…. Most Valuable?

In our ongoing MVP debate, Jay T. makes the further point that since Jeter played on a team of stars, his contributions were’nt as important as Morneau’s. Well, OK, but Morneau played on a team that had substantially, substantially better pitching than the Yankees, and also had a teammate who was, at least judging by win shares, a bigger offensive contributor than he was; a teammate who played a much tougher position.

Almost all of the internet community has been deriding the selection of Morneau as the MVP, and if you take out RBI’s, you can see why, you can see that, while he is one of the best guys, he certainly isn’t the best.

Mauer .347/.429/.507 .936 OPS 181 H 36 2B 4 3B 13 HR 86 R
Jeter .343/.417/.483 .900 OPS 214 H 38 2B 3 3B 14 HR 118 R

Morneau .321/.375/.559 .934 OPS 190 H 37 2B 1 3B 34 HR 97 R
Rodriguez .290/.392/.523 .915 OPS 166 H 26 2B 1 3B 35 HR 113 R

Ortiz .287/.413/.636 1.049 OPS 160 H 28 2B 2 3B 54 HR 115 R
Dye .315/.385/.622 1.007 OPS 170 H 27 2B 3 3B 44 HR 103 R

If power is the criteria, Morneau isn’t the best, if it’s total package, he’s not, if it’s leadership, I don’t see how he did a better job than any of these other guys, not if it’s OBP, runs scored, defense…. If you add it all up, and just look at the overall picture, I still don’t see how Morneau rises to the top. He was second in the AL in RBI, 7th in batting average, 6th in slugging percentage, and 8th in OPS. Ortiz led the league in walks, home runs, RBI and OPS. How is Morneau more valuable than him? Because he played first?

You’re looking at two guys who play premier, up-the-middle positions, two other infielders, and two outfielder/DH guys. These players are all terrific, the differences between them is virtually impossible to discern, but historically, shortstop and catcher have always been recognized as more important, and therefore, more valuable. Using these raw stats, it is clear, (to me, at least), that the first baseman should have needed to out-perform, well, at least everyone else in the infield, by a substantial margin, to be considered the MVP; think Mattingly circa 1985. Morneau clearly did not do that. He didn’t out-perform his own catcher, for crying out loud, who played the same schedule, with the same weak teammates, and who was clearly more valuable by dint of handling the single most demanding position on the diamond.

For that matter, with all the talk of A-Rod’s lost season, Morneau hardly blows even him out of the water, (A-Rod drove in 121 to Morneau’s 130, if you’re wondering) and if you take into account the fact that third base is quite a bit more challenging than first, well, you can see where this is headed.

The Yankees lost two-thirds of their starting outfield for essentially the whole season, went through the whole A-Rod saga, lost their All Star second baseman for months, had one of the shittiest starting pitching staffs in the AL, in fact, they ran out there every day with the worst starting pitching of any of the eventual playoff teams. If Jeter was such a bad defensive shortstop, how does Wang, a full-blown groundball pitcher, win 19 games and finish in the top-three in the Cy Young voting? They had a lumbering lummox playing first base everyday; I mean, forget about the salaries of the team, look at the players that suited up every day.

If his name wasn’t Jeter, if the NY media hadn’t started the MVP drumbeat way back in August, there could be no doubt that as a shortstop of that team, a team that won the most games in all of baseball, he would have won the award.

Jeter-worship backlash is why he didn’t. Justin Morneau? He wasn’t mentioned as a serious MVP-candidate in anything I read, all season long, and right up to the week before surveys that predicted a Mauer-Jeter tie. That backlash, plus the stupidity of a large group of men who want to hold onto an archaic view of baseball, one in which players who evoke Jim Rice’s strength’s are revered; is the reason Jeter finished second.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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