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Who is the NL MVP?

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on August 28, 2006

Beltran the Most Valuable

By Jason A. Churchill

Sidebar action, here.

The Mariners continue to play very well versus the five best teams in the American League (Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, Boston, New York) but are still five games out of THIRD place. I need a break.

No, not that kind of break, I just need a break from talking about how bad of a manager Mike Hargrove is and how the club will go nowhere with he and the upper management still pulling the strings.

So, I started thinking about who the MVPs should be, starting with the National League.

The New York Mets are the best team, at least up until now, and it’s really not close. Amidst all the talk of Albert Pujols, I would vote Pujols second behind my chtoice for MVP, the Mets’ Carlos Beltran. Ryan Howard would be third.
Stop crying about David Wright. Everything Wright does, Beltran does just as good – or better – and Wright has slumped a bit of late. He’s a great player, though, and deserves a lot of top 5 votes – and will get a ton of top three.
Think about Beltran’s season for a minute.

He’s getting on base at a .390 clip, has swiped 15 bases in 18 attempts, is playing a near-gold glove center field in a spacious outfield at Shea Stadium (HOME, 81 games), RFK Stadium (WASH, 10 games), and Dolphins Stadium (FLA, 9 games), and is slugging a ridiculous .633.

That .633 is impressive enough, especially for a player playing a premium defensive spot, but consider that not only does Beltran switch hit, he does it very well.Through games of Sunday, he’s posted an OPS of .895 batting righty and 1.080 batting lefthanded.

He hit his 38th home run of the year Sunday, has 108 RBI and has scored 103 runs. Okay, sure, he’s hitting .286. But Shea Stadium is a pretty severe pitcher’s park, as are the road parks Beltran visits in Florida, Washington and to a lesser extent, Atlanta.

Better yet, Beltran gets it done when it matters most.

He sports a 1.210 OPS with runners in scoring position. That number actually goes UP to 1.267 with RISP and two outs.

Yikes.

He has three grand slams in eight official ABs with the bases loaded this season and has a 1.335 OPS with a man on third and two outs.

He has a 1.647 OPS versus division-rival Atlanta, including eight homers and 18 RBI in eight contests. Against Philly, he’s slugging .671 with six homers… against Florida? Beltran has a 1.023 OPS and versus Washington, yeah, again… a 1.171 OPS.

For the year, the 29-year-old has drawn 73 walks to just 80 strikeouts and while Pujols is the game’s best hitter and Ryan Howard is the senior circuit’s version of Big Papi, Beltran is hitting, from both sides of the plate, hitting for power – from both sides of the plate – (and in a pitcher’s paradise), playing great defense in center field, no less, and is a threat on the bases as perhaps the game’s premire baserunner… and he’s doing it all for the league’s best team.

Beltran’s park-adjusted numbers are sickening – try these on for size.

.303/.419/.689, 46 HR, 123 RBI. That’s through 129 games.

Howard, on the other hand, is hitting .292, or .281 park-adjusted, slugging .620, or .606 park-adjusted, and has a 77-29 K/BB ratio.

Oh, and his club is 65-65 and 15 1/2 games behind the Mets, though they are just one game back in the loss column for the wildcard spot.

Pujols is another story, and I’m going to be nit-picky here, but his SLG Pct is 100 points lower post break and his club needs him the most right now.

He’s still at .604 since July 13, but he has just nine home runs and is slugging a homosapien-esque .564 in August. Pujols can still win the award with a big September, and he’s more capable of that than anyone in baseball, but he’ll need that to sway my vote off of Carlos Beltran.

For the record, and since the AL MVP race is kind of boring to me so I won’t be doing the same post for that award, I think David Ortiz, Johan Santana and Jermaine Dye are my top three, with Derek Jeter and Justin Morneau rounding out my top five.

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29 Responses to “Who is the NL MVP?”

  1. Daniel Rathman said

    There’s no question in my mind, the NL MVP is Carlos Beltran.

    As for the AL, I think David Ortiz is having by far the best season of any American League hitter. Whether the BoSox recent struggles or the fact that he’s a DH will negatively affect his chances, I don’t know, but in my opinion, he’s deserving of the MVP. The others who are worthy in my opinion are Jermaine Dye, Derek Jeter, Travis Hafner (if Papi can win it, why not Haffy?), Justin Morneau, and Vladimir Guerrero, in that order.

