Friday, July 1, 2011

I hate MVP debates

They usually consist of at least one person making dumb arguments. Today on 1st and 10 it was both Skip Bayless and Jamelle Hill saying that they don't think a MVP should come from a losing team. Let's ignore the fact that they were talking about a baseball season that is only half over and focus on the logic.

The MVP is supposed to be the most valuable player. Nothing in that phrase says anything about a team or a team winning %. Its simply about which player brings the most value. We can argue on the margins about what value means and how to measure it. But I don't think you can argue that one player on a baseball team accounts for a win or wins all on his own. A player simply scores or prevents more or less runs than his replacement or other players around the league would. And the act of scoring or preventing runs helps his team win games.

I highlight helps because a pitcher can throw 9 perfect innings but he would still need his teammates to score a run in order for him to win the game. Conversely a hitter could hit 5 HRs in one game but he would still need the pitchers to allow fewer than 5 runs in order for the team to win. In short, winning (and losing) is a result of what the entire team does. No player pitches and hits enough at the same time to be able to claim that he won a game on his own.

Once we agree that no one player accounts for the total win % of his entire team we have to acknowledge that the other players on the team affect said winning %. And once we say that, it doesn't make any sense to then say that just because a player plays on a team with a poor winning % means he can't be the most valuable player in the league.


Let's say Albert Pujols averages .300, 40. 120 a year and those numbers lead the league. Let's also say that he happens to play for a team that makes the playoffs every year. Using Skip Bayless and Jamelle Hill's logic, he would be eligible to win the MVP. Well let's say that he was traded to the Royals and he put up the exact same numbers which again led the league but since the Royals are the Royals they weren't even close to making the playoffs.

Why shouldn't he be considered the most valuable player? Just because he wasn't so great as to account for the 30 something more wins they would need to make the playoffs doesn't mean he isn't more valuable than a guy on a playoff team hitting .275, 25, 100. It simply means that the other players on that playoff team are better than the players surrounding Pujols on the Royals.

If you took Pujols off that Royals team they would be even worse than they were with him. And if you put Pujols on one of those playoff teams they would be even better than they were without him. That is what value is, what the one player brings to the team. Its not whether you happen to play with a bunch of other really good players.

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