Throw It Like a Ballplayer

providing baseball commentary and ponderings since April 2010

The NL MVP Race: Yo, Adrian

Posted by dannmckeegan on September 20, 2010

I was reading Dave Cameron‘s piece over at FanGraphs asking if Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki should be the NL MVP in 2010. The one caveat I have with mentioning Tulo (or CarGo) in the same breath as park-adjustments in 2010 is that another top candidate, Joey Votto, plays in a park in which a man can hit a home run into the Ohio River.  But at the same time, park factors are integral to looking at SD 1B Adrian Gonzalez‘s candidacy.

A look at 2010 home/road splits for Votto, Tulowitzki and CarGo also are interesting, with Adrian and Albert thrown in for good measure:
*Votto has slightly better rate stats on the road, adding up to a 1.066 road OPS vs. .966 at home.
*Tulowitzki is the opposite, with a 1.042 home OPS vs. 917 on the road.
*Carlos Gonzalez, meanwhile, exhibits a large split of 1.205 at home vs. .763 on the road.
*Adrian Gonzalez, who is not being much discussed, has an .860 home OPS and .969 on the road, with all the difference being slugging in a home park with a 92 batting factor. He’s also drawn more IBB (28) than the other 3 combined (17) [evidence of a bad lineup around him].
*Albert Pujols, of course, is playing at Busch, with a 98 batting park factor this year. He has a 1.039 to .949 home/road OPS split and a .317 to .266 h/r BABIP split.

I look at the Reds and think, you know, they could compete in the Central without Votto.  And the Cardinals would be bad, but still score some runs without Albert.  The Rockies did tread water and stay close, at least, in Tulo’s absence and can deal with Carlos Gonzalez’s fall to normalcy on the road.  But the Padres are absolutely a last-place, god-awful team without Adrian Gonzalez.  While his numbers aren’t as gaudy as the others’, he does still rank in the top 10 despite playing where he does.

In my mind, the MVP needs to have great numbers and be integral to his team’s success, whatever that level might be.  If Pujols was having his season on a team sans-Carpenter and Wainwright (i.e., a 90-loss team), he’d still be a legitimate candidate like Dawson in ’87.  But the fact that Gonzalez has only 8 RBI fewer than the team’s #2 and #3 combined tells me that he is, far and away, the most important of this year’s crop of MVP candidates.  Value goes beyond statistical achievement. That team is lost without him; the Rockies would merely be facing a more difficult fight (but only with SFG) without Tulo.

The Padres have good pitching, but that means nothing with only 2 runs per game of offense.  No Adrian, no divisional race.  The MVP has to be the Most Valuable Player.  That’s Adrian Gonzalez. He’s carried the weakest overall offense to deep September almost single-handedly. Sure, Votto or Pujols or Tulo *might* be able to do the same, and do the same in cavernous PetCo Park, but we don’t know that for certain. And we know for a fact that none have been asked to do so and shouldered the load so admirably.  Barring a pathetic showing in the final dozen or so games on 2010, Adrian Gonzalez should win his first MVP award, and the first for a Padre since Ken Caminiti in 1996.


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