28 August 2011

Does the MVP Have To Be On a Winning Team?

What determines who should win the Most Valuable Player awards in both the American and National Leagues is always of debate but it seems that one of the qualifications is that those in the running should be on a playoff team. If that would be the case, then the two best players in baseball would be out of the running in Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp.
One of the biggest myths in the MVP race is that there is more pressure on the players on a playoff team than on a middling club when the fact that there is arguably more pressure on the star on a middling club because if he does not perform the team has no chance. Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson are surrounded by stars and Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have each other. Who does Bautista have around him? Who does Kemp?
Arguably the most important statistic for me when talking about who should be the AL and NL MVP is wins above replacement, which means how much worse would the players' team be if the average player was in his spot. Bautista (8.0 WAR, which is MVP level) and Kemp (7.3 WAR) stand first and second in this category. Take Bautista off the Blue Jays and they drop from 66-67 to 58-75 and take Kemp off the Dodgers and they fall from 62-70 to 55-77. The differences are stark and doesn't that clearly define a Most Valuable Player?
It's a shame that it's unlikely that these guys' spectacular seasons (Bautista's in particular since he's having one of the best offensive seasons in recent memory) will be rightfully awarded because they aren't on playoff teams. But that's the way things are nowadays and it's a shame.

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