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« From The What Were They Thinking Dept. | Main | Baseball The Way It Used To Be »

September 12, 2005

National League MVP

What was once a three-man race has now come down to two exceptional players having incredible years; Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. As a Braves long-time Braves fan I know that I would vote for Jones if I had a vote. However, let's look at the statistics of both players and you, fellow fans and readers, can help me decide. Unlike FOX News, I will try to be Fair and Balanced.

STATISTICS -

Pujols GMs ABs Runs Hits HRs RBIs TBs BBs SOs OB% SLG% AVG
143 531 117 179 39 117 335 85 60 .434 .631 .337

Jones GMs ABs Runs Hits HRs RBIs TBs BBs SOs OB% SLG% AVG
142 523 89 144 49 121 320 61 97 .360 .612 .275

Looking at those numbers in direct comparison you can see that other than HRs and RBIs, Pujols is ahead of Jones in every other category. However, since this is the MVP award which stands for MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, the question must be asked, and honestly answered, where would their teams be without them? If answered honestly, then Andruw Jones should win the NL MVP Award based on the fact that without him the Braves wouldn't have an 8 game lead in the NL East and wouldn't be closing in on their 14th consecutive division title. To make my case I point out that while Pujols has had the luxury of having Edmonds, Sanders or Walker batting behind him all season, Jones has had a revolving door of rookies and fading veterans protecting him in the Braves lineup; Langerhans and Francouer the rookies and Jordan and Mondesi the veterans. On top of this is the fact that Jones is the best centerfielder in the game and constantly dives for balls, regardless of his stats or risk of injury, while Pujols plays first base, position with much less greater risk of injury. This is coupled with the fact that Pujols plays behind one of the league's best pitching staffs and his runs have not been as crucial to the Cardinals' success as has Jones'. Finally, it is worth noting that no other team has played as many rookies as the Atlanta Braves have this year and, rather than quitting or begin to talk about rebuilding, the Braves chased down, and passed, the division leading Nationals and they did so with the "leadership" of Andruw Jones, yet another sign of his maturity and yet another "intangible" that must go into this difficult choice. I know, I know, I sound like a Braves homer, but if I had to make a choice and had a vote, it would be for Andruw Jones.

Posted by Kevin O'Leary at 11:25 PM

Comments

Kevin:

I feel as you do, that Andruw Jones is the MVP in the National League, and if you caught Baseball Tonight this evening (Wed.), you would have seen that Harold Reynolds also sides with Jones, while Peter Gammons feels that Albert Pujols is the MVP as injuries have decimated the Cardinals lineup (Scott Rolen out for almost the whole season, Reggie Sanders out for that last couple of months, Larry Walker in and out of the lineup).

I have a feeling that Pujols will win because he has been in the top 4 of the voting for the last four seasons, he has been second to Bonds in the voting in two of those seasons, and the writers are going to feel like they owe it to him. Basically, if Jones does not win, it will be for reasons other than what happens on the field, which would be a shame.

As a Braves fan, are you pulling for the Astros to win the wildcard in the NL (Braves took the season series 5-1), even if it means taking on Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt? If San Diego wins the West, and Florida or Philadelphia or Washington gets the wildcard entry, the Braves would draw the Padres in the NLDS, and the Padres took 5 of 6 from the Braves this season.

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew Torres on September 14, 2005 7:12 AM

Well as a Cardinals Fan I witness what Pujols does on a nightly basis so I may be more drawn to him, but I have a few reasons why I also believe he is in front of Jones. I don't think Pujols should recieve the award since he was in the top 4 in recent years either, it not a career award or a past three seasons award (but the voters have seemed to change it into that) it a MVP for your team this year.

First of all, lets start with this "luxury" behind Pujols. Do injuries to Rolen, Sanders, Walker, Molina not count. Yes he has had Edmonds behind him all season, but other names like Taguchi, Nunez, Mabry, Rodriguez don't exactly scare the other pitchers like the starters. This revolving door behind Jones is exactly true either. Jones doesn't even lead his team in some pretty important stats: Runs (Giles), BA (Giles) and SB (Furcal) which Pujols does lead his team. Chipper and Francour have been pretty strong since the All-Star break as well, so it hasn't been Jones carrying the team to their 5 game lead.

