MVP?

Time to tackle this Dustin Pedroia thing head on. Over the past week, he has vaulted over Kevin Youkilis and into contention as the Red Sox’ likely best hope for an AL MVP award. His ascendance has been remarkable. He’s been raking most of the season, true, but he’s been phenomenal arguably when the Red Sox have needed him most — beset by injuries and illness (and a certain trade) that have left them without their four most consistent producers from the first half.

I’m a "value" MVP voter (well, I’m not a voter at all, but you know what I mean). This may have been shaped by the super-close 1995 race, when Albert Belle had far superior numbers to Mo Vaughn, but there was no doubt in my 12-year-old mind that Vaughn deserved the MVP (Vaughn put up the bulk of his numbers when the Red Sox were still in a close race with the Yankees; Belle hit 31 of his home runs in August and September, well after the 100-win Indians had wrapped up the division). So if the Yankees miss the playoffs, I’m not inclined to choose A-Rod, despite the fact that he’s easily the best player in the AL again. You better have an otherworldly season to win the MVP if you’re not playing for at least a winning team, in my book. But I understand why others choose differently.

That said, a vote for Pedroia is clearly a value vote; he’s not provided as much production for the Red Sox as Kevin Youkilis or J.D. Drew, and my initial hunch is that Drew’s June — stepping up immediately after the injury to David Ortiz — remains the most valuable contribution any member of the Red Sox has provided this season. I say all this to reinforce the fact that I don’t consider myself a Pedroia fanboy. I love the kid — love his attitude and his playing style, pretty much all the same things everyone else loves him for — but I look askance when sportswriters suddenly fixate on one particular player.

Of course, there’s a lot to love about Pedroia, and one could argue that his hot streak comes at a time when the games are simply more important by virtue of their increasing scarcity. And Pedroia has been scorching. Check this out:

  • Last 7 games (hitting streak): .600/.629/.900, 2 HR, 3 2B, 11 RBI, 5 multihit games
  • Last 19 games (on-base streak): .429/.474/.762, 6 HR, 8 2B, 22 RBI, 9 multihit games, including six ames with three or more hits.
  • Last month: .390/.439/.678, 7 HR, 11 2B, 27 RBI
  • Since June 13 (season-low BA of .260): .396/.436/.621, 12 HR, 26 2B, 46 RBI

This last line is remarkable. That’s in 322 plate appearances over 67 games. A little less than half a season. Combine that with Pedroia’s line before his monthlong slump from mid-May to mid-June (.307/.345/.411 in 46 games), he’s got 532 plate appearances with a line of .361/.431/.538. That .968 OPS is quite impressive for five months of baseball.

If Pedroia keeps up his August pace through September (so far, so good two games in), he’ll end up with more than 20 home runs, more than 20 stolen bases, just around 100 RBI and a batting line approximating .340/.380/.530. If he can do that, he will be the only second baseman ever to reach that combination of those levels (home runs, RBI, stolen bases, batting average) in a season, and only the fourth to post those home run, RBI and stolen base totals while compiling an OPS over .900 (Roberto Alomar twice, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Morgan the others).

If he can do that — a big if — I could see him easily winning the MVP. As it is, I’m not sure he’s even yet the most valuable member of the Red Sox.

21 comments… add one
  • it seems like every year the numbers are based on offense – even when Ichiro won the award he set the record for hits in a season. Of course, the voters won’t give the MVP to a DH, even though they disregard defensive contribution. I think, when you look at the whole body of work, and number of games played, right now he is the MVP.
    True, others have been the monthly MVP, but taking the season as a whole? Vote for Pedro

    dw (sf) September 5, 2008, 11:51 am
  • AL VORP from Baseball Prospectus:
    1. A-Rod (65.2)
    2. Grady Sizemore (62.0)
    3. Aubrey Huff (59.0)
    4. Dustin MFin’ Pedroia (58.5)
    11. Youk (47.9)
    21. J.D. Drew (34.1)
    Or, 1st on the list of those playing meaningful baseball right now. There’s a case to be made even if he tails off a bit, guys. There’s also no case right now to be made for anyone else as team MVP, excellent as Youk has been and well-timed as Drew’s best month ever was. Still plenty of ball to play, but right now, I’m voting for the 5′ 7″ guy.

