How to Define the most Valuable Player in Baseball
Every year, an argument carries on between how exactly to define “most valuable player.” Should this person come from a winning team? Should we look at where there team should be without them?
Lets take the argument, where would the team be without them? Well, I can guarantee you the Twins wouldn’t be sniffing the playoffs without Santana. The Cardinals would be probably be headed home early if Pujols missed the season. However, the Dodgers probably would not be on top of the division without Furcal or Penny. Oakland would be dead without Frank Thomas or Barry Zito. All of these players, and many more were crucial for their team’s success.
On a similar note, the White Sox will probably miss the playoffs, even with Dye. The Phillies are miles behind the Mets, in spite of Howard’s 60+ HR pace. Cleveland has been eliminated for months with the best hitter in the AL on the roster.
Should Howard’s value be lessened because the Philadelphia front office did not surround him with a World-Series caliber team? Was it David Ortiz’s fault the Sox rotation fell apart? Since when was the award called Most Valuable Player from a Borderline Playoff Team, but not a Star-Studded Franchise Award. Jeter, and Yankees in the past, are not awarded the MVP because they have such a strong supporting cast.
To me, “value” means “wins added to the team.” These are wins regardless of team performance. If Pujols is worth 11 wins to his team and Howard 9, then it doesn’t matter to me whose team played better than whose. I prefer to think of most valuable player as, “who would I take first if I were starting a team from scratch, and they were guaranteed to put up the same numbers as the year in question.” In my opinion, I would start off my AL squad with 2006’s version of Jeter and 2006’s version of Pujols for the NL.
The MVP should go to the best overall player, placed in a neutral context. They were in fact the “most valuable.” They added the most wins to the team, be it an improvement from 60 to 70 team wins, 90 to 100, or 100 to 115.