Blog Entry

Worst AL MVP season of the past decade?

Posted on: October 23, 2010 7:37 pm
The following are the stat lines of each of the past 10 MVP campaigns in the American League. 
2009: .365/.444/.587 28 Home Runs, 96 RBI, 94 Runs 170 OPS+2008: .326/.376/.493 17 Home Runs, 83 RBI, 118 Runs 122 OPS+2007: .314/.422/.645 54 Home Runs, 156 RBI, 143 Runs 176 OPS+2006: .321/.375/.559 34 Home Runs, 130 RBI, 97 Runs 140 OPS+2005: .321/.421/.610 48 Home Runs, 130 RBI, 124 Runs 173 OPS+2004: .337/.394/.598 39 Home Runs, 126 RBI, 124 Runs 157 OPS+2003: .298/.396/.600 47 Home Runs, 118 RBI, 124 Runs  147 OPS+2002: .308/.354/.508 34 Home Runs, 131 RBI, 108 Runs 128 OPS+2001: .350/.381/.457 8 Home Runs, 69 RBI, 127 Runs 56 SB 126 OPS+2000: .333/.476/.647 43 Home Runs, 137 RBI, 108 Runs 187 OPS+
Now, if we're want the worst MVP season, we should automatically include the 2 players who did no lead their league in any of the major stats, Miguel Tejada in 2002, and Justin Morneau in 2006. Let's add one more team to the argument. I'm going to say Dustin Pedroia's 2008 season, taking him as one of the worst over Ichiro in 2001.
Now let's take a look at those seasons. The 2006 and 2002 statlines are quite similar, but let's toss out 2006. Morneau's OPS+ is considerably higher because his season was no in the middle of the PED age of baseball. But do compare his season to Pedroia's in 2008. The only thing he led his league in was runs and also doubles. His OPS+ was 122, not even in the top ten of the AL that year. Sizemore was 10th at 133 OPS+. WARP suggests that Joe Maur was actually the MVP that year. His WARP was a full 2.7 points higher than the next position player, Kevin Youkilis (8.7-6.0). Again Pedroia doesn't make the top 10.
Now there's the interesting case of Alex Rodriguez, who won 3 MVP awards this decade. And yet, never has there been a player more unlucky than Alex Rodriguez when it comes to MVP voting. In 2008, A-rod had the second highest OPS+, the third highest WARP, and drove in more runs and hit more Home Runs than Dustin Pedroia, and in 140 less At Bats. Now, I'm not saying he should have won the MVP that year, because he shouldn't have. Kevin Youkilis or Joe Mauer should have. I am saying he should have won it in 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Here's a brief analysis of those seasons.
Alex Rodriquez lost the 1996 MVP by 3 votes. 290-287. His WARP that year was 9.4, Juan Gonzalez won the MVP, his was 2.8, a number bested by some 25 players in the league. Statlines...
Gonzalez: .314/.368/.643 47 Home Runs, 144 RBI, 89 RunsRodriguez: .358/.414/.631 36 Home Runs, 133 RBI, 141 Runs
Oh, and Rodriguez did this as a shortstop. Probably the greatest season a SS has ever had. Now in 2000, A-rod's WARP was 11.0, tied for the second highest WARP since Mickey Mantle in 1956, non-bonds division. Now this was a full 2.3 points above Giambi's 8.7. Think Pedro Martinez's CY Young campaign of 2000 was one of the best pitching seasons ever? Rodriguez was worth a full win more than Martinez that year.
In 2001, he put up the following statline:
.318/.399/.622 52 Home Runs, 135 RBI, 133 Runs
The MVP that year should have gone to him, Giambi or Brett Boone. But Rodriquez gets the vote because of his position and fielding over stonewall Giambi at first.
In 2002, Rodriquez again led the league in WARP. His 8.2 WARP was 3 full wins greater than Tejada's. His statline:
A-rod.300/.392/.623 57 Home Runs, 142 RBI, 125 Runs 158 OPS+Tejada: .308/.354/.508 34 Home Runs, 131 RBI, 108 Runs 128 OPS+
So Alex Rodriguez was robbed of at minimum two, possibly three MVP awards. It's no surprise that he is the active leader in WARP, a full 18 wins higher than 2nd place Albert Pujols, who actually has a chance to catch him. Rodriguez sits 26th on the career list,just ahead of Cap Anson and just behind Joe Morgan.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or