2008 MLB Team MVPs is a blogging series done by FanNation users dudeman and Cincy with a special guest appearance by thehemogoblin in this edition. Dudeman had actually had a series just like this for the NBA a few months ago, but it never was completed. Teams are in alphabetical order. Note: This blog was written nearly a week ago, stats may be outdated.
O my the O's. Don't expect to see a pitcher here. Sherill isn't that great a closer and the best ERA for a full time starter is over 5, yikes.
This comes down to three guys, Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff, and Brian Roberts. Mora? Huff? Superstars huh? Taking a closer look at the number's the O's do have 2 very solid guys here. But Roberts takes the cake. His power numbers don't wow but he packs a pretty good punch for a small guy. He barely beats out Huff in my opinion. He's just more valuable to the team. Huff has twice as many RBI's and a better average. Roberts does get on base more often but Huff provides the bulk. Here's one of the few cases I don't take the guy with the pretty stats.
Next to the Rays, this is the hardest choice to make. They are like the Rays in the fact that they have no outstanding players, but unlike the Rays in the fact that they struggle to win. Their offense is arguably a Top 5 offense in the AL, while their pitching is just not good whatsoever. So, we choose from the offense.
There's a few guys to choose from, but I eventually settled on Nick Markakis. I think he's been pretty underrated this season. He leads the team in batting average and runs. He's batting .304 with 17 homers, 78 RBIs, a .405 OBP, a .489 SLG% and 94 runs. He is tied for third in the AL in 2Bs. In what has been an otherwise dismal season for the O's, Markakis has been a great part of their lineup.
Baltimore's MVP is, simply put, one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last two months. Aubrey Huff's the name, raking's the game. He's killing opponents over this season, batting over .300 and is just short of 30 homers and 100 RBI. I'd love to say there was intense competition for this, but it's the Orioles and they've been the perennial floor mops since Tony Tarasco was robbed all those years ago. Nobody really approaches his overall play, and the fact that he's able to do this game in, game out on a team that's going nowhere really is a testament to his ability as well.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have three deserving players worthy of team MVP status. Those men would be: YOUK! Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jonathan Papelbon. Each one of these guys has been extremely valuable to Boston this year. Youkilis has performed admirably...please. He's performed wonderfully at 1B for The sox. But he's not the guy. Papelbon has been dominant in the closer's role all year, so much for starting, but it's just not enough. and I can't pick Manny, lol, he would have been an option but the trade and all......So my pick is Dice-K!
Dice-K ranks 4th in the AL in ERA with an outstanding for the AL 2.98, his 15-2 record is second best in the league to Cliff Lee, and his 1.38 WHIP is quite remarkable as well. And to think many thought he wouldn't pan out because of his slow start last year. He's taken up 132.2 IP, allowed 10 HRs, walked 78 batters( not quite great) struck out 117, but what is very impressive is that .218 BAA. So it may be safe to say Matsuzaka has surpassed Beckett as the ace of the staff, injuries or not.
With Manny gone and Big Papi injured for a period of time, the two guys who'd normally be the obvious choices for the Red Sox MVP are both out of the question. So we turn to, in my mind, the only logical choices. Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon. Now, before I get criticized for leaving Daisuke off this list, hear me out. As good as Daisuke is, Jon Lester has been really good for the Red Sox this year, and Tim Wakefield hasn't been horrible, so he's not their only reliable starter, as some people seem to think.
You can make great cases for both Youkilis and Papelbon, but I think that with the strength of the Red Sox offense, I will give it to Papelbon. The Sox offense is extremely deep, while their bullpen has struggled at times, making Paps all the more important. He has a 1.71 ERA with 65 Ks and 34 saves. All in all, Paps will be the key to the Red Sox push for the playoffs come the last week or two of the season. This season, Paps is arguably a Top 3 closer in the AL and he is vital to this ball club.
Contrary to popular belief, a versatile player can be the most important player to a team. In this case, Boston's third baseman/first baseman Kevin Youkilis has been the most valuable player. Leading the team in all three of the triple crown categories, he's far and away the best offensive player for Boston, and he's one of the best defensive players, at multiple positions to boot, in baseball, so he's a complete player. To my colleagues, for even bringing up Jonathan Papelbon, there's this: Any player who plays in 5 to 10% of the total baseball played during a season cannot influence a team enough to deserve an MVP award.
New York Yankees
There are three viable candidates, in my opinion, as to whom is the MVP of the New York Yankees this season. Those three are as follows: Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, and Bobby Abreu. Though Abreu leads the team in RBI's and has a near .300 average, he is not the choice I'll go with here. And though Mo is just as dominant as ever with only one blown save, a 1.53 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP he is not my choice either.
The distinction of team MVP goes to who many would have guessed, the richest man in baseball: Alex Rodriguez. His .312 average puts him first on the team and up on the rankings of the AL average rankings at #7. His 28 HR's give him a tie for 5th in the AL with Jim Thome of the White Sox. RBI's are a bit down for him here wit 78, only one above Jason Giambi and 2 behind Abreu, but he ranks 13th in the AL in that category. A .402 OBP, .590 SLG %, 80 runs, 51 BB's, and 16 SB bases, all make him the MVP of the Yankees. But as all good natured Yankees haters here let's hope he falls off in the stretch like he does in the playoffs.
