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It’s officially “so and so should be considered” season

Sep 11, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

Derek Jeter Getty Images

I had a go at this concept last year. The concept that, when it comes to postseason awards, it’s somehow a legitimate argument to say “so and so should be considered” when the person advocating such a position doesn’t actually think they should win it. That he should be “in the conversation.”

Person 1: I think Joe Shlabotnik should be given consideration for the MVP.

Person 2: OK, do you think Shlabotnik deserves to win? Is he going to be given your first place vote?

Person 1: No, but he should get consideration! He should be in the conversation.

Smack my head.

If I think Fetzelrod is the MVP, why should I “consider” Shlabotnik?  In reaching my decision isn’t it understood that I’ve considered and rejected Shlabotnik? I’m a Fetzelrod man! Don’t waste my time with this Shlabotnik tomfoolery!

Anyway, here’s Richard Justice today at

There can’t be a conversation about the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award without including Derek Jeter, and doesn’t that make this whole season even better?

Starting off well!  Then, after going through the stronger cases for Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton he adds:

Regardless of how it plays out, it’s fun just having him in the discussion.

This after he says Jeter’s MVP credentials are “doing his job at the top of the lineup,” “playing nice defense,” “winning” and “leadership.”  Of course Trout has done a better job at the top of the lineup, plays better defense and plays for a team with only two fewer wins than Jeter’s (and more since Trout came up from the minors).  Leadership: OK, such as it can be known, we’ll give it to Jeter.

But the point here isn’t that I think Jeter isn’t as good as Trout. Opinions vary. The point here is that Justice makes no effort to argue it himself, which suggests that, had he an MVP vote, he would not have Jeter above Trout.  Rendering the whole “Jeter should be in the conversation” conversation pointless.

Guess what: Jeter has had a kickass season, especially for a player his age. This is late career stuff we usually only see from inner-circle Hall of Famers. It is notable and worthy of great kudos and praise. But there is nothing which says that praise may only be given to a guy in the context of a “who should win the MVP” article.  Just write the “hey,  Jeter is great” article. You can actually do that. There is nothing to stop you!

But by not doing it, you muddy the MVP waters and either actively our passively encourage sloppy reasoning when it comes to the MVP.  “In the conversation?”  Bah.  Either a guy is or is not your MVP choice.

  1. madhatternalice - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    There can’t be a conversation about the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award without listing the same quote twice? :)

  2. number42is1 - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I agree 99.99% with everything you said. jeter should NOT be the MVP this season. but there is no way in friggin hell the Josh Hamilton is above jeter in that category. Jeter has been solid the whole season with narry a slump. he is certainly the Yanks MVP and without him they are in 3rd at best. Hamilton had an AMAZING first month and a half and has recently come around again but for more than half the season he was in the shitter.

    • Joe - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      That .608 OPS in June was slump-like, IMO.

      • Joe - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        Looking deeper, by month

        DJ JH
        1012 1182 April
        692 1187 May
        608 754 June
        814 607 July
        941 943 August
        926 892 Sept

        I’m not sure the data at all support the hypothesis. It looks like both batters had big slumps, but that (by this measure) Hamilton has been better in good times and in bad.

  3. thomas2727 - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    But don’t voters slot the top 5 candidates? Which is a whole other conversation.

    • ceetar - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:14 PM


      so saying a guy is “in the conversation” is probably fine in a discussion of the MVP candidates (not that I’m sure I’d put Jeter there anyway, but the specifics are moot) even if it’s not appropriate on discussing who will win it. After all, how can you put the top 10 guys on the list without thinking/discussing them?

  4. cur68 - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Don’t muddy the waters with your “MVP conversation” Craig. Why do you hate the Shlabotniks of the world? Are you anti-Shlabotnik? Well I’m pro-Shlabotnik. Always have been, always will be. I was born this way (so I have more Shlabotniks-cred than you). Your blatant hate for all that is Shlabotnik is sickening. Sickening I tell you! You Fetzelrod-ers are all the same (I don’t hate Fetzelrods, by the way. Some of my best friends are Fetzelrods. It’s the Schmoes I can’t stand. They are lazy and shiftless. Always stealing our jobs and our women. They should just go back where they came from!). Anyhow, you are always shouting about the Shlabotniks. Stop it! Its just a name. Get used to it.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      I have always heard so much about Shlabotnik. I would really like to meet the guy.
      He seems very popular. My luck…he’s just your average Joe.

  5. 1baseballfan - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    You’re all missing the point – including Craig.

    You see this argument comes from the realm of Quantum Mechanics. I know it APPEARS that there is only one MVP but in fact there are many MVPs depending on which parallel universe you are in. The probability is that Jeter doesn’t win in our universe but one time in many he may win in the universe of Richard Justice. Our issue is we’re not in Justice’s universe. We can’t really poke holes in his argument from here.
    But the Higgs Boson will still confer mass.

