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You’re not “valuable” unless you’re on a winning team, apparently

Aug 29, 2011, 2:01 PM EDT

Jose Bautista AP

We’re destined to have a good postseason award fight every year. Last year was the great pitchers’ wins debate, in which people argued about whether or not Felix Hernandez should win the Cy Young despite not having a lot of them.  This year it’s going to be the “MVPs can only come from winning teams” debate, with Jose Bautista as the bone of contention.

Today’s Jon Heyman’s column crystallizes the issue for us. A column in which he says that Jose Bautista would be his fifth-place MVP candidate. The reasoning is familiar and not unique to Heyman:

Stats are most assuredly a major part of the equation. But they shouldn’t be completely determinative. Otherwise, let’s just run the numbers through a computer. And rename the award Most Outstanding player. Because there’s no way to put a number on the value of leading a team into the postseason, which should be everyone’s goal.

Like people, stats are imperfect. Even WAR, which I agree is a very useful stat, is imperfect because it depends on the value placed on other statistics by the person who devises the formula. The ultimate goal of any player is to win, so the value of the individual accomplishments that lead to a pennant should be viewed in that context.

So while Bautista has been the most outstanding player in the league whether you use WAR or OPS or or any other key stat, it’s a tough case to make for him as MVP in a year when so many stars are ushering their team into the playoffs.

I guess what I don’t understand here is if “leading a team into the postseason” is the criteria, how can Heyman include four Red Sox in his top ten?  Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz all being so awesome, how can it be said that anyone “led” that group?  It was a total team effort — of a stacked team — which got the Red Sox where they are. None of those guys has either (a) played as well as Bautista; or (b) done anything superhuman or singular. It’s a wolfpack of excellent players, none of whom are as good as Bautista, and none of whom — if surrounded by Bautista’s supporting cast — would be playing on a playoff team this year either.

I know the arguments that will come. I am well-aware of the how people engage in the precise parsing of the term “valuable” and put forth the idea that it’s not called the “most outstanding player award.”  But it seems to me that in order to get to the place where one can start hashing out the definition of “valuable” one has to totally ignore the fact that baseball is a team sport. And I don’t understand what good an award is if it’s premised on completely and utterly divorcing it from the essence of the game itself.

And of course there’s a final irony here. It’s usually the guys who are the biggest proponents of “team chemistry” — the guys who believe that you can’t win jack without 25 guys working together — who tend to argue that one guy can single-handedly lead a team into the playoffs.  Does that make any sense to you?  It doesn’t to me.

111 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Listen, there’s 9 guys out there on the field. There’s not one guy who can really carry a team into the playoffs regardless of his performance. He needs those other guys around him to perform as well (at least to some degree). Take a guy like Bautista and put him on the Red Sox right now and he’d be running away with the award, not to mention the protection he would get in the batting order with other people who can also hit in the lineup. Its not right denying a guy the award because he plays in Toronto or Baltimore or Kansas City. Create another award if you want to debate the word “valuable”, but I’m sick of this coming up every single year.

    • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      … or in other words, I agree with Craig.

      • cur68 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM

        I just got back from an errand saw this post and composed a 3 paragraph comment. Then I read yours, kellyb9, saw you’d essentially said all I wanted say in much fewer words so, in move that will surprise absolutely no one who knows me, I’m agreeing totally with you. So, to all my friends and admirers out there (I realize I’m basically directing this at my dog, but she agrees with whatever I say):

        “What he ^^^ said.”

      • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:09 PM

        Now if I could only change the mind of the two people that voted me down…. 😀

    • bigleagues - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      6 Words: NEED Player of the Year Award

  2. kopy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    I’m gonna “phone it in” today by re-posting my comment from Thursday’s Twitter Q’s post:

    The MVP should go to the player who you would pick first, if you could go back in time to the beginning of the season and choose any player to be on your team for that whole year. Whether it’s an incredibly dominant pitcher, a good everyday player, or a great player who missed some time, etc. I hate the argument that a player isn’t as valuable to his team because his teammates are great too, or that a player is extra valuable because his teammates suck “and where would they be without him?!!”

    • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      Kopy, I think you need to clarify the statement for one thing. I think what you mean is assuming you have a time machine and know exactly what stats will be put up by each player in the upcoming year, which would you choose first? The way it is written I could see people thinking you are trying to say that you should ignore what stats the player put up in 2011 and just pick the “best” player as MVP.

      • kopy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        I won’t clarify it for 2 reasons:

        1. I can’t. (EDIT FUNCTION)
        2. You just did.

        But you’re right, and thanks, it should be based on knowing exactly what each player is going to produce that year without any regard to past performance, future (including playoff) performance, age, or salary.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM

        ok that’s what I thought, and I 100% agree with you. Bautista in the AL, and TBD in the NL.

  3. phrontiersman - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    This could probably be simplified if the BBWAA added a line like “awarded to the most outstanding player” to the description – something a lot of people think it should be. But if that happened, most of the debate would dry up, and I’m sure the writers don’t mind the opportunity to grab some extra spotlight by voting on these hotly-discussed awards.

