Thursday, November 30, 2006

AP - off the deep end?

Memo to Mr. Pujols: Next time the Dominican Republic Sports Ministry offers to host a press conference for you, decline.

Obsess much? Of course you do. Why else would your beginning of career offensive numbers be better than anyone else in the history of baseball? A colleague of mine is fond of saying, "Some people succeed because they're destined to. Others succeed because they're determined to." (if he ripped that off from someone else, sorry for not acknowledging the originator). AP succeeds because he's determined to.

I will pass summary judgement on your comments in a moment. But first, let's explore what may have led to this outburst.

Number 5 started this season offensively better than anyone else had started a season in the history of baseball. Until his oblique muscle quit playing well with others, he was on pace to shatter both Bonds' season HR mark and Hack Wilson's season RBI mark.

He went on the DL 5 June, came back 23 June, and didn't hit particularly well the rest of the way to the All-Star Break,and still wasn't passed for the NL HR and RBI lead until JULY. Yet what did we hear going into the AS Break?

David Wright was the NL MVP. Oh, you forgot that syruppy spread on Wright in SI?

Ryan Howard unquestionably played excellent baseball after the All-Star Break, particularly so after Abreu was dealt to the Yankees. He did will the Phillies into the Wild Card race with his bat until the last week of the season, and vaulted himself into MVP consideration. Over the course of the season, his numbers are very good. But let's face it: he won the award based on two months of work, August and September.

Oh, one more item on Howard: in the September series Philly had to have against the Nationals (second-worst team in the NL), the team dropped 2 of 3. Howard hit .250 (3-12) in that series, 1 extra base hit, 6 strikeouts, 1 friggin' RBI. Entered tied for the wild card lead, left 2 back, never recovered. Didn't really carry the team there, did he?

Without Pujols, StL surrenders the NL Central to Houston. Period. End of discussion. Primary Exhibit: September 27 against the Padres.

Let's go a little deeper.

Here are Pujols' CAREER numbers (6 full seasons, courtesy Baseball Reference):

933 3489 748 1159 260 12 250 758 36 17 493 394 .332 .419 .629 2193 31 98 48

Albert's career average, OBP and slugging percentages are better than the average NL MVP since the beginning of divisional play (average MVP numbers: .323/.418/.601).

In fact, since 1968, only 13 times has the MVP's batting average been better than AP's career average, 16 times has the MVP's OBP exceeded AP's, and 14 times has the MVP's SLG exceeded AP's 'average' season.

Basically AP has put up MVP numbers every season of his 6-year career, and only won the award once.

Why has he won just the 2005 award? Well he started his run at the height of the Barry Bonds love-fest amongst members of the BaseBall Writers Association of America (BBWAA). I personally don't think there's any question Bonds was the MVP of the league in 2001 and 2002. I think Bonds won in 2003 due to the 'halo effect' of those two years (his numbers were comparable). 2004 Pujols lost votes because Rolen and Edmonds had such good years it was difficult to determine who was the best player on that Cardinal squad, so sane BBWAA decided to default to Bonds. Insane writers voted Adrain Beltre runner-up. Yep, he who has not hit above .290 or slugged over .500 but for that one summer in 2004, his walk year with the Dodgers.

And that's the other reason AP has but the one MVP award. He is competing for the votes of a bunch of guys who live in the Impulse Zone. Show them the shiny new star (Howard, Wright), give them a flash in the pan (Beltre), and they go all agog.

"Wow, look! A blue car!"

So I can see why AP would be a bit frustrated with the selection process for MVP.

But having said all that, I must say this. Mr. Pujols, you did yourself no favor with that comment yesterday. I respect you immensely for saying what you think, but you will now be portrayed as a whiny little bitch by many sportswriters and various 'Underground sports sites'. You'd have been better off keeping that opinion private and not airing it out to the world.


Anonymous said...

Um, you seem to be contrdicting yourself here. On one hand you are saying that Bonds undeservingly won the '03 MVP based on his 3 year performance. On the other hand you are saying Beltre undeservingly was runner up (and ahead of Pujols) in '04 because he has been mediorce ever since.

Awards are (or should be) based on performance over the year for which they are awarded. Just as you indicate that it was wrong for Bonds to recieve an MVP in '03 or '04 based on what he did in '01 and '02, it is wrong to say Beltre didn't deserve the votes he got in '04 because he has never been that good before or since.

BTW Bonds' Pujol's, Beltre's and Edmonds' lines in '04
Bonds: .362/.609/.812/45HR/303TB
Beltre: .334/.388/.639/48HR/376TB
Pujols: .331/.415/.657/46HR/389TB
Edm'ds: .301/.418/.643/42HR/320TB

First off, I'd say Bond's season was still historic and deserving of an MVP. His .609 OBP was the highest ever recorded; even exclusive of his 120 IBB, his OBP would still have been .499. His .812 SLG was 4th best all time. Secondly, given their defensive contributions, both Beltre and Edmonds were more deserving of an MVP than Pujols in '04.

I agree that this year was a snub, but for the most part, while great every year, Pujols has had the misfortune of being 2nd or third best most ever year- arguably even in his '05 MVP season.

Lee: .335 .418 .662 393
Pujols: .331 .430 .609 360

The Angry Rant said...

It would have been better for my argument to leave out my editorial on why I think Beltre is a POS. He did have a great year in 2004.

As far as Bonds goes, unlike McGwire we have substantial proof he used illegal steroids after 1998. I don't care how historic his numbers were after that - he cheated, and that should count when voting for the best player in the league...but that's an argument for another time.