Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dye for MVP?

by Sam Sowl

Not long ago, we here at BFT decided to expand our roster by one, and to add a columnist to our Wednesday slot. We put out the word, waited for all of the applications to arrive, and then chose our newest columnist. Today, we are thrilled to introduce Sam Sowl (rhymes with bowl, not bowel)! Sam's a good midwestern boy from Wisconsin, and like the rest of us here at BFT an obsessed follower of the church of baseball. Specifically, he loves the White Sox and is a fan of the Brewers as well, and dreams of one day becoming a GM. Both funny and full of energy, a great addition to our lineup - here every other Wednesday, only at Baseball For Thought!

As a Chicago White Sox fan, I have to say I'm very disappointed with their starting pitching this year. No, I'm not just stating the obvious; I know everyone reading this column knows that every White Sox fan is pretty perturbed with the likes of Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, and Javier "Untouchable through 4, automatic 2 home runs given up in the 5th" Vazquez. I'm stating my disappointment because the Sox shoddy pitching is preventing them from locking up a playoff spot, which in turn has prevented me from being able to enjoy what has been the Chisox's best offensive output in recent memory. The Sox could very easily end the season with four players (Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, and Jim Thome) with 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and batting averages above or right below .300. And it's not like the rest of the lineup isn't helping out. I hate to blame just the pitching, but the hitting really can't get much better than this.

Leading this offensive charge is Jermaine Dye, who is having the best season by a White Sox hitter since Frank Thomas' prime. Dye has long surpassed his previous high in home runs (33 in 2000 with the Royals, when Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran were his fellow outfielders and.....they still sucked! Mac Suzuki was their number two starter after all) with a nice 38, all before September, not to mention he's hitting a solid .326, with 102 RBIs. Sounds like MVP statistics to me. However, this year in the American League, there are a number of qualified individuals. So why don't we see how Jermaine stacks up to the rest of the competition.

1. David Ortiz. A DH has never won the MVP award. Could Ortiz be the guy to change that? In last year's voting, Alex Rodriguez won the award with 331 points, while Ortiz followed closely with 307. Ortiz may have been more clutch, per say, but A-Rod did have more home runs, stolen bases, a better batting average, and a better OPS. That's as close as a DH has ever come. Combine that with the news out of Boston concerning his heart problems, it appears that Papi has a tough road ahead if he wants to win the MVP award. To his benefit, he does have a whopping 47 home runs and 121 RBIs, so maybe his chances are as good as anyone's....wait I forgot, THE RED SOX ARE DONE. And I hope that pisses off as many Red Sox fans as possible- especially Red Sox fans from Grand Rapids, Michigan (this means you, Tommy). Side note - if you aren't a Red Sox fan, I hope you weren't one of those people who were "happy for them" now that they had finally won the World Series back in 2004. Red Sox fans were coming out of the ****ing woodwork at that time, and I took much joy in watching the White Sox set them down last year. Regardless, no playoffs for the BoSox, no MVP for Big Papi.

2. Manny Ramirez. Doesn't it seem like every sportswriter hates this guy? Aren't they the guys who vote for the MVP award? Doesn't he look ridiculous in that hairdo? I think these three things put him out of the MVP race completely.

3. Derek Jeter. Now this is the guy I'm scared of. I'll admit right now, the Yankees appear to be the best team in baseball at this point, and heading into the post-season I fear them more than anyone. Have you seen that lineup? And they still have Matsui and Sheffield coming off the DL. Once that lineup is in place, every single guy in it, one through nine, is an All-Star who has the potential to hit 20 or more home runs, and hit over .300. Not to mention, they're all guys who work the count well and can take the walk. And Jeter is their leader. When you're the most valuable player on a team that stacked, it has to help your chances at winning the most valuable player in the league. His stats aren't as good as any of the other contenders, but his intangibles are better.

4. Travis Hafner. Ok, so he has 30 grand slams this year. Big deal. Right place at the right time. Why should he be rewarded because the Indian's #3 hitter can't knock anyone in? In all seriousness though, the Indians are seriously DONE. They're 20 games out in the AL central. The only way Hafner would win MVP would be if every other player in the race got hurt for the rest of the season. And the Indians won the rest of their games. But then he would definitely win, so hey, he has a shot, right? Right? Oh wait, he's a DH too. No chance.

5. Jermaine Dye. Yes, I already told you about his awesome numbers, but I left a few of the MVP making stats out. Dye's current slugging percentage is .649, trailing only Albert Pujols in all of baseball. And Pujols happens to be in the National League, which means, yes, Jermaine Dye currently has the best slugging percentage in the American League. Much higher than Ortiz's meager .633. Super leader Jeter isn't even over .500. I don't want to forget to mention that Dye is hitting .362 with runners in scoring position. And aside from Jeter, he's the only player among the contenders to have a defensive bone in his body. But he's not just an average fielder; baseball fans know his gun in right is rarely tested.

To tell you the truth, when I started this article, I wasn't sure if Jermaine would be my current pick for AL MVP. And after going through all the other candidates, it's still going to take a little more to put JD over the top. I think he has what it takes though. This is a guy who is not considered a superstar by today's standards; instead he is a quiet and reserved player who leads by example. I wasn't even sure if he would be a candidate until I saw what he did to the Twins stellar closer, Joe Nathan, with the Sox down two and a man on in the bottom of the ninth. He did exactly what an MVP would do in the middle of a playoff race - went deep and put his team right back in the game. So barring an injury, I'm making my first bold claim as a baseball columnist - Jermaine Dye will win the AL MVP award...if the White Sox make the playoffs, which is really the only way those senile sportswriters base their votes anyways. At least that's what I've surmised.

Sam Sowl's column, "Sowl's Surmisings", appears alternate Wednesdays


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You completely overlooked Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins. His numbers are similiar to Dye's, and he has more RBIs. His offense also stands out among the Twins, because no Twin has produced offensive numbers like him in years. As goes Morneau, so go the Twins. Also, a side note, two innings after Dye hit that home run, the White Sox lost. If the Twins don't make the playoffs, Morneau won't be a serious candidate, but the same is true of Dye.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  

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