I think this is going to be a pretty close MVP vote. The title of this post asks who "deserves" to win the 2010 NL MVP, but just as interesting is who we think will actually win, in other words who we think the real voters will choose.
Let's start with this list, the NL WAR leaders:
|Wins Above Replacement--all s c a p y|
We see that several pitchers make the top 10. I am sure that Halladay and Jimenez will both get some MVP votes but I doubt that their performances were good enough to get them much in the way of 1st-place votes.
Looking at the above list, Pujols looks like the clear winner. He has a few things working against him, though:
- His WAR of 7.2 is his lowest since the 2002 season:
Year Age WAR oWAR dWAR 2001 21 6.9 6.4 0.5 2002 22 5.8 6.2 -0.4 2003 23 10.9 9.5 1.4 2004 24 9.4 7.9 1.5 2005 25 8.2 7.2 1.0 2006 26 8.3 7.0 1.3 2007 27 8.3 5.8 2.5 2008 28 9.6 7.8 1.8 2009 29 9.2 7.8 1.4 2010 30 7.2 7.4 -0.2 10 Seasons 83.8 73.0 10.8
I've heard plenty of chatter that this was Pujols' worst season in a long time. I guess that's true in terms of overall WAR, but in reality I think his offensive numbers look worse than the rest of his career because of the overall lower levels of league-wide offense this season. Plus, looking at the table above, his oWAR was just fine--in the 7s as with most of his best seasons. It's his dWAR that went negative for the first time since 2002 that hurt his overall WAR total. I'm not saying that this isn't a real detriment to his overall value, but let's face it--MVP voters don't consider defense all that much, and the bottom line is that his offensive performance hasn't slipped.
- The overall lower levels of offense rob Pujols a bit on the guady-number front. He hit 42 HR with 118 RBI, both good for first in the NL and yet not as large as the league-leading totals we're used to. Often times, if a guy leads his league in HR and RBI, he's going to win the MVP pretty easily, but in recent years that might have been with 50 HR and 125 RBI--so Pujols' performance at first glance seems less impressive.
- The Cardinals didn't make the playoffs, despite being a pretty good team. This hasn't prevented Pujols from winning the MVP in some years past, but I think it has to cost him a few votes.
Joey Votto led the league in OPS+ at 174 (just a tick ahead of Pujols) and also led in both OBP and SLG (wow!). Plus, he improved a lot over his first two full seasons, which were good to begin with, and the Reds made the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
In my mind, Pujols and Votto are just about tied in terms of who deserves it. I think Votto is going to have a slight edge in the minds of the voters thanks to the first-glance assessment that Votto had a better season than Pujols compared to each guy's own past performance and because the Reds made the playoffs.
I suspect that Adrian Gonzalez and Carlos Gonzalez will finish 3rd and 4th.
What do you think?
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