The seventh of my random thoughts for tonight, again with possible quotes from the Joe Morgan and Jerry Crasnick chats from today (see this entry for links to the chats):
This one is quite a bit different from the NL race, but no less hotly contested. It has basically come down to Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz. Their stats are pretty similar in a lot of respects. Ortiz leads the league in homers, with A-Rod one behind. A-Rod leads in OPS, with Ortiz in third, just seven points behind. A-Rod is fourth in the league with a .316 batting average, 16 points and nine spots on the leaderboard ahead of Ortiz. Ortiz leads the league with 140 RBIs, with A-Rod fourth at 121. Overall, these statistics slightly favor A-Rod, as the only category in which Ortiz has a solid lead is the overrated RBI department.
Ortiz is getting a lot of publicity for “carrying” the Red Sox, as he has had several game-winning hits recently. However, over this time that he has been “carrying” them, they have actually fallen into second place, behind A-Rod’s Yankees.
The biggest argument against Ortiz is that he is a designated hitter, which means that over the course of a season, about 25-to-40 percent more of his at-bats come when he is “fresh” as compared to A-Rod’s at-bats. Rodriguez plays a demanding position in the field, which means that by his last at-bat or two of each game, he is pretty beat. Ortiz, on the other hand, comes up EVERY TIME having just rested for 45 minutes or so since his last at-bat.
Do I believe that being a DH should automatically disqualify a guy from winning the MVP? No. But I think that a one-dimensional player would have to be demonstrably better at that one dimension, or the two-way player would have to be lousy in the field, in order to close the gap. A-Rod is a Gold Glove defender (he won two at shortstop and will probably win this year at third), and his stats are either just as good as Ortiz’s or slightly better. In my mind, it’s no contest.
My vote: Alex Rodriguez.
Dark Horse Candidate: Travis Hafner homered in his sixth consecutive game tonight, giving him seven in that span and 32 on the season. He has about 100 fewer at-bats than A-Rod and Big Papi, having missed a few weeks after taking a fastball to the head. But remember when we said A-Rod and Ortiz were #1 and #3 in OPS? Well, there’s Hafner right between them. Add in the fact that he has been an integral part of the Indians recent scorching hot stretch (16 wins in 18 games, I believe), and I believe that if the Indians end up overtaking the White Sox and Hafner finishes strong, he has an outside shot at the award.