Some more arguing about what an MVP really is

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At the outset I’ll state that I disagree with a lot — and awful lot — of what Ken Rosenthal says in his latest column.  The biggest disagreement is Rosenthal’s stance that an MVP should play for a contender. I’ve been over that territory many times before, so I won’t regurgitate it here.

But despite the disagreements, I do like a lot about Rosenthal’s piece. Mostly because, unlike so many, he is out front in acknowledging the subjective nature of the MVP ballot. And it really is. Those of us who want to vote with a more sabermetric approach often ignore that, insisting on making it as objective as possible. Those who vote in other ways also ignore the subjectivity of it, insisting as a matter of natural law that “valuable means X” when there is no certainty about it at all. We’re all importing our own criteria.

So like I said: Rosenthal, I believe, is wrong about a lot of the stuff in the column. But the key word there is “believe,” because when it comes to the MVP, so much of it comes down to belief.  That may be cold comfort for a couple of people fighting over MVP candidates, but it’s actually kind of clarifying in some way. If for no other reason than it almost compels us to not take any MVP argument — or result — too terribly seriously as an assignation of merit.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.