AL MVP Critics Have Heads of Bone


By Keith Glab, 11/22/05



          This month, we are fortunate enough to have two boneheaded writers cry about David Ortiz’s unjust treatment in the AL MVP voting:


Ian O’Connor: Undeserved MVP can’t hide Rodriguez’s glaring blemish (USA Today)


Ryne Sandberg (sorry Scott): Designated Loser? (Yahoo! Sports)



We’ll begin with the more egregious O’Connor article.  Amidst contradicting himself with every new paragraph begun, he does seem pretty steadfast about the following:


“David Ortiz should have won the award, even if he doesn’t play the field.  You didn’t need to weigh the numbers to know Ortiz made more dramatic contributions to the Red Sox than Rodriguez made to the Yanks.  Two out of every three nights, Ortiz was sending some late-season, late-game ball to the moon.  That was good enough for me.”


Well, it’s not good enough for me, Ian.  I do need to weigh the numbers.  Even if it is super obvious that Ortiz has the edge in clutch hitting, shouldn’t we see just how big that edge is?  I mean, we are taking other factors into account, yes?  It’s not all about who created the most drama, is it?



2005 Situation



Runners On






Men on 2 out














          All of this confirms that Ortiz was the better clutch hitter, but it also shows that A-Rod was no slouch.  In fact, most of the advantage is negated by the fact that Boston had a better offense both in general and in the clutch.  Boston beat New York in terms of Runs Scored (910 to 886), OPS w/RISP (.845 to .818) and OPS 7th-on (.790 to .761).  So if you consider where each team would be without their MVP candidate, both generally and in the clutch, you’d have to say that New York would be worse off.


          Just in passing, I’d like to note thtat A-Rod had better numbers than Ortiz in the following categories: BA, OBP, SLG, SB, R, H, TB, SB, GIDP.


          Ortiz had better numbers in RBI, 2B, BB and K.


          At this point, you’d have to say that it’s a pretty tight MVP race, although I would give a slight edge to A-Rod.  But we have yet to consider their positional values, and this is where we bring in Mr. Sandberg.  After the token commentary regarding Ortiz and clutch hitting, Sandberg had this to say:

Although I'm not a fan of the DH, Ortiz deserved to win the award. There's no doubt in my mind he would have won it if he played the field. Ortiz could be a serviceable first baseman, but the Red Sox had other options there, which probably cost him the MVP.

If Ortiz can't win it after leading the AL in RBIs (148), ranking second in home runs (47), walks (102) and slugging percentage (.604) and getting consistent clutch hits, then no DH has a chance.”

          Well, the DH might have a better chance if he led the league in more than one category! Ryno fails to mention that Ortiz was 2nd in home runs and SLG to… that’s right, A-Rod, the guy who won the award.

          I am not biased against the DH.  I have Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez ranked higher on my top 100 list than most sane people would.  Ortiz was not being penalized for being a DH, but rather, a 1B/DH.  Whether he took the field or not was irrelevant.  A bad fielding 1B has just as much value as a DH, but both have less value than a 3B.  This is why we consider Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews superior players to Willie McCovey and Harry Heilmann.

          This is why Tejada won the award in 2002 over the superior hitting Jason Giambi, who played more games in the field than at DH that year.  And why Ivan Rodriguez won it in 1999 over the superior hitting Manny Ramirez, who played just two games at DH (as well as the overlooked superseason of Pedro Martinez, but that’s a topic for another day).  A good hitting 3B is more valuable than a good hitting 1B or DH.  This is basic stuff, people.

When I won the NL MVP in 1984, I hit .314 with 19 home runs and 84 RBIs, but I knew I didn't win it because I had the best year statistically. In fact, if you look at the numbers, Gary Carter (.294, 27 HR, 106 RBIs) and Chili Davis (.315, 21, 81) also had great years, but I got big hits and drove in runs in big games for a winning Chicago Cubs team.”

No Ryne, you won because people realized that when one of the best fielding 2B of all-time is putting up comparable numbers to an error-prone outfielder, that the 2B might be a little more valuable! (Carter wasn’t considered because he was on the losing Expos).  Do you seriously think, Ryne Sandberg, that you would be in the Hall of Fame today if you played 1B or DH?  Do you think anyone would remember all those big RBI?

Sorry Ryne, I love ya, but you just make me so mad sometimes.  Not as mad as Idiot O’Connor, however:

“So what if there isn’t a New Yorker worth his or her Derek Jeter jersey who would declare Rodriguez the most valuable Yankee, not as long as Jeter slips into his Mr. October cape, and not as long as Mariano Rivera busts through the bullpen door to a Metallica beat.”

Well this is why random New Yorkers don’t get to vote on postseason awards.  What Jeter does in the postseason is quite irrelevant, as the awards are voted on before the postseason begins.  And if all A-Rod needs to match Rivera’s mystique is to have some corny theme song play when he steps to the plate, then by all means, play it.

O’Connor hoes on to diminish A-Rod’s value because he didn’t win a World Series this year.  Well, I know that not too many people outside of the Midwest were watching, but Ortiz’s Red Sox didn’t win the World Series this year either.  In fact, the Yankees won two more postseason games than Boston did this year.

So I’ll listen to a well thought out argument on why Ortiz’s small edge in clutch hitting makes him a better choice than A-Rod for MVP.  But if you rant and rave and go off on tangents about postseason history and marketability, or cry conspiracy and cite examples that don’t prove your point, you’ll don the Baseball Evolution Monthly Boner Award.