David Shoenfield at ESPN (watch out, he slightly favors the Red Sox) went into discussion today about the AL MVP race. It's actually a pretty interesting read. How should it be assessed, who should get it, stuff like that. Should it go to the guy with the best numbers or the actual name of the award, the most valuable player? If it were the best numbers, then it would back up A-Rod's MVP award in 2003, but not Dustin Pedroia's in 2008. The most valuable player can easily be linked to WAR, and the American League leaders in WAR are:
1. Jose Bautista, TOR: 6.9 WAR
2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS: 6.8 WAR
3. CC Sabathia, NYY: 5.9 WAR
4. Ben Zobrist, TB: 5.7 WAR
5. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS: 5.7 WAR
6. Justin Verlander, DET: 5.5 WAR
7. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS: 5.3 WAR
8. Jered Weaver, LAA: 5.1 WAR
9. Curtis Granderson, NYY: 4.9 WAR
10. Dan Haren, LAA: 4.8 WAR
So, there it is, Jose Bautista, this year's AL MVP.
Of course, the discussion cannot end at that. You have to take into account how the player's team is faring and the storyline behind the player (Shoenfield mentions Ichiro in 2001, I immediately think Josh Hamilton last year). These qualifications all but take Zobrist and Haren out of the conversation. Zobrist, playing for the Rays who are out of it in every respect, and Haren because he's not even the best pitcher on his own staff.
Traditional baseball numbers have to take effect too, like Gonzalez's 90 RBIs, or Grandy's 28 HR and 84 RBIs. WAR also takes into account fielding, a point that which extremely helps Pedroia and Ellsbury, but hinders Granderson and Bautista greatly. Pitchers have been avoided in MVP discussions lately, but I feel when you have stats like these pitchers do this year, they should be included, no doubt.
It comes down to how you want to look at everything, and how much you weigh different points of each player's stats. Here's my AL MVP race standings right now, and of course two months could change this a lot.
1. Jose Bautista (TOR): .322/.459/.658, 32 HR, 72 RBI.
2. Adrian Gonzalez (BOS): .357/.418/.568, 18 HR, 90 RBI.
3. Justin Verlander (DET): 2.24 ERA, 15-5, 178 K.
4. CC Sabathia (NYY): 2.55 ERA, 16-5, 162 K.
Jered Weaver (LAA): 1.88 ERA, 14-5, 142 K.
Curtis Granderson (NYY): .278/.367/.576, 28 HR, 84 RBI.
I take Pedroia out of this despite his high WAR, because of the amount his fielding aids him in that respect, and the same for Ellsbury. Gonzalez is at #2 mainly because it is his first season in Beantown, and he is honestly just putting up insane numbers all over the board. Verlander has single-handedly carried the Tigers (Miguel Cabrera as well, you could say), and CC has been the only reliable starter the Yankees have had all year. Jered Weaver is putting up dead-ball era numbers, and Curtis Granderson is the only Yankee hitter to show any consistency all season.
Well ther'ya go, I'd love to hear what you have to say.