Posted by Andy on November 22, 2010
This is a pretty interesting race. Let's start with the top 10 finishers in WAR in the AL:
|Wins Above Replacement--all s c a p y|
Assuming the winner is 1 of these 10 guys, which is a pretty good bet, let's take a quick look at each player and the arguments for and against. These arguments are a mix of stat-based and the possible perceptions of the actual voters, if different.
Evan Longoria, PRO: #1 in WAR, Rays won AL East, disappointing seasons from other Rays (Pena, Upton, Zobrist, Shields) makes Longoria's contributions look better, CON: 22 HR and 104 RBI are low numbers for a power-hitting MVP, even given the offensive decline this year and despite Longoria's career-best OPS+, and he didn't lead the league in anything
Shin-Soo Choo, PRO: Best player on his team despite the presence of Travis Hafner, CON: The Indians are irrelevant to most of the country due to a number of bad seasons in a row and if voters don't like Longoria's 22/104 numbers they aren't going to like Choo's 22/90.
Miguel Cabrera, PRO: despite a shortened season, he still led the league with 126 RBI, plus was also tops in OBP and OPS+, CON: Tigers were not a playoff team
Adrian Beltre, PRO: a major resurgence for a 31-year-old guy, also plays 3B, had a good defensive year overall after a dreadful start, CON: Beltre gets hurt because his last really good year also came when his contract was up, making this year's effort seem tainted to some, and the Red Sox falling short of the playoffs has deflated their players in the eyes of some voters.
Robinson Cano, PRO: career-best season for a 2B from a playoff team, CON: didn't lead the league in anything and is viewed as just one offensive cog in a big wheel (despite having a much better season than Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, or anybody else on the Yankees. Who was #2? Nick Swisher, of course.)
Josh Hamilton, PRO: gets a huge lift from both overcoming substance abuse and his bounce-back from a fairly crummy 2009, won the batting title, plus was tops in SLG and OPS (but not OPS+, interestingly), Rangers made the playoffs for the first time in a while, CON: only a minor one, but Guerrero ended up with more RBI, which might make Hamilton seem less important offensively to some.
Felix Hernandez, PRO: pitching stats so good that he easily won the AL Cy Young award despite a 13-12 record, CON: played for a bad team, bias for some voters against a starting pitcher
Jose Bautista, PRO: surprising 54 HR output (both in this season and for this guy in particular), CON: Blue Jays were just 4th in the AL East despite 85 wins, Bautista's incredible HR total isn't respected as it deserves because of all the 50-HR seasons that came during the steroids era.
Joe Mauer, PRO: another great season from a catcher, just about hitting all his career averages (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS) right on the nose, Twins in the playoffs again, CON: despite being an average Mauer season, it looks like a 'down' year because his HR production went back down and he didn't maintain his incredible 170 OPS+ from 2009, I can't imagine a guy defending his MVP award when his OPS drops 160 points
Clay Buchholz, PRO: a great first full season in the majors, tops in ERA+, 17 wins in just 28 starts, CON: no way is a starting pitcher going to win the MVP with just 173.2 IP
What do you think?