Friday, August 28, 2009

Hanley being Hanley

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:

Pujols: .261/.404/.522
Hanley: .481/.542/.731
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.


  1. Well, again, is the MVP for the 'player of the year' or the 'most valuable'?

    Best player doesn't mean most valuable. You have to define what the award is intended for.

    If it's best player, then statistics can deciede it.

    If it's for the most valuable player, the one who does the most to make his team successful, then that's a different set of criteria.

  2. "Most valuable" has many potential definitions, one of which definitely is "best player." When you consider that we're talking about the terms in the context of an award to recognize individual performance, and that any other definition ties the award in some way to the performance of other players on the individual's team, it's the only definition that makes sense to me.
    So I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how you can justify defining "most valuable" as anything other than "best." Usually the answer you get is "It's called the most VALUABLE player" or "because how valuable can you be if you don't make the playoffs?," neither of which is even marginally coherent.