The main reason the Chicago White Sox have found success this season is the play of catcher A.J. Pierzynski. He is the most important player on the White Sox and is without question their MVP. He could be the American League MVP, for that matter.
Pierzynski’s offensive numbers alone are enough to prove it. He is batting .290 (third on the team) with a career-high 23 home runs (second), 70 RBI (third) and an OPS of .868 (second). Most impressively, according to Baseball Reference, his 3.1 offensive WAR leads White Sox regulars.
Throw in his role as the mentor for an ensemble cast of pitchers, and it is a lock. The team's 3.98 ERA is in no small part due to the way Pierzynski has handled the motley group of veterans and rookies constantly rotating in and out with ever-changing roles. He is the most important piece on a first-place team that was picked to finish well out of first by most baseball “experts” this season.
All of the arguments against Pierzynski for AL MVP are known.
Mike Trout from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is the clear front runner. His numbers are gaudy. He is batting .337 with 24 home runs, 72 RBI, 41 stolen bases and an unsightly OPS of .986, but the Angels are most likely not going to make the playoffs. That should matter. It doesn’t, but it should.
Miguel Cabrera is having another monster season.
Heck, some argue that he is not the MVP of the White Sox, let alone the league. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune believes more people think that “Alex Rios should receive more consideration on the 10-man MVP ballot than A.J.” Ouch.
Is Pierzynski the team's MVP?
Finally, what about the pitchers? Chris Sale, Justin Verlander and David Price, among others, are having Cy Young-caliber seasons and will surely garner consideration as the voting process begins.
To be sure, these are all valid arguments, but they miss the point of the MVP.
First of all, MVP should also be an award for position players. Pitchers already have an award.
MVP should also be about more than numbers. It should be about a player's worth to a team that has a winning record and is in the race for October. Andre Dawson, for example, should never have won the MVP for a last-place Cubs team. That was a travesty.
MVP is about value, plain and simple.
The most valuable man on the White Sox and in the AL is Pierzynski. It’s about time he gets his due.