    Hit Dog September 5, 2008, 12:12 pm
  • yup, you can look at all the stastics Win shares, all that stuff, but can you measure what he also brings to the team? Leadership, guts, calm eyes :), all that stuff.
    vote for pedro!

    dw (sf) September 5, 2008, 12:18 pm
  • I mentioned that I thought Dusty could enter the MVP mix about 10 days ago, even before this streak, and now I am convinced he’s going to finish very close to the top, barring a horrendous final three weeks. Suffice it to say he didn’t start the season in even the top five of players on the Sox who might win an MVP, if you consider Manny, Ortiz, Beckett (after the post-season in particular), Lowell, and Youk (both million to one shots, but still shorter odds than Pedroia based on the simplistic nature of MVP votes, which tend to be power-based).
    I personally won’t be that chapped if he doesn’t win but seems to have deserved it. I have outgrown getting discombobulated about post-season awards robberies. What is most gratifying to me is that Pedroia has, to all sane viewers of baseball, shed any labels that might have been affixed to him because of his physical stature. He’s no David Eckstein. He’s no scrapper. He’s a f*cking superstar, as talented as just about anyone.

    SF September 5, 2008, 12:28 pm
  • Carlos Quentin? If the White Sox take their division? I think the HR/RBI totals might be too much to ignore for the average, non-SABR voter.
    But I also think that if Pedroia finishes up the season as hot as he’s been…he might stand a chance. I think MLB would feel good about the guy who demonstrates “everyone can play” (if they’re immensely coordinated) winning it. You don’t have to be a physical specimen or use PEDs; you just have to be dedicated (and incredibly talented).

    Devine September 5, 2008, 12:37 pm
  • see Devine, that’s looking at offense only. middle infielders who play good/great defense are more valuable than corner outfields who play the same level of defense.

    dw (sf) September 5, 2008, 12:49 pm
  • The timing of this post and the next are utterly, completely coincidental. I actually started writing the ARod post early this morning and picked it up again later… at one point I had a section talking about Pedroia’s remarkable run but cut it because it wasn’t really where I was trying to go. Anyway, interesting synchronicity.
    > Leadership, guts, calm eyes :)
    Yes, but does he have a monogrammed scent?

    attackgerbil September 5, 2008, 12:53 pm
  • oh, he’s got a scent alright! :)

    dw (sf) September 5, 2008, 1:00 pm
  • a “scent”…
    “ascent”…
    It works on so many levels!

    attackgerbil September 5, 2008, 1:16 pm
  • I think Pedroia will have a hard time beating Quentin if the ChiSox make the playoffs. Sizemore is also going to get his share of votes for his monster season It helps that the Angels and Rays both don’t really have THAT guy this season.
    It’s pretty silly that defense isn’t considered until one of the guys doesn’t play it (therefore arguably costing his team less than many of the winners who play defense badly). Pedroia’s GG-caliber defense should definitely be considered, but I’m not sure it will be. Part of the many oddities with the selection process for such awards…

    Paul SF September 5, 2008, 1:30 pm
  • dw…I didn’t say it was my rationale. I said it was the voters’.

    Devine September 5, 2008, 1:51 pm
  • I think if the Indians were anywhere close to the playoffs, we’d be giving this to Sizemore – the 30/30 season, leading the league in VORP, spectacular defense in center field, etc.
    If the Twins make the playoffs, Joe Mauer deserves consideration – he’s been amazing this year, especially in terms of getting on base (which has been especially valuable to that team given their over-.300 RISP batting average). Unfortunately, voters would be more likely to go – again – for the less deserving Justin Morneau on that team.
    If the White Sox make it, Quentin’s numbers in MVP-friendly categories have a good chance at putting him over the top. Right now, whenever I hear someone discussing the MVP, I hear Pedroia and Quentin as the two top names. So if both of them keep hitting over the month of September, that’s probably who it’ll come down to.
    Frankly, I think Dusty, with his better defense at a more important position, deserves the award over Quentin. He might not deserve it outright – it depends on your position on the MVP needing to carry his team to the playoffs, and what level of numbers he needs to win it when he’s not on a playoff team – but he’s absolutely a top candidate. And given how often voters screw these awards up, they could do a lot worse than give it to the Laser Show.

