Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Alex Ciepley
Joe Sheehan, over at Baseball Prospectus, jumpstarted the Derrek Lee For MVP campaign today with a few words on what he sees as a two-man race (Lee v. Albert Pujols) in the National League for the award. Using a handful of the geek-out stats, Sheehan concludes that Lee is, as of now, the rightful winner but unlikely choice:
Lee's edges in power and glovework translate to a WARP [Wins Above Replacement Player] edge of more than a win and a half [over Pujols]. Even if you care to grant Pujols extra credit for being part of a successful Cardinals' team (or, as I prefer to think of it, penalize Lee for not working under better management), I don't see how you make up more than a win on bonus points. Derrek Lee has been the most valuable player in the National League, and that argument should be enough to carry him to the top of most ballots.
It's not going to be, though.
Lee's not going to win, Sheehan argues, because the Cubs haven't been winning. The writers will pick a player from a team at the top of the standings. This means Pujols may end up winning--and he wouldn't be a bad choice at all--but Andruw Jones might as well--which wouldn't sit as well with me. Sheehan actually crunched a few numbers in his article and concluded that Jones wasn't even the most valuable player on his own team, let alone the league.
I've been resigned to Lee not winning the MVP for so long now that the article actually took me by surprise. In my funk over the Cubs' miserable fade, I'd forgotten that he was having the best season in all of baseball.
If you're a believer that the MVP award should simply go to the best player in the league that year (a stance I take for the most part), then Lee should be sitting atop the ballot. I think Sheehan's right, though, in recommending that I don't hold my breath waiting for that award to go to its rightful owner.