— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Baseball Primer’s 2002 AL MVP Award
Well, who won?
Any Baseball Primer reader could tell you whom a group of 16 Baseball Primer writers would pick as the American League Most Valuable Player. That man is Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodríguez. The Primer writers gave Rodríguez 15 of 16 votes; Gary Santerre listed him second to Miguel Tejada.
It is more fun to talk about the folks who did not win. Indian first baseman Jim Thome ranked second, with 11 second place votes. Jim Thome led the AL with a 1.122 OPS and a .677 SLG. His poor defensive skills and Cleveland?s 74-88 year after many great years dropped him a bit, at least to me.
Thome led Jason Giambi, New York Yankee first baseman, 131 points to 125 points. A few more writers liked Thome?s .304/.445/.677 more than Giambi?s .314/.435/.598 year, though Giambi?s Yankees went 103-58 and Giambi had more plate appearances, 689-613. I ranked Giambi higher myself.
A?s shortstop Miguel Tejada ranked fourth in the Primer poll, though he will likely win the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) poll, which Major League Baseball deems "official." While Tejada is the beloved of the writers, many Primer writers saw Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra as having much the same numbers:
When you look at Oakland?s great year (103-59) and the parks in which these men played, you could say Tejada was better than Garciaparra, but not enough to make his year stand out, as Rodriguez?s does. Thanks to Don Malcolm to putting this pair?s data, among others, on his website.
All 16 Primer writers put Rodriguez, Thome, Giambi and Tejada on their ballots. One writer, Mike Emeigh, did not put Boston Red Sox designated hitter/left fielder Manny Ramirez on his ballot. Ramirez did lead the league in OBP with .450, which the writers liked, though he played but 120 games.
Ramirez ranked fifth. He edged New York Yankees? second baseman Alfonso Soriano 80 points to 74 points. As with Ramirez, a single voter (Voros McCracken) left Soriano off his ballot. A late fade, few walks (23 walks in 741 plate appearances), a better teammate in Jason Giambi and poor fielding kept Soriano from a better rank. However, Soriano is 24, so this will likely not be his last showing on this list.
Soriano?s teammate, center fielder Bernie Williams, ranked seventh. Eleven writers listed Williams, who ranked ninth in OPS.
Eleven writers also listed Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, who ranked eighth. Martínez?s teammate, pitcher Derek Lowe, ranked ninth. I am sure Dan Werr has more to say about these two men in his AL Cy Young Award story, but for me, picking Martínez over Lowe for Cy Young was the toughest pick of year:
Martínez pitched 20.1 innings less, gave up more runs with unearned runs, and gave up more home runs and walks. However, he struck out many more men, and thus had better pitcher-only numbers. It was a tough call.
Chicago White Sox right fielder Magglio Ordóñez ranked tenth in the Primer polling. He had a .320/.381/.597 year for a White Sox team that went 81-81 in a weak division. Garciaparra, whom I noted above, ranked eleventh. Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito, who ranked third in the AL Cy Young Award polling with three first place votes, ranked twelfth, but earned two sixth place votes. No other player earned more than ten points.
AL MVP Voting: