Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Morosi's Mid-Season AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia? Huh?



Last season’s MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout was probably the most compelling one that I can remember. It kind of got turned into a battle of “traditional stats” versus “saber stats” by the media, but there was much more to it. There was the question of the player’s actual impact on the team’s win-loss record. There was the fact that Cabrera’s team made the playoffs, while Trout’s did not. (I personally hate this argument in baseball since an exceptional position player shouldn’t be penalized because his team’s pitching staff is terrible or whatever.) There were differing views on how much baserunning, defense, or the position each guy played factored into the choice between them. Lots of things were figured into the many arguments I read.

And I enjoy that. I understood both sides of the debate and wouldn’t have been terribly upset if either man won the award. As a Tigers fan and someone that hates the Angels with every fiber of my being, I was thrilled that Miggy Poco won the MVP over Wonderboy. But again, I understood the Trout supporter’s view and respected their opinion. Well, except for Keith Law, since he was such an ass about it.

Despite how I seem to get worked up in a FJM type post like Tuesday's one on Simonson’s garbage, I don’t mind when someone has a different opinion than I do as long as they back it up with logic, facts, and common sense. Some of the most interesting conversations I have had in my life have been due to differing opinions backed up by such things. Though it pains me to say it, I’m not always right. I can admit that and I will when proven wrong. It’s when I read utter nonsense being spewed for the sake of riling people up, or maybe to get desperate attention, that smoke starts pouring out of my ears and I start spewing “f” words like a Tourette Syndrome stricken Andrew Dice Clay after stubbing his toe.

The latest such piece was written by ex-Free Press writer and Michigan native Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. 
Yeah. Him. I tend to think Morosi thinks people will label him a homer if he supports Detroit in a national forum. Before the season began, he was the only baseball writer that I saw NOT pick the Tigers to win the AL Central. He chose the Royals because LOL. And now, he has written an article talking about his AL MVP choice for the first half. It’s not Miguel Cabrera? Okay. That seems silly to me and I think he’s the easy choice thus far, but Trout and Chris Davis have both outstanding, too. Maybe Jon Paul can convince me otherwi…

/record scratch

He picked Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.

The Diceman just banged his toe on the coffee table.

Okay…okay. Calm down for a second, self. PUT THE KNIFE DOWN. Maybe Tiny Dustin has put up some numbers under the radar that I haven’t noticed. I boycott ESPN and that has kept my constant YANKS AND SAWX viewing to the absolute minimum this year. Let’s take a look at where everyone ranks in some important catagories (as of games ending on 7/2).

AL WAR
1. Miguel Cabrera, 5.4
2. Mike Trout, 4.6
3. Chris Davis, 4.6
9. Dustin Pedroia, 3.3

Hits
1. Miguel Cabrera, 119
3. Mike Trout, 104
3. Dustin Pedroia, 104
8. Chris Davis, 99

OBP
1. Miguel Cabrera, .458
3. Chris Davis, .405
4. Dustin Pedroia, .404
6. Mike Trout, .388

SLG
1. Chris Davis, .721
2. Miguel Cabrera, .678
5. Mike Trout, .539
36. Dustin Pedroia, .441

Batting Average
1. Miguel Cabrera, .368
2. Chris Davis, .329
5. Dustin Pedroia, .321
11. Mike Trout, .311

1. Miguel Cabrera, 205
2. Chris Davis, 196
4. Mike Trout, 156
15. Dustin Pedroia, 130

RBI
1. Miguel Cabrera, 85
2. Chris Davis, 80
12. Mike Trout, 53
21. Dustin Pedroia, 47

As you see, I went with multiple categories with both traditional stats and saber ones to help get an idea of who’s been the best so far. How is the fictional midseason AL MVP race anything but a two-man contest between Cabrera and Davis with Miguel having the edge? Jon Paul, convince me before I mock your constant annoying smug look you give the camera.
Me? I’m a fan of context. I believe the league’s Most Valuable Player is the man who made the largest overall contribution to his team’s victories. And if that sounds like a bias toward players from winning teams, well, it absolutely is. A player is never more valuable to his team than when he helps it win.

Kind of untrue, as a guy could knock in five runs a game but still have his team lose due to poor pitching. But fair enough. You’d be looking to WAR or runs created, I guess then. So Cabrera?

And that is why, if I had to vote today, Dustin Pedroia would be my pick as American League MVP.

You are fucking insane.

This isn’t to discredit the seasons of Cabrera and Chris Davis, who rank 1-2 in the Triple Crown categories and OPS. Each is capable of winning the Triple Crown — and of delivering a division title for their teams the way Cabrera did last year. But Pedroia is the biggest reason the Red Sox are unexpectedly poised to win their first division title in six seasons.

The Orioles are only 3.5 games back of Boston. It’s sure as hell not due to their pitching staff. It’s because Chris Davis, and the Robin to his Batman, Manny Machado, have been offensive machines. The same is true for Cabrera carrying the Tigers on offense, despite the Tigers having much better pitching than the O’s. And Detroit’s been at the top of their division, too, only a half game back as of this writing.

