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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

NL MVP Shenanigans

I've held off for a long time in discussing the NL MVP race but now that the voting is complete I can go ahead and share my thoughts.

For those who haven't seen it Albert Pujols won with the following vote totals:

1st 2nd 3rd Total
Pujols 18 14 0 378
Jones 13 17 2 351
Lee 1 1 30 263

Overall I don't have any problem with Pujols winning the award over Derrek Lee. After all, Pujols created 142 runs and totaled 38 win shares while Lee created 144 runs and was credited with 37 win shares. They both play first base and Pujols was 3 runs above average while Lee was 14 over. In Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) Pujols was at 10.7 while Lee was at 12.3. I also have Lee a couple runs better in baserunning than Pujols.

All told Lee was the better player in terms of creating and preventing runs but Pujols did play on a winning team and that certainly should count for something. Basically, in my view they were close enough to allow the nod to go to Pujols (and because I don't want to upset my friend Jon who is a Cardinals fan).

What everyone is commenting on of course is that Andruw Jones came in second. I'm not even that concerned that he did but that he received 17 second place votes while Lee received just one is a travesty. There simply isn't a rational justification for that result.

  • Jones created just 90 runs and had 23 win shares.

  • Jones played a more important defensive position but relatively speaking contributed less there as he was +2 in fielding runs above average.

  • Overall his WARP was 7.9, 36% less than Lee.

  • Although I'm not a big believer in the reality of clutch hitting, some voters are and Jones hit poorly in the clutch (.207 with runners in scoring position).

  • In many rankings he barely breaks the top 20 in the National League. In fact you could make the argument that Jeff Francouer was more valuable to the Braves in getting them to playoffs and certainly that Rafael Furcal was (he had a WARP of 8.2 and 27 win shares) or even perhaps John Smoltz (18 win shares).

  • Jones came in second for two reasons - 51 homeruns and potential realized. As for the first, in a day and age where there is so much information available for voters it seems strange that as a group they would be caught like a deer in the headlights staring at one number. It's even more inexplicable since that number, in an age of high offensive totals, is relatively low.

    More importantly, however, I think many voters and fans generally have had very high expectation of Jones since he made a splash in the 1996 post season. They've expected him to win multiple homerun titles and MVPs and have been at a bit of a loss to explain why he hasn't. Therefore with a great sigh of relief it seemed natural when he made a run this season and so they probably viewed him in a more positive light than his actual contribution would dictate.

    Be that as it may, anyway you slice it he simply wasn't the second most valuable player in the league.

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