In what is shaping up to be a hotly contested and heavily debated AL MVP race I thought I would share a few thoughts as we head down the stretch. The popular candidates at this point seem to be the New York Yankees CF Curtis Granderson the Boston Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia and 1B Adrian Gonzalez as well as the Toronto Blue Jays RF/3B Jose Bautista.
Statistically this is a one-horse race as Joey Bats is far and away the best player in baseball, ok, you need proof? Damn you!
I included a few counting stats that are often used to measure the value of potential candidates (HR, RBI, R) but before you look at RBIs and runs please first look at the average runs scored by each the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, 5.4 runs per game. The Blue Jays on the other hand with the inferior overall line-up score 4.7 runs per game, a solid mark actually (fourth overall in MLB!) but I don’t think I am going out on a limb when I say Bautista doesn’t have the surrounding talent (for now) that the other candidates enjoy.
With that out of the way why is there even any debate? Bautista has the best stats in baseball by a wide margin and is producing a near historic season, apparently it’s because the Blue Jays are only a fourth place team in the AL East. I think that has been a ridiculous argument over the years and even more so in this instance.
Imagine the Blue Jays played in the horrendous AL Central, they would likely be leading that division by a few games (and would’ve likely added a few pieces at the deadline) as there Pyth W-L record this season is an impressive 67-22 (4.7 RF, 4.5 RA) while the division “leading” Detroit Tigers sports a Pyth W-L of 65-64 (4.5 RF, 4.5 RA).
The Blue Jays haven’t had much luck this season when considering just there run differential (which is what Pythagorean win-loss theory is based on) let alone when we consider the division they currently reside in. The AL East is an absolute beast and for my money the hardest division in sports. The Jays would beat up on the AL Central, no question about it in my mind.
To my point, are we now saying that if the Blue Jays were in fact playing in the weak AL Central division (and likely leading it handily) that suddenly Jose Bautista is a legit MVP candidate but because they are in the hardest division in sports, holding their own but only fourth place, he isn’t? Put the Blue Jays in almost any other division and they are suddenly looking more like contenders than “just a fourth place team” while also making Jose Bautista’s MVP candidacy more legit for the “needs to play on a winner” crowd.
As it stands right now Jose Bautista is the most valuable player in baseball, no matter how you view it.