Thursday, September 28, 2006

And the 2006 BOP is..... (BOP???)

by Rob Hyman
My fellow colleague (and new father of two!) Scott Silversten spelled out some of the major debates in today’s game. I’d like to pick up where he left off – let’s discuss the annual debate on the proper criterion to decide on an MVP and a CY Young award winner.

The debate with the MVP is whether or not the term Most Valuable Player should be taken literally or does it really mean BOP (Best Offensive Player). If you go back into history, I tend to think that the award was created to honor the player who performed the best throughout the course of the season. The problem is that person is not necessarily the most valuable to their team.

It’s my feeling that until they change the name to BOP, which I’m sure will happen any day, the MVP award has to be given in the context of:
a) Percentage of offense contributed by the player
b) Success of the team a player is on
c) A perceived difference in team success with and without the player

Take David Ortiz for example. Ortiz clearly far and away wins the BOP in my mind. Going into Thursday’s games, he has 54 home runs (11 more than the next best) and 137 RBIs (eight better). Additionally, he’s second in OPS (behind yours truly’s pre-season pick for MVP – Travis Hafner). Problem is, however, Boston has been essentially out of the pennant race since mid-August when it was swept in a five-game series against the Yankees. Despite his great performance, you cannot convince me that he was the most valuable player to his team. I need a player who impresses me with his number and is in the pennant race. If you’re not fighting for the playoffs, how can you be more valuable than a slugger who is putting up numbers on the way to his team’s push for the playoffs.

So, who’s my MVP in the American League? Well it was Jermaine Dye up until a few weeks ago. The White Sox were in the thick of the race and Dye’s numbers were a tremendous part of that push. Dye had 39 HRs and 107 RBIs and was hitting .327 entering September. During the month he hit only 4 HRs and 12 RBIs while hitting .256. Dye wasn’t there for the Sox down the stretch and is no longer the most valuable player in the AL.

Justin Morneau is my choice. While only 2 of his 34 HRs have come this month, he has 19 RBIs and has hit .359. He’s been a tremendous value to the Twins for the entire season and am convinced that the team would not be in the playoff hunt had he not been here. His numbers don’t match those of Ortiz, but his value is significantly higher.

In the National League, the decision is much simpler. Even if the Phillies do not pull out the wildcard, Ryan Howard is the indisputable MVP and BOP. His 58 HRs and 146 RBIs both lead the league and he’s tied for 7th in batting at .316.

For the Cy Young award, the focus has never been on value to the player’s team, but solely on performance. That being the case, the choices this year are relatively easy. Especially in the American League where, in addition to being on a winning team, Johan Santana continues to assert himself as far and away the best pitcher in the league. Santana shares the league lead in wins with Chein-Ming Wang at 19, has the only ERA in the league that is below 3.00 and has 245 strikeouts – 45 more than next best Jeremy Bonderman. Santana is in line to win the first pitcher’s triple crown since Randy Johnson in 2002.

In the National League, while there is not one pitcher that particularly stands out, the decision to me is clear. Brandon Webb is tied for the league lead in wins with 16 and like Santana, is the only pitcher with an ERA under 3.00 – his ERA of 2.88 is next matched by Roy Oswalt’s 3.07. It’s a down year for National League pitching (assuming 16 or 17 is leading win total, it will be the lowest EVER for a non-shortened season) Despite this, Webb’s performance – especially his being 8-0 with a 2.01 ERA through the end of May, makes him my choice.

Rob Hyman's column, "The Weekend Warrior", appears alternate Friday's


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