Last week I posed this question on Twitter.
Lenny Dykstra was the catalyst of the 1993 Phillies that took the baseball world by surprise en route to a National League pennant. Those same Phillies took the defending world champion Toronto Blue Jays to six games before running out of steam at the end but Dykstra did everything he could to bring the franchise's second world championship home.
As you may know, Dykstra did not win the National League's MVP that season. A man by the name of Barry Bonds picked up his third career MVP award, with Dykstra coming in second place. To this day many Phillies fans still question that decision so let's take a closer look at Dykstra and Bonds.
- 143 - Dykstra
- 129 - Bonds
It comes as no surprise to see Dykstra with the edge in this category. Dykstra was one of the most patient batters in the league and he batted leadoff, where Bonds batted clean up.
Once Dykstra got on base he had guys like Darren Daulton and John Kruk to drive him home. Bonds did not have that kind of support, although he had some talented players behind him.
- 194 - Dykstra
- 181 - Bonds
Just like runs scored, it should not be a surprise to see Dykstra on top of this list, especially considering he had 98 more at bats in the lead off spot. If you recognize the surplus in opportunities when compared to Bonds then you could say that Dykstra should have run away in this category. Fair point.
- 46 - Bonds
- 19 - Dykstra
Two different types of players. Bonds was the prototypical home run basher and Dykstra was the scrappy leg it out player. Bonds' 46 home runs was tied for the most in baseball in 1993. Leading the league in home runs usually helps you on your way to capturing an MVP award. Just ask Ryan Howard.
- 123 - Bonds
- 66 - Dykstra
Naturally, when you lead the league in home runs you are bound to pile up in the runs batted in department. This is the case here, but again it should be pointed out the place each player batted in the lineup. A player batting clean up should rack up more runs batted in than a lead off hitter.
- 129 - Dykstra
- 126 - Bonds
Again, Dykstra has the edge in this department, but keep in mind two things. the first is that Dykstra saw 98 more plate appearances than Bonds due to his lead off spot. That being said perhaps it would be more impressive if he had more, as patient and disciplined as he was.
But then consider this as well. Bonds was much more likely to be intentionally walked as teams would shy away from pitching to the home run hitter. Bonds lead the league with 43 intentional walks. Dykstra was issued an intentional walk just nine times.
So how do you judge the total walks and intentional walks. Intentional walks, in some cases, is a sign of respect for a player's bat and that is the case for Bonds. But if you are looking for which batter had a better approach at the plate, you could make an argument for Dykstra.
- 37 - Dykstra
- 29 - Bonds
Which player was a bigger threat on the bases? Dykstra, hands down. Of course, Bonds hit almost 30 home runs so he did not have to steal as many bases.
- 1.136 - Bonds
- .902 - Dykstra
This is probably where Bonds gets the final push for votes over Dykstra. The OPS is a player's on base percentage plus a player's slugging percentage. It gives you a sense of how powerful a player is in a a lineup and Bonds definitely gets the edge here. In fact in the top ten in the NL MVP voting Dykstra was fourth in this statistic.
But sometimes when you consider who should be the MVP you have to ask yourself one question; what does that one player have to do with his team's success?
Bonds put up terrific numbers that 1993 season, and so did Dykstra. Dykstra did one thing that Bonds could not, and that was push his team into the playoffs by way of capturing a division crown.
Critics to that philosophy will point to the records of the Phillies and Giants that year and say that Bonds' Giants were actually a better team (they were with 103 wins, six more than the Phillies) and just fell short to the Atlanta Braves and their 104 wins on the final day of the regular season.
To which I argue that Bonds put up great numbers on a superior team and still couldn't get his team over the edge? Here is the other side of the argument. How valuable was he then?
It is well documented that Dykstra's Phillies went from worst-to-first in the NL East, improving their win total by 27 games from 1992 to 1993. But Bonds took a 72 win Giants team in 1992 to a 103 win team in 1993, an improvement of 31 wins. Bonds did make a difference, and he did so with more of an immediate impact than Dykstra did.
In retrospect, maybe Bonds did deserve the NL MVP award over Dykstra. What do you think?