    Dye is probably the most underrated guy on that list, and Hafner seems to be forgotten a lot.

    Thanks for the post, Jason.

  2. The problem with Ortiz and Hanfer are different, however.

    For one, Ortiz is having a better year.

    But more importantly, Hafner has not played in a significant game since, what, May?

    Ortiz’s club was leading the East for much of the year and I guess are still technically contenders.

    If the Sox win the wildcard, or the central somehow, I think I’d vote for Dye. if Minnesota gets in, Santana would be my choice, but he won’t win the award.

  3. Kelly said

    I’m with ya in the NL, but I would go with Joe Mauer in the AL assuming he doesn’t slump in September. While he isn’t the hitter of the people you list, he plays the most difficult position to fill. I think he gives the Twins a bigger advantage at catcher than any other player compared position to position. For Ortiz there is Hafner, Morneau/Thome, Dye/Guerrero, Santana/Halladay, but for Mauer there is Posada, a significant drop-off both offensively and defensively.

  4. I might vote for Mauer if Morneau wasnt the best hitter on that team right now. Mauer WILL be, but Morneau is far and away the most productive and feared bat they have this year.

    What would Mauer be doing if Morneau wasn’t hitting behind him?

  5. Jason – must the player be on a winning team to earn your vote? Did you read Sheehan’s column today on BP? What do you think of Miguel Cabrera?

  6. I think the player must be on a relevant team… doesn’t necessarily have to be a contending club.

    Cabrera would get a vote from me, but not to win it. He’s having a great year, is a great player, but what he’s doing isn’t all that, well, here’s that word again — relevant.

    If it’s relatively irrelevant, how can he be the most valuable? Cabrera would have to carry Florida big time for the final month to even get consideration.  Especially since FLA’s pitching has been their key cog, not Cabrera.

    I don’t buy MVPs coming from losing teams, even when their numbers are ridiculous, ala Dawson in 1987, et al.

  7. Do you think the irregular hearbeat (causing him to miss some time) will worsen David Ortiz’s chances of winning AL MVP?

  8. Yeah, because it not only hurts his numbers but also his club’s chances at the postseason… which are fading fast as it is.

  9. Willmore said

    I think that MLB should define the MVP award more clearly, because the interpretations are endless.

    1. The best player in the league.
    2. The best “offensive” player in the league.
    3. The most valuable player to a contending team.
    4. The best player on a contending team.
    5. The most valuable player to any team.

    3 and 4 are, ofcourse different. I could argue that Manny is a better player than Ortiz, yet David has been by far more valuable to far.
    5 is a story of it’s own. There have been teams in the majors with horrific records, but one superstar player who posts gaudy numbers and is responsible for almost every win of his team.
    1 might be on a bad team, but would not be providing the key value. Cabrera is a good example.
    2 is a nice example, with Hafner and Pujols being obvious cases to win.
    3 is a mysterious substance, because on a team that’s winning, there is not just 1 valuable piece, there are several. See the Twins, with Mauer, Morneau and Santana/Liriano. So comparative value to a team might be nowhere near the value that a superstar on a horrible team is providing.

    The award is faulty, and should get clearly defined guidelines, so that future controversies, like A-Rod with Texas don’t mar future winners.

  10. Matthew said

    1 might be on a bad team, but would not be providing the key value. Cabrera is a good example.

    The Marlins are a game out of the NL wild card.

  11. That’s true but it doesn’t change the fact that they are NOT a good team.

  12. Matthew said

    well yeah, but I don’t think that was the spirit of the point trying to be made.

  13. it was MY point.

  14. Themsfan said

    If I’m voting, im voting for Beltran and Johan.

    I’m not voting.

    I should be able to vote.

    Chris Snelling is good.

  15. I think the Marlins are just as relevant as the Phillies, and Cabrera is better than Howard. Consider…
    Howard’s hitting .296/.386/.635 in a good hitter’s ballpark
    Cabrera’s hitting .338/.427/.584 in a pitcher’s ballpark
    Niether are studs defensively, so that doesn’t matter much, but in August, Cabrera’s basically said, “Get on my back!” and he’s hitting 378/.425/.724 and the Marlins have won their last nine games, crawling back into Wild-Card contention.

