Posted on October 22, 2009 at 5:30 PM
Filed Under: Baseball Bloggers Alliance
I never knew.
MVP voting has always been interesting to me, nice to see who wins, interesting to see what the rationale for the voters was (if they share). Beyond that, though, I'd never given it a lot of thought.
Then, this year, I am one of the official ballots (Mike over at Stan Musial's Stance
is the other) for the St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance
. Which means that I had to sit down and come up with the top 10 players in the National League for 2009. That's when I had the insight.
This stuff is hard
I sketched out my list, then went looking for some basic statistical numbers to back up what I was thinking. Then I'd find one guy that I overlooked. Then another. Then maybe this guy should move up. How do you rank a guy that had great overall numbers on a terrible team. Where do pitchers fit in. All of these decisions, just because that jerk of a chapter chairman gave me the MVP vote instead of something like the Cy Young vote. (Full disclosure: I am the St. Louis chapter chairman. Never knew I hated myself this much.)
So the following is my best guess, really. There are players left out that I'd have loved to find room for. There are players that you probably think should be 5-7 that are 2-4. I'm sure that there will be plenty of disagreements along the way. However, I'm pretty sure (especially if you are a regular reader, but most likely everyone) you'll agree with the top of the list. And that's all that matters, right?
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Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles
Derrek Lee, Chicago
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
Mark Reynolds, Arizona
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Ethier really probably should be in the actual ballot, but I wasn't willing to bump my #10 out of the ranks (it's my ballot, sue me) and wasn't sure who else to replace. Lee and Reynolds had stellar years, but on teams that didn't go anywhere. The pitchers were all very valuable to their team's success and my initial ballot had two of them in the top ten, but when it came down to it, they'd have to be content with the Cy Young showings.10. Matt Holliday, St. Louis42 R, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB, .353/.419/.604
Obviously, I watched Holliday from the moment he came over and, to be fair, the Cardinals might have won the division without him. It's as easily conceivable, though, that they may not have. His presence gave a jolt to the team, both in the lineup and psychologically, and it helped spur them out to their big lead. For that, I felt he needed at least token recognition.9. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego90 R, 40 HR, 99 RBI, 1 SB, .277/.407/.551
It's hard enough to put up stellar offensive numbers when you play half of your games in the big ballpark that is Petco. It's even harder to do so when you are basically the only offensive threat your team has. Yet Gonzalez was able to put up very good all-around numbers while walking a league-leading 119 times. That puts him ahead of Lee and Reynolds and gets him on the ballot.8. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco79 R, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB, .330/.387/.556
I knew Sandoval had had a good year. What I didn't realize, until looking through some things, that Kung Fu Panda was basically the entire San Francisco offense. When you think of how far that the Giants went, challenging for the NL West title before fading in September, and they did it with Sandoval's offensive contributions being basically all she wrote, well, it shows you how well Giants pitchers did.7. Chase Utley, Philadelphia112 R, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 23 SB, .282/.397/.508
Utley and his teammate named above get a little bit of a downgrade because, while we are looking for stellar performances, we are also looking for valuable ones. There's no doubt that Utley's contributions helped the Phillies immensely, but he did have quite a bit of help on the offensive side of things. Definitely valuable, definitely wonderful, but not quite as far up as he might have gotten if there'd only been two or three Phillies driving the offense.6. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee103 R, 46 HR, 141 RBI, 2 SB, .299/.412/.602
The Brewers have become a pesky rival to the Cardinals in the last few years, what with the untucking of shirts and the general dislike between the two clubs. I tried not to let that impact where I put Fielder on the list, though. Fielder was hurt some by Milwaukee not really living up to expectations. He did all that he could, of course, but everyone in front of him played on either a pennant-winning team or a team that challenged. In other years, he probably would have been in the top 5, but this year's crop of candidates is pretty strong, in my book.5. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia105 R, 45 HR, 141 RBI, 8 SB, .279/.360/.571
Howard put up another monster year. While the postseason obviously doesn't count for this voting, he has gotten his team to the World Series and garnered an LCS MVP for his efforts. As I noted with Utley, though, it's hard to seperate some of his contributions from the gaudy numbers the Philadelphia offense put up as a whole, and of course the ballpark factors have to come into play as well.4. Hanley Ramirez, Florida101 R, 24 HR, 106 RBI, 27 SB, .342/.410/.543
Ramirez has continued to develop into a powerful force for the Marlins. He dropped down in the lineup this year, which cut into his steal numbers, but his overall body of work was in line with what was projected for him when he was dealt for Josh Beckett a few years back. He may not have been completely well-liked in the clubhouse, but he got the job done on the field.3. Troy Tulowitski, Colorado101 R, 32 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB, .297/.377/.552
Tulowitski was a name that surprised me when I started looking through things. Probably because he's on a team that I didn't get to see much, I didn't realize how his overall numbers had looked. Factor in the fact that the team made the playoffs and that gets him a high spot on my ballot.2. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles97 R, 26 HR, 101 RBI, 34 SB, .297/.352/.490
I'm probably overrating Kemp, I'll admit. There are people with better categorical numbers, especially. With Kemp, though, you got the entire package. A broad range of offensive skills, plus the defense in center field to go along with it. He hit 15 of his home runs and stole 15 of his bases after the All-Star Break, though he did struggle a bit in September.1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis124 R, 47 HR, 135 RBI, 16 SB, .327/.443/.658
What is there to say? I expect Pujols will be a unanimous selection both among the BBA and the baseball writers. Why not? He was the best offensive player in the league on a team that won their division. By what argument do you say he isn't
the MVP? He was four steals away from being a 20/20 man, so he even brought some speed (or smart baserunning) to the table. This is the reason I took the MVP vote, because I knew that the top of it, at least, was the easy part.
So flame away. I know it's not perfect and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the Alliance has in store!