    • lardin - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      But its not “The most outstanding player” award. Its the Most Valuable player award. I would still make the argument that either Granderson or Gonzalez is the most outstanding player in the AL when you consider that Bautista has done nothing since the All Star break..

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:40 PM

        OPS since All-Star Break:

        Bautista: .895
        Gonzalez: .880

        Granderson is considerably higher at 1.042, but it’s not at all true to say that Bautista has “done nothing since the All-Star Break”

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        Why wouldn’t what Bautista’s done since, i dont know, opening day be more important then a certain portion of the season. I’ll take the guy who has been the best after 162 games…

        Even with Bautista doing “nothing” he has more power and gotten on base more — he has made less outs.

        Swap AGon and bautista, and Jose plays for the red Sox, is this a conversation? No.

  4. Senor Cardgage - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Alex Rodriguez (2003, Texas Rangers) and Andre Dawson (1987, Chicago Cubs) both won the MVP despite playing for last-place teams. What was different about those years? Were there no other legitimate contenders at all?

    • lardin - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Pretty Much.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:50 PM

      This goes backat least to Ernie Banks (1958-1959 Cubs). Back when only 2 teams made the playoffs.

      If you want a real MVP, then pitchers need to be in the running. Otherwise, just have the existing Cy Young award and an outstanding hitter award (perhaps the Babe Ruth Award). Also, recognize that a player having a great season can be most valuable to a team that doesn’t make the playoffs. As long as the current award structure is in place, we’re going to hear the same (sometimes lame) arguments every season.

    • frightwig - Sep 2, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      TEN players received 1st place votes for AL MVP in 2003. A-Rod actually was at the top of only 6 ballots; Carlos Delgado and Jorge Posada each received 1st place votes from 5 writers.

      Three voters that year put Shannon Stewart at the top of their ballot, because after joining the Twins at the All-Star break, he had seemed to ignite a floundering Minnesota team to the top of the AL Central (and he finished 4th in the voting). One voter even thought that Miguel Tejada, who played shortstop, the same position as Rodriguez, was the league MVP (he finished 11th in the voting) because he had “led” Oakland to the AL West title.

      So, anyway, the votes were split between a lot of players that year. I think A-Rod wound up with the award because Posada’s team was too loaded, Delgado’s team wasn’t quite good enough, and there weren’t any outstanding batters on the Twins or A’s. Besides, people had been referring to A-Rod as “the best player in the league” for at least a few years, and wasn’t it a shame that he hadn’t won the MVP because he had split votes with Griffey in ’96 and now was stuck on a bad Rangers team, etc. I think a growing number of people by 2003 thought that his turn was due.

      Andre Dawson in 1987 was the HR/RBI champ of the NL, and his main competition for MVP came from two Cardinals: Ozzie Smith, the slick-fielding SS who hit .303 but without any HR, or Jack Clark, the slugger who led the league in OPS but played in just 131 games and had significantly fewer HR/RBI than Dawson. Ozzie finished second. I guess it’s hard to win MVP if you have a .383 slugging pct.

  5. The Common Man - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Same old Jon Heyman, same illogical, stupid arguments.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      You can disagree with him, but his arguments are not illogical. He is not condemning or putting people down who have a different opinion than his. There is more then one way to look at things and just because there is a disagreement doesn’t make the opposing argument stupid or illogical.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        …except when the disagreement is precisely because of the stupid, illogical argument. There are different types of disagreements. Heyman’s reasoning is one-sided. The Yankees would be in the playoffs no matter what Curtis did this season, so why can he be MVP but Bautista cannot? If you have a good answer for that piece of “logic” from Heyman than maybe we can have a good discussion. But other, we are just working off of false guidelines.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        As CC said above, how can four Red Sox players be in the top 10, if the main criteria is to lead a team to the post-season? Put Adrian Gonzalez on the Blue Jays, is he in the conversation? I dont think so. So why does a team matter in an individual award?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        Actually, Granderson has a WAR of ~5.5 and the Yankees are only up 6.5 games on the Rays for the WC….so that is not as clear cut as you are making it seem. I had this discussion last week in reference to Votto. I believe that MVP’s should come from teams that are at least in contention for the playoffs. I was roundly shouted down for believing that a player has a greater relative baseball value for teams that are in contention compared to teams that finish the year 15 games back. I am aware that it unfairly punishes a player who is on a mediocre team, but it is what I believe. I am also aware that it is the minority opinion, but that is how I view this. I understand the diametrically opposing opinion and thing that is a reasonable way to look at things as well….I just don’t see it that way.

      • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Ross Gload for MVP

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        Well, Ross Gload did have a double the other night. A couple more of those and he might be in the running.

      • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

        Baseball takes two days off and it seems like an eternity. “The other day” feels like a month ago… 😦

      • The Common Man - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

        I’d argue it is illogical, Dr. Monkey (you did not go to Monkey Medical School for 4 years to be called Mr. Monkey, I’d wager). He’s essentially saying that if, on the first day of the season, we traded Adrian Gonzalez for Jose Bautista straight up, that Bautista would be a more valuable player than Gonzalez simply because his teammates were better. As Sam Miller pointed out on Twitter (!/SamMillerOCR/statuses/108246102742007808), that’s like saying Joe Posnanski is less of a writer because he shares a magazine with Jon Heyman. However, Sam said it funnier than I just did.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        I think we had this debate last week and don’t really want to rehash it. I understand what you are saying and it is perfectly reasonable. No problem with it whatsoever. I just think that overall team performance helps shape the relative value of a particular player in the grand scheme of a baseball season. Just a different perspective. I don’t think I am right and you are wrong or vice versa…just different.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        …except your “difference” actually goes against what the guidelines for the voting are. So your *opinion* on what an “MVP” player looks like is inconsistent with what the award is supposed to be about, as given by the actual rules for the award.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        Not really. The term “actual value” is very subjective and can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. In fact, the debate seems to be centered around that exact concept.

      • Bill - Aug 30, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        “You can disagree with him, but his arguments are not illogical.”

        That kind of cracked me up. Of all the dozens of unflattering things that Heyman is, “illogical” — in this instance and almost every other — is the single most obvious and glaring one.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      I’m not sure, old Heyman never would have said:

      Even WAR, which I agree is a very useful stat,

      Clearly this is an imposter. I should go read the article
      [comes back]
      Michael Young and David Ortiz? WTF

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 30, 2011 at 8:18 AM

      I think a lot of the negativity about Heyman is because he writes about something that everyone considers themselves an expert on. Why the negativity? Because he’s getting paid for it and we’re not.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 30, 2011 at 8:43 AM

        Jealousy or not, that doesn’t mean our criticisms aren’t valid. It’s bad enough Heyman is a shill for Boras, his justification for things, especially MVP, is asinine. Run a search on his name at the old website. He’s been doing this for years.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

        didn’t say the criticisms of his thinking aren’t valid – I don’t agree with Heyman a good portion of the time (He seems to be married to the Yanks is my personal gripe.) He writes well when he’s paying attention and generally seems to have good info.

  6. Joe - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    “Otherwise, let’s just run the numbers through a computer” is the MVP equivalent to “living in his mother’s basement.” Most guys don’t want to “run numbers through a computer,” they want to see who has the best triple-slash stats (RBI in particular) on a playoff team.

    Even then, the playoff team can’t be too dominant. Then you get the “they won the division by 15 games! They would have done that without so-and-so!” argument.

    • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      @Joe – With a stat heavy sport like baseball, I see no reason one couldn’t argue between the importance of HR’s vs. RBI’s. vs. Batting Avg, etc. We do it all the time here so I don’t think it’s a simple exercise in running numbers through a computer. If we are determining mvp by who has “the best triple-slash stats on a playoff team”, its the same thing as determining value based on stats in the regular season using a smaller sample size. Baseball is a team sport, I don’t necessarly think any one player should be faulted by the mediocre talent around them. It’s certaintly not Bautista’s fault, and I’m sure if he were having great season on a Boston or New York team with a losing record, many of you would be arguing that he deserves the MVP award.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        RBIs are not a component of the triple slash line — RBIs have little to nothing to do with the actual player that cant be intimated from the triple slash line.

        While baseball is a team game, the MVP is not a team award. So why use team characteristics, such as RBI and record to decide it? that makes no sense…

      • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:05 PM

        Good point. I didn’t mean to indicate that it was part of the triple slash. However, I did neglected the fact that people had to be on base to get RBI’s which is another reason why it’s not the best indicator for MVP. Thanks for the correction. But like I said, there’s a ton of other stats that can be used to present a good argument for MVP that are independent of the players around a potential candidate.

      • Joe - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:11 PM

        “RBIs are not a component of the triple slash line”

        Sorry, yup, brain fart. I meant “triple crown line.”

      • Joe - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        “There’s a ton of other stats that can be used to present a good argument for MVP that are independent of the players around a potential candidate.”

        I think you’re agreeing with me, but I didn’t state it well. I’m complaining about the lunacy in saying, “you can’t pick the thing by running numbers through a computer” and then going ahead and picking the thing by looking at numbers like HR, RBI, and team W/L that didn’t go through a computer.

      • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:26 PM

        @Joe – My mistake then, I thought you were arguing against Bautista being the MVP because he played for a non-playoff team.

  7. stratomaticfan - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Sure…the Sox, Yanks, etc are better teams….but in terms of value, if they Jays don’t have Bautista, they’re just as much out of the playoffs as with him. Take Grandy from the Yanks, take Gonzo from the Sox, take Hamilton from the Rangers, and they are either out of the playoffs or fighting to get in rather than being in.

    • stratomaticfan - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      That said….there should be 2 awards…..Offensive Player of the Year AND Most Valuable Player.

      • pkers - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        But in that case, why have a Most Valuable Player award? Why is it necessary to single out a “most valuable” player on a playoff team? Why be so specific? Why not also give out awards for “Best Player For the First Half” and “Most Scrappy Player on a Third Place Team”?

