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Albert Pujols won "NL player of the month" for August while the Cardinals went 11-15

Sep 3, 2010, 11:49 AM EDT

Albert Pujols has been named the National League’s player of the month for August, and rightfully so. He hit .379 and slugged .777 during the month, smacking 11 homers and eight doubles in 103 at-bats while posting a 1.230 OPS in 26 games.
And the Cardinals went 11-15.
All of which says two things, to me at least. One is that the rest of the Cardinals are really, really struggling. That’s not exactly breaking news given that they’ve fallen eight games back of the Reds in the NL Central and are now just 69-62 overall, but the point is hammered home when they have a .423 winning percentage despite the guy in the middle of their lineup hitting like Babe Ruth (or, like Albert Pujols).
Beyond that, it can serve as yet another reminder of how silly it is to let team success factor into individual award voting at the end of the season. Pujols may not be the best player in the league when all is said and done this season because right now Joey Votto is neck and neck with him, but if Pujols is the best it would be crazy to let the Cardinals not making the playoffs keep him from another deserved MVP.
Pujols did everything he could possibly do to help the Cardinals last month and they still had a losing record. The fact that his teammates collectively stunk doesn’t make what he did any more or less valuable, and that applies to full seasons every bit as much as it does to months. I’m really looking forward to the Triple Crown race between Pujols and Votto, and the MVP voting should be interesting as well, but I’m hoping Votto doesn’t get extra credit for his teammates performing better.

  1. Spudchukar - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    I was listening to Harold Reynolds, who I like but often disagree with, trying to make the case that Votto has the inside edge because he doesn’t have the protection that Pujols has with Holliday. I find that a bit of a stretch, considering Votto is often times hitting with more guys on base, plays in a much more hitter friendly park, and gets pitched to more often than Phat Albert. Like you I hope the decision for MVP comes down to the better numbers not some More Valuble to his team garbage that is often used to cover biases. Pujols had to wait for his MVP’s, and probably deserved one more while Bonds had a stranglehold on the honor. I am not suggesting Votto should have to wait his turn, I just hope the decision is based on numbers only.

  2. WhoDeySood5 - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    yeah b/c Votto’s team had huge expectations and are currently falling short of sed expectations right? Oh wait, NO that’s the Cardinals….i hope you don’t vote for the MVP b/c your way of thinking is VERY backwards….Most Valuable Player should go to the guy who helped his team the most/meant the most to his team…with them being neck and neck (Votta v Pujols) how can you say Pujols deserves it more when his team is in a worse position…..that turrible, wake up and give credit where it is due. if someone on the pirates led votto and pujols in the triple crown categories would they deserve the MVP?

  3. RedsDouche - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Look at Votto’s #’s, his batting #’s are just as good, if not better on away games. So him playing in a hitter’s park doesn’t increase his #’s at all. He’s playing just as good away from it. Get off that argument that he plays in a hitter friendly park. It’s dull and proves nothing toward Joey’s skills. Being the MVP consists of being the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER to your team. The Cards are losing whether Pujols is hitting well or not. So therefore, he’s not very valuable to them. Now if they were only winning when he’s hitting and losing when he’s not, that’s a different story. Votto helps us tremendously and we’d be hurt if we lost him for a long period of time. That’s an MVP.

  4. John_Michael - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    He just doesn’t know how to win. Some guys got it. Others don’t.

  5. Giant Space Ants - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    Well, wouldn’t the best player in the league that year help his team the most? So, using that logic the MVP should go to the best player…which is exactly the “backwards thinking” Aaron was saying we should use to decide the MVP.

  6. Ace2000 - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I think it’s worth noting that although Pujols tore it up for most of the month, he slumped pretty badly over the last week or so (while the team nosedived). Over their current five game skid, he’s 2 for 17. So I’m not sure it’s fair to say that they’re losing despite his efforts. It seems like their winning is entirely dependant on Albert playing well.

  7. grapes911 - Sep 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    MVP has can be voted on in two ways:
    1. The best player. In this case Pujols is clearly in the running and your argument makes sense.
    2. The most valuable to his team. In this case, your argument hurts his case. He’s playing great and they still are struggling.

