Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Battle For AL MVP

Infidel Nation Blogger Uncle Buck has written a very flawed blog as to why David Ortiz should be the AL MVP.

It's flawed not because he thinks that Big Papi should win the award. It's flawed because instead of putting some real analysis into the argument, he decides to name call and revert to calling A-Rod A-Fraud because he's still mad that Henry and Lucchino didn't get him in 2004.

Whatever. He obviously doesn't watch the Yankees everyday, so that's makes him secure in his blathering on "how Mo and Jeter are more valuable to the Yankees than A-Rod." Mo is Mo. He's the foundation upon all of this is built upon. But Jeter, despite his stats, has had a very up and down year. I've seen him strike out or ground out in critical situations this year more than I have in previous years. A-Rod has had his moments too, but Jeter has hardly been Joe Clutch. And anyone who watches the Bombers day in and day out will attest to this.

Back to my point. Noone would argue that Ortiz is having another Monster Year. While Manny has been streaky, Ortiz has put the infidels on his back and is carrying them to the finish line. If the Yankees overtake the Sux and win the can blame a lot of people, but David won't be one of them. If I have to watch one more game-winning homer by this fat bastard, I'm going to shoot someone. He's a stone-bitch. An absolute monster. One of the great clutch-performers that I've seen in any sport in the last 15 years. He has only one knock against him this season.

He doesn't play the field.

Now you might think that that's a small knock against a player. Especially when you look at his numbers. But I beg to differ. Manny Ramirez would have one at least one MVP award, if he had any clue in the field. Infidel will point to the fact that he leads the league in outfield assists. All that means is that Manny has a decent arm and throws out runners on plays where he should have caught the ball in the first place. Plus I personally think that he loafs because he know that he'll get a couple of outfield assists to pad his stats. But that's just me.

But compared to Ortiz, Manny looks like Clemente incarnate. He's that bad in the field. He's so bad, that they had to put horrible Kevin Millar out there until they got John Olerud. He's so bad, that he acutally hurts the team when he's out there. I know the Red Sox will never remind anyone of the 1987 Twins or 1982 Cardinals when it comes to defense, but you know it's bad if they don't play you in the field on that team. The only Gold Glover on that team in Edgar Renteria, and he has 20 plus errors this year. I know the Yankees have their defensive issues, but they're much better than the Sox.

The DH is here to stay, but baseball's more than just offense. And the fact that he almost never plays the field should play a factor in whether he should get the award. While his teammates are diving for balls so he has a chance to get up again, he's sitting on the bench. Playing defense is a integral part of the game. It takes something out of you to play good D, but it also makes you a much better player. When you're slumping, you have something else to think about when you're not hitting. Something to contribute to the effort. Neither Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas will be confused with Keith Hernandez in the field, but their stats are much better when they play the field than when they DH.

It also lessens the chance of a player getting hurt. Bernie has two bad shoulders from diving all over the field for 15 years. Sheff tore up his knee diving for a ball. You're going to wear down over a season. If all you have to is hit and occasionally slide into a base, the chances of you getting hurt are much less obviously.

And it's not as if he's 35 like Paul Molitor or Edgar Martinez. Those guys were very good fielders who couldn't do it anymore because of injuries. The same thing with Bernie (although he's played the field well of late). Ortiz hasn't turned 30 yet. And he can't play the field? Come on!!!

Meanwhile, A-Rod has turned himself into the best all-around third baseman in the game. He plays a Gold-Glove caliber third base. He steals bases and has had a typical A-Rod season at the plate. When you compare their stats, Alex and David's stats are quite comparable. They have vitually the same amount of homers (42 for Ortiz, 41 for Alex) and runs scored (108 for both). David has the advantage in RBI's (130 to 112) and walks (92 to 81). A-Rod has the edge in batting average (.319 to .297), hits (172 to 159) and OPS (1.015 to .999). We'll leave out stolen bases (13 to 1 in Alex's favor) although that is another way with which you can win a game....Speed. The Angels have shown that. That's one more dimension that wins games that Ortiz doesn't possess.

So on one hand, you have a one-dimensional player versus maybe the best-all-around player in baseball. They're putting up comparable stats on playoff contenders. It shouldn't be a contest. No pure DH has ever won the MVP. The closest to it was Don Baylor in 1979 for the Angels. And he played 95 games in the field.

