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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Mark Teixeira, MVP candidate? 

In a piece by Kathleen O'Brien today in the S-T, Mark Teixeira is being promoted as an MVP candidate.

Now, I'm a big Mark Teixeira fan, and am very encouraged by the terrific season he's had...but he's not an MVP candidate. He shouldn't be among the top 10 vote-getters. He isn't in the top 10 in VORP, EQA or RARP this season, and his defense at 1B, while good, doesn't make up enough of the difference to get him seriously into the discussion.

What I find even more fascinating, though, is the list of names the S-T describes as "the contenders" for the MVP award. The S-T's "contenders":

PlayerRARPRARP rankingVORPVORP ranking
Teixeira33.329th50.218th
Tejada51.510th67.36th
Ortiz48.411th65.37th
Ramirez57.66th65.18th
Sheffield57.07th64.99th
Guerrero59.22nd75.82nd
Ichiro52.89th71.24th
Konerko34.824th52.214th


All in all, a pretty underwhelming collection of folks that O'Brien put together as the "contenders"...and even in this group, Teixeira is clearly outclasses. Yes, he suffers from having missed time earlier in the season, but even taking that into account, he's behind the other players that O'Brien lists. He and Konerko are both curious choices, since they each should be behind teammates whose offensive and defensive contributions outstrip their own (Michael Young and Aaron Rowand, respectively).

But the remarkable thing is, other than Vlad Guerrero, O'Brien has ignored the most deserving players in the A.L. And it isn't just O'Brien...there are a number of players having great years that seem to be flying under the radar. Take a look at some of the "non-contenders":

PlayerRARPRARP rankingVORPVORP ranking
Mora59.51st74.43rd
C. Guillen58.53rd70.65th
Hafner58.04th75.91st
ARod57.75th64.610th
Pudge53.08th61.311th


What makes the M.V.P. vote so difficult this year is that not only is there no clear-cut favorite, it is hard to winnow down the field to the top three or so. Melvin Mora, taking into account his defensive position, is probably having the best offensive season of anyone this year, although he's such a trainwreck defensively that he gets knocked down a few pegs. Travis Hafner has been the best offensive player in the A.L. this year, but he's strictly a D.H., and he, like Mora, is getting zero recognition nationally as a potential MVP candidate. Guillen, Mora, Hafner, Pudge and Tejada all suffer because their teams aren't in contention. Sheffield, Ortiz and Ramirez have all been quality offensive players on terrific teams, but they offer little value on defense, and other players have outperformed them.

If I had to vote right now, it would probably be a coinflip between Vlad Guerrero and Carlos Guillen. The other player who is interesting right now, though, is Alex Rodriguez. It has been considered a disappointing season for him, a down year...and yet, he's played an excellent defensive third base, and is still among the top performers offensively. Yet, the mainstream press seems to have galvanized behind Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield as the top M.V.P. choices in the A.L., and one of those guys will probably win it.


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