Recently the typical chattering has arisen among mainstream journalists about who deserves the AL MVP award...
...as if there is any question who the most valuable player this year is.
It is Joe Mauer.
Some writers, like Ken Rosenthal, think there's some sort of debate about this.
Most confusing has been the focus on whether the performance of a player's team should somehow be factored into the MVP discussion.
The success of the Yankees this year has been impressive. For some reason there are writers out there who think this matters in the MVP race.
It does not. The MVP award is about the player, not the team.
Trying to bring the team into the discussion is just a way of saying, "Joe Mauer is clearly more valuable than any other player, but I want to vote for someone else."
Yes, there is room for debate as to what constitutes an MVP.
Do you adjust a player's value by his position, using VORP instead of WinShares? Do you factor in defensive skills? Do you use counting stats, like runs created, or ratios, like OPS or wOBA? Does MVP mean marginal or absolute value?
What you don't do is judge a player's value based on his team's record.
To do so would be to convict someone based on his associations, not on his merit; something most people would recognize as unjust.
There is something to be said for making the playoffs and for winning. And there is a way to recognize this, and that is with pennants and World Series rings.
The MVP award is an individual award, and should be given out based on individual merit.
To illustrate this I'd like to use an example from business.
Imagine you're the manager of two department stores.
One is losing money, the other is making money. You have to decide which store to shut down, and which one to keep open.
Easy enough: You close down the store losing money.
But now you have to figure out which employees to keep and which to fire. The best salesman works for the store that loses money. You would probably want to keep your best employee, right?
Even though he's working for a losing store, right?
Of course. It would be stupid to fire an employee making you money. It would also be unjust to do so.
The same thing is happening here. Sports writers are looking for any excuse to not vote for Joe Mauer for MVP, and are even making ridiculous arguments to make it happen. But these arguments are pure idiocy.
The truth is, the Yankees are a media powerhouse and they draw undue press coverage. This makes people who cover baseball think the Yankees have to have the MVP because they have a good record and have a lot of fans.
The numbers, the objective standards by which a player's value is judged, are on Joe Mauer's side. You can use counting stats, ratios, position adjusted or raw; all of them point towards Joe Mauer being the AL MVP this year.
If the writers fail to give him the award, well, it might be time to get rid of the award altogether.