I think it is established that different people look at the MVP voting in different ways. And, despite my own rather overbearing view on the subject, I think that's part of what makes it all interesting. You want something to argue about. And if everyone looked at it the same way, who would even care? You probably know that there is a points system for golfers to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame -- a system that compiles victories, major victories and year-end awards. I appreciate the honesty of the system, but I don't like it at all. Half the fun of these things are the arguments they spark. You can't have a lot of fun arguing with a points system.
So, in the end, if someone really believes that pitchers, by their nature, cannot be the league's most valuable player, or someone believes that you can't be most valuable playing for a fourth place team, or someone believes that runs batted in are the most significant statistic for figuring a player's overall value ... well, I want to argue with that person. But I respect them as long as they've put a lot of thought into it and can argue their side in a compelling way. Heck, I might even be convinced if the argument is good enough.
But it seems to me that's the point -- I would love to see some compelling arguments. The whole thing has sort of gotten stale. I've been thinking about this
So, we fall back to that age-old, dried-up argument about "value" and what it means. Hey, Howard's team won, Pujols' team lost, what about value, who has more value, value is what does, and all that. That argument, like the bars in
But I do think there IS an interesting argument to be had about this year's MVP. And it is this: Let's say that we will only make players from playoff teams eligible. That is, in this scenario, the only people to be considered for the NL MVP this year are from the four teams that made the playoffs -- Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. You already know where I stand on this one but stay with me ...
You could argue for a half-season of
You could argue for a half season of
You could argue for
In the end, though, I don't think any of those guys really stand up as a true MVP candidate. Not one of them got a first place MVP vote, and I think it's clear why. So basically, it comes down to the Phillies. It might tell you something about this whole exercise that three of the four playoff teams do not have especially riveting MVP candidates ... but forget that for the moment.
There are three players who seem to be viable candidates, and they were voted in this order.
OK, so, who is the best MVP choice of those three (or four)? For me: It's very clearly Chase Utley. Hamels got plenty of postseason MVP hardware, so he's fine. Lidge had a very good year as a closer, but he only pitched 70 innings and several other closers were as good.
And that leaves Howard vs. Utley. And ... am I wrong here? Isn't Utley pretty clearly the better player? He got on base a lot more, slugged about the same, played a much tougher defensive position, played it much better, was much better on the bases, scored more runs and drove in 104 despite not having, you know, himself batting in front. Not to bring advanced stats into this kind of thing, but ...
I dunno. I'm thinking that Utley probably had a better offensive year than Howard. And even if you call it a draw on offense, heck even if you are willing to give Howard a slight edge because you love them RBIs and late-season heroics, well, when you look at all the other things Utley does -- defense, baserunning -- well, again, I think Utley is pretty clearly more valuable.
I think there was a similar case to be made in 1973, when
Of course that year, the guy who really could have won it was