Owing to JCL’s post regarding A-Rod’s momentary clutchness, I thought I’d see if I could pick a long-distance fight with YF(Moscow). We have a long-standing disagreement about the conceptual nature of the MVP, and I want to dig into this a little bit here. It’s clear that there are at least 4 players on the Yankees who would out-peak one Mr. A-Rod on the clutch-o-meter, those being Mo, Jeter, Sheffield, and Matsui. Though Jeter has had a rough year, he’s still made the bigger plays, hit the bigger hits – just witness his single/steal/steal/winning run scored a couple of nights ago to see what I am talking about. Sheff’s been the man, of all of them, through his shoulder pain. A-Rod has coasted into his top-three AL third basemen spot, but, as YF said earlier this year, is no longer the best at his position, league-wide. And he’s certainly not the most clutch. Is he the best athlete? Maybe. Is he the best hitter, historically? Maybe. Is he the most talented player on the team, purely speaking? In a vacuum, probably. But is he the MVP, just because he may be the most innately gifted player? Not a chance. No Yankee fan would reasonably argue this, to their credit.
Last year we saw the idiocy of rewarding the MVP to the player with the best numbers, and it’s a nice coincidence that that same awarded player is locally exposing that awards’ fraudulence. Yankees fans are watching first-hand that the MVP should go to a player who contributes the most, and not from a purely statistical standpoint. It’s time that YF(Moscow) chimed in and admitted that last year’s award was ridiculous – the MVP is for a player whose team would have no chance at winning without them, no hope at competing for a title. Players on losing, gutter-bound teams can’t and should not win it, regardless of numbers. They are not valuable for anything but merchandising and gate receipts. A-Rod is proving that this year, that nice numbers aren’t necessarily the bellwether of value. By most players’ standards A-Rod is having a hell of a year, if not by his own. His numbers are better than Derek’s, slightly better than Hideki’s when you consider the stolen bases, better than Williams’, Posada’s. The only guy he can’t compare to is Sheffield, but then again Sheffield didn’t have to learn a new position either. But he’s not even in contention for the most valuable player on his own team, not even in the top 4. He has been famously un-clutch, despite reasonably gaudy stats. Sheffield, Matsui, Rivera, and even Jeter, despite a career-low OBP and BA, are linchpins. Had any of them missed significant time, a la Garciaparra or Nixon, the Yankees surely would be looking up in the standings. It’s not so easy to stand out on a team with clearly more valuable players. Last year A-Rod won by virtue of comparison, not by virtue of accomplishment.