      • bennoj - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        I made this comment last week but most had moved on from that thread by then… there is an ‘Outstanding Offensive Player” award. The Hank Aaron Award was created in 1999 due to this same debate and has been roundly ignored by the press ever since as they insist on using the MVP to define the best offensive player even though the rules specifically state it is open to both Pitchers and Hitters.

      • halfthemoney - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:25 PM

        That said, we should see MVP awards for each post-season series….oh wait, we already have that.

        If the Jays don’t have Bautista they are in the cellar. If the Yanks/Sox/Phillies don’t have their studs the talent around steps up OR they buy it. My case is Utley for the Phillies.

      • cull1224 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        Absolutely true! MVP of what — the league or the team he plays on??? Bautista of course is the MVP of Toronto, but has been overtaken by Granderson (and perhaps others) for OPY. In the NL, you could make arguments for Fielder or Braun, but for that team, perhaps Axford (the reliever) is the MVP. Which brings us to another argument — since the pitchers have their own award, should one so outstanding as Verlander get only the one award or does/shoud he also qualify for MVP as well?? For me, the sparkplug on the Red Sox is Ellsbury — his stats for a leadoff hitter are exceptional,esp. his power numbers. He’s their MVP, IMHO. So — there’s enough meat for a few more responses.

    • Joe - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      In other words, there is no difference between 87-75 and 0-162. Winning more games has no value if you don’t win enough of them in the end?

      The best is when a team is in the hunt until the last week or two of the season, but then they ultimately fall a few games short and all of a sudden their best players aren’t “valuable.” They would have missed the playoffs without him!

    • citifieldurinal - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:48 PM

      So it’s Jose Bautista’s fault that Aaron Hill has a 58 OPS+ this year?

      Look at who Toronto has to give plate appearences to.

      You might as well bat Bautista leadoff, for God’s sake.

    • kellyb9 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      With that logic, we should just vote in whatever player has the most walk-off hits/hr’s on playoff teams.

      • halfthemoney - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:27 PM

        We already have post-season awards for those kinds of heroics.

  8. - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    To me the MVP should go to the guy who; if removed from their team; their team would not be where they are in the standings regardless of position.

    Which is why I’m more in favor of Verlander, Bautista, winning the award. None of those guys on the Red Sox if removed would have that type of impact.

    Greinke won the Cy Young in 2009. That’s two years in a row that the AL Cy Young came from a crappy team, and low win totals. While there will continue to be arguments about this. The trend lately is the best pitcher has won regardless of team.

    • lardin - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      Generally agree with your statements. That being said, I would have a hard time giving the MVP award to a pitcher. The pitcher would have to have a ridiculous year at the same time that it was a down year for hitters. I just think a player playing in 155 games is worth more that a pitcher who plays in 35 games. I think pitchers should be eligible to win the MVP, but I just think that it is and should be more difficult for them to do so.

      As for Bautista, Since the all star break he is batting .254 with an OPS of .895 compared to .334 and 1.170. He had a great first half of the season. But Granderson and Ellsbury and Gonzalez have been performing all season.

      • halfthemoney - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:31 PM

        While I agree to a certain extent with the logic, the standard is unfair. We’re asking a pitcher to be unhittable for the time he’s in the game while the “everyday” player gets a pass for the occasional bad outing, when he has many more, less visible opportunities to screw up.

    • Chipmaker - Aug 30, 2011 at 8:23 AM

      The CYA voting has never been beholden to the “must be from a postseason / contending / winning team” notion like the MVPs have. Sure, some winners have come from great teams, but they have had Cy-worthy seasons.

      This is even more true for the ROY.

      But the MVP continues to be held hostage to the “winning” notion, which involves the fortunes of the players’ teams and befogs the picture.

      • cull1224 - Aug 31, 2011 at 10:31 AM

        “befogs” ???

  9. southofheaven81 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Al Capone said it best in The Untouchables: The time when you’re at-bat is for individual achievement. There’s already a team award. It’s called the World Series trophy.

  10. atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Can Heyman argue that a $100 bill is worth less to Warren Buffett than it is to someone of average income?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      It is worth less to a billionaire than it would be to the average person….it is the relative value placed upon it, not the absolute value.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        No, a $100 bill is always worth $100.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:40 PM

        Again, in absolute terms…yes, it is always worth that precise amount. However, its value to a particular individual is subject to a variety of factors. Hence, money has a relative value to each individual. To somebody with 4 billion dollars and extra 100$ is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, however, to somebody struggling to support a family that same 100$ might make the difference in keeping the power on. So, who is that 100$ more valuable to?

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        There is no such thing as relative value. The buying power of that bill is not affected in any way by its owners other assets.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        The collection of assets dictates the relative worth of the owner, not the other way around.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Sure there is such a thing as relative value…maybe not in way that I am using it, but I am using the term to illustrate my point. Again, I am aware that 100$ spent at the same place will buy the exact same thing. It is the value that the money holds to the individual. 100$ means something different to me than it does the homeless man.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

        A $100 bill increases everyone’s bank account the same way. Likewise, regardless of context, a player contributing 10 runs above replacement is going to affect any team’s run differential accordingly.

