During the 2004-2005 NBA season, Allen Iverson averaged 31 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2+ steals—and finished fifth in the MVP voting.
To put those stats in perspective, AI led the league in scoring average by more than three points a game. He was fifth in assists and second in steals. And at 5'11", his 4 rebounds a game ranked fifth amongst all points guards.
Steve Nash—the player who won the NBA MVP that season—averaged 15.5 points, 11.5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal...and played 8 minutes less per game than Iverson.
Now, we all know that the NBA MVP is a team-based award. If you didn't make the playoffs—you're shit out of luck.
It's your job to win basketball games, not to put up gaudy stats. That's the mantra at least.
In the game of baseball, though, the standards are a little different.
A player's production isn't dependent on what four other guys do. There's no team involved—it's just you and the pitcher.
So after perusing the buzz around the NL MVP race, I'm a little dumbfounded by the consensus top four candidates (Jimmy Rollins, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Prince Fielder)...and left wondering why one slender Florida Marlin is nowhere to be found.
How could Hanley Ramirez—with his awe-inspiring stats—not get any love from the national media?
Here's a glance at the numbers:
212 hits, 139 runs, 30 home runs, 94 RBI, 41 SBs, .296 BA, .344 OBP, .531 SLG
216 hits, 120 runs, 36 home runs, 137 RBI, 11 SBs, .340 BA, .405 OBP, .607 SLG
196 hits, 113 runs, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 34 SBs, .325 BA, .416 OBP, .546 SLG
165 hits, 109 runs, 50 home runs, 119 RBI, 2 SBs, .288 BA, .395 OBP, .618 SLG
212 hits, 125 runs, 29 home runs, 81 RBI, 51 SBs, .332 BA, .386 OBP, .562 SLG
Right off the bat, I have to say that Holliday stands out. His combination of power, BA, and OBS makes him the most productive player in the group—hands down.
But let's look at Ramirez against Fielder and Rollins.
Ramirez has Rollins beat on both batting average and OPS (by 73 points). Rollins got a lot of pub late in the year thanks to the Phillies' heroics—as well as his mouth—but his production just doesn't stack up with that of the other candidates.
While Ramirez's BA advantage over Fielder is roughly canceled out by Fielder's advantage in OBS, the 49 bases that Hanley made up in steals gives him a decisive edge.
I see David Wright as being in the middle of this pack. An incredibly well-rounded season—but nothing stands out.
With that in mind, here's my final ballot:
1. Matt Holliday - Colorado Rockies
2. Hanley Ramirez - Florida Marlins
3. David Wright - New York Mets
4. Prince Fielder - Milwaukee Brewers
5. Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies
I’m not trying to say anything radical here. I think it’s great that the MVP award generally goes to a player who leads his team to victory.
At the same time, let’s not excessively punish someone just because his owner is cheap. When Hanley Ramirez steps to the plate, he can’t do a whole lot about who his teammates are or aren’t.
Let’s just hope he finishes better than fifth in the balloting—because right now this has Allen Iverson written all over it.