Pitchers for MVP Argument: OCP Rebuttal

Hersh wrote a post here explaining why he feels like pitchers should be given an even shot at winning the MVP award.  He also listed his criteria for an MVP caliber player.  In this post, I'll give you my rebuttal, explaining why I feel that a pitcher is indebted with an uphill battle for MVP candidacy.

This post, of course, is referencing the continuing debate as to whether Justin Verlander is worthy of the MVP award.  To be candid, we all have him on our proverbial ballots but Hersh was the only one of the three FBJ contributors that had him finishing first.  My pick for the award was Curtis Granderson.  Verlander would have been third on my ballot behind Granderson and Verlander's teammate, Miguel Cabrera.

First, I'll do my best to lay some "laissez faire" ground rules for my MVP voting.  I think that team finish should have something to do with who wins the MVP award but I also think that player performance should be more heavily weighted into the equation (can't discriminate against a player that is put into a bad situation). There is no right or wrong answer... there's no formula to define an MVP.  As for pitchers - I don't think that I would say, "No way would I ever vote for a pitcher to win the MVP award" but I think that the field would have to be pretty weak and the starting pitcher would have to be extremely dominant.  The reason is three-fold: 1.) pitchers already have an award to call their own, 2.) starting pitchers have an unfair advantage because their contribution to the team is more easily quantifiable (flawed, for sure, it's a little stat called wins) and 3.) I think that position players, by and large have more stress and strain over the course of a season than a pitcher (position players are required to hit, field and run the bases for 162 games - a starting pitcher nowadays pitches 35 times during the regular season, at most).

Let's address the Cy Young award.  Prior to the Cy Young award, the MVP was it so I think that pitchers were deservedly considered as equals but once the Cy Young award took over as THE pitcher award - a popular metric for Hall of Fame voting and player value - I think that the MVP evolved into an award for the best position player (although, not defined as such). Some would argue that there is a Hank Aaron award for position players but I'll donate a $1 to a charity of your choice if you can tell me who won the Hank Aaron award last year (cue chirping crickets).  Maybe it took a while for the Cy to catch on but it's pretty obvious that the trend has been to move away from pitcher MVP's and that's how I would vote.  Position player first... Pitcher only if the situation dictates (if the field was weak and the pitcher was phenomenal).

So maybe I can't tell you an exact formula for what an MVP is, but I can tell you what an MVP is NOT...

- He's likely NOT the best player on the worst team (unless that player was EXORBITANTLY better statistically than the other contenders)

- He's NOT a role player... looking for players that lead their teams on the field and in the clubhouse. Looking for star quality and character guys.

- He's NOT a player that started the year strong and flamed out... I think that MVP's have to come up big when it matters most (which is why it's so hard to give the award to a player on a losing team - there's no way to evaluate a player under pressure if his team was never in it).

- An MVP is NOT a player that spends significant time on the DL or a player that endured relentless streaks of mediocrity.

- An MVP is NOT the necessarily the guy that everyone likes or the guy from the big market town... just because you're a Yankee or a Sawk doesn't mean you're entitled to the award.

So there's my rebuttal... what are your thoughts?


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