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Posts Tagged ‘MVP’

Earlier in the week, Justin Verlander became only the 14th unanimous Cy Young selection in the 56-year history of the award. However, according to some prognosticators, that might just be the appetizer for the Tigers’ right hander.

Unanimous Cy Young Award Winners

Pitcher Years
Justin Verlander 2011
Roy Halladay 2010
Jake Peavy 2007
Johan Santana 2004, 2006
Pedro Martinez 1999, 2000
Roger Clemens 1986, 1998
Greg Maddux 1994, 1995
Orel Hershiser 1988
Rick Sutcliffe 1984
Ron Guidry 1978
Steve Carlton 1972, 1977
Denny McLain 1968
Bob Gibson 1968
Sandy Koufax 1963, 1965, 1966

Source: mlb.com

When the A.L. MVP is announced next Monday, many believe Verlander will add to his list of already impressive accomplishments by becoming the seventh starter (and 10th pitcher) to win both the Cy Young and MVP in one season. In addition, if the Tigers’ ace is given his second trophy, he’ll join the Brooklyn Dodgers Don Newcombe as the only player to be named Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP during his career. Throw in a pair of no hitters, and the list of accomplishments achieved by Verlander has Hall of Fame written all over it.

Although his credentials as an MVP candidate are beyond question, there is an element around the game, and within the BBWAA, that seems to think pitchers should not be eligible for the award. At the very least, a commonly held position is that if a pitcher is going to win the MVP, he must clear an extra hurdle. So, does Verlander’s 2011 campaign meet that higher standard?

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In what has likely been the most dismal season in the 128-year history of the Dodgers’ franchise (some older Brooklyn residents might dispute that assertion), there have been a few stars shining out in Hollywood. Amid the dark clouds of financial distress, fan violence, and dwindling attendance, the Dodgers’ have managed to maintain respectability on the field thanks in large part to three men who could be in line for off-season recognition.

Although it seems as if the Cy Young is already being engraved with Roy Halladay’s name on it, Clayton Kershaw remains within striking distance of claiming the award. In fact, Kershaw actually enjoys a slight advantage over the Phillies’ ace in traditional statistics like wins, innings pitched and ERA in addition to striking out an extra batter per game. Although Halladay rates better in ERA+ and both calculations of WAR, the difference isn’t insurmountable, nor likely meaningful enough to resonate with what is still more of an “old school” voting bloc.

Clayton Kershaw vs. Other Cy Young Contenders

Player Tm IP W L SO ERA ERA+ OPSa+  BWAR fWAR
Clayton Kershaw LAD 213.2 18 5 231 2.36 156 59 6.0 6.6
Roy Halladay PHI 210.2 17 5 204 2.44 159 62 6.5 7.7
Cliff Lee PHI 210.2 16 7 211 2.44 159 66 6.3 6.2
Cole Hamels PHI 194 14 7 171 2.60 149 57 5.4 5.0
Ian Kennedy ARI 202 19 4 178 2.90 135 82 4.9 4.2

Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

Matt Kemp has an outside chance at finishing the year as a 40/40 man and incredibly remains in the running for a triple crown. Normally, a player pursuing either accomplishment, not to mention both, would garner daily national attention, but because of all the distractions surrounding the Dodgers, the center fielder’s potentially historic season has gone largely unnoticed. In addition to ranking among the leaders in most traditional statistical categories, Kemp is also a darling of the sabermetric crowd. His average WAR (bWAR+fWAR/2) easily ranks as the best in the National League, while his OPS+ and wOBA are not far off the pace. All things considered, Kemp has been the best player in the National League, but too many will discount his MVP credentials because the Dodgers have never been in the pennant race. Unfortunately, that sentiment is likely to cost him any chance at winning the award even though there isn’t a player in the league who has provided more value to his team.

Matt Kemp vs. Other MVP Contenders

Player Tm PO PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS+ wOBA bWAR fWAR
Matt Kemp LAD CF 618 32 107 .317 .396 .561 165 .409 8.6 7.1
Ryan Braun MIL LF 573 27 96 .331 .398 .579 163 .427 6.8 6.5
Joey Votto CIN 1B 644 28 94 .320 .427 .553 165 .419 6.6 7.0
T. Tulowitzki COL SS 596 30 105 .306 .376 .552 135 .394 5.8 6.6
Justin Upton ARI RF 622 30 86 .299 .379 .551 150 .400 4.7 7.0

Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

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Joey Votto was named the 2010 NL MVP with a commanding 31 of 32 first place votes. Finishing a distant second was Albert Pujols, who in addition to winning three MVPs has also been the runner up four times.

Votto’s selection over Pujols is perfectly justifiable, but it is interesting to note that it was actually Pujols who was recently awarded the silver slugger for first base in the National League. Coincidentally, Votto became the first player to win the MVP, but not the silver slugger, since Pujols in 2005. In total, there are only five instances of an MVP failing to win the silver slugger (excluding American League pitchers voted as MVP) since the latter award was first given out in 1980. Listed below is a comparison of the MVP and silver slugger for each instance.

Based on offensive WAR, in three of the five seasons, the silver slugger actually had a better year with the bat than the MVP. Not surprisingly, in all of them, the MVP’s team made the playoffs, while the silver slugger’s team did not. In 2000 and 2005, however, Giambi and Pujols rated as the better hitter by a significant margin, leaving one to scratch their head as to why they were overlooked for the silver slugger.

