That’s an argument you don’t hear very often, but Ed Price of FanHouse made it today. After noting that people like me are probably going a bit too nuts in our Felix Hernandez campaigns — Price thinks Hernandez should and will win the award easily — he throws this out there: CC Sabathia is his MVP choice:
Can we really say that someone who isn’t the best pitcher in the league is the MVP? Yes. Looking at the Yankees rotation over the past two months, it’s pretty clear how much it has
meant to that team to have Sabathia pitch every fifth day — giving them
a much better chance to win and eating up innings so the bullpen was
fresh for the other 80 percent of the games.
I’m always open to novel arguments, but I still think this leans way too heavily on the “where would the team be without him” argument that I criticized Jon Paul Morosi for last week. As Morosi himself noted, the two key measures of value as supplied in the actual MVP voting rules of the BBWAA are (1) games played; and (2) “actual value of the player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.”
I’m not sure why those who take a shine to the “where would the team be without him” measure read the “strength of offense and defense” clause out of it so completely. Value is being defined for you right there. Sure, there are many ways to measure offensive and defensive contributions — and viva la difference when it comes to that — but I don’t see how trying to guess how screwed a team would be without a guy measures “strength of offense and defense.”
When you consider a pitcher for the MVP — which you should, and which the BBWAA rules say you must — you have to value defense by run prevention, don’t you? I mean, that’s the pitcher’s job. And if you concede that Felix Hernandez is a better at that than Sabathia, I don’t see how you can then logically vote for Sabathia for the MVP without ignoring the rules of the BBWAA.
Not that I think either Hernandez or Sabathia have an MVP argument this year, but still.