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Perry: No doubt about it, Lee is MVP

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  • Perry: No doubt about it, Lee is MVP

    No doubt about it, Lee is NL MVP

    Dayn Perry / Special to
    Posted: 47 minutes ago

    So here are the official MVP ballot instructions, as handed down from on high by Major League Baseball:

    Dear Voter:

    There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team.

    The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.

    The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:

    Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
    Number of games played.
    General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
    Former winners are eligible.
    Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
    You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot.

    Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, and that includes pitchers and designated hitters.

    Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.

    Notice that there's a key admonition in there that often gets conveniently overlooked this time of year:

    "The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier."

    Nevertheless, there's a prevailing notion that elite players on also-ran teams should be, ipso facto, removed from the MVP discussion. To believe this or advance this viewpoint is to import your own subjective criteria into the process. There's a reason I'm going on and on about this.

    Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee is the NL MVP this season.

    At the plate, he's been the most productive player in the NL, and he's also one of the best defensive first basemen around and an excellent base runner. St. Louis' Albert Pujols is in the fray, and there's a recent groundswell of support for Andruw Jones of the Braves (which is rather puzzling since Miguel Cabrera, who isn't even on the periphery of the discussion, has been better than Jones this season), but Lee has been their superior in 2005. Consider the numbers to date:

    Player Plate appearances AVG/OBP/SLG
    Derrek Lee 590 .343/.425/.673
    Albert Pujols 607 .334/.430/.617
    Andruw Jones 585 .270/.354/.591

    It's Lee's advantage in the power department that's notable. He's outslugging Pujols by 41 points and Jones by 73. Pujols edges Lee in OBP by 11 points, but that's not enough to overcome the power deficit. As for Jones, he lags Lee in OBP by 65 points. Sure, Jones leads the NL in homers and is breaking records set by Hank Aaron, but Lee has 22 more doubles, 38 more hits and 12 more walks than Jones.

    As for Jones' ballyhooed RBI advantage, that's a function of his having superior hitters in front of him. Lee has logged the vast majority of his 2005 plate appearances in the third spot in the lineup, while Jones has spent most of his time batting cleanup. This raises the matter of how those players batting ahead of Lee and Jones have done in terms of getting on base. From the one and two holes, the Cubs this season have posted cumulative OBPs of .300 and .321, while the OBPs of Atlanta's one, two and three hitters are, respectively, .350, .359 and .386. That's a massive advantage in terms of RBI opportunities for Jones.

    Thanks to Baseball Prospectus, we can track said RBI opportunities and even RBI-per-base runner to see who's really making the most of their chances. To the numbers ...

    Player RBI opps. RBI-per-runner
    Derrek Lee 336 0.173
    Albert Pujols 401 0.170
    Andruw Jones 454 0.159

    Jones has more RBIs than Lee because he's had more than 100 additional RBI chances this season. On a per-runner basis, Lee bests Pujols by a nose and Jones by a healthy furlong or three. If you want to drag notions of "clutchness" into the discussion, know that Lee, in terms of AVG/OBP/SLG, tops Pujols and Jones with runners in scoring position (Jones, in point of fact, is batting a paltry .222 AVG/.335 OBP/.413 SLG under such circumstances) and in "close and late" situations.

    To Jones' credit, he does play good defense at a key, up-the-middle position, but his glove work isn't such that it can overcome Lee's mammoth offensive advantage. The gap between Lee and Pujols is much closer, but Lee's still been manifestly better to date. What's the argument against Lee again?

    Oh yeah, it's that his team isn't a contender. To put forth this position ignores history and, in essence, penalizes Lee for having lousy teammates.

    The voters have mutable standards in this regard. Sometimes the MVP comes from a losing team (e.g., Andre Dawson in 1987 or Alex Rodriguez in 2003), sometimes it's from an utterly dominant team that cuts a wide swath through the competition (e.g., Ichiro in 2001), and sometimes it's from a team who emerges battered yet still standing from a hotly fought race (e.g., Sammy Sosa in 1998).

    The criteria evolve each year, which means there are no consistent criteria. So to pretend that the "MVP from winner only" mandate is any kind of historical imperative — or makes any kind of sense — is folly. To muster a (decidedly non-compelling) case for Jones, you must ignore the numbers and instead indulge in navel-gazing semantic arguments about what the word "value" really means. If that's your druthers, knock yourself out. The only impartial and fair standard is to give the award to the best player, and in 2005 the best player in the NL has been Derrek Lee.

    That's why he's the MVP.

    Dayn Perry is a frequent contributor to and author of the forthcoming book, "Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" (Available soon at
    June 9, 1973 - The day athletic perfection was defined.

  • #2
    Dayn Perry is a Cardinals fan, before anybody screams bias.


    • #3
      True. By the way, nice pick of SMU.
      June 9, 1973 - The day athletic perfection was defined.


      • #4
        I guess this is an old article....or a poorly researched one:

        Pujols: .338avg .435obp .632slg 1.067ops 117r 108rbi 85bb 64k
        Lee: .338avg .419obp .665slg 1.084ops 110r 99rbi 73bb 92k

        Pujols without question.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by tallahassee blues fan@Sep 13 2005, 12:55 PM
          True. By the way, nice pick of SMU.

          And I wasn't singling you out for the bias comment TBF, just anybody who thought Perry might be a Cubs fan or have some kind of vendetta against the Cardinals or LaRussa.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Fishbone+Sep 13 2005, 11:59 AM-->
            QUOTE(Fishbone @ Sep 13 2005, 11:59 AM)

          • #7
            RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
            You'll never be forgotten.


            • #8
              I don't think so much attention should be given to the winner - imagine how hurt and dejected the "loser" must feel. Why don't they give everyone an MVP award?
              If you believe in something sacrifice a hobo to it or don't bother.


              • #9
                Originally posted by Turd Ferguson@Sep 13 2005, 01:06 PM
                I don't think so much attention should be given to the winner - imagine how hurt and dejected the "loser" must feel. Why don't they give everyone an MVP award?

                Everyone is a winner.
                RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
                You'll never be forgotten.


                • #10
                  Funny, because Dayn Perry wrote this today at BP:

                  Pardon the following “fan boy” rumination of sorts … Recently, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter passed Derrek Lee and Roger Clemens, respectively, in the VORP rankings. We now have legitimate, nuanced debates before us for the NL MVP and Cy Young awards. That wasn’t the case two weeks ago.


                  • #11
                    Oh, and VORP VORP VORP VORP VORP...


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by JWB+Sep 13 2005, 01:06 PM-->
                      QUOTE(JWB @ Sep 13 2005, 01:06 PM)

                    • #13
                      Originally posted by Turd Ferguson+Sep 13 2005, 01:12 PM-->
                      QUOTE(Turd Ferguson @ Sep 13 2005, 01:12 PM)
                      Originally posted by [email protected] 13 2005, 01:06 PM

                    • #14
                      Originally posted by JWB+Sep 13 2005, 01:15 PM-->
                      QUOTE(JWB @ Sep 13 2005, 01:15 PM)
                      Originally posted by Turd [email protected] 13 2005, 01:12 PM
                      Originally posted by [email protected] 13 2005, 01:06 PM