last year's .354.

CONS: A dropoff in his home run and RBI numbers from last year. Teammate David Wright is probably having a better overall season than him, and Carlos Beltran has also been a key contributor again to the Mets' success. And if the Mets completely spiral out of the playoffs, you can pretty much count he and Wright out of the running.

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Jimmy Rollins - Just what has this guy NOT done well this year??? A 30/30 man, 200 hits, 136 runs, 38 doubles, 19 triples, 91 RBI's. OK, so he's not hitting .300... so what! He's had an incredible year!!!

PROS: The above numbers. No one in the league is amongst the league leaders in as many of the categories as he is. At the top of the order, he's the engine that ignites this team and has done so all year long.

CONS: Competition from his own teammates. The aforementioned Howard arguably has been the NL's best player the past four months. The aforementioned Utley and Burrell have also helped bring the Phillies into a flat-footed tie with the Mets as I write this. He's not the only 30/30 guy this year, so he will lose votes to that man - a Mr. Wright.

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David Wright
- Take away some runs and triples and add some RBI's and batting average to Jimmy Rollins' numbers and you get Wright's 2007 numbers. Another 30/30 guy! His overall numbers are every bit as impressive as Rollins'.

PROS: If you take out his homerless April with a .244 batting average, the numbers he's put up the past five months look even more impressive. Has hit a sizzling .359 since the All-Star break with 61 runs scored.

CONS: Like Rollins, he has competition from his own team in the form of Reyes and Carlos Beltran. If the Mets manage to lose the division or miss the playoffs entirely after leading for so long, expect some votes to be lost.

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As for my overall take on things. Well, if I had to pick one guy I think will win the award, I think it's going to be either Rollins or Wright. I think the key to determining the winner will be which team wins the National League East race. If the Phillies win, then it's Rollins' award, if the Mets win then it will be Wright's award. The loser may end up finishing third in the balloting. Eric Byrnes would be my #2 guy, assuming the D-Backs don't somehow stumble out of the playoffs this weekend.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reyes shouldn't even be in this discussion. He has stumbled for the past month. Plus he is probably having the 3rd best season for an NL shortstop.

John C said...

Anonymous-

You're entitled to your opinion, however I beg to disagree with you as one month does not make a season. With that reasoning, you could wipe out Kirk Gibson's 1988 MVP award as he did not produce at all for the Dodgers the final six weeks of that season.

Perhaps you forgot that Reyes was largely responsible for the Mets success in August as he stole a ridiculous 23 bases and scored 25 times that month.

I would assume that you have Rollins and either Tulowitski (and his Coors Field inflated numbers .256 BA, 9 HR, 39 RBI on the road) or Hanley Ramirez (good numbers on a bad team) ahead of Reyes then as your second ranked SS in terms of MVP voting. MVP voters historically have not voted for players with Coors Field inflated numbers or for players on franchises with bad records such as the Marlins.

Anonymous said...

I had Rollins and Hanley Ramirez as the two shortstops. I didn't say Hanley would win the MVP. I stated that he was having a better season.

As for wiping out a person's MVP award. That is just silly talk.

John C said...

anonymous -

OK. Well, I was talking about the NL MVP here with this post, not really about who was having the 2nd or "3rd best season for an NL shortstop." Apparently, I misinterpreted the point you were trying to get across the first time.

That said though, how are you quantifying Hanley's season? Yes, he put up some nice offensive numbers, and taken alone, they are probably better than Reyes'. That said, Hanley has committed 24 errors (four more than anyone else in the NL), while Reyes has only committed 12. Additionally, and most importantly, the Mets have won 88 games, while the Marlins have only 70 wins this year.

I think the best way to quantify Hanley Ramirez' 2007 offensive season is to compare it to Alfonso Soriano's season for the Nationals in 2006. Sori hit 46 home runs and stole 41 bases, BUT the Nats only won 71 games. Some nice numbers on the surface, but once again, the only teams they really helped last year were fantasy ones. On a contending team, those numbers are MVP-worthy. On a below-average team, those are simply "also ran" MVP numbers. FYI, Sori's 40/40 2006 season was only good for 6th in the MVP voting.

What prompted me to make the Gibson comment was the fact that you said "Reyes shouldn't even be in this discussion" with YOUR line of reasoning being "he has stumbled for the past month." By doing this, you're discounting his previous five months of good play, his great August, and his steady defensive play.

What then do you call the .206 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI's & 8 SB that Gibson put up in the 1988 season's final SIX weeks (he only played 30 games)? His numbers certainly don't look any better than what Reyes has put up in Sept '07 so far: .214 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI & 6 SB (26 games).

My point is a season is six months, and the numbers when discussing an MVP candidate should be taken as a whole. Players have hot streaks and cold streaks - that's just how it works. A poor offensive month in September shouldn't completely undo the five months of good production that Reyes had. Gibson essentially won his 1988 NL MVP award with only 4 1/2 months of good offensive production. Did people hold that last 1 1/2 months of non-productive time against him? It doesn't look like it.

Yakyuu Shonen said...

I'm thinking about Holliday or Rollins... They've both put up some awesome numbers (nothing against the other guys, though). I'm of the opinion that getting one's team into the playoffs shouldn't matter in MVP selection, though... It is an individual award after all and it's not the player's fault if the rest of their team doesn't deliver.

Holliday is in Colorado, but those numbers are quite impressive; at the moment he leads the NL in batting average and could take the lead in RBI in the 163rd game. He's also tied for 3rd in runs scored.

Rollins has been awesome all-around, playing shortstop and being the fourth 30-30-30-30 guy in history. He leads the league in runs scored and has 14 more than the next guy.

I think that Jake Peavy should get some consideration, too, and at least a few votes en route to the Cy Young award.

John C said...

Yakyuu,

Thanks for your comments... Given what's transpired the past 24 hours I'd be leaning towards Rollins now. My only fear with Holliday as that some voters will look at his Coors Field numbers a little too much.

In a perfect world, I agree it should mostly be about the individual numbers and contributions, regardless of whether the team gets into the playoffs or not. I do think the player who gets MVP should at least be on a playoff contender, even if they don't make it into the playoffs. This would be why Hanley Ramirez (in spite of some nice offensive numbers) isn't amongst my choices...

I'm also with you regarding Peavy (and to a lesser extent, Brandon Webb). That said though, I doubt the panel gives him much consideration as many think it's a "hitters award." I wish it weren't that way... he is a shoo-in for the Cy though.

Nice blog, by the way... Keep up the good work!

Yakyuu Shonen said...

And what's transpired again is Holliday's heroics in the Rockies' clincher... But at least that takes team performance out of consideration, at least with Holliday and Rollins, since both of their teams are in a similar spot. Holliday now leads the National League in average and RBI and is 4th in home runs... That's hard to ignore even at Coors Field...

But I'm still thinking highly of Rollins - his power-speed combination and the fact that shortstop is no piece of cake, especially playing day in and day out like he has. He also seems to be an inspiring player for the team, what with his Team to Beat in the NL East prediction.

I do think pitchers should be considered for the MVP, and Peavy's been so dominant that he should get some votes, but I don't think any pitcher will pose a challenge unless 1) no position players are so dominant (not the case this year) and 2) the pitcher in question is having of the the best seasons of all-time.