It’s that time of year again. As we get ready to turn the calendar over to September, another glorious season of baseball enters its final stretch. Indeed, if the baseball season were equivalent to rounding the bases, we’d presently be about one fifth of the way between third base and home. (I’ll leave it to the boundless imaginations of NotGraphs readers to determine, if the baseball season was a romantic interlude, what stage of hot-and-heaviness it would be in.)
It is the time of year that baseball scribes from around the country begin to pen their obligatory MVP and Cy Young ballot articles. It is the time of the year that we realize that the ballots of most baseball scribes make absolutely no logical sense. It is the time of year when a (particularly ossified) cadre of scribes become intellectual contortionists as they attempt to justify their decisions not to vote for the clearly most deserving player. What a special time of year!
Rather than wade pointlessly into the MVP discussion (that’s the job of my robot colleagues over at FanGraphs), I will use this space to join in the NotGraphs tradition of celebrating mediocrity with absolutely no concern for objective reality or standardized criteria.
Here are my Least Valuable Player picks to this point in the season:
1. Jose Bautista
“Wait, what? You can’t possibly be thinking of the same Jose Bautista! Are you sure you don’t mean Jose Baustista the pitcher and owner of a career -0.7 WAR?”
I regret to inform you, reader, that the Jose Bautista you think I am talking about has been out of the majors since 1997, which leaves only one. Let me explain: Jose Bautista is this year’s AL LVP because he is the most selfish player in baseball. As a team, the Toronto Blue Jays’ position players have amassed 18.5 WAR. Jose Bautista has 7.8 WAR on his own. That’s 42.2 percent of his team’s WAR. HE’S HOGGING ALL THE WARS! NOT A TEAM PLAYER! CLUBHOUSE CANCER! STEROIDS! BLAAARRGGH!!!!
2. Jeff Francoeur
Because it’s my list and I hate his goddamn face, that’s why.
3. Felix Pie
Felix Pie doesn’t quite pull out the Least Valuable Player award this season, but he does win the Least Valuable Pie award in a landslide. In a year when Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Toll House Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Boston Cream Pie all posted 6+ WARP (Wins Above Replacement Pie) seasons, it would have been hard for Felix Pie to compete in the first place. But his abysmal -2.1 WARP in just 175 plate appearances would put him on pace to smash the record set by Chicken Pot Pie in 1978…if he wasn’t DFA’d.
And of course, any truly self-respecting Pie would have hurled itself at Luke Scott’s face after having banana chips thrown at it and being called a “savage.”
4. Tsuyoshi Nishioka
I haven’t watched a Twins game all year, but my sources tell me this guy has had a really bad season.
5. Vladimir Guerrero
Vlad is the least valuable player to have on your team if you are playing the baseball-like game BB-ball, in which the goal is to reach base without swinging the bat (2.8 BB%).
1. Dan Uggla
He’s the worst defensive second baseman in the NL this year and he’s also the least valuable player in baseball to the men’s shirts section of any given department store.
2. Raul Ibanez
Ibanez is just really bad at baseball. There’s not much more to say about it.
3. David Eckstein
This is a purely speculative pick. David Eckstein did not play a single Major League inning this season. But if he had, I think we can rightly assume he would have posted between -1.0 and 1.0 WAR while being lauded by the aforementioned ossified cadre of baseball scribes for his grit, hustle, and leadership. Consider this hypothetical compensation for the hypothetical unwarranted praise.
4. Charlie Blackmon
I just included him to piss off Carson.
5. Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder is a very, very big man. It is quite clear that as a boy Prince rarely left the table hungry, and to this day it is only a scant few players who can say they know their way around a post-game smorgasbord better than he. But if the Milwaukee Brewers were to partake in a bratwurst eating contest, Prince Fielder would be utterly useless. Alas, he’s a vegetarian.
Tune in next time for my 2011 Sigh Young Award picks.