        I do agree with you that I shouldn’t have said there was no such thing as relative value. That was dismissive on my part. Sorry.

        Relative value only obscures things though. Assessing relative value requires you to assign a point of reference. You’re choosing to designate the value of his teammates as the reference point (Relative value = Value/(avg value of teammates)). That may or may not be reasonable, other people are set on that arguement.

        The larger issue to me is that by choosing to asses value in a relative manner, it lets you arbitrarily manipulate the valuation process. I could argue that the relative value to a team is based on return on their investment (Relative value = value/salary). Or I could say relative value to a team is determined by the player’s visibility/marketability (Relative value = value*sportcenter highlights*commercial appearances). Or I could say relative value to a team is determined by the player’s environmentally friendliness (Relative value = value/carbon footprint). Or I could say relative value to a team is determined by the player’s ability to be a good citizen (Relative value = value * kittens rescued from the trees of the elderly). Why go through this when you need to start with the concept of absolute value to begin with?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        You overarching point is very fair…I just see things a bit differently and placing a relative value on things gives a more complete picture of the situation. The value placed upon anything is up to the discretion of the individual. In this case, the value of any given baseball player to a team. Since this debate is centered around Jose Bautista, we will use the Blue Jays. Right now they are 66-67 and Joey Bats has a WAR of around 8 according to baseball reference. Assuming the accuracy of that calculation, the Blue Jays would be around 58-75 without an adequate replacement. In an absolute sense that is a pretty significant difference. His impact upon the team cannot be argued. However, in a relative sense his value upon the Blue Jays in terms of standings and assumed goal (contending for the playoffs) is insignificant. According to the above mentioned statistics, the Blue Jays would still be in 4th place in the AL East and still not contending for anything tangible. As I stated somewhere above, I don’t think you are wrong nor I right….just a difference in perspective.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        Why do you designate assumed their goal to be to contending for the playoffs? What winning percentage relative to the leader constitutes contention? I reject this premise.

        Any baseball team’s goal (contending teams, non-contending teams) is to win as many games as they can (the degree to which they contend for a playoff berth is dependent on this), and no player has a bigger impact on their ability to do that than Jose Bautista.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        Yeah, winning enough games to contend for the playoffs. Is that not every teams goal (even if unrealistic) in Spring Training? I am not saying that Bautista does not contribute more to his team than any other player. I am saying that his contribution is mitigated by the fact that his added wins are irrelevant in the standings of this given season. It does not diminish him as a baseball player. It means that I wouldn’t vote him the MVP. Does it unfairly punish him for playing on a poor team? Absolutely, but it is what I believe.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM

        I dont get your reasoning though: “Yeah, winning enough games to contend for the playoffs. Is that not every teams goal (even if unrealistic) in Spring Training? I am not saying that Bautista does not contribute more to his team than any other player. I am saying that his contribution is mitigated by the fact that his added wins are irrelevant in the standings of this given season. It does not diminish him as a baseball player. It means that I wouldn’t vote him the MVP. Does it unfairly punish him for playing on a poor team? Absolutely, but it is what I believe.”

        how do you decide who has given the most useful wins to the time in contention. The Phillies are cruising to the play-offs, are none of hteir players MPV caliber then? remove Utley and they still make the play-offs.

        Is Granderson the MVP because he is the best payer on the yankees? What about Eduardo Nunez – without him providing decent replacement level play at SS and 3b would the Yankees lead be as big? Does that make Nunez more valuable? So basically, an MVP has to come from a team that made the play-offs but only barely for their value to actually have value in your opinion?

        Also, sometimes winning this year isnt really the goal. What if Bautista’s strong play made Toronto a more interesting free agent attraction, that leads them to winning the AL East by 15 games, only he has a slightly worse season, is he then the MVP, or will it go to a Tigers player cause i helped them get to 81-81 while the rest of the division blows?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:54 PM

        I am only dealing with this season, not reading into the future and what might happen. Regarding the Phillies, they might not be in the position to win the division if Utley did not come back and Victorino is a legit MVP candidate. Also, a team doesn’t have to barely squeak into the playoffs or even make the playoffs…merely being in contention will do for me. I just don’t place much value in finishing 12 games back instead of 19. What difference does it ultimately make?

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM

        Well, say Granderson helped the Yankees win 9 games more than a normal player would have.

        Dont those 9 games only matter if the Yankees beat another team by less than 9 games to make the play-offs?

        If the Yankees are making the play-offs with or without Granderson, why is he valuable? the outcome (the yankees making the playoffs) would be the same whether he is rostered/injured/great/invisible. As

        you state, bautista isnt valuable because the Jays are losing with him and would lose just slightly more without him. But the yankees will win with granderson and win slightly less without him, but likely make the play-offs, so what value is that?