  8. El Bravo - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Albert Pujols is not good enough.

  9. Cougar Hunter - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    If two players are in a virtual statistical tie at the end of the year (HR, BA, RBI, runs, OPS are the stats I’m focusing on), should the Most Valuable Player award go the guy who was most integral to his team’s success? If this is the case, then I don’t see how you can have an argument that Votto isn’t the NL MVP, assuming the Reds win their division and the Cards miss the playoffs (which is a fair assumption, I think).

  10. Kevin S. - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    But if the players are virtually tied in the relevant statistical categories, doesn’t that mean, by definition, that they were each equally integral to their team’s success? And that the team that made the playoffs did so because it’s other twenty-four players were better than the second team’s other twenty-four players?

  11. Kevin S. - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    And for the record, I have no problem with using all sorts of tiebreakers if it’s a statistical dead heat. Team success, clutch performance, coin flip, whatever… I just think it’s a mistake to call one player’s contributions *better* because of what his team did.

  12. JBerardi - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    That’s such BS– the team isn’t winning, so therefor Pujols doesn’t have value? Ok, the Cards went 11-15 with him. What does that prove? Maybe they go 0-26 without him. For the record, Pujols had a higher WPA (winning percentage added) in August than Votto did. That means that his production was worth more in the context of a game (ie, accounting for clutchness) than Votto was. Votto’s team is just better.

  13. JBerardi - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    “if someone on the pirates led votto and pujols in the triple crown categories would they deserve the MVP?

    Uhh… yes. In a heartbeat. A player would need to have a monumental, historic season to be beating Pujols and Votto in RBI while playing for the Pirates. Next question.

  14. JBerardi - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    The best player IS the player who’s most valuable to their team, and I don’t think there’s any sound logic that says otherwise.

  15. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 3, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Player of the Month is totally different than MVP. MVP is most valuable player, not most outstanding player. If the Reds make the playoffs and the Cardinals do not, Votto is the MVP, provided his stats are relatively close to Pujols. In 2008, Pujols beat out Howard for the MVP even though the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs, but he had a far superior line of .367/.462/.653/1.114 so he clearly deserved it over Howard. Even though King Albert complained vociferously when he lost the MVP to Howard in 2006 when the Phillies did not make the playoffs and the Cardinals did, showing some serious hypocrisy. Least he had the decency to apologize to the Big Piece later on.

  16. Saints97 - Sep 3, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Let’s not forget that part of player value is defense. I’m a Pujols fan, but this Votto has been better defensively (according to UZR).
    To me, defense gets discounted over teammates’ production, and what sense does that make?

  17. Ace2000 - Sep 3, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    And Pujols was robbed in ’06. Pujols: 1.102 OPS, 8.3 WAR. Howard: 1.084 OPS, 5.8 WAR.
    Sorry Chris. Just couldn’t resist throwing some stats at ya!

  18. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 3, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Pujols win it, but I do believe those #s are so close that Pujols shouldn’t have complained about the Big Piece winning the MVP. Howard did hit 58 Bombs and knocked in 159, to go along with his .313/.425/.659/1.084. I mean those are Hall of Fame type numbers. But Pujols could win the award almost every single year and who could honestly complain…just like Jordan in the NBA and Gretzky in the NHL.

  19. Chipmaker - Sep 3, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Sure there is.
    Take three players, all pretty much equal. Player A is on a juggernaut (say, 1995 Indians), player B is one a good team in a tough race, and player C is on an also-ran, a team that is playing to a winning record but isn’t really in a race.
    B’s team just skirts into the postseason with a one-game lead. A’s team wrapped up its division by Labor Day. C’s team finishes close but in third, never really made a charge.
    A’s team could have won without him — so how valuable was his season?
    Would B have lost MVP cred if his team had missed the postseason by one, two games?
    If C gets no MVP love, he’s being penalized for the failings of his teammates, which cannot possibly be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the award.
    Stick to the “valuable to his team” meme and we may as well evaluate all players based on only what they did in the games their teams won, because losses have no value. And I don’t think anyone wants to go there.
    Value does not depend upon context.
    And, a separate but important point, drama is not value.

  20. Cougar Hunter - Sep 3, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    “But if the players are virtually tied in the relevant statistical categories, doesn’t that mean, by definition, that they were each equally integral to their team’s success?”
    Not in this case, because only one of the two teams in question is successful. The Cardinals could just as easily miss the playoffs without Pujols on the roster. The Reds making the postseason without Votto…not likely. That’s where the “24 other players” comment misses the mark.

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