So what gives? Why Pedroia? Because Boston wasn’t expected to be at the top of the AL East? Because Boston winning a division title is more important than other teams? That’s not exactly fair. You write for Fox, not the “Worldwide Leader”. If you’re going to gush over DA SAWX, give credit where it’s due. David Ortiz has been a beast this year. He’s probably been the third most overall dangerous hitter in the AL after Mig and Davis. Add in the stellar pitching of John Lackey and Clay Buchholz and you can see why Boston is clinging to an early lead out East. Pedroia's been very good, don't get me wrong. But it's not like he's doing it all by himself in Beantown.

Pedroia ranks among the AL’s top five in batting average, on-base percentage, and Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com. But those statistics only tell part of the story.

Oh gawd. Here comes the scrappy factor. Shoot me in the fucking face until my body stops twitching.

Pedroia — as the Red Sox’s longest-tenured starting position player — bears a prominent responsibility in the organizational reboot following an embarrassing 2012. David Ortiz is in the lineup every day, but a designated hitter doesn’t impact as many areas of the game as Pedroia, the second baseman and emotional hub.

He’s the emotional hub? What in the name of Babe Ruth’s ball sack does that even mean? How does that propel him above Davis and Cabrera?

So when Pedroia tore a ligament in his left thumb Opening Day, his absence had the potential to derail the team’s season. But that absence never happened. Pedroia decided to play through the injury, which could require surgery, and kept his condition quiet until reporters learned about it nearly two months later.

/bangs head against door for twenty minutes

So if he was too hurt to play, his absence had the potential to make the team worse. So because something that didn’t happen COULD HAVE HAPPENED, we need to give Pedroia an edge? Huh?

As someone that watches Cabrera on a daily basis, I know for a fact that not only does he play every day, he often plays in pain. I’m watching him do it against the Blue Jays now as I write this. And he does it at a higher level than Dustin Pedroia. I’m sure the same is true for Davis. All big leaguers play hurt, especially the stars that are out there every day. If either of those guys didn’t play, Detroit and Baltimore wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous as they are now. And who gives a damn when the media found out about Pedey's injury? That doesn't make him tough. That makes him the norm. You don't know everything, JPM.

What I’m trying to say is, 1) Morosi is a shithead, and 2) I still haven’t heard anything close to a real reason to say Pedroia’s been more valuable than Cabrera, Davis, Trout, or even Ortiz. The only logical explanation I can come up with is he’s trying to be different. Which is just stupid. Why not just say Nick Swisher should be the MVP because he leads the league in “bro high fives”? That must be the reason the Tribe is so surprising this year!

Despite the pain, Pedroia has clocked in for 83 of Boston’s 84 games this season — and performed brilliantly. For a team that desperately needed to adopt a shut-up-and-play mentality after so many distractions and drama last year, it is hard to imagine a better example of value.

I think leading the league in almost every important statistical category, both traditional and saber, is a better example of value than your “shut-up-and-play mentality”. How do Cabrera and Davis play? By yelling and not playing hard? I need a vicodin.

But, no, let me try and wrap my mind around this again before I pop a handful of pills. So because Bobby Valentine ran a circus in Boston last year, Pedroia’s play is more valuable than anyone else in the league this season? Is that really the argument here? This is mind-boggling in its sheer stupidity.

No one should be allowed to write about baseball on the internet except for me. Let’s talk to Congress about this, people.

Pedroia has been the linchpin in a changing Boston lineup, batting in the No. 3 spot because manager John Farrell doesn’t have a prototypical hitter for that role. No matter.

So Pedroia’s not good enough to bat third? Is that what you’re saying? MVP! MVP!

Pedroia has proven that he can drive in runs,

Twenty-first in the American League so far.

and his .843 OPS is second only to Ortiz among Red Sox hitters.

Oh. He’s second on his OWN TEAM in OPS. If that isn’t the stuff of MVPs, I don’t know what is.

Meanwhile, Pedroia has been arguably the steadiest second baseman in baseball —

Pedroia has a Steadiness Index Quotient (SIQ) of 55.1 this season compared to, say, Omar Infante’s pedestrian 18.3. *

*This is a made up stat that doesn’t exist except maybe in Morosi’s mind.

leading major league second basemen with 238 assists while making only one error in more than 700 innings.

Well, shit. Why didn’t you say so! He leads second basemen in assists. So because Pedroia has had more ground balls hit his way than anyone else, this qualifies him for the MVP. I must have missed out on that info when I didn’t show up at Baseball for Dumbfucks class.

As for his one error, congrats to him. But we in the real world all know that errors and fielding percentage can be misleading. Jhonny Peralta has shown us that. If you look up the UZR leaders among AL second basemen, Pedroia is second to Omar Infante (5.5 to 3.0). Infante for MVP! Steadiness Index Quotient be damned!
 
Pedroia doesn’t have the outsize numbers of Cabrera and Davis. He never will. But to watch him play, and look at the standings, is to understand why he’s the most vital player to any team in the American League.

He isn’t as good as Cabrera or Davis. He never will be. But boy is he SCRAPPY, GRITTY, A GAMER, LOOGIT THAT DIRTY JERSEY, DIRKA DIRKA BLAH!

So, I unfollowed Morosi on Twitter over this. I’ve got enough aggravation in my life.

Dustin Pedroia. Good gawd.

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