Pedroia Tabbed as AL MVP

Well, I cannot say I am surprised, or even that upset. No, not because Dustin Pedroia was worthy of being named MVP, he wasn’t. It’s because I just cannot muster up much surprise when the BBWAA returns votes in this manner. Pedroia played in a big market, he had teammates and media members talking him up, he found himself to qualities like hustle, clutch, undersized, and the like. Despite the overwhelming stumping going on in his favor, he came across as the underdog candidate.

He should have been the underdog candidate, because he wasn’t the best choice for MVP. You want to talk numbers? Pedroia was 10th in RC/27. He played in a park skewed in his favor. He was 16th in WPA/LI. You want to talk pure value? Pedroia ranks 9th in WPA among AL-only players, 10th if you toss in Mark Teixeira‘s combined figures. Here is the entirety of Dustin Pedroia’s case to be named the AL MVP: He was first in clutch. That’s it. Joe Mauer (superior to Pedroia in nearly, if not all, meaningful category, was second. Joe Mauer is a catcher, a position worth about an extra win’s worth of value over second base.

Let us repeat our exercise from yesterday. Sorting by WPA, here’s the top five players in the AL for 2008 with their finish in the MVP voting in parenthesis:
1.Cliff Lee (12th)
2.Joe Mauer (4th)
3.Carlos Pena (9th)
4.Justin Morneau (2nd)
5.Carlos Quentin (5th)

I can excuse Cliff Lee from not getting more recognition. I am of the belief that the Cy Young is the award for pitchers and thus they shouldn’t be in the discussion for MVP. And overall, it looks pretty solid. The screw-up is that the actual MVP winner isn’t among those five names.

Now here’s the top five vote getters for MVP in the NL with their WPA rank in parenthesis:
1.Dustin Pedroia (9th)
2.Justin Morneau (4th)
3.Kevin Youkilis (21st)
4.Joe Mauer (2nd)
5.Carlos Quentin (5th)

Clearly, these people were good beyond any quantifiable means, and were able to single-handedly will their teams to contention by the sheer force of their personality and courage and valor. That’s why they got these MVP votes. Defense? Value? WOBA? BRAA? Nah, those have nothing on grit and scrappiness.

For the umpteenth time, even though it will not deter people from claiming it, I am not saying that Dustin Pedroia is bad or that he didn’t have a great season. He isn’t and he did. I am saying he wasn’t the MVP by any reasonable (and even most unreasonable) criteria. Joe Mauer probably should have won and even though he wasn’t above his league to the extent that Albert Pujols was, that doesn’t put a damper on Pedroia being the wrong choice.

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Look, I get that you like WPA. But it has no position adjustment or defensive component. To cast a vote based solely on WPA is nearly as bad as voting solely based on RBI.