Pedroia for MVP? Think again
I get why people like Dustin Pedroia. The little frame. The big swing. The in-your-face attitude. The nose-diving defense. And mostly, of course, the results. This guy is more than merely scrappy. This guy can hit. He's, like, Scrappy Plus.
I understand, too, that in a season like this one in the American League, it's difficult to pick a Most Valuable Player. The best player in the league, Alex Rodriguez, has had a bad year in clutch situations. The feel-good story of the year, Josh Hamilton, has done nothing in the second half. The out-of-nowhere story, Carlos Quentin, broke his wrist. Really, finding an MVP in the AL this year is a crapshoot. Justin Morneau, maybe. Joe Mauer, maybe.
But for all those pulling for Pedroia as MVP ... I just don't get it. We all like Pedroia. He's meant a ton to the Red Sox. But no way has he meant more than Kevin Youkilis. And if Youkilis -- the Great Goatee -- is more valuable to the Sox than Pedroia, how can Pedroia be the league's MVP?
These MVP discussions always degenerate into two parts. One is the hard stuff, the stats. The other is the intangibles; the Scrappiness and the Goatee, the definition of valuable, the perception of who is a true leader.
Let me get rid of the hard stuff in one quick but parentheses-heavy paragraph.
Youkilis gets on base more than Pedroia (.386 to .374), he has a better slugging percentage (.558 to .491), he has more home runs (26 to 17) and RBIs (109 to 80), he has a better OPS+ (142 to 123, where 100 is average for the league), he wipes out his teammate with runners in scoring position (.368 to .304 batting average, 1.060 OPS to .825) and RISP with two outs (.317 to .231, .929 OPS to .714) and -- this, to me, is huge -- he has played two defensive positions like a Gold Glover, first base and third base, which has helped the Sox gloss over injuries to Mike Lowell and enabled them to keep David Ortiz as a DH.
I'm sure there's more than that. But those parentheses are killing me.
The argument for Pedroia, then, comes down to -- aside from batting average and durability -- the intangibles. The scrappiness. The way he lifts up his teammates. His competitiveness.
None of those factors can or should be discounted. (I think it's important to remember, though, that it was the fiery Youkilis who got into a dugout scuffle earlier this season with former teammate Manny Ramirez, a man who rarely has been called "fiery." Or scrappy, for that matter.)
It's easy to see why people like Pedroia. I like him, too. He's a good player. He's better than good, really.
It's just that, this year, he's not better than Youkilis. This year, give me the Great Goatee over King Scrappy. Give me the bald head and the black eye over the dirty uniform and the yapping mouth.
And give me Youkilis' two-headed defense, and his outstanding bat, too. That's an MVP.