Blog Entry

Dissecting AL MVP race

Posted on: August 31, 2010 10:51 am
Edited on: August 31, 2010 12:52 pm
MVP award There are plenty of players in the American League who are deserving of a MVP, but only one can win and there's no shortage of top candidates this season to take home the hardware.

So who's most likely to nab the MVP? Candidates include someone who would be a Triple Crown-lock if not for career seasons by two others, a second baseman establishing himself as the best in the game and someone hitting .408 since the beginning of June.

Metrics below include batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and standard counting statistics of runs, doubles, homers and RBI. Included are also two defensive measures -- Ultimate Zone Range prorated over 150 games and Defensive Runs Saved, which is not prorated. Together, both metrics give great insight into a player's defense. Wins Above Replacement is the final statistic, combining offense and defense to come up with a number that shows how many wins above a replacement player the player provides. MVPs generally end up around 10 by the end of the season.

Adrian Beltre Adrian Beltre
Boston Red Sox
.323/.362/.551, 68 R, 38 2B, 23 HR, 88 RBI, 13.6 UZR/150, 15 DRS, 5.7 WAR

Beltre has been everything the Red Sox wanted and more. If Kevin Youkilis was healthy, he may be on this list instead of Beltre -- but he's not. Besides, Beltre plays the more demanding defensive position than Youk and other than some hiccups in the early part of the season, has been a vacuum. He's slowly becoming a cult hero in town due to his on-one-knee home runs and curious aversion to having his head touched. If Boston storms back to somehow nab a postseason spot (hint: it won't), Beltre would likely win the MVP.

Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
.342/.437/.647, 94 R, 41 2B, 33 HR, 107 RBI, -7.5 UZR/150, -7 DRS, 6.0 WAR

Cabrera is doing it all this year: he's second in batting average, runs scored, home runs, doubles and leads the league in RBI. Just... wow. Not only is he having a Triple Crown-worthy season, he's also right there in non-Triple Crown stats like runs and doubles. His blemish is defense, where he clearly struggles which knocks his value down. If the Tigers made the playoffs, there wouldn't be much doubt about Cabrera's victory in the race. As is, however, he'll face stiff competition.

Robinson Cano Robinson Cano
New York Yankees
.325/.388/.563, 92 R, 36 2B, 26 HR, 90 RBI, 3.6 UZR/150, 12 DRS, 6.3 WAR

Cano has emerged to put together what is to date the 33rd best OPS by a second baseman in baseball's history -- with Rogers Hornsby responsible for the first five and seven of the first eight. So OK, Cano is no Hornsby but looking back at just the last 25 years, Cano's mark would rank sixth on the list. Either way you slice it, this kind of offense from a second baseman is not common. Cano doesn't have much plate discipline but that's largely irrelevant when you're hitting .325 and racking up extra-base hits. In addition, his fielding has taken another step forward. Will it be enough to finish in front of Cabrera? Given Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have all had off-seasons, it may be enough as Cano has largely carried the pinstriped offense.

Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton
Texas Rangers
.359/.411./637, 92 R, 39 2B, 31 HR, 95 RBI, 6.5 UZR/150, 5 DRS, 7.5 WAR

Since June 1, Hamilton has hit for a ridiculous .408/.459/.722 line and has combined that with strong defense to pace the AL in WAR -- no easy feat. He's certainly got to be considered the prohibitive favorite for the MVP, as the Rangers are 8 1/2 games ahead in first, headed to their first postseason berth since 1999. While Hamilton won't get the Triple Crown, a sizzling finish could vault him ahead of Cabrera in home runs and RBI -- leaving his only roadblock to the coveted distinction Jose Bautista's 42 dingers.

Evan Longoria Evan Longoria
Tampa Bay Rays
.297/.372/.514, 83 R, 42 2B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 11.6 UZR/150, 13 DRS, 5.8 WAR

The AL East boasts three candidates, which just goes to show you how competitive the division is with three playoff-caliber teams, with Longoria a big part of one of them in the Rays. He's among the game's premier defenders and while you'd like to see more home runs out of a MVP candidate, he's been Tampa's most consistent and elite offensive performer. However, his numbers just don't stack up to anyone else on the list except Beltre.

-- Evan Brunell

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:16 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:18 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 11, 2011 5:59 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

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Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: September 1, 2010 4:01 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

It is ridiculous to dismiss a player from the list of candidates just because his team is not bound for the playoffs. Like Cabrera, who likely wont make post-season, Jose Bautista deserves to be on this list and ranked fairly high using the metrics noted. Despite the lower average than all the candidates listed here, Bautista is fairing better in most categories. His 90 Runs, 103 RBI, .0384 OBP and .6234 SLG percentage  and MLB leading 43 HR to date blow away candidates like Longoria and Beltre. His WAR is a respectable 5.2. The real reason he should be considered an MVP is because he is the catalyst on a team picked to go nowhere this year. This Jays team has already surpassed experts preseason predictions for WINS. He has put up great numbers despite having very little protection in the line-up given the piss poor years by Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. No way Hamilton bats for .360 without Vlad doing as well as he has this year. Bautista has a cannon for an arm. Has a higher number of outfield assists than Josh Hamilton (who is probably one of the best outfield arms). I just feel he is being robbed not to be mentioned here. The Jays might not be a playoff contender this year but they are not to far off from becoming one, thanks to Jose Bautista. Just wanted to give my two-cents worth.   

Since: May 18, 2010
Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:39 am

Dissecting AL MVP race

This is irritating as hell. Beltre, Longoria..... come on these guys are not even close and I would give my left testicle to have Longoria on the Jays. How the hell does Batista the AL leader in homers, 2nd in RBI's and 1st in outfield assists not make the list? Yeah he is hitting .270 but his OBP is near .390.

I don't say this often but the guy who wrote this article is a complete idiot.

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: September 1, 2010 9:41 am

Dissecting AL MVP race

How in the hell is anyone on this list besides Cabrera, Cano and Hamilton?  You don't have to have 5 candidates just to make the story longer.  My order is Cabrera--because of his protection--over Hamilton.  It will be close, but Beltre and Longoria won't be there.

Since: Feb 5, 2007
Posted on: September 1, 2010 7:18 am

Dissecting AL MVP race

Dumb picture up top as it shows the NL MVP not the AL MVP.

Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: August 31, 2010 3:53 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

No mention of Paul Konerko?  .320/.401/.584, 32 HR, 95 RBI and a darn good 1B to boot.  Hamilton should win hands down because Cabrera won't be in the postseason, but Konerko and Cano have got to place higher than Beltre and Longoria. 

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: August 31, 2010 2:09 pm

Dissecting AL MVP race

As a Yanks fan, I love Cano--we'd be dead without him.  But Cabrera and Hamilton have objectively had (slightly) better offensive seasons, and Hamilton is doing it for a first-place team, so you have to give Hamilton the nod.

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