    • 1baseballfan - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      Oh, and Jeter’s not near the top of the AL in 3 of the current popular rating sites:
      Fangraphs he’s rated 23rd (3.3 WAR – Trout at 8.6)
      BillJamesOnline only lists the top 7 and Jeter’s not there. (Jeter 101 total runs, Trout 157)
      Baseball-Reference; not in the top 10. Jeter at 2.5 – Trout at 10.2)

      I think it’s safe to say he’s not in the conversation unless someone really likes to talk about him but thanks to thomas2727 for making me think.

  6. randygnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    That “conversation” that you refer to is what actually enabled Felix Hernandez to win his CY award. There were many converts who were ultimately convinced to vote for Felix, where they wouldn’t have, otherwise.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Sure: and they were people sincerely arguing that Felix should have won it. There is nothing wrong with that. That should be encouraged.

      What I dislike is when people argue that someone should be “in the conversation” but don’t sincerely believe — or argue — that they should be first. That DISTRACTS from the people who should genuinely win.

      • natstowngreg - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        Sorry, not seeing the problem. Yes, I would be interested in who Richard Justice thinks is the best candidate, and why. Perhaps, it’s too early for that, as the regular season has not ended.

        But why should he not converse about others who have had excellent seasons? Guys for whom he might vote (if he has a vote)? After all, an MVP voter can vote for up to 10 guys, in order of preference. Following your logic, the MVP voter should vote for only one candidate. Giving votes (and the points that go with them) to others might jeopardize the chances of the voter’s #1 candidate.

  7. mrfloydpink - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    RIchard Justice? Does he go by ‘Richard’ or by ‘Dick’? Because ‘Dick Justice’ would make a good title for a porno film.

  8. sictransitchris - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Jeter’s not even the best guy on the Yankees.

    • number42is1 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      sigh… I’ll bite. please tell me who is.

      • sictransitchris - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

        If we’re gonna crown anybody on the Yankees an MVP candidate it’s got to be Cano.

  9. itsonlyaspeedbump - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    LOL@ Craig. Now when I have emotion-based illogical debates about who should be MVP I can’t default to “I don’t think so-and-so deserves to be MVP, but I think YOU should think he does.”

    Kinda taking the fun out of this.

    I take back my LOL.

  10. ningenito78 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    The weekly Craig Crankypants article.

  11. bennoj - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    “Shlabotnik should be in the conversation for MVP”

    “Fine, you just said his name, so he’s in the conversation. Now shut up.”

  12. makeham98 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Good grief, Joe Shlbotnik references are awesome.

  13. buddaley - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    But Craig, if you are right, then each voter should have only 1 person on his/her ballot, or at most 3 spots. But each voter is given 10 places. “In the conversation” can mean that the player should be recognized as worthy of being somewhere on the ballot. Coming in 10th is still an honor in that sense.

    For example, I might argue that Ben Zobrist deserves consideration. No, I don’t think he is the MVP, but were I to make out my (unofficial) ballot, I might put him somewhere between 6-10, and if others thought similarly, he might end up 8th in the final count, a recognition of his value. I don’t think we have to be too literal minded about the phrase “deserves consideration” as if it only means actually deserves to be MVP.

    I think there is value in that kind of thinking as it creates discussion about what constitutes value and helps to re-evaluate players who otherwise might never be recognized. For example, according to BB-Ref, Zobrist has a higher WAR than Josh Hamilton this year. (According to Fangraphs, they are nearly dead even.) By saying Zobrist is “in the conversation”, it raises some interesting questions-one of which is the value of WAR as an evaluation measurement. After all, if you consider WAR a useful tool, and you think Hamilton is a legitimate choice for MVP, then why wouldn’t Zobrist also be in the conversation?

    By the way, according to both systems, Zobrist is between .8 & 1.2 points of WAR less valuable than Cabrera, so again, if Cabrera is really a clearly reasonable choice, why not Zobrist in the conversation even if you would not select him?

    I don’t think you can use the same argument for Jeter, but there are criteria for MVP other than WAR which might make it legitimate to consider Jeter in the conversation even if he is not one’s actual choice.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      I was just coming to write this same thing. Let’s think about MVP votes as power rankings more than individual awards, then we can all be more open about this sort of thing. Even after the fact for things like HoF consideration, advocates frequently cite the fact that Schlabotnik had 12 “top 5” finishes in MVP voting, though he never took home the hardware.

  14. kevinleaptrot - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Calcaterra should be considered for the Pulitzer, but he won’t get my vote.

  15. bozosforall - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Jeter got royally screwed over in 2006, so screw anyone who doesn’t think that he belongs in the conversation this year.

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