Since the Yankees’ have clinched the AL East, we can all step away from the big picture, relax, and enjoy some of the lighter, more trivial aspects of baseball: Like debating who the league MVP award winner should be. When I say trivial, I certainly don’t mean it in a condescending or sarcastic manner – one of the best things about baseball is we all get to debate our favorites vs the favorites of other fans. Some of the best good-natured but sometimes heated discussions revolved around who the league MVPs were and if they were deserving of the honor. It may be trivial, but making sure all-time greats like Jeff Burroughs, Willie Hernandez, and Justin Morneau got the hardware they deserved is serious stuff.
If you’ve read my stuff before then you know I like to think things through methodically and logically, weighing as much information as I can before coming to a decision. Trust me, if I were around at the time I would have applauded Maury Wills’ MVP award even though a peak Willie Mays was his competition. One of the best (maybe the best…?) players of all time at his peak? Nonsense, check Maury’s stolen bases I say.
So along those lines, let’s start the conversation with who, most certainly is NOT the American League MVP:
Mike Trout is certainly NOT the AL MVP: You may have heard, we have this stat called “WAR”. It literally measures how much value a player provides to winning baseball games by measuring his overall performance and contribution to his team. Some would have you believe that since Trout has produced more WAR by far than any other player, that he should be MVP. I don’t buy that. His team is in 4th place and it’s all about winning, right? As good as he is, we have to remember that he signed Matt Harvey and Justin Bour, allowed Shohei Ohtani to get injured and coaxed a subpar season out of Andrelton Simmons. For comparative purposes, look at D.J. LeMahieu: DJ was able to orchestrate the injuries of Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird which gave himself more playing time. Then he coaxed a career year out of Gio Urshela and his signing of Adam Ottavino certainly paid off. I don’t care that DJ contributed 40% (FORTY PERCENT) less WAR than Trout – it’s about winning – and a team that DJ plays for might win something at some point in his career. With Trout’s track record, he deserves to go down with the other all-time great losers Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, and Griffey Jr.
Alex Bregman is certainly not the AL MVP: He may play on a team that has more wins than DJs team and he may be better than DJ at hitting, fielding, and base running, but so what? All he did otherwise was play two positions, one a premium one, to cover for injuries to one of his team’s best players. DJ, on the other hand, played multiple positions too, but one of them he played almost as well as Edwin Encarnacion did. That’s value…
Marcus Semien is certainly not the AL MVP: A shortstop on a playoff team on pace for 98 wins? Pass. And I don’t care that his WAR is almost two more wins higher than DJ’s – DJ’s batting average is forty-something points higher.
Matt Chapman is certainly not the AL MVP: So what he’s having a better season than DJ while playing for a playoff-bound team. All of his games are on late at night so I’m not aware of him. I actually get to see DJ play, so he passes the eye test.
Justin Verlander is certainly not the AL MVP: I get he’s a dominant pitcher having a dominant season for a dominant team – actually a better season than he had when he won the AL MVP in 2011 – but he’s a pitcher. He’s affected the outcome of only 802 plate appearances this season with the batters he’s faced. Yes, DJ may have affected the outcome of 175 fewer plate appearances, but it’s not his fault Aaron Boone used Mike Ford in mop-up duty on the mound instead of him.
Now that we know who the MVP is not, let’s talk about who is. No Red Sox fans, it’s not any of the three position players on your team having better seasons than DJ – they play for Boston which negates them from the discussion. Plus, their pitching sucks and position players should be able to address that.
The AL MVP has to be DJ LeMahieu. I know he hasn’t hit as well, or fielded as well, or run the bases as well as the above players, or played on a team as good as Houston, but he does a lot of stuff. And he does it in NY, so I see it. I don’t see the other players and I don’t like fancy facts.
So as part of the fan base who within the past year has argued that Didi is one of the best shortstops in baseball, Ronald Torreyes is, in fact, a major league player and that Romine should play more than Sanchez, I anoint DJ as the 2019 most valuable player in the American League.
Did I miss something? Let me know.
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