TSFJ Presents: The Updated AL And NL MVP Power Rankings

By Dillon Friday / @noclassfriday

New historic vs. old historic. This is the theme of the 2012 MVP race. One is redundant, the other an oxymoron. The person writing it is a regular moron. Recall our late August MVP rankings where I said this: “Hopefully [Joey Votto] returns and doesn’t make me look like a moron [for putting him this high in my rankings].” Yep. Moron.

As the season comes down to the final week, we’ve reduced the number of candidates from five to three. The players themselves have helped out, some positively, some negatively. Last month Mike Trout was running away with the American League award like Secretariat at the Belmont. Since then, he’s been chased down by the portly third baseman of the Detroit Tigers. Miguel Cabrera sees Trout’s 10.6 WAR and is raising him a triple crown.

Miggy’s “Old Historic” season, with his superior batting numbers and a shot at immortality, wins out among the older voters. Trout’s balanced offensive attack combined with his incendiary speed (s/o to Kenny Mayne) and all-world fielding pleases the modern sabermetric voters. He’s the “new historic,” the player whose season is an all-timer when seen through a lens that hasn’t yet reached its adolescence.

There is a legitimate three-horse race for the National League’s award. In fact, our top three stays the same save for some shuffling. Will voters swallow their pride (choke on the rinds) and choose Ryan Braun despite being one year removed from a positive drug test? Will they acknowledge Andrew McCutchen’s one-man effort to keep a ragtag Pirates team afloat before the Bucco’s ship inevitably sank? Or will Buster Posey become the third Giant in 12 years to win the award?

With one week left in the season, I offer my unofficial MVP ballot. Read on, gentle people.

American League MVP Power Rankings

Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Key Stats: .320 BA, 208 Hits, 96 Runs, 15 Home Runs

At the ripe old age of 38, the Yankee Captain has produced one of his best offensive seasons to date. People thought our man DJ was washed up. And really, he could have called it a career and remained a legend. Not only does he have five World Series rings, 13 all-star appearances and nearly 3,300 hits, but he also has a dating record that rivals James Bond’s. I think he’ll be okay without an MVP.

3. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Key Stats: .292 BA, 32 Home Runs, 39 Doubles, 324 Total Bases

Adam Jones needs a nickname. For far too long the NFL’s Pacman has dragged their shared name through the mud. I’m thinking Batman. Here me out. The Orioles’ all-star center fielder has been nothing short of a superhero for Baltimore. At the beginning of the year, few gave the orange and black club much of a chance at anything. Now they sit on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1997. Their success has come on the back of Jones’s career year. And like the Caped Crusader himself, Jones’ most heroic work has come in the late hours of the night. The Orioles have won 16 straight extra-inning games. Jones seemingly played a significant role in all those victories. And who is a better villain than the New York Yankees?

2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Key Stats: .327 BA, 42 Home Runs, 133 RBI’s, .605 Slugging, 361 Total Bases

This is difficult. Should I make an argument as to why Miguel Cabrera is second or as to why he should be first? It’s that close. I’m in a pickle, which doesn’t give you the right to make “Dill Pickle” comments. Okay. Cabrera is a home run away from winning the first Triple Crown in 45 years. Forty. Five. Years. While Mike Trout has gone through a late summer swoon, Miggy has heated up. His Tigers, as of this writing, have finally caught and surpassed the White Sox in the AL Central Race. Triple crown? Check. Best player on a playoff team? Check. Most Valuable Player? Not quite. Which brings us to …

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Key Stats: .323 BA, 28 Home Runs, 124 Runs, 47 Stolen Bases, 10.6 WAR

Mike Trout’s .323, 28 home runs, 124 runs scored, 47 stolen bases season nearly match Cabrera’s offensive output. In fact, he surpasses the Tiger for some people. When you factor in Trout’s far superior fielding and consider the canyon-sized gap between their base-running skills, the Angel wins this one walking away. Years from now we will look at this vote as a watershed moment for baseball. Never before have we had such a showdown between the old school and the new school, tradition and change. Like many of the famous clashes of the past, it comes down to WAR. Trout’s 10.6 Wins Above Replacement is just too good to overlook. He wins by being excellent in all aspects of the game. Sorry, Miggy.

National League MVP Power Rankings

Honorable Mention: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Key Stats: .295 BA, .382 OBP, .470 Slugging

If this truly is Chipper Jones’ swan song, what a song it is. The third baseman has enjoyed another fine season, one of many in a Hall of Fame career. Before I realized that liking the Atlanta Braves was a mortal sin for Philadelphians, Chipper Jones was my favorite player. I forewent my allegiances as I got smart in my middle school years, but I always held a soft spot for Chipper. It was truly remarkable to see the notoriously cruel Phillies fans give the man a standing ovation mere days after he did this. Happy trails, Chipper.

3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Key Stats: .334 BA, .406 OBP, .562 Slugging, 30 Home Runs, 190 Hits, 320 Total Bases, 106 Runs, 6.9 WAR

McCutchen’s extended slump in the second half cost him a shot at taking home the Pirates’ first MVP since Barry Bonds. But before you dismiss the center fielder completely, consider this stat per this week’s Sports Illustrated: The Pirates as a team rank 13th or worse in the National League in walks, hits, batting average and on-base percentage. McCutchen’s ranks in those categories? Ninth, first, first and first. For the majority of this season he’s carried an anemic offense into contention. As McCutchen has faded, so too have the Pirates. I’ll listen to calls for Yadier Molina in this spot, but in terms of value no one is more valuable to his team than Andrew McCutchen is to the Pirates. The only reason he is third in these rankings is that Braun and Posey have been spectacular in the second half while the Pirate has regressed.

2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Key Stats: .318 BA, 41 Home Runs, 29 Stolen Bases, 110 RBI’s, 103 Runs, .603 Slugging, 345 Total Bases, 6.9 WAR

Ryan Braun’s personal vendetta against National League pitchers continues. He’s in the top 10 in the league in nearly every offensive category. As the weather has cooled off, Braun has heated up. When the pundits dismissed the Brewers as a playoff team weeks ago, the 2011 MVP brought his squad to within three games of the second wild card. No one, not even Mike Trout, combines power and speed as well as Ryan Braun. Howeva (s/o to Stephen A.), this is a man who tested positive for PED’s just last year. The fact that he successfully appealed the result through a technicality did little to alleviate public scorn toward Braun. Voters feel swindled by the Brewer. Is it fair to Braun? Probably not. But it’s not like he’s the clear-cut front runner anyway.

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Key Stats: .331 BA, 23 Home Runs, 100 RBI’s, .944 OPS, 6.6 WAR

Since his teammate Melky Cabrera fell to the dreaded 50-game PED suspension, Buster Posey has been busting baseballs. I’ll quickly deposit that last line into the “Bad Joke Bin.” In short, Posey has been excellent. In terms of WAR, the Giants catcher has been the second best offensive player in the National League. Moreover, Posey plays the most demanding position on the diamond. When the Dodgers stole the headlines in the National League West with their roster overhaul, Posey promptly stole them back. His Giants have surged to the NL West Pennant as their bitter rivals are left to watch the postseason on their piles of cash. In our last rankings, we talked about how Posey had the best opportunity to seize the award from McCutchen. Consider it seized.

All stats current as of 9/27/12 and courtesy of baseball-reference.com

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