Pujols Deemed Most Valuable

Well, thank goodness for that. The process is still broken and the results still head-scratchingly inane at (often) times, but at least the end result was on the money today as Albert Pujols nabbed his second MVP Award.

Big Al was 2nd in average, 2nd in on base percentage, 1st in slugging, 1st in OPS, 1st in runs created as a rate and as a counting stat. He was 3rd in WPA* but 1st in BRAA and WPA/LI by a mile in each category. Oh and he also plays some of the best first base defense in the league. In short, Pujols was the best non-pitcher in the National League, hands down. And he won, so hurrah for that.

Were there mistakes in the voting? Oh yes. Dave Cameron covered the continuing under appreciation of Chase Utley earlier. The also always criminally underrated Chipper Jones also finished outside the top ten despite being the leader in many of the categories that Pujols finished second in.

Johan Santana, Brandon Webb, Brad Lidge and CC Sabathia all got more votes for MVP than Tim Lincecum, who the BBWAA named the best pitcher in the league, received. I guess that means they were taking the valuable part of Most Valuable Player literally, but then again, the Mets and Diamondbacks missed the playoffs just as the Giants did and how would you really determine which was more valuable anyways? Oh yeah, WPA.

Sorting by WPA, here’s the top five players in the NL for 2008 with their finish in the MVP voting in parenthesis:
1.Manny Ramirez (4th)*
2.Lance Berkman (5th)
3.Albert Pujols (1st)
4.Carlos Beltran (22nd)
5.Matt Holliday (19th)

No pitchers on that list, but if it went down far enough, you’d see Tim Linceum at the top. So how exactly was Johan Santana or Brandon Webb more worthy of votes?

Now here’s the top five vote getters for MVP in the NL with their WPA rank in parenthesis:
1.Albert Pujols (3rd)
2.Ryan Howard (30th)
3.Ryan Braun (14th)
4.Manny Ramirez (1st)
5.Lance Berkman (2nd)

I don’t ask for the latter list to be identical to the former list. Okay, I sort of do (with some WPA/LI and defense thrown in), but for knowledge’s sake, at least make it close in the first three spots.

In retrospect, it’s probably good that Brad Lidge got as many votes as he did, for if he didn’t those votes might have gone to Ryan Howard and been enough to put him over Albert Pujols and marked 2008 as one (again) for the MVP Award infamous record books.

*If you count Manny’s WPA number as his combined Red Sox and Dodgers WPA figures.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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