Unlike the American League MVP award race which looks to be pretty much a lock, the National League race is far from clear cut. Next Tuesday, Major League Baseball will name the National League MVP for 2007. I figured this post would be as good as any to break that down a bit. Keep in mind, since Barry Bonds won the award four consecutive times from 2001-2004; there has been no repeat winners. In 2005, our favorite St. Louis Cardinal took home the honors beating out D. Lee. Last year, Ryan Howard edged out Pujols to end his streak. Who is going to win this year?
First things first, what does MVP mean? Remember, there are no restrictions on the award such as MVP of a winning team or MVP of a playoff contending team,but we all know players who missed the playoffs are not in as serious contention as those who played in October. Exit Albert Pujols and unfortunately you might want to take Prince with you.
For those of you that live and die by statistics, I don’t do in depth statistical analysis because that is just not my thing. So, if you are a stat guy or gal, feel free to fill in numbers as needed, especially those not on the back of a baseball card. I want to discuss potential MVP candidates in a purely subjective way which eliminates any type of numerical ranking on my part. I do however,appreciate objective statistics and will try not to get stuck on what I believe are intangibles. Oh, and I don’t vote for pitchers.
I thought this was interesting to highlight how wide open the race is. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 baseball fans, in the National League, 22% of fans think that Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies should win the Most Valuable Player award. However, sixteen percent (16%) think honor should go to Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins while 12% believe Prince Fielder of Milwaukee Brewers should win the award. David Wright of the Mets received 9% support and two other Phillies, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley each garnered 5%.
So lets break down the top three:
Ever since the slide into home during the wild card playoff game when Holiday did a post game interview with a bleeding chin, he has been on my MVP radar. He is the 2007 National League batting champion, batted 340 during the regular season with 36 home runs and 137 RBIs as well as 50 doubles and an OPS of 1.012. As I mentioned intangibles, I think it is safe to say Holiday was a big reason why Colorado steamrolled into the playoffs. He is also a victim of a small market baseball team and gets nowhere near the coverage of one, Jimmy Rollins.
Granted he makes bold predications months before the season started that the Philadelphia Phillies were the team to beat in the east, but I can look past that because he backed those words to the end. He finished with a .296 average, 30 homers and 94 RBI. He also had 212 hits, 38 doubles, 139 runs, 41 stolen bases and an OPS of .875. He also became just the fourth player in baseball history to have at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in the same season. Some may argue Rollins isn’t even the Phillies MVP, let alone the National League MVP. Also, if it was just a numbers game, then Holliday would probably take the award but Rollins did it all the hitting, stealing, and fielding – every single game of the year 162 times. Impressive.
There is no looking past our neighbor to the north. Jelly doughnut jokes aside, Prince had a breakout year, he finished the season with 50 home runs, 119 RBI, a .288 batting average and an OPS of 1.013. He also had 35 doubles. He is the youngest player in major league history to reach 50 homeruns and he is part of the first ever father/son duo to reach that feat. Luckily for Cub fans and unfortunately for him, the Brewers did not make the playoffs.. Also, Prince was surrounded by a supporting cast with impressive numbers which may diminish his a bit.
He is my dark horse and although I really don’t think he has the numbers to win, I at least want to add him in the mix. I admire baseball players that play the game as it should be played with heart. His batting average is a bit lower than the rest at .286 with 21 home runs, 83 RBIs and 30 doubles. Anyone who says, “Who needs time off? You take time off, you die.” gets some votes in my book.
1. Matt Holiday
2. Jimmy Rollins
3. David Wright
4. Chase Utley
5. Eric Byrnes
6. Hanley Ramirez
7. Ryan Howard
8. Prince Fielder
9. Chipper Jones
10. Albert Pujols