        Again, we can replacement granderson with any number of players…Cameron Maybin perhaps, Drew Stubbs, Victorino and the yanks make the play-offs, if Maybin and granderson switch places and the Yankees make the play-offs, who is the MVP? Cano? Maybin? gardner?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM

        Victorino and Granderson have very comparable WAR’s so perhaps that wasn’t the best example. Simple answer is that he would help them remain competitive for the division title or in another example perhaps home field in the playoffs. There is an absolute value to garnering both of those achievements. Also, I did not say that Bautista is not a valuable player. Essentially, I am saying that his value is rendered irrelevant by the performance of his team. Again, not diminishing the greatness of Bautista.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:13 PM

        Again, who becomes the MVP if Yankees dont have granderson but have drew stubbs and make the play-offs? Is it Dustin Pedroia then because he’s awesome and the Red Sox are also winning?

        You are saying that the criteria for an individual award is tied to a team accomplishment – how is that possible? I know you think we have a philosophical (not right/wrong) disagreement.

        However, you’re just flat out wrong.

        How can someone’s value be judged by something that is entirely irrelevant to them? Bautista has no control over the make-up of his team and the division they play in. Say they are in the central and win the division, is Bautista the MVP then-obviously he is? Nothing changes about any numbers or success, just geography. Your logic is completely wrong if i can just slide a team around and arrive at a different result.

        how can you be so subjective as to think that because the Yankees have Eduardo nunez instead of Reid Brignac makes a yankees player more likely to win the MVP and a Rays player less likely?


      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:18 PM

        Nobody said it was fair. In fact, I believe that I said it was unfair to Bautista. I’ve said what I believe. No sense in repeating it now. You can think I’m wrong, it matters not. I don’t see it as faulty logic. Tying it back to the original debate….it all centers around relative value.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:30 PM

        You’ve been arguing above that a player of finite value is worth relatively more to a value-poor team. By that logic, Bautista should have more relative value than anyone in the league.

        Besides the fact that it is as arbitrary a measure as you can have with respect to team performance, the degree of the teams contention within its division has nothing to do with how to assess value of a player. You aren’t using it to gauge value, you are using it to ignore it altogether. This leads me to believe you are more predisposed to rule out Bautista than you are to come to a reasoned conclusion. It seems to me that you may be arguing on behalf of the Most Influential Player award, though.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:46 PM

        I have no preconceived negative notions about Bautista. Just as 100$ means different things to different people, wins means something different to me. The additional wins that Bautista bestows upon the Blue Jays or Votto to the Reds are irrelevant. They do not make the least bit of difference in the standings of this given year. I am placing a greater relative value on the performance of players who play for playoff contending teams vs those players who don’t play for playoff contending teams. I am and have been conceding that Bautista’s absolute value is greater, however, as mentioned his relative value is diminished in my opinion.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        So you are saying $100 is worth less to someone that is broke than it is to a billionaire, because its not enough money to buy a house?

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        Or rather, I think you are arguing that because he is broke, the $100 bill ceases to hold value whatsoever. Surely you must agree with this?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        No, I am not. The situations (money debate, MVP debate) are completely different except for the notion of relative value. You appear to believe in absolute value, I believe in relative value. That is the fundamental difference.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 6:10 PM

        First, if you you are going to assert that the money debate and MVP debate two things are different, you need to elaborate. This debate is predicated on their similarity and I completely disagree that the two are separate. We’ve been discussing absolute measurable value of an asset, and the ways in which they are relatively appreciated by their holders.

        Second, I’ve set aside the debate between absolute and relative value. I think I’ve made arguments based on reason -not belief- as to why one is better, and in absence of a reasonable rebuttal, I’m inclined to move on. Now, I’m taking issue with the way you are wildly inconsistent in your logic when parsing relative value. I’m using the criteria you set forth previously in this argument, and the conclusion I come to is completely opposite to what you are now arguing.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 6:22 PM

        How am I being wildly inconsistent? Wins and money are two distinctly separate entities. I believe money is more valuable to the destitute and wins are more important to teams in contention. You are implying that if one believes that a predetermined quantity of money holds more valuable to the poor then wins are more important to the poor teams. That implies that wins and money are comparable concepts when they are not. It is faulty reasoning to make that logic jump. My line of logic is consistent in that the application of relative value is employed in both scenarios. You are saying that if one applies the notion of relative value then it always has to be unilateral…a negative correlation if you will. However, when applying the concept of relative value to two unrelated notions, the directionality is dependent upon the circumstances inherent in those notions.

      • atk71483 - Aug 29, 2011 at 8:28 PM

        They are the same in that they are the valuation of the level of success their owners have achieved, and the idea that there is a threshold at which one that requires substantiation. Anyway, good discussion.

  11. davebrownspiral - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    At this point you have to say Granderson is the MVP. Leads the majors in HR’s, RBI’s and runs scored. He’s also stolen 24 bases, and plays one of the defensively demanding positions in CF (and a good CF at that). For my money, right now anyway (still alot of baseball to be played) it’s Granderson, hands down.

    • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      So it’s hands down granderson because he has one more HR than Bautista? How about the difference in how frequently they get on base?

