I sure am glad the writers, and MLB as implicit sponsor, feel free to take their sweet, sweet time in announcing the NL and AL MVPs. I mean I completely respect the fact that putting down 500 words a day about a subject 80% (my own totally made-up statistic) of men love to discuss can be awfully time-consuming. But does it really take this long to come to a decision about who the ten most valuable players in each league are?
No, it doesn't. If the writers stick to the tenet that playoff performance doesn't matter, then most of them likely have made their selections, at least as to the top 5 in each league, by the end of the first week of October. So why in God's name is this process so drawn out?
The best reason I can think of is to drum up suspense. I must admit, part of the reason I am a little miffed by this process is that, most years this decade, I have had a local selection in the top-3 of the voting for whom I vigorously pull. His name is Albert. I can't remember his last name, but I do know it sounds dirty. So the drumming up of suspense seems to work, at least for those who have a dog in the race. And the rest probably don't care a lot no matter when voting is announced, so it is a no-lose situation.
Other than suspense, I can imagine MLB does not want to have its playoffs disrupted by MVP fanfare. Especially if one of the top contenders -- say Manny, CC, Utley, or Pedroia -- is trying to concentrate on playing, rather than winning hardware. Announcing winners would certainly break the concentration of any of those guys during the days leading up to the announcement. And the euphoria of winning -- which I believe one of those guys will feel eventually (see below) -- could certainly also be distracting.
Okay, it might seem like I have convinced myself (literally, as I have been writing this) that the waiting game is fine and necessary. Well, I almost have. But I am still not happy about it. Because the playoff justification is over, usually, by the end of October. So the only justification left is suspense, and I think the end of October has allowed for enough of that as well. So my conclusion: JUST ANNOUNCE THE DAMN THINGS!
Oh, and I almost forgot...Did anyone know the formal title of this award is Kenesaw Mountain Landis Award? And Wikipedia can't be wrong...
Now that I have relieved myself of the very poignant "I need to complain about something" itch, here are my MVP choices. I know, I know -- I have no credibility. But you might actually agree with me. (NOTE: I have very little basis for an opinion in the AL race, as my focus is generally on the worse of the two leagues. So I went ahead and stuck with the NL for the purpose of this topic.)
- Albert Pujols. Call me a homer. I don't give a [insert your preferred expletive]. He hit .357 (2nd) with 37 home runs (T-5th), 116 RBIs, 100 runs. He slugged .653. He reached base in 46.2% of his plate apperances. (That's a 1.115 OPS, for those playing at home. The next highest was Chipper Jones' 1.044.) He fielded .996. No player came within light-years of Pujols in terms of importance to one's team, one possible exception being Manny on the Dodgers. I think I've made a decent case.
- Manny Ramirez. He almost single-handedly got the Dodgers into the playoffs (through (a) his personal performance, and (b) his improvement of those around him, most notably Andre Ethier). His numbers in LA were stupid -- almost .400, 17 HRs, 53 RBIs in (I believe) 51 games. His OPS went from .927 to 1.031 after the trade. Had he played substantially more than 1/3 of his season in the NL, he'd win easily.
- David Wright. He is clearly one of the best players in the NL, and he is about as consistent as any player in the Majors. His stats (.302, 33, 124, 115, etc.) were phenomenal. He needs to improve his defense (.962) and situational hitting (.243 RISP) a little bit. And I really hope the Mets make the playoffs next year, if only for his and Johan's sakes.
- Chase Utley. His production fell off dramatically in the second half, but he still got his team into the playoffs -- the offensive MVP of a playoff team always deserves consideration. (Unless that team is the Cubs, and they literally do not have one player who sticks out above the rest. And cool out, Cubs fans -- that's a compliment.) He put up numbers that are staggering for a second baseman.
- Ryan Howard. Did anyone catch this guy's late-season push? Talk about getting your team into the playoffs...On a team in a last-weekend race (as always), Howard's September was Herculean: .365 avg., 11 HR (in only 85 ABs), 32 RBIs,
- Carlos Delgado. Much like Ryan Howard (with a push of two months, rather than one), it's too little too late for Delgado. Still a fantastic season, and it started right after almost everyone in the universe dropped him from their fantasy teams.
- Brad Lidge. This guy was incredible. To not blow a save all year, without steroids? I doubt Eric Gagne could do that. Especially three years removed from a complete crisis of confidence. Because he only impacted about 1/3 of his team's games, though, he doesn't deserve to be on the top half of this list -- this will always be my view on pitchers-as-MVPs, wrong or right.
- Johan Santana. Yes, I love this guy. He shouldn't win MVP for the same reason Lidge shouldn't (although, in my opinion, starters affect team results more than closers). His second half was disgusting -- He didn't lose a game, and after a horrible first start against the Reds, he compiled the following across 14 straight quality starts: 8-0, 1.82 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Incredible.
- Lance Berkman. Largely forgotten about in the second half, he still had one of the better seasons of any hitter in the NL. He went from .290 to .390 in a little over a week early in the season, and then steadily fell back to .312 by season's end.
- C.C. Sabathia. Obviously, by my reasoning above, he has as little place on this list. But come on. The Brewers fall out of the hunt without him. He was all but unflappable in the NL.
So there it is. I truly would not be surprised if Manny won. You just never know with these zany sportswriters. I just hope the announcements come before Christmas.