Next look at the numbers, you listed them yourself, they don't lie, Pujols has 24 more walks and 37 less strike outs. Pujols OPS - 1.065, Jones - 0.972 (I guess if Pujols swung for a HR every time you would like his numbers better), Pujols stolen bases - 15, Jones - 3 (I thought he was faster than that). I don't like RBI's that much because it depend alot on the players around you. A stat I would like but have no way of determining would be the number of runners scored divided by the number of runners on base when batting (an RBI percentage). A combination of OPS and RBI% would show the true productivity of the player.

One last comment about another candidate: Clemens. Since Carpenter has taken the lead in the Cy Young, I wouldn't be surprised to see Clemens recieve votes for MVP, he has carried his team for the better part of the year.

I guess you can see my bias, I just don't think this spectacular season by Jones is better than an average season by Pujols.

Posted by: Jared Brewe on September 15, 2005 4:03 PM

D-Lee. Look at Pujols' and Jones's stats compared to Lee's. Keep in mind that Lee is playing on the team with one of the worst 1-2 lineup combo OPSs in the NL. Also, the 2005 weather at Wrigley has been unusual in that the wind has blown in more than normal. Also, one may make an arguement of Jones's RBIs but he usually bats 4th in the lineup, much more condusive for RBIs. Jones's BA has been around .275 the whole year, Lee has been around the .350s. Jones has proven himself to be a terrible base stealer, only 3/6 this year. Jones strikes out more frequently that Lee, and Jones has grounded into about 3x as many DPs as Lee. Jones may be a great fielder, but Lee is a gold-glove first baseman as well, also without that wall to climb over guys like Jones would rarely win GGs. Look at the SLG Per, Lee is way ahead of both Jones and Pujols. When it comes to Pujols, the two have similiar stats, one may be ahead in cat, the other ahead in the another cat. But, the big three stats to look at are not HR, RBI, and BA, they are BA, SLG per, and OBP, those are the stats you earn, whereas HR, and RBI are very dependent many variables rather than the primarily the player's performance. Let's look at those three, BA- Lee, Pujols, and way, way back Jones; SLG- Lee, way back Pujols, then Jones; OBP-Pujols, Lee, way, way back Jones. An arguement for Pujols is legit at this point, but Lee is playing on the worse 1-2 combo, Lee is statisically edging him out, it is too close to call, but Lee and Pujols are way ahead of Jones in nearly every earned stat. DONT BE FOOLED BY HR, LOOK AT BA, SLG, OBP, fielding and running to find your 2005 NL MVP.

Posted by: Mike on September 16, 2005 6:59 PM

To Kevin: First of all, Fox News is way more balanced than the mainstream media or the Clinton, I'm sorry, Cable News Network. Of course, the only reason you mention FNC is because you fear their growing popularity. Nevertheless, I understand your point about where the team would be w/o the player, so who do you think should have won the 2001 MVP? Probably Bonds, you say, no, by that ideology Sosa should have easily won, he generated 40% of the Cubs offense that year, Bonds about 25%. Also, if you ask any manager in the MLB they will tell it only matter if you win the WS, if you don't you are a loser, so unless the Braves or Cards win the WS all three players (Lee, Pujols, and Jones) are losers, the player with the best stats wins MVP honors, that simple.

Posted by: Mike on September 16, 2005 7:07 PM

I agree Lee, but I could certainly live with Pujols, he was certainly one of the biggest losers in the Bonds roid induced years, so he deserves some extra credit just for that. However, recent history proves that the Braves would have been just fine with out Andruw, what is it 15 straight division titles, I know the team has changed, but the results keep staying the same. Therefore, I have no reason to believe that the Braves wouldn't be in the same place without Andruw either.