      I can buy that defense is an important element, and Grandy’s speed is a good thing for him, but he has not been better offensively in any objective sense

    • mjanik25 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      Runs batted in and runs scored are both partially dependent on the rest of a team’s lineup (runs batted in more significantly so)… He’s also been caught stealing 10 times, leaving him with a mostly average stolen base percentage… There are arguments to be made for Granderson as the MVP (though I don’t agree with all of them) and while his playing CF is among those arguments, runs batted in and stolen bases probably aren’t (and runs scored is shaky, too).

  12. littledill - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    The MVP should be the player with the best stats. Period. The debate over the word “valuable” occurs every year and is almost cliche at this point.

    • djpostl - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      Amusing. But the award is called that for a reason, it was designed to represent the most valuable player…not the guy with the best stats. Take Bautista off the Blue Jays and a 4th place team is still a 4th place team (Baltimore wouldn’t make up those games). Take Granderson off the Yankees this year and they are probably closer to the Rays than the Red Sox.

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:50 PM

        what if the Yankees traded Granderson to the Blue Jays for Bautista and moved Gardner to CF?

        Then would Bautista be the MVP? By your logic he would be.

        What if the yankees replaced gradnerson with drew stubbs who is a decent enough player to make the yankees all-but shoo-ins for the play-offs, does that make Stubbs the MVP or is it Cano?

      • mordecofe - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        If you don’t think the Jays would have lost significantly more games without Bautista than with him, you, my friend, are delusional. They would be in 4th place, perhaps, but have lost quite a few more games than they have currently won.

        You shouldn’t confuse place in standings (which is relative to division, etc.) with W/L.

  13. humanexcrement - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    The winning team argument works for basketball–in the NBA it is in fact possible for one great player to carry a mediocre team to success. But in baseball, no one single player can turn the ’11 Astros into a winning team. Even the best players can only hit 3 times out of ten, and even during a historic hot streak, you’re probably only going to come to bat four times in one game. There’s only so much you can do, and so much of the team’s success or failure is dependent on things beyond any one player’s control. In fact, I’d argue that a player like Jose Bautista is much more valuable to the Jays than Adrian Gonzalez is to the Red Sox. Something tells me Boston would be alright if they had to go without Gonzalez or Pedroia for awhile. Try picturing this Blue Jays team without Bautista.

  14. Jonny 5 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I just don’t understand this rationale. “MVP” to me, would have to be carefully chosen. I would take what I think to be the best overall player in the AL/NL and run with it. Why over complicate it all with things that shouldn’t matter like what everyone else on the team does/did? This is a single player award that needs to be treated as such imo.

    Heyman just took the OPS leaders list and disqualified the best player on it because the team isn’t in the playoffs. Which is a chumpy way to look at the award imo.

    “No question he’s been the best player in the league. His 1.092 OPS is way ahead of the rest. Good at everything on a baseball field.”

    And he says that, but still votes Granderson and 3 others ahead of him…. someone smack that man.

  15. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Again, there is only one way to avoid EVER having this type of debate again…let the computers decide who is the MVP, CY Young, and Rookies of the year. And if you want to go further, let them decide the Gold Gloves and everyone who gets into the Hall of Fame too.

    As long as the BBWAA is in charge of these awards then they will never make everyone happy. And more often than not, they will make about 40% of the people enraged, 40% happy, and the other 20% don’t really care one way of the other.

    • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:49 PM

      I dont think it has to be that drastic – i mean we have two competing WARs and OPS is kind of absurd (different denominators!).

      We can have a different kind of argument, as in, how do you value defense, how do you value the felxibility to play third and outfield, how do you value speed/stolen base success rates. I think it has to be grounded in individual numbers.

      When it’s an individual award, why does the team and supporting cast matter?

  16. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Where would the Jays be without Bautista? Half as many wins and half as many fans is my guess. If he doesn’t win the MVP this year (and chances are he won’t) that’s just a travesty

    • deep64blue - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:58 PM

      Where would the Jays be without Bautista? Out of the play-off race that’s where, oh wait.

      I subscribe to Baseball Prospectus and Joe Sheehan’s Newsletter, I know my way around Advanced Stats so I’m no Luddite but to me it’s self evident that the V in MVP stands for Valuable and there’s little Value in a Season that helps your team finish 4th instead of 5th.

      The MVP has to go to someone on a team that contends into September, ideally one that makes the play-offs, that’s just common sense!

      • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        How is it common sense that an individual award should have the basis for its criteria being a team accomplishment?

        So if the Sox arent doing well, Pedroia isnt an MVP? So the value of 24 other players on the roster is actually what is important in determining the MVP? Doesnt that make the MVp the division crown, World Series, etc.?

        The award is Most Valuable Player of a collection of valuable players that at least come close to making the post season

      • citifieldurinal - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        Can Bautista at least win an award for “Least Valuable Teammates”?

      • halfthemoney - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:52 PM

        Concur with alang. It’s an individual award for the most valuable player, the one you’d pick first in a sandlot game that gives you the best chance to win each individual game. There have been many times that a player has a season that is head and shoulders above anyone else….it should be the player that we all fear coming to bat against our team with runners on base.