The Yankees are another team with many players to pick from for this award, but ultimately, I think we have to look at their pitchers to find a team MVP. This might be another pick that people will burn me for, but, understand that like the Red Sox, the Yankees have more than one good offensive player and their offense is too deep to credit one player for any success.
That's why I'm going with the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. After a season last year when he underperformed, and many put his dominance in doubt, Mo has arguably been the best closer in all of baseball this season. He leads a bullpen that can be shaky at times, and has been the anchor all season. Rivera has a 1.53 ERA with 67 Ks only 7 walks, and 31 saves. His incredible 0.72 WHIP is the lowest in his illustrious career so far.
The New York Yankees are led here not by a player who is monetarily the most valuable, not a player that by perception is most valuable, but a player whose play has stood out more than any other player. Bobby Abreu (who?!) is the MVP of the Yankees' season. Alex Rodriguez may have him beat in superficial statistics, but the truth is that A-Rod simply cannot be depended on in the clutch and his distractions on and off the field have caused a major distraction to everyone's favorite championship buyers. Meanwhile, Abreu's statistics are nearly as beautiful superficially as Rodriguez's, but looking deeper, Abreu can perform in the clutch, can go out and get a key hit late in games. A-Rod? He'd rather be with Madonna than play baseball.
Tampa Bay Rays
Ok The Rays, everyone's lovey dovey team. Isn't it so wonderful they're good this year? All mushy feelings aside, it's astounding that they are where they are right now. The team's best player:Carl Crawford, has been hurt. The team leader in wins has a 4.42 ERA, the team leader in ERA and the ace of the staff Scott Kazmir has 9 wins. Garza, Shields and Jackson help round out the solid staff. Percival has been revived as a closer. But it's not a pitcher that wins it for me.
I'll just come out and say the rookie Evan Longoria over Carlos Pena. Leading the team in average at .278? And they're this good? 71 RBI's, 22 HR's, 56 runs, .533 SLG, and only a .352 OBP. How do they do it?
This is probably the toughest choice in the division besides the O's. The balance of this team is unmatched by another other in this division. As noted by many analysts, the Rays really have no outstanding player that you can point to and say "He is their guy." Their starting rotation is extremely deep, so it's hard to choose someone from there. Their bullpen also has 3 or 4 extremely good and reliable relievers, so it's hard to choose from them. All in all, we have to look at the offense to find a team MVP.
Their offense is the "weakest" part of this team, if you can say that. They are 12th in the AL in batting average, 10th in runs, 8th in OBP, SLG% and OPS. They lead the AL with 123 SBs. So, the leader of the offense has to be the team MVP. That leader would be Carlos Pena. Pena leads the Rays in homers and RBIs, even while missing 21 games this season. He has 27 homers and 79 RBIs, numbers that could easily be 31-33 homers and 95 RBIs if he hadn't missed any playing time. He was a great pick up for the Rays last season, and provides a huge bat in the lineup.
As a player whose contract, while only a few games into his inaugural campaign, signaled impending stardom, Evan Longoria's play in 2008 has given baseball fans a glimpse of what's to come.He may not lead the Triple Crown categories for the Rays, but even including his injury time, he's second in all three of them. He's given a lift to the team in Tampa Bay, solidifying a position that's been a gaping hole since the era of Wade Boggs. As a young player, he signifies the promise that the entire Tampa Bay franchise holds, and his play this year, as the play for the Rays as well, has been a pleasant surprise.
Toronto Blue Jays
Burnett is equal to him in wins, but is there any doubt that Roy Halladay is the MVP for the Toronto Blue Jays?
You can expect him to quietly be one of the best pitchers in the game. He must not be getting run support. Burnett's ERA is like 1.5 runs per 9 innings higher (Halladay's being 2.66) yet Burnett has one more win. He's quite the innings eater as well, 200 at this point. 170 SO's in those innings. And how he pitches through some of these games I'll never know, 8 complete games yet 2 shutouts. And with that.233 BAA it shows he's dominant. Yes the tall righty is quite the speciman and the MVP of the Toronto Blue Jays.
This is a no-brainer. As good as AJ Burnett has been this season, the MVP of the Blue Jays this season is Roy Halladay, without a doubt. Halladay is a legit candidate for the AL Cy Young this season. He has the most stamina of any pitcher this season, by far. In IP this season, he leads the AL with more than 20 IP this season. He has a .233 BAA with a 2.69 ERA, 8 complete games, 175 Ks and a 16-9 record.
He's one of the most reliable pitchers in the AL, and many consider him to be runner up in the AL Cy Young to Cliff Lee. His number of complete games is almost unheard of this days, with bullpens being so crucial to teams. Halladay is the workhorse of the Blue Jays, and in my mind, is the winner of their team MVP by a landslide over Burnett.
The Toronto Blue Jays' MVP is Roy Halladay. Let's just say that right away. An ERA under 2.70, a WHIP hovering around 1, and a 5 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio show that one of the most dominant pitching seasons in recent memory is lost due to the futility of the Toronto offense. As a player who hearkens back to the good old days of yore, his amount of innings logged is simply shocking when compared to most of his contemporaries. He's willing to go deep into games, as evidenced by the 17 complete games in the last two seasons, and if you can get a starting pitcher to win 16 games with that offense that's colder than Hudson Bay, you're doing something right.