Also, staying in the history books, another quick look tells me that the cubs were screwed long before Lee ever put on the uniform, so Lee could have set Major League records in every category, pitched 30 complete game no hitters and it is still the cubs. The cubs will be the cubs, they find ways to lose, that's not Lee's fault.

As for Lee/Pujols well the numbers are pretty even, both teams have had their share of injuries. Garciapara, Ramierz, etc for Lee. Rolen, Sanders etc for Pujols. MVP is not a team award, Lee is by far the superior fielder, which tips the scales in his favor.

Lee over Pujols for me

As for the where would this team be with him category, that is impossible to answer, where would Cardinal fans say before the season if they would say that Rolen would miss most of the season..or how about Braves fans without Chipper. You can't say we wouldn't have this if Andruw was hurt because you just don't know that, and neither do the voters.

Posted by: Mike2 on September 19, 2005 5:11 AM

Kevin you have no idea what you are talking about. You said Pujols has the luxury of batting with Edmonds, Sanders and Walker. Sanders and Walker have been out of the lineup at least 2 months each and Edmonds has had a subpar year. Most of the Cardinals lineup throughout the year have been players that spent time in the minor leagues in the past two years. Pujols, also, did not have Rolen in the lineup for essentially the whole year. The only player you're hanging your hat on MVP for Jones is that he missed Chipper Jones for part of the year. Jones is only leading in two categories and not by much. Pujols is batting 70 avg pts. better than Jones. And with all that the Cardinals have 10 more wins than the Braves as of 9/22 When was the last time a NL MVP batted as low as .267?

Posted by: Mark on September 22, 2005 9:24 PM

derrick lee is the only guy who should get the mvp. he has better stats overall. not based on homeruns, or one single stat he is the man. simple as that. yeah pujols and jones are having great years, but derrick lee is having a better year. thanks for your opinions but this is the right one.

Posted by: big dick on September 30, 2005 7:03 PM

Good points, except for the whole "leadership" thing. But here's another good point: Jones isn't even close to being MVP, no matter what definition of the term you use. Derrek Lee, in my mind, deserves the award, but let's put that aside for the moment and look at the relevant stats between Jones and Pujols (notice I said *relevant*, so Runs, RBI's, or batting average will not be mentioned):

-OBP: Pujols dwarfs Jones. Dwarfs. To the tune of 80 points higher, and 80 points of OBP can get you a lot of runs. Meanwhile, Lee is a lot closer to Pujols, close enough to call it even between them.
-Slugging: Again, Pujols beats out Andruw, if only by 30 points. But DLee laps the field here: 100 points higher than Andruw, 70 higher than AP! Slugging may be slightly less important than OBP in the grand scheme, but Lee's performance here has been staggering, Bonds-esque, even.
- Equivalent Marginal Lineup Value Rate (eqMLVr): This measures how many more (or less) runs per game an average team would score with that player in the lineup. Again, it's Lee in a class by himself (.480 eqMLVr), trailed by Pujols (.425), and I think I can see Andruw waaaayy back there somewhere (.282). Lee and Pujols are 1-2 respectively in the NL in this category, while Jones ranks below the likes of Morgan Ensberg and Aramis Ramirez. Would anybody care to advocate them for this award?
- Value Over Replacement Player (VORP): Ah, the big boy. VORP measures skill (like eqMLVr), but also durability, because, to truly be "valuable" to his team, one must stay in the lineup. But none of these guys have had injury problems this year, so it's pretty much all about skill. And DLee holds a pretty good edge, about 8 runs, over Pujols. Pujols' season is historically great, though, and he'll probably end up with over 100 runs over replacement. But Lee has been insanely good, producing close to a Barry Bonds/Mickey Mantle/Babe Ruth level this season. No joke. Oh, and Andruw? He's the 19th-best player in the majors according to VORP, checking in with a paltry (for MVP standards) 61.7 VORP.
- Defense: Okay, Andruw wins here, but none of these guys are bad defensive players at their positions. Plus, defense is a small factor into a player's value: the best defenders only save their teams a handful of runs per year compared to a total stiff, and the stiff's probably making those runs up hand over fist at the plate.
- Win Shares: Pujols actually leads here, which definitely gives credence to his argument for MVP. Lee is behind by only one WS, though, so the difference could be (statistically) negligible. Andruw's 29th in the majors, in case you cared, behind teammate Marcus Giles!

