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First-third awards: 2011 AL MVP

Jun 3, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

Jose Bautista AP

Closing out the selections with the one no-brainer in the bunch.  Still., there’s a good race for second place.

First, the OPS leaders:

1.276 – Jose Bautista (OF TOR): .360/.502/.773, 20 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB in 172 AB
1.064 – Matt Joyce (OF TB): .364/.423/.642, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 4 SB in 173 AB
1.001 – Miguel Cabrera (1B DET): .311/.432/.568, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB in 190 AB
.964 – David Ortiz (DH BOS): .313/.382/.582, 13 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB in 201 AB
.960 – Curtis Granderson (OF NYY): .278/.348/.612, 17 HR, 41 RBI, 8 SB in 209 AB
.918 – Adrian Gonzalez (1B BOS): .329/.377/.541, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 1 SB in 231 AB
.908 – Jhonny Peralta (SS DET): .314/.373/.535, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 0 SB in 172 AB
.901 – Howie Kendrick (2B LAA): .322/.388/.520, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB in 177 AB
.901 – Mark Teixeira (1B NYY): .257/.367/.535, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB in 202 AB
.899 – Mitch Moreland (1B TEX): .307/.384/.515, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB in 163 AB
.897 – Paul Konerko (1B CWS): .310/.381/.516, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB in 213 AB
.896 – Carlos Quentin (OF CWS): .258/.351/.545, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 0 SB in 198 AB
.875 – Asdrubal Cabrera (SS CLE): .299/.352/.522, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 7 SB in 224 AB

A couple of shortstops and a second baseman find their way into the the top 13 here. A few other notables:

.877* – Alex Avila (C DET): .281/.349/.527, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB in 146 AB
.852 – Kevin Youkilis (3B BOS): .254/.377/.475, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 1 SB in 181 AB
.839 – Robinson Cano (2B NYY): .284/.324/.514, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 5 SB in 208 AB
.809 – Russell Martin (C NYY): .242/.352/.458, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 6 SB in 153 AB

Avila falls short of qualifying for the batting title, hence his placement in the second list.

Now we’ll see what WAR has to say about it. Baseball-Reference first:

4.9 – Jose Bautista (OF TOR)
3.4 – Matt Joyce (OF TB)
3.2 – Denard Span (OF MIN)
2.4 – Adrian Gonzalez (1B BOS)
2.3 – Curtis Granderson (OF NYY)
2.2 – Kevin Youkilis (3B BOS)
2.1 – Miguel Cabrera (1B DET)
2.1 – Howie Kendrick (2B LAA)
2.0 – Alex Gordon (OF KC)
1.9 – Alex Avila (C DET)
1.9 – Asdrubal Cabrera (SS CLE)
1.9 – Jacoby Ellsbury (OF BOS)
1.9 – Yunel Escobar (SS TOR)
1.9 – Maicer Izturis (INF LAA)

I left the pitchers off the list. Josh Beckett, who ranked third at 3.3 WAR, is the only one I’d consider worthy of a down-ballot vote right now.

B-Ref thinks Span has been the AL’s best defender by a huge margin. He’s credited with 1.8 WAR defensively. The next highest are Alcides Escobar and Brett Gardner at 1.0 WAR.

The Cabreras are taking big defensive hits. Miguel and Asdrubal rank third and fourth here with 2.6 and 2.4 offensive WAR, but both lose half a win with their gloves.

On to Fangraphs’ WAR:

4.9 – Jose Bautista (OF TOR)
3.2 – Matt Joyce (OF TB)
2.9 – Howie Kendrick (2B LAA)
2.9 – Curtis Granderson (OF NYY)
2.7 – Alexei Ramirez (SS CWS)
2.6 – Denard Span (OF MIN)
2.3 – Ben Zobrist (2B-OF TB)
2.2 – Alex Rodriguez (3B NYY)
2.2 – Jhonny Peralta (SS DET)
2.1 – Miguel Cabrera (1B DET)
2.1 – Alex Gordon (OF KC)

Fangraphs also rates Span as the league’s top defender. The shocking thing is that Kendrick comes in second. Zobrist and A-Rod are also getting big points there.

