2008 has brought many surprises to the table, and the AL MVP is one of them.
This season, the AL MVP race doesn't include some of the big names that we expected to hear about, as it doesn't include David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez.
The top five players who are up for the award this year are Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Carlos Quintin, Justin Mourneau, and Francisco Rodriguez.
All five are involved in the playoff push for 2008, which brings up an interesting topic: Should being on a successful team be a requirement for an MVP?
I think it is a problem that the league needs to look into more. Major League Baseball needs to redefine the acronym, "MVP."
Is an MVP a player who puts up monster power stats, or a player who hits for average?
Is an MVP a player in the heart of a pennant race, or a player on a 3rd place ball club?
Is an MVP a player who pulls through in the clutch, or does playing big in the clutch not matter?
The past 4 or 5 years the MVP has been a "power hitter."
In 2002, Miguel Tejada won the AL West the year upon winning the AL MVP. However, the next year Alex Rodriguez won the MVP even though his team finished last in the division.
In 2004, Vladimir Guerrero won the AL West the same year he won MVP. In 2005, Alex Rodriguez won MVP again, but this time his team finished first in the division.
In 2006 Justin Morneau's Twins won the AL Central—the same year Morneau won MVP. Last year, A-Rod won the MVP, and again, his team made the playoffs.
It's safe to say that being on a team that is in the hunt for October helps a player's chances of winning MVP. We may never see an MVP on a team that isn't in the race for the playoffs.
Over the past five years, most of the players who have won MVP have performed well in the clutch; the one exception is Alex Rodriguez, who has had a knack of choking in the spotlight (unless its April.)
Alex deserved to win the all the MVPs he did, but one stands out as unjust.
In 2005, when Alex Rodriguez beat out David Ortiz for AL MVP. That season, no one was more clutch than David Ortiz. Take a look at the statistics:
Men on 2 out
The stats clearly show that Ortiz was the more clutch of the two, but we already knew that. But overall, A-Rod had better stats in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, stolen bases, runs, hits, total bases, ground into double plays. Ortiz had better stats in RBI, doubles, walks, and strikeouts.
Who would you pick after just looking at a few attributes? Hold on, there's more to it. We have to consider positional values. Should a DH win the MVP?
This is another question I address to you.
All these stats help determine who performed better during the season, but which player was more valuable to their team?
I will list some questions for you to reply to below in the comments box in terms of your redefinition of an MVP.
Power or average?
Do team standings matter?
Does the player have to be a clutch performer?
Should pitchers qualify for the award?
Does your position hurt or help your chances? (Ex: the DH.)
In 2005, Ortiz or A-Rod?
In 2002, Giambi or Tejada?
What should be the first stat to be looked at by the committee?
Stats or helping your ball club win a game? (Ex: hitting homeruns or sacrificing.)
Lets take a look at this years race.
Obviously, there is still a lot of time left in the season, so I won't go into any depth until the end of the month approaches. However, if the season ended today I would have to pick Dustin Pedroia for MVP.
Pedroia has shown us that he hits for average and power. He is an above average fielder. He pulls through in the clutch, and is versatile in terms of where he is placed in the lineup, and is leading his team to the playoffs.
Who do you think should win the AL MVP in 2008?