Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Just go check out Rob Neyer.
By the way, Posada's a great choice for 2nd place. He's putting up Piazza-like numbers at the plate (.279/.404/.515) and Bench-like performance behind it. OK, so maybe I've fallen victim to some hyberbole. (After all, Piazza's career numbers [.319/.388/.573] are better than Posada at his best, and Posada is just third in fielding WS by position this year.) But he's still a solid pick. (For the record, he's fifth in AL WS with 25.)
I didn't mention Manny, but he's also been on fire since the break, hitting .341/.455/.616 (.326/.428/.587 overall). He's also got 25 WS. And he plays for a contender. I don't think he has a shot in hell.
Guess who's quietly making the case that he's yet again the league's most valuable player? No, not Barry Bonds. (At least not this year. See below for the hows and whys.)
OK, so what's new? After all, weren't we pulling out our hair out at A-Rod's losses in 1996 and 2002? Haven't we spent the better part of a decade thinking, Man, when is this guy going to take home the hardware?
My guess is 2003.
For most of the season, the talk in the AL was all Carlos Delgado, but like in 2000, Carlos has slowed down through the dog days (.270/.435/.466 since the break). When the Mariners were flying high, Boone and Ichiro! were great candidates (Boone was my pick as late as the begining of August), but much of the Mariner's failings of late can also be attributed to their late season slumps (Boone since the break: .236/.325/.415; Ichiro!: .242/.286/.377). Who else do you want to vote for? Nomar (.290/.333/.509 since the break)? Giambi (.221/.408/.486)?
Sorry, but no one is pulling away from the pack the way Alex currently is. He's hitting .316/.432/.679 since the break (and .296/.395/.594 overall, good for third in the AL in OPS), leading the majors in HRs, and continuing to play Gold Glove calibre D at short (first in the AL in fielding percentage, sixth in range factor, and fourth in zone rating). Whatever advantage A-Rod gets from playing half his home games at Arlington (where he's hit .310/.407/.599 this year) must be mitigated by having to face Oakland's staff (who have hardly held him in check with a .283/.377/.483 line) and more than his share of away games in Seattle (although not even that seems to have slowed him down: .371/.455/.629).
And, yes, Win Shares suggests A-Rod is the MVP. As of September 10th, he's third in hitting WS with 23.46 (behind Delgado [26.34] and Giambi [24.00]), but pushes ahead thanks to his stellar play at SS (6.02 Fielding WS) for a grand total of 29.48 or 29 WS (Delgado is second with 28 WS, followed by Boone and Giambi tied with 26 WS).
There's no Tejada to get in his way this year.