  16. Goose said

    Speaking of the Marlins. This stat caught my eye on another site.

    Team records since May 22:

    Mets: 54-32
    Tigers: 53-35
    Yankees: 53-34
    Twins: 57-28
    A’s: 53-35

    Marlins: 53-35

  17. d2ret said

    Id like to switch gears here. So hows about this offseason as far as free agents go Churchill? do we have the money to go after two starting pitchers? I know at least two spots are open in the rotation this offseason, probably three, unless Jake Woods or Baek can really cement a spot. We have Wash and Felix coming back for sure, and both have thrown fantastically the last couple starts. It seems as though Washburn has really gained control and confidence in that breaking ball, and his fastball was rushing up there a couple of mph faster, just enough to make him look like the pitcher he was for the angels (only I never saw him throw a nasty curve like he was last night). Felix was Felix as we all know he can be. So who can we add here? the Japanese lefty? Shmidt, Zito, or Mulder? any other bargains out there?

    Also, I think Snelling has just about taken hold of that no. 2 spot in the order after the two HR game. Gotta root for that guy the way he plays. He’s got one of the more decerning eyes in the American League already I believe. So with that our lineup shapes up a lot better. Beltre is really starting to see pitches a lot better in the AL and is driving them to all fields. We are starting to see his talent shine a little bit here at the end of the season. And dont say these games are meaningless. Ask New York and Boston if those series’ they dropped to us were meaningless.

  18. Since we’re on the topic of awards, I was wondering how you view the Cy Young for both leagues, Jason. Here are my picks…

    NL — Carlos Zambrano (others: Chris Capuano, Josh Johnson, Brandon Webb, Bronson Arroyo)

    AL — Johan Santana (others: Roy Halladay, Curt Schilling, Chien-Ming Wang, Justin Verlander)

  19. Rick said

    You may or may not subscribe to the sabremetrics side of things Jason, but I don’t feel that it is accurate to call Morneau far and away the best hitter on the team.

    Player PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS VORP
    Joe Mauer 497 .353 .431 .509 8 2 56.4
    Justin Morneau 522 .319 .372 .585 2 3 44.7

  20. Rick said

    Also it is interesting that Mauer’s numbers have declined since Morneau replaced Hunter as the regular hitter bhind Mauer. That said, I think they are both having great seasons.

  21. Rick,

    Morneau is far and away the most PRODUCTIVE hitter, making him the most valuable this year.

    Mauer is the better pure bat, there isn’t any doubt about that. But who’s driving that offensive ship this year? Not Mauer.

  22. Willmore said

    Isn’t this like an Edgar-Buhner debate in ’95 ? They are both equally as important to the offense, and singling one of them out does an injustice to the other hitter.

    Mauer has created 8.01 runs per 27 innings, Morneau – 7.68. They are pretty much equal. Their stats are similar, and just because one is more of a slugger than the other, doesn’t make him better or more productive. It’s the chicken and egg story, how can one hitter be productive, if there are no good hitters around him, and if there are good hitters around him, is he really that good of a hitter, or is he getting help.

    Mauer and Morneau are tied together as the offensive leaders for the Twins, neither one would be as productive as they are to their team without the other.

    Bottomline, the argument is pointless, because neither is winning the MVP, and discussing the MVP is pointless because none of us vote for it, and the idiots who do, will vote for someone who isn’t the realy MVP, whoever that might be. Seriously, how often are they really right ? Aren’t these the same people who gave Colon the Cy Young ?

  23. Willmore said

    Edgar-Buhner comment was kind of silly, but that was the first example the came to mind. If I could correct it, let’s assume just two theoretical hitters, one is a slugger with average OBP, the other is less of a slugger but with high OBP. Each one is reliant on the other for help in the batting order, so neither is ultimately more valuable than the other.

  24. —Their stats are similar, and just because one is more of a slugger than the other, doesn’t make him better or more productive.—

    Actually, yes it does. Very much so/

    It’s fact. Morneau is the more productive hitter this season.

