What the VORP?
Performing under pressure a big factor in MVP debate
Posted: Monday August 27, 2007 12:13PM; Updated: Monday August 27, 2007 2:31PM
Regarding your NL MVP candidates, how about those two guys in Florida? Yes, the Marlins are not in playoff contention, but it's hard to ignore Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, especially considering they're first and second, respectively, in the NL in VORP, and rank in the top three in Runs Created. It looks like you went through all the playoff-contending teams, and chose a "good" player from each. Let me ask you: If Cabrera were on a playoff-contender this season, would there be any doubt who the MVP was?
Actually, you're right. That's exactly what I did, and how I came up with Prince Fielder as my NL MVP leader. His "good'' year is actually more than good, and the Brewers are right in the thick of the playoff race. While I understand your sentiments, I am more interested in "wins created'' than runs created. And the day I consider VORP is the day I get out of the business. The idea of the MVP is to honor the player who has had the biggest positive impact on the pennant races. I have been a big champion for Ramirez, but I would not consider him a true candidate to win the MVP award.
I'll be the first one to say it out loud: Ichiro should be a serious contender for the AL MVP. Yes, I agree that A-Rod and Ordonez are the leading candidates. However, No. 51 of the Mariners should get some consideration. After all, his team is in the playoff picture right now, leading the AL wild-card race. In addition to his high average, hits and runs scored, he's also a stellar baserunner and fielder, something neither A-Rod and Ordonez can claim this year. Furthermore, look at Seattle's lineup. Ichiro has a lot less to work with than the Yankees and Tigers. Please give credit where it's due.
I am as guilty as many other East Coast writers of occasionally disregarding what happens in Seattle, and for that, I apologize. However, I only wanted to mention players I thought had a chance to win the awards. In this rare case, I think only Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez realistically can win, with A-Rod's chances about 95 percent now. In the unlikely event the Yankees and Tigers fall completely out of the race or A-Rod (who incidentally has been terrific in the field and on the basepaths) gets hurt, I might have to re-evaluate. In that case, I'd put Ichiro and Vladimir Guerrero at the top of the next tier.
In your list of AL Rookie of the Year candidates you neglected two other Red Sox rookies: Dustin Pedroia and Hideki Okajima. Yes, Dice-K was the big name at the beginning of the season but others are out there also.
I'd still have to go with a front-line starter over a singles-hitting second baseman and a setup man. Matsuzaka had all the expectations and pressure on him, and he delivered in such a way that hardly anyone is questioning the team's financial outlay for him. Pedroia has been superb in his role, and Okajima even better. But I am afraid they are handicapped by their roles.
Why would a team's playoff positioning make the slightest bit of difference in a Cy Young ballot? If Scott Kazmir was 21-4 with a 2.90 ERA, would you NOT vote for him because he's on the Devil Rays? Erik Bedard is the AL's best pitcher. He doesn't just lead the AL in K's -- look by how MUCH he leads by, even after Johan Santana's 17 K outing. Look at his WHIP, his opponent's batting average, his walks, the entire statistical picture. Look at his 10 no-decisions. If even half of them turn into wins, he's on track for 22 wins this year. Here's a novel idea -- actually watch one or two of his starts. And then tell me who in the AL is better. It's not Bedard's fault his bullpen is the baseball equivalent of gasoline on a house fire this year.
I have seen Bedard, and I am quite impressed by him. Just as I am impressed by Santana, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett, as well. The point of my Cy Young story and list was to show how close the competition is, not to suggest that I believe Beckett is the clear winner. Though in considering the candidates, I do tend to favor pitchers who are performing under the pressure of a pennant race over those toiling for an also-ran. I am probably in the minority in considering such an issue, and my suspicion is that if the vote were held today, most writers would favor Haren and Bedard. I would not begrudge those choices in the least. As I said, to me it is practically a coin flip at this point.
Still using wins to judge a pitcher? I thought we'd moved out of the Dark Ages. Beckett has received almost 7 runs per game of support, whereas guys like Haren (5.44), Santana (5.24), and Bedard (4.60) have all received considerably less. Or are they supposed to will their teams to play better with their magical clutchness and playing of the game the right way like Beckett does? Also, VORP (one of those spooky, newfangled computer stats) has Kelvim Escobar first, followed by Santana, Bedard and Haren. Beckett is a distant seventh.
There goes that VORP again. When the standings are determined by VORP, I think I will take it more seriously. But as you know, they still go by wins and losses. Like I said, I am an admirer of Bedard's. I had him second. Why don't you send your insults to Jim Leyland, who didn't even pick him for the All-Star team?