      • deep64blue - Aug 30, 2011 at 5:47 AM

        If that’s the case then change it ‘Most Oustanding Player’ or ‘Best Player’ ….

  17. dodger88 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    If you have two candidates with similar stats with one plaing for a playoff team and the other a non-contender, I have no issue with voting for the former. I could think of worse tie breaking mechanisms. However, when a player is clealry having a superior as Bautista is thus far, he should be the MVP.

  18. citifieldurinal - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    As I posted above, look at the hitters in Toronto’s lineup besides Bautista..

    Heyman’s really going to shame him for not making THAT team and lineup a playoff contender? I need a nap, I feel sick.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      It’s not the other hitters holding the Jays back, it’s the pitching. I’d feel comfortable putting the Jays nine against any nine in the majors right now. I wouldn’t put their pitching up against a little league team’s

      • citifieldurinal - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        Believe you me Rajai Davis, Aaron Hill (did, in his case), Corey Patterson, and JP Arencibia (among others) are holding the Jays back.

        I agree the pitching ain’t helping either.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        Take JP off that list and you would have a point if any of those guys were in the starting lineup right now. Who else is holding them back? Lind? Thames? Lawrie perhaps? I don’t think so

      • cur68 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        In particular the closing pitching and the pitchers not named Romero. The hitting line up is only a bit suspect. Lawrie is a rook as is Thames, so they can be excused for not being great, but in fact they represent the more consistent hitters on the team. They can be lumped in with the likes of Escobar and Encarnacion, who have legitimately been a pretty good supporting cast with some dry spells. The team can score runs but have trouble as a group with crafty pitchers like Bruce Chen, who changes speeds and deliveries real well, and power guys like Michael Pineda, who just blows them away till he tires. Throw a Verlander or Price at them, who employ crafty with power, and the hitting lineup has NO answer. Fortunately for the Beaver Wranglers those guys aren’t thick on the ground so they can’t account for the mediocrity that is the Boys of Beaverland.

        In fact it’s been pitching, you are correct 1943′, which has been the big problem. The team needs a crafty lefty SP who can win 12 or more and a power closer to lock down a bit more than 75% of saves. As it stands they have 1 winning pitcher on staff this season (Romero 12 – 9), one at .500 (Morrow), and cast of characters who should be either pitching in little league or out of the pen.

        Jose Bautista has no chance to do anything about that. All he can do is hit and field his position. Both of which he does better than anyone in the league.

        There. I knew that 3 paragraphs I’d written would come in handy.

  19. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    If we are really going to have massive debates about the term “Valuable” should we take salary into consideration? After all, if the player in question only (only!!) costs $450,000, the team has that much more money to upgrade elsewhere. WAR is a nice stat, but the value stat would be $/WAR, correct? Suddenly guys like Brett Gardner and Trumbo and Michael Pineda should get some consideration. Even in a down year Longoria probably walks away with the hardware. Or what about the prospects the Sox had to give up to acquire Gonzalez, should his ‘value’ be dinged for them? The Yankees gave up some serious talent to acquire Granderson, but not this season. Does the trade impact his value less each year removed from the trade?

    It all seems sill, but any real debate about ‘value’ would have to include this stuff. Or we can vote for the best player. Being the best player in the league adds value to any team, gives the fans one more reason to come see games, helps TV ratings and merchandising and all that stuff eventually brings more money to the team and helps them sign better players in the future.

    You could make some arguments for guys like Granderson or Ellsbury, and there is still a month of season to be played. However I really can’t see how this is not Bautista’s award if everyone keeps on their current pace.

    • alang3131982 - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM

      Man, what he said!

  20. dabendschein - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    I guess it is a good thing they don’t call it the Hall of Value, or players on small market and perpetually-losing teams would have no chance of making it in there.

    Of course, it is called the “Hall of Fame” and not the “Hall of Outstanding Players” so perhaps the voting standards should be the players who are the most well-known rather than those who have had the best careers. Farewell to all those players who toil on in obscurity!

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      Hall of FAME somehow does not = Pete Rose, Sosa, McGwire etc, with some debate about the worthiness of Arod, Bonds, Clemens.

      If current voting trends continue, it will be the ‘Hall of Pretty Good While Managing To Avoid Steroid Suspicion’

  21. joshfrancis50 - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Votto leads the NL in Fangraphs’ WAR…not in Heyman’s top 10, yet Craig Kimbrel, who leads league in “Glory Holds” is pulling into the station at number 8.

  22. deathtoallpoets - Aug 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Justin Verlander should be the MVP. Without him, the Tigers are a .500 to sub .500 team this season. You could take Granderson off of the Yankees and they’d still get to the playoffs. You could take Elsbury or Gonzalez off of the Red Sox, they’d still make it to the playoffs. The MVP should be considered how that person contributes to the teams success. How can you have an MVP on a team who isn’t even sniffing the post season? A ton of things have to go right, I understand that, but the MVP should be someone who elevates their team, and really helps them win. Not just flashy numbers.

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