As I was lying in my bed, drifting to sleep–and by drifting to sleep I mean thinking about baseball, which happens from time to time–I was reminded, by my own thoughts, of something Bill James wrote in what I believe was his 2008 abstract. James said “I’m not saying that Magglio Ordonez was the MVP, I am simply saying that I am surprised that he did not get more support.” That is not an exact quote, I read those abstracts at Barnes and Noble, rather than actually buying them. But it is a little bit odd that Magglio Ordonez only received two first place votes after the 2007 season. Alex Rodriguez was the more deserving candidate; A 3B with an OPS+ 10% better than that of a corner OF, well, you do the math, and don’t forget to make the positional adjustment while you are at it. But Magglio batted .363 and won the batting title that season. And to add to that, the Tigers were a good team and weren’t far from the playoffs. Granted, the Yankees actually made the playoffs, so the voters gave bonus points to Rodriguez for that, but it wasn’t as though Magglio played great on a poor team.
Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball that season, all of baseball, not just the league in which he played in. But two things: Magglio Ordonez was actually a better candidate than some people made him out to be. It wasn’t as though they created Magglio as a “bad” candidate, just that the separation between he and Rodriguez seemed to be probably more than it should have been, in regards to reputation and voting. The second thing is that any stats that take into account all-around game, offense and defense, show that Ordonez and Rodriguez weren’t really that far apart. They were apart, but not so far that it was as clear-cut as everyone seemed to think.
Bill James was on to something though, as he typically is. As he thinks and I think too, Alex Rdoriguez WAS the MVP of that season. But a hitter who bats .363 and hits for plenty of power on a winning team isn’t exactly unworthy. And it is even more confusing why MVP voters who have always taken into account batting average, seemingly, all of a sudden ignored it. And it isn’t helping Joe Mauer any, if they keep this philosophy up, that is for sure. But then again, voters have always been enthralled with the Home Run, too, so maybe it isn’t that confusing to begin with.