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Can We Talk?

Joe Posnanski on the AL MVP race:

Right now, I firmly believe the best player in the American League is Jose Bautista. And, right now, he’s my MVP. There are plenty of good candidates who can catch him — and most of them are on teams in contention. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, both are having great years. One of my favorite players in the game, Curtis Granderson, is having a marvelous season for the Yankees. Ben Zobrist, one more time, is having the best year nobody’s noticing. Miguel Cabrera continues to slug. It’s difficult to compare pitchers and hitters, but Justin Verlander has been almost unhittable — at time actually unhittable — and others like C.C. Sabathia and the Angels pair of Dan Haren and Jered Weaver are pitching extremely well.

But, for me, it’s Bautista by two or three lengths heading into the home stretch. Somebody has to catch him. And, no offense to the quality of leadership or hustle or RBIs or wins or any other sort of unnoticed value, but they’re going to have to catch him with production I can see.

Agreed. Be interesting if Verlander makes a push, though.

And over at Grantland, here’s Jonah Keri on Montero vs. Posada:

The Montero Legend took a huge leap forward Monday night. Playing the remainder of a suspended game plus a full game in what amounted to a virtual doubleheader, the 21-year-old slugger exploded, going 5-for-8, blasting two homers, and knocking in seven runs. After a slow start, Montero’s up to .290/.349/.456 for the year. Although skeptics wonder whether he can handle the defensive rigors of catching in the big leagues, most believe he’ll be a great hitter.

… Posada has actually put together a half-decent season as a platoon guy (.249/.354/.453), after a disastrous start to the year. Despite Montero’s recent surge, Posada’s line against righties compares favorably with the kid’s overall numbers. The old man may not be quite dead yet.

So what to do? Montero’s tantalizing talent still has Yankees fans drooling to get a look at him — a chance they might get in September. If Montero succeeds, Posada might get left off the postseason roster, his days as a Yankee over for good. Whatever decision gets made, Yankees fans should hope it’s based on performance, not politics. You can get away with a sub-optimal roster when the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners are on the schedule. But in the postseason, you’d better bring your best 25 with you. Or else.

[Montero picture via Bronx Baseball Daily]


1 a.O   ~  Aug 23, 2011 3:07 pm

Yes, Bautista is clearly the MVP front-runner because he has been instrumental in Toronto's fourth-place, 13-game deficit in the AL East and 12-game deficit in the AL Wild Card.

Why don't people understand that the award is about which player is most valuable to his team? Why do people think the award is "league's best hitter/pitcher"?

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 23, 2011 3:23 pm

[1] By my understanding, the best player is the most valuable.

3 a.O   ~  Aug 23, 2011 3:26 pm

[2] Fair enough, but why not just call it "best player" then? If you ask the question, "Valuable for what?" I think you will understand my opinion. What value is there other than helping your team into the post-season?

4 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2011 3:30 pm

It's the same argument every year. I think it's fair to say that people define "value" differently.

5 The Hawk   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:15 pm

I don't really think there need be much debate. The "valuable" part refers to how valuable a player is to his team. (We know this because there are MVPs for series in the postseason, those that are perceived to have put their team over the top). That, in turn, translates pretty clearly into wins, which is the goal of each team, to win games. So you need to have a team that's actually successful to have the MVP be on the team. I don't mean they even need to reach the playoffs, but they have to be viable, in order for a player's contributions to be of any value.

6 RIYank   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:18 pm

[5] Right, but I think the part that follows "So" doesn't actually follow.
What if a team would win only 35 games except that they got Babe Bautista and so they win 60 instead? This is not a successful team! But the guy is hugely valuable. In one sense, anyway. He kept them from having the worst record in the history of baseball, turning them into a merely weak team.
But I also understand the perspective of someone who says, there's no actual value in going from 35 wins to 60 wins, because you still really, really suck. I don't think I agree, but I get it.

So, as Alex says (or intimates), it's not really something you can prove to the other guy. It's just a question of how you 'value' seasons of teams, I guess.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:20 pm

6) Absolutely correct. People argue until they are blue in the face each year on what the true meaning of "value" is. And it's just a subjective thing.

8 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:33 pm

For me, I like the award to go to the best player. And if it is very close, then I give the nod to the guy who did under the pressure of the pennant race.

For example, if Granderson and Bautista are close at the end, I'll have no problem supporting Granderson.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:36 pm

[3] Valuable for runs. What the rest of his teammates do with those runs should have little bearing on the MVP race.

10 RIYank   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:38 pm

[8] That seems right to me, too.
I'd say that if two players each added, say, nine wins to their teams, and one of those players put his team in the playoffs and the other got his team to 90 wins, then the first is the MVP. There's value in boosting your team's W total, but there's extra value in putting them over the threshold.

But hm, I'm losing confidence in that even as I type it...

11 RIYank   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:45 pm

[9] Oh, I'd say Wins, not Runs.
Not a big difference, but when there is a difference I'm strongly in favor of looking at contribution to Wins.

For example, Freddy Garcia has prevented more runs than Dave Robertson, but Dave has been more valuable (I really believe this!) because of the high leverage of his situations.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 23, 2011 4:51 pm

[11] That's a fine distinction, to say runs w/ context. But when we talk about "wins" we are just talking about lumps of runs. We take about 9 marginal runs added or saved and that's a win. But players do not win any games by themselves - teams get wins. Players only contribute runs, often only components of runs.

13 RIYank   ~  Aug 23, 2011 5:14 pm

[12] Right, except for leverage.
Nine marginal runs saved by Mo is worth more wins than 9 saved by Freddy.

14 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 23, 2011 5:25 pm

[13] yep, agreed.

15 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 23, 2011 7:22 pm

Waitaminute, did he say "sub-optimal"?

16 monkeypants   ~  Aug 24, 2011 4:52 am

Well, I'm really late to this party, but...

[8] Yeah, I too prefer that the award go to the best player, with that player's team's success considered at most only marginally. Moreover, I actually *like* the idea that a great player on a really bad team can win the MVP (against [1]), both from fairness perspective and from a business perspective. That is, I think that it is good for the game if fans of poor teams have some small consolation to root for.

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