So there you have it. If we're talking MVP as "Best Player", Lee probably gets the nod. He's killing the opposition in almost every meaningful statistical category, and who cares that the Cubs suck? Is he pitching for them? Is he batting in the other 8 slots? No, of course not. So how can he be penalized for the poor play of his teammates? He shouldn't be, that's how.
If MVP means "Best Player... on a contending team" to you, though, give it to Pujols. He's close enough to Lee statistically to keep the award from being a total sham (cough, Steve Nash in the NBA), and the Cards are a great team. As for Jones, sorry, he shouldn't even be close to this award. 51 homers are nice, but there's much more to the game.

Posted by: Goo on October 1, 2005 5:15 AM

Lee can't win. He had no one in the lineup around him hurt all year & the Cubbies Suck. Jones only did good when Chipper was out. If Chip was in the line-up all year Jones wouldn't have had 100 RBI's because Chip would have knocked in 1/2 of the ones Andruw did. He had 2 or 3 good weeks, he knocked in 30 runs and hit 20 Home Runs in that same time. What has he done lately? Pujols is better on a bad year than Lee & Jones on the best years of their lives. What do you think pitchers think when they're pitching with the bases loaded, who do they fear the most when it's crunch time; ALBERT PUJOLS. Also Chris Carpenter has lost only 5 games and has 50 more strikeouts than Willis. Willis has lost 10, maybe 11 games. BIG DIFFERENCE, plus CC is going to the playoffs. I'm not from St.Louis I just look at the facts.

Posted by: Tatum on October 1, 2005 5:25 PM

If I spelled something wrong, Sorry. I'm dyslexic. Hell I don't even know if thats spelled right? Again sorry! You can tell what I thought I spelled.

Posted by: Tatum on October 1, 2005 5:28 PM

Whoa, are we also talking about the Cy Young, because I've got some stuff that'll really blow your mind... How anyone can advocate someone other than Roger Clemens is beyond me. Just looking at the basic stats alone: 1.89 ERA?!! In a bandbox park like Minute Maid? That's unbelievable! Pettitte, too, because he pitched about 20 more innings than Clemens at a 2.39 clip, in that same park (the 8th-best for hitters, according to ESPN.com). Carpenter and Willis are having great years, no doubt, but Clemens has an ERA of almost 1 entire run less than either, as many K/9 as Carpenter (1.7 more than Willis), and is better than anybody else in terms of the support-neutral stats: VORP, Support-Neutral Value Added, etc. Pettitte, Carpenter, Willis, even Pedro, those are all good candidates, but Clemens has been noticably better.

Posted by: Goo on October 1, 2005 11:02 PM

If Clemens gave up 1 run and his team didn't win that game it's his fault for giving up that run. Clemens can't win. I know it's not his fault, but he's 13 - 8. No Cy Young with that number. Sorry your team sucked when you pitched Roger.

Posted by: Tatum on October 2, 2005 4:09 PM

Tatum, you are completely wrong when you say that nobody was injured in the Cubs line up. If you are going to argue a point, at least know the facts. Injured from the Cubs this year: Aramis Ramierz, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Joe Borowski, Nomar Garciapara, need I go on...and all for large portions of the season. On top of that Sammy got old and arrogant, so in recent years we have lost a 60 homer/125 rbi/.300 hitter, we dumped Alou and replaced him NOTHING...we are talking a .315/40hr/110 rbi guy..we got nothing from his position.

Maddux had his worst year in 17 years, Prior was very avg, Wood mised the entire season, the Cubs lost their closer in Training camp, and had to convert a part time starter (Dempster, who was decent, a lot of saves, higher ERA for a closer)...heck the Cubs picked up a Starter from San Fran's scrap heap, yes the pitching mecca of San Fran, and he started the last half of the season. (Jerome Williams).

