I was watching a game recently when the broadcasters began a discussion of possible American League MVP candidates and Dustin Pedroia‘s name was brought up in a serious manner. I was a little floored by the notion. Do not get me wrong, Pedroia is a fine player and a great asset to the Red Sox, but MVP? No. There are several factors as to why not.
First, and this is a giant one, park factors. Fenway Park is a playground for right-handed pull hitters ramping up the amount of singles and doubles hitters get because of the green monster. Guess what Pedroia is? In fact, it is such a huge influence that Pedroia’s park-adjusted wOBA is a whopping 11 points below his un-adjusted number.
Secondly, there is defensive position to consider. Yes, Pedroia plays second base, a tough position to play, but as Tango’s positional adjustments show, second base is behind catcher, shortstop, centerfield and is tied with (and this is important) third base.
Finally, we have the actual offensive production. Pedroia is good, yes I admit as much and his play at second base only helps, but there are just far better candidates for the MVP when you consider everything listed above. Joe Mauer has been better with the bat, plays a much tougher position and even works better under the whole “valuable, not best” argument because without Mauer there’s no way the Twins are in the playoff hunt while without Pedroia, the Red Sox are still very good. Not to mention that Joe Mauer is tops in the AL in WPA. Staying in the Central division, Grady Sizemore and Curtis Granderson are two excellent centerfielders who both have been more valuable with the bat and glove than Pedroia.
Pedroia ranks 18th in the AL in WPA/LI and it’s in that list that we find yet another worthy candidate who seems to be going overlooked, Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez plays a credible third base so he gets the same defensive credit as Pedroia, but his bat just dominates everyone in the AL. Again going by wOBA, Rodriguez has been worth over five more runs than any other player has and most of the ones near him are DHs or corner outfielders. For best hitter in the AL this season so far, it comes down to one choice, Alex Rodriguez.
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