    On that club, they desperately need his power. What’s scary is, Mauer will probably develop into a guy that smokes 25-30 homers a year, along with the ability to hit .330.

  25. Rick said

    What I was trying to show with those stats (VORP) was that a “league average” 1B in the lineup replacing Morneau is much less of a hardship on the offense than a “league average” C in the lineup replacing Mauer.
    I am not arguing that Morneau’s HR and RBI numbers aren’t better than Mauer’s AT ALL (the dude is a masher), I’m just stating that if that team had Scott Hatteberg playing 1B and Mauer still @ C they would be better than if they had Morneau still playing 1B and Paul Lo Duca @ C.

  26. JasonAChurchill said

    But that is simply the difference between Mauer and Loduca versus Hatteberg and Morneau.

    You can change the replacements and come up with a completely different result.

  27. Rick said

    No, those are just examples. I wasn’t clear, my bad. VORP is, literally “value over replacement player”. It equates a player’s value versus a replacement level player at that position (scored league wide).
    Here is the definition from BP:
    “Value Over Replacement Player. 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. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player’s defense.”

  28. Jason, anxious to get your thoughts on how the M’s will handle Adam Jones the next 30 days or so. Snelling brings so much into the lineup. Seems to me they must let Adam play to determine how much he learned in Tacoma the past month. Do you see Jones with another year in Tacoma? Maybe they move Ibanez to DH?
    The other question has to do with Blackley; having six months to rest, do you think he is ready to compete as a starter next Spring?

    Thanks, Don

  29. Re: Don

    Good to hear your are still kicking around in the baseball world!

    Jones: I don’t think he’s going to play much, but I don’t really have the biggest issue with that. Hargrove needs to win to keep his job (little does he know that he could win out and unless Howie and Chucky force Grover’s tenure on Bavasi, he’s done no matter what), and he’s going to play whoever gives him the best chance.

    In the past 30 days, Hargrove hasn’t done a bad job, really. But he’s been forced to play Snelling and use Putz in the right situations because he is two guys short in the pen (Mateo, Raffy), Everett is gone and he has no choice but to use who’s there. On the surface that seems as if Bavasi has finally given his manager some paqrts to play with, but Putz has been here all year, available in the 7th and 8th innings the entire time, and he could have had Snelling anytime he wanted, but chose to stay loyal to his veterans.

    Jones will be used sparingly, and like I said above, that’s fine with me. He’s not losing developmental time now, since the AAA season is over. Jones had a really strong showing down there and any time he gets up in the show is gravy. The more the better, sure, but I’m not going to rip Hargrove for not playing him much right now.

    I think Jones needs to go into spring training with a chance to make the big league club, but in the end, start the year in Tacoma. He’ll probably force the M’s hand next summer, which should make things really interesting around the deadline — remember I said that, because I really think something rather large is likely to occur next July if the M’s are anywhere near contention.

    As far as Raul to DH, yeah, that’s what I would do. I would seek a legit lefty stick to play any of the three OF spots, slide Raul to DH and see what I can get for Richie. If I can get a solid deal of prospects (near ML ready at least) with all of the contract being shipped, too, than I’d pull the trigger and play Ben and Eddie at first.

    If not, I start looking for deals for Ben Broussard, who’ll be arby eligible this winter, but still fairly reasonably priced. I might decline the option on Perez, in fact I surely would, if I could get a similarly skilled RH bat that can play the outfield pretty well and still serve as the RH first baseman if Broussard is kept and Sexson is traded.

    I think this winter is going to be nuts, and a write-up on those issues is coming in the next few weeks, but in short, Blackley may not even be here come February. I see the M’s cleaning house, which could include some DFA’s, small and large deals and some outright releases that may surprise, and some that will not.

    If the M’s need the 40-man room, Blackley is a candidate for such fate. Not that the club doesn’t like him, but he’s a huge risk with a small reward as a No. 4/5 starter. As is with Bobby Livingston and a slew of others.

    If he’s still here, he’ll be in a group of youngsters with a chance to work their way into the big leagues in Spring Training, but I think the club has other ideas about that fifth spot, such as Francisco Cruceta, Cha Seung Baek and Ryan Feierabend — all ahead of Travis on that list. He’ll have to really throw the ball well come March.

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