I know you've probably all seen this, but Rob Neyer thinks Albert Pujols might not be the MVP.
And I'm going to go one further: right now, right this very second, Pujols is not the MVP. Hanley Ramirez is.
It was barely two weeks ago when I said this: "it's impossible to make an argument against Albert." And it was. But since I wrote those words, late on the evening of August 11, here's what's happened:
and just for fun, Utley: .296/.500/.729
Well, that changes things, doesn't it? I don't think Albert's getting that triple crown after all (sorry, lar).
As I write this, Fangraphs has the three top NL WARs as 6.9 for Ramirez, 6.8 for Utley, and 6.4 for Pujols. That half-win difference isn't big, but it isn't too close to call, either. Say you don't think they've got defense right at all, and you want to go with plus-minus instead of UZR? That bumps them about four runs closer together. Narrows the gap a lot, but doesn't close it. Hanley still wins.
Look, Pujols is going to win the MVP. No question about it. And that's certainly not any kind of a tragedy; he's still having an incredible season. But imagine you're at the beginning of the 2009 season and building a brand-new team. You can get an average defensive shortstop (and Hanley is that, despite his bad reputation) who you know is going to hit .365/.428/.575, or you can get an average defensive first baseman (and Pujols has been that in '09, despite his good reputation) who you know is going to hit .313/.441/.666. Knowing what you do about what most shortstops are like and what most first basemen are like, don't you grab the SS and hope to pick up a 1B who can hit a little later on? I know I do. And that (well, the stats, but that in a nutshell), to me, is why Hanley Ramirez is the NL MVP right now.
3 hours ago