    Micah-SF September 5, 2008, 1:59 pm
  • Just read on SoSH that Quentin is injured…hmmmm, this could change things.
    Sun-Times:
    “Carlos Quentin’s season appears to be over as the White Sox left fielder and MVP candidate suffered a fractured right wrist that will require surgery Monday, according to sources.
    It’s not certain how Quentin suffered the injury, but speculation is he punched a locker in Boston. He was a late scratch before Monday’s game in Cleveland and hasn’t played since.”

    Devine September 5, 2008, 3:18 pm
  • Yeah, I just saw that as well. If Pedroia stays hot and the White Sox beat out the Twins, the midget wins the MVP.
    If the Twins take the Central now that Quentin’s out, he might have some competition from the Mauer/Morneau duo.

    Micah-SF September 5, 2008, 3:27 pm
  • Man, what is it about the visitors locker room at Fenway that makes everything seem so punchable? Is everything Nerf-colored down there?

    FenSheaParkway September 5, 2008, 3:28 pm
  • Aubrey Huff would be getting some mention if he was on a winning team–he’s leading the league in XBH and is batting .313.
    This is slightly off-topic, but how about the year Pujols is having? He’s quietly taken over the batting title hitting .360 with an OPS+ of 190, both career bests. It’ll be a shame if someone else gets the NL MVP.

    Atheose September 5, 2008, 4:03 pm
  • Agreed – if Pujols doesn’t win the NL MVP it’s a crime.

    Micah-SF September 5, 2008, 4:12 pm
  • So I am coming up to Boston on Sunday and staying till Wednesday and part of my big trip up from Pennsylvania involves a stop at Fenway on Monday for the D-rays vs Bo Sox game! I’m so excited! I grew up hating the Yankees and over the years that grew into a love for the Bo Sox…This will be my first time to Fenway. My seats are in Box 86, I got 2 of them for $150 total off of removed -a ag which I didn’t think was that bad of a price???? removed – ag ~ I truly hope it’s a good game! I have seen the Sox play in Cleveland AND Baltimore and finally now get to see them in Boston! I just spent my lunch and early afternoon reading about the Red Sox and Boston and blogging that I felt obliged to write something myself! Hope all is well! Go Red Sox!
    ~ Drew

    Drew McCarthur September 5, 2008, 4:24 pm
  • Against my better judgment I will give you the benefit of a doubt, Drew, and wish you well at the game, though your comment reads as spam. If it isn’t, please refrain from embedding ticket links in your comments and sigs from this point forward. Thanks.

    attackgerbil September 5, 2008, 4:58 pm
  • Beware of selective small sample sizes (s4). Doing that you can get the numbers to show whatever you want them to show. Seems like you have.
    As to the main point, I don’t see how a 2B with a 127 OPS+ deserves a MVP especially since his defense, while solid, is nothing special. Moreso, he isn’t even most deserving on the team. Youkilis has been the much better hitter and the much better defender for his position. Him also playing a very good 3B makes him that much more valuable than a 2B with a good average but middling power. Every game is equivalent – a W or L. It’s pointless to suggest one part of the season means more.
    The “superstar” label doesn’t apply. He’s a very good player, but he’s far from that status. Besides, Cano had better numbers (120 OPS+) each of the last two years. How’d that turn out again? A 2B, very rarely deserves that label – maybe once in a generation. Pedroia, because of his size, will never be that.

    John Locke September 5, 2008, 9:37 pm
  • With Quentin down. It comes down to Pedroia & Krod. He is a great fielder . His overall offensive production is close to Chase Utley’s. He has led the charge to 2.5 back. Esp. if Sox pass Rays & he keeps it up –and most of the remaining schedule s at home–
    Hamilton dissapeared in August. He is feel good story but not MVP (this year)
    Morneau-No

    socky September 6, 2008, 10:18 am

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.