MVPs Who Didn’t Win a Silver Slugger

2010 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Joey Votto* 648 106 37 113 0.324 0.424 0.600 6.9
1B SS Albert Pujols 700 115 42 118 0.312 0.414 0.596 7.4
                   
2005 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Albert Pujols* 700 129 41 117 0.330 0.430 0.609 7.2
1B SS Derek Lee 691 120 46 107 0.335 0.418 0.662 6.0
                   
2002 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
AL MVP Miguel Tejada* 715 108 34 131 0.308 0.354 0.508 5.8
3B SS Alex Rodriguez 725 125 57 142 0.300 0.392 0.623 8.2
                   
2000 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
AL MVP Jason Giambi* 664 108 43 137 0.333 0.476 0.647 9.4
1B SS Carlos Delgado 711 115 41 137 0.344 0.470 0.664 7.6
                   
1991 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Terry Pendelton* 644 94 22 86 0.319 0.363 0.517 5.5
3B SS Howard Johnson 658 108 38 117 0.259 0.342 0.535 5.7

 *Team made the post season.
Note: Excluded Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens, Willie Hernandez and Rollie Fingers, who each won the MVP as pitchers in the American League.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Only days after being awarded the World Series MVP, Edgar Renteria was given a pink slip (Photo: AP).

When the Giants announced that they would not be picking up Edgar Renteria’s $9.5 million option for 2011, he became the second consecutive World Series MVP to find himself looking for work in the offseason. Although Renteria’s postseason heroics definitely put the Giants in an awkward position, the decision to cut him loose was really a no-brainer. It’s not easy being an unlikely hero with a lucrative team option.

Considering the performance of the Giants’ pitching staff, the selection of Renteria as World Series MVP has to qualify as one of the biggest surprises in the history of the award. So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the most improbable World Series heroes.

(Note: The World Series MVP award originated in 1955 and was originally voted upon by the editors of Sport magazine. In addition to a trophy, the honor also included a new car, which was a serious financial consideration in the era before large contracts. Today, the World Series MVP is voted upon by a larger pool of media members and officials, and includes a charitable contribution).

Edgar Renteria: 2010 World Series (Giants over Rangers, 4 games to 1)

2010 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 18 6 2 6 .412 .444 .765
Reg. Season 267 26 3 22 .276 .332 .707

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

At his best, no one would think twice about Edgar Renteria winning a World Series MVP. In his prime, he was a solid defensive SS with speed and an above average bat for the position. He also was the author of a walk-off World Series winning hit in 1997 as well as a strong .333/.412/.533 effort in the 2004 Fall Classic. In 2010, however, Renteria was coming off two awful seasons and by August had lost his job. Because of the poor defense of Pablo Sandoval, the Giants reinstalled Renteria at shortstop in the NLCS, but his offense showed no signs of a rejuvenation. Against the Phillies, Renteria hit .063/.118/.063 in 18 plate appearances. So, if the Rangers still don’t realize what hit them, you can easily see why.

Key Moments

Game 1: Solo HR in the bottom of the fifth, breaking a scoreless tie in a pitchers’ duel between Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson.
Game 5: Three-run HR in the top of the seventh against Cliff Lee. The blast provided the Giants with their only runs in the clincher.

 

David Eckstein: 2006 World Series (Cardinals over Tigers, 4 games to 1)

2006 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 23 3 0 4 .364 .391 .500
Reg. Season 552 68 2 23 .292 .350 .344

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

Scott Brosius celebrates game 3 HR off Trevor Hoffman in 1998 World Series.

Because of his size and less than impressive raw talent, most people in the baseball world doubted David Eckstein over his entire career. So, it really shouldn’t be a surprise to see him show up on a list like this. Still, despite having a very solid season in 2005, Eckstein’s 2006 campaign was more in line with the two disappointing years that ended his Angels’ career. What’s more, his production over the first two rounds of the playoffs was a less than inspiring .195/.244/.293. Nonetheless, with all eyes trained on the monstrous Albert Pujols, it was the diminutive Eckstein who took home the hardware. It should be noted, however, that with the Cardinals’ having a team OPS of .675 and no standout pitching performance in the series, Eckstein really won the MVP by default.

Key Moment

Game 4: Run scoring double in the eighth inning against hard throwing Joel Zumaya that provided margin of victory.

  

Scott Brosius: 1998 World Series (Yankees over Padres, 4 games to 0)

1998 PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
World Series 17 3 2 6 .471 .471 .824
Reg. Season 603 86 19 98 .300 .371 .472

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Background

In 1997, Scott Brosius had an OPS+ of 53 and WAR of -0.8, so when the Yankees acquired him in the offseason, it had many followers of the team scratching their heads. The Yankees must have seen something in Brosius because he responded with an outstanding campaign in the Yankees’ record setting 114-48 regular season. He also hit very well in both prior rounds of the playoffs, so his presence on this list really stems from the depths of his previous season as well as his presence in a lineup chock full of stars.

Key Moment

Game 3: Already trailing 2-0 in the series, the Padres had to win game three at home. So, when the first sign of trouble hit in the eighth inning, Bruce Boche immediately went to Trevor Hoffman, his dominant closer who had 53 saves in the regular season. After an out and a walk, Brosius sent a 2-2 changeup over the wall in center, catapulting the Yankees into the lead and setting the stage for a series sweep.

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