2 hours ago
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):
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB SF IBB HBP
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.
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.