The one big thing that's in Big Papi's favor is his flair for the dramatic. He has A-Rod beat hands down in that category.

Ortiz has won more big games this year than I even want to think about. His team is fighting for their lives...his bullpen keeps coughing up leads... and he keeps bailing them out. He's the main reason why they're still in first place. If they hold on and win the division, they have him to thank.

A-Rod has done a lot to shed the image that he's not clutch to Yankees fans. He has gotten plenty of huge hits to start or extend rallies. But outside of the shot vs Schilling in July, he hasn't had the dramatic ninth inning blast to win games like Papi. And he still doesn't project the clutch image that Sheff or Matsui have for the Yankees. And his batting average with runners in scoring position (.276) doesn't exactly put the fear of God in opposing teams.

Ortiz also has a huge PR edge on A-Rod. Everyone loves Big Papi, including his enemies. He's a great clubhouse guy. A-Rod, while he's not Albert Belle and is accessible to the media...has a reputation for being a little too polished. Coming off a bit phony. That metro-sexual Dudley Do-Right schtick rubs guys the wrong way. In a league full of media hogs and glory hounds....many players detest his talent, his fame and his money. Being a goody-two shoes doesn't go over well with rank and file. Ask Gary Carter or Steve Garvey. Teammates and opponents respected their ability, but detested them for all-American clean cut-media friendly image. They like their guys to have a little dirt on them. Take Derek Jeter. One of the biggest womanizers in the modern day Babylon and he's beloved. Even Jason Giambi, has a better image among players than A-Rod does. He's a known steroid user with a fondness for strip clubs. Yet his teammates adore him. Guys on the A's still miss him.

Like Wilt Chamberlain once said, "Nobody roots for Goliath."

It's not uncommon for the best player on a team to not be the best clutch guy. Tom Seaver wasn't as good as Jerry Koosman in the post-season. Mark Lemke was clutch for the Braves even though he was non-existent in the regular season for Atlanta.

But A-Rod has to have a monster three weeks and overtake the Red Sox to win the award. At the very least, carry the Yankees to the playoffs. He's never going to win over the rank and file, but he can win over the writers over the next three weeks. Give the people who hate him as reason to.

There's no question who the better player is. But it's not about the best career, it's about the best year. And right now, everything's leaning toward Big Papi to becoming the first DH to win the AL MVP. A-Rod can change that in the next couple of weeks. But it has to start now.


Blogger Kyle G. Lumsden said...

(aka Kyle in Newport News)

You make a convincing argument for Rodriguez over Ortiz for MVP. In your discussion of A-Rod as Mr. Clean Cut, however, you fail to mention another reason people have to detest A-Rod: his swipe at Bronson Arroyo in the playoffs last year. Put the two pieces together -- clean-cut image and bush-league baserunning decision -- and they just leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth. If A-Rod had a tough bastard, win-at-all-costs image, people would say after the swipe, "Oh, he's just being A-Rod. That rascal." But you can't have both: you can't be the darling poster boy for baseball and a cheater.

Now is as good a time as any to explain why I'm no fan of Miguel Cairo's. It has nothing to do with his 0-for-forever hitting streak with the Mets. It has everything to do with a camera shot of the Yankees dugout last playoffs. There was a close call that went against the Yankees while they were on offense, and the Yankees were furious. In the span of one after the call was announced, Cairo went from normal face to steaming mad face to this big old easygoing grin, that said to me, "Ah, we're the Yankees, we'll win eventually, who cares?" The Yankees win frequently but they play the game the right way, and so it's all all right. I respect them for what they do. But what Cairo did was not playing the game right, part of which involves living and dying on that field every day, leaving every part of yourself on it. It certainly involves supporting your team, which Cairo didn't seem to do as he grinned while everyone else threw stuff and hollered. Cairo couldn't have it both ways, either.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Uncle Buck said...

Once again Darth Marc's having problems seeing through his helmet. Did you even read UB's post? UB argued that A-Fraud would win the MVP, mainly because he is even with Manny and Papi in Offense and the only one playing D, and not only playing D but Gold Glove D...And if DM thinks A-Fraud is more valuable than Jeter, who would he rather have up in the 9th with the tying run on 2nd against the Red Sox? I thought so...And Mo is Mo, the most valuable player on the Yankoffs...HULK SMASH

3:50 AM  

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