By enlarge the BullPen was horrible, I mean beyond bad, look it up if you don't believe me.

Yet with all this the Cubs will finish near .500...if MVP included wins by a ball club as the criteria, then I would vote for Pujols, but since it doesn't...I think Lee is the MVP in a close vote over Pujols Jones is a distant 3rd...sorry the BA is just silly for an MVP candidate...if it was .020 higher he would be on the low end of being consider, I think that stat alone remove's him from consideration

Posted by: Mike2 on October 2, 2005 7:35 PM

Hey Mikie
"we dumped Alou and replaced him NOTHING" Alou is where he need's to be. With The Cheater. Do you have Crab's or do you play on the Cub's? We? Where is Lee right now? Pitchers being hurt don't count on hitting you Chicago JackAss. Garciapara is a freak like you. Every pitcher pitched strait-up to Lee. Lee Suck's The Cub's Suck and you Suck too. I just hope the Cubbies keep Dusty "The Raciest" Baker & the Cub's can keep the basement warm. Pujols is every pitchers worst nightmare. Hell just shut up and see who win's. Pujols & Carpenter. Pujols had a crappy year and still is better than Lee. Have a nice Winter. Unless your moving to Frisco. LOSER........Ha Ha! I hope the White Sox play the Cards and I don't care who wins.The End.

Posted by: Tatum on October 6, 2005 5:44 AM

First of all we have to keep in mind what MVP stands for MOST VALUABLE PLAYER. In others words a player that a team cannot succeed without. Since the Cubs did not succeed this year Derek Lee cannot even be considered for the MVP award. Next you have to look at the teams that surround the players. The Cardinals have one of the best pitching staffs in the NL next to Houston. And despite being plagued by injuries the Cardinals bats made it clear that Pujols was not the only gun in their arsenal, they would have won their division without Pujols because of a superior
pitching roster, and the tenacity of the teams bats. Now look at the Braves. While they do have very good starting pitchers, 2 of the went on the DL almost immediately, and their relievers have struggled (to say the least) all year. Now look at their offense. When Chipper Jones went on the DL the Braves were left with only one real day to day game to game threat, Andrew Jones. So with 2 starting pitchers on the DL, and a seemingly lackluster offense the job fell to Andrew to put runs up on that score board. Witch he did with aplomb. During that stent of injuries Andrew Jones was nothing short of jaw-dropping, everytime I turned on ESPN, Andrew had another 3 RBI game with a homer. While true that he did "slack" off when Chipper came back, this showed the team switching back to normal operating mode, with Andrew and Chipper splitting the RBIs and homers damn near evenly. And with such a lackluster pitching staff the job of winning games fell solely upon the offense, enter Andrew and Chipper (later in the year). And looking at their numbers I am amazed, Chipper missed nearly half the season, and still hit twenty homers. If he had been there all year he would have had at least forty, coupled with Andrew's 51, this year would have been a blow out for the Braves. But without Chipper, Andrew was reasponsible for scoring the runs that the Braves needed to win period.

Posted by: Allen Meadors on November 5, 2005 8:22 AM

The most valuable "player" in Atlanta is either Bobby Cox or somebody from the front office. Sorry but 13 straight years or more of a division title doesn't exactly spell extraordinary season by the braves, however, the cubs hovering around .500 for an entire season especially given all the injuries, but even with out the injuries is extraorfinary, since I think the cubs have had a record above .500 something like 10 times in 100 years. So actually the Cubs had a more spectacular year for the Cubs, while Atlanta, by their standards had a pretty Average year.

Derrek Lee for MVP...as I said earlier, i have no problem with Pujols, but his numbers were inferior to D.Lee's in everyway..and Jones..when is the last time an MVP hit below .270? Sorry that is an important statistic and Jones was not MVP caliber, and that is just the facts.

Posted by: mike2 on November 12, 2005 1:28 AM

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