One last list: WPA. Yesterday, I used only the positive component in discussing the NL MVP race, but I’ve reconsidered and will go actual WPA today.

3.52 – Jose Bautista (OF TOR)
3.02 – Miguel Cabrera (OF DET)
2.60 – Matt Joyce (OF TB)
2.19 – Curtis Granderson (OF NYY)
2.09 – Adrian Gonzalez (1B BOS)
2.00 – Michael Young (INF-DH TEX)
1.93 – Justin Smoak (1B SEA)
1.79 – Adam Jones (OF BAL)
1.54 – Bobby Abreu (OF LAA)
1.24 – Michael Brantley (OF CLE)

So, yeah, that’s four lists and Bautista tops every one of them. It gets more complicated after that.

WAR favors Joyce for the second spot, but he didn’t play against lefties early on and he’s started just 47 of the Rays’ 56 games. Consequently, he’s tied for 17th in the league in RBI. I think those factors knock him down a bit.

Granderson looks like a pretty strong choice for the second spot despite the middling .348 OBP. Hitting lefties for the first time in his career, he’s second in the league in homers and fourth in RBI while playing a quality center field.

I really want to put Asdrubal up near the top, too. He’s the biggest reason the Indians have ranked as the game’s surprise team for two months. Peralta has been just as good offensively, but I’m not buying into the idea that he’s really the superior defensive shortstop.

AL MVP
1. Bautista
2. Granderson
3. A. Cabrera
4. Joyce
5. A. Gonzalez
6. M. Cabrera
7. Peralta
8. Beckett
9. Young
10. Gordon

That’s the list. I gave some thought to sneaking Avila on, as he’s easily been the league’s best catcher to date, yet three Tigers seemed like overkill. Instead, I went for the guy who has been far and away the top left fielder, Gordon.

  1. spudchukar - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Since this is a hypothetical 1/3 season MVP award shouldn’t any metric that includes defensive ability as a significant metric in the decision making process be avoided. Let’s face it, it has never played much of a part in the real post-season voting anyway.

  2. cur68 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Wow, the race for 2nd is tight. I’d like to see the Jay’s SS Yunel Escobar get some more love, though. He’s pretty good, but I can’t argue too much; those other guys are the sack.

    Jays have 3 against the Orioles and 4 against the Royals coming up. Lets see if Escobar can’t pump up the volume to get higher up the list against those guys.

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that Jeff Francoeur isn’t on those lists anywhere. No justice In this world is there?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      The Americans better win on Tuesday. I might cry if I have to write a glowing review of Jose Bautista and the rest of his cronies.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

      Have you tried to calculate the Jays record had the kept Halladay yet? Muhahahahah!! muuuhahahahaha!! (thunder lightning and stuff) Yeah, they’d like be in first right now maybe?? I mean he’s good for a few more wins Aye?

      • cur68 - Jun 3, 2011 at 5:32 PM

        ‘army; the Beaverballmen will CRUSH the American side in the Gold Cup Tuesday. I’m not even bothering writing anything in advance about the Phillies, I am that confident. Remember when you spell “Bautista” the ‘a’ goes before the ‘u’.

        Jonny; The Beaver Boy’s record would be nearly EXACTLY the same. They never gave Doc any run support. Poor bugger threw I don’t know how many complete game losses for my boys and all they did was suck at the plate (except for JB; he had only one great season with Doc in town and he did his part). If they still had him I think they are no more than 2 or 3 games better, though, even with JB on a rip and a tear as he is now.

        However phor phuture considerations; keep your philthy ‘baccy stained paws oph our starting rotation you philthy miscreants!

  3. paperlions - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I am surprised this post wasn’t just two words.

    Jose Bautista.

    He’s lapping the field right now.

  4. jimbo1949 - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    I thought the most important component of MVP was making the post season. Jays are tied for 4th wild card.
    Just sayin’, all hypotheticallywise.

    • smithjt - Jun 12, 2011 at 7:07 PM

      Wouldn’t you say the same about the Cy Young…Who won it in the AL last year? MVP is the player that would be most valuable for his team…where would the Jays be without him?

  5. thereisaparty - Jun 3, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    Shouldn’t the value provided by Joyce outweigh the number of games played?

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