Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Is 2020 finally the year for a DH to win MVP?

After driving in 130 runs and still finishing fourth in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2018, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez felt understandably pessimistic about his position.

“For a DH to win MVP,” he told reporters the following spring, “they’re going to have to walk on water.”

Well, the Twins’ Nelson Cruz hasn’t quite done that in 2020. But he has arguably done enough to force the DH issue to the forefront. This is the “Year of the DH”—as in “doubleheaders” (lots of ‘em) and the DH finally arriving in the National League. But one DH has stood out from the rest—at age 40, no less.

Bottom line: One cannot concoct a short list of viable AL MVP candidates that doesn’t include Cruz.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:32 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nelson cruz

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5977161)
As always with question headlines, "no" is the correct answer. JD Martinez is right about what it's going to take and as good as Cruz has been he hasn't been head and shoulders above the position players to make up for it. I don't see the argument for him being ahead of Abreu, Anderson, Lowe or Voit not to mention guys like Candelerio or Trout having great years on non-contenders (the weird defensive ratings on Trout being an open and fair question).
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:55 AM (#5977164)
He's not the MVP, but damn it's impressive how well Nelson Cruz has hit the ball since turning 32.
   3. Rally Posted: September 17, 2020 at 11:22 AM (#5977172)
He's right in that if you have a guy who only hits, he has to hit a lot more than everyone else to be a real candidate. In 2018, as great as Martinez was he did not hit as well as Mookie or Mike. He finished 4th, right in between Bregman and Ramirez. He beat them by about 100 points in OPS, to me that seems reasonable to rank them close considering the other 2 being good defensive 3B.

Ortiz winning in 2006 would have been reasonable. Morneau was a terrible pick, not the best player on his own team let alone the league. From 2005-2007, by average dWAR:

Ortiz: -1.4
Jeter: -1.3

Giving the MVP to a DH is no less reasonable to giving it to a terrible fielder. As long as they hit enough to make up for it.

For the AL this year LeMahieu seems like the guy, only knock on his is missing a few more games than the other candidates.
   4. DCA Posted: September 17, 2020 at 12:17 PM (#5977202)
Isn't Bieber the obvious choice in the AL?
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 17, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5977203)
In a normal season, we’d just be identifying the potential MVP contenders, and there’d be plenty of time to sort out the contenders. Some would slump, a little or a lot, others would get injured, or become less ‘valuable’ because their team didn’t win enough games. No time for that this year. It looks like there will be plenty of plausible MVPs, with little to separate them. Don’t see how that helps a DH unless he’s having a season head & shoulders above others, and Cruz isn’t doing that.
   6. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 17, 2020 at 02:20 PM (#5977246)
I still think Edgar Martinez should have won the MVP in 1995.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5977257)
I still think Edgar Martinez should have won the MVP in 1995.


Shouldn't he be the best player on his own team, before there can be a complaint about being robbed of the MVP? In reality I just don't see any difference between Belle and Martinez that would make me confident all these years later that Edgar should have won over a guy in the field(even a poor fielder) but this was still when rbi's matter... Vaughn won over the his own teammate, who was probably the second most valuable player in the AL that year(going by war at least)
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: September 17, 2020 at 05:45 PM (#5977322)
Cruz was traded by the Mets TWENTY YEARS AGO.

The haul for the future slugger? middle infielder Jorge Velandia.

after a minus 18 OPS+ in 30 PA for the Padres in 1997, Velandia posted an 8 OPS+ in 80 PA for the Athletics in 1998-2000.

"gimme some of that!" the Mets decided, and it's goodbye Nelson Cruz.

he went 0 for 7 in 2000 for the Mets and then - after being released and then re-signed by them in the offseason - 0 for 9 in 2001.

after spending all of 2002 tirelessly working on his batting skills in the minors, Velandia returned to the Mets with a vengeance in 2003 - posting a 55 OPS+ in 72 PA and threatening the Mendoza Line in AVG.

the Mets, perhaps concerned that Velandia might someday turn into an acceptable 25th man, let him go via free agency.

he somehow gets signed by the Pirates, White Sox, and Devils Rays - and the latter gives him another shot in 2007.

Velandia gets the September callup and hits .320 with his first two (and last two) MLB HR and a 150 OPS+ in 60 PA at age 32 because - well, why wouldn't he?

the flummoxed Rays let him go back into free agency. the Pirates sign him again and release him again.

the Blue Jays get an early-season 0 for 8 out of him in 2008 before sobering up and releasing him in May.

the Indians pick him up a week later - what the heck - and he goes 3 for 8, including a double. so of course the Indians then demote him, because that's the story of Jorge's career.

the Rays are intrigued enough to conditionally trade for him on Aug. 31, 2008.

a few months later, the Phillies sign him because - he's good in the clubhouse or something?

but he never reaches the majors again.

this seems like a lot, btw:

December 21, 2000: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2001: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2002: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2003: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2004: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2005: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2006: Granted Free Agency.

October 31, 2007: Granted Free Agency.

May 19, 2008: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2008: Granted Free Agency.

October 15, 2008: Granted Free Agency.

November 9, 2009: Granted Free Agency.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:01 PM (#5977326)
I didn't know Velandia had retired. :-)
   10. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:07 PM (#5977329)
I like that Milw traded Cruz and Carlos Lee in one deal -- they were the same player. Order now and you'll receive a second Carloe Lee at no extra cost!

(I kid ... Lee was a pending FA. Still an odd deal but Texas wasn't acquiring two Lees.)
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:15 PM (#5977330)
So here's a weird trivia question ... not even sure how to phrase it but ...

Cruz was traded for the first time in 2000; 20 years later he's still playing. I assume that makes him the active leader in "years since first time traded" but I wonder what the all-time record is. It's probably an obvious answer -- find an old player traded early, for example Smoltz was still playing in 2009 after being traded in 1987.

Then I thought, probably some reliever. First guy I checked was Jesse Orosco with no idea if he'd been traded was just gonna use him as a hypothetical ... but sure enough, traded in 1979 (for Koosman), pitching in 2003. That was an offseason trade which means 25 seasons.

No idea if there's any way to search for that.
   12. Sweatpants Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:34 PM (#5977332)
Julio Franco was first traded in 1982 and last played in 2007. I think that's a tie with Orosco, as Orosco was traded before the 1979 season but Franco was traded after the 1982 season.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 07:01 PM (#5977336)

Tommy John was traded before the 1965 season and last pitched in 1989, which I think ties him with Orosco and Franco.

(And technically, Minnie Minoso was traded in 1951 and made an appearance in 1980 at age 54.)


   14. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2020 at 07:19 PM (#5977339)
He's not on our leaderboard but I checked Mike Morgan who is mildly amazing for another reason -- he was drafted in 1978 (at 18), pitched in the majors that year, was in the majors in 2002. He wasn't first traded until after the 1980 season -- for Fred Stanley which is a real blast from the past. What the A's needed a old SS with a career 62 OPS+ for is anybody's guess.

He was also part of what might be the worst trade in Yankee history -- Morgan, Dave Collins and very young Fred McGriff for Dale Murray. Murray immediately tanked (-1 WAR rest of his career) while Morgan added 29 WAR, Collins 7 and McGriff 53.

Doubling down on transaction weirdness, after 285 ML innings, Morgan was taken in the Rule 5 draft after the 1984 season.
   15. caspian88 Posted: September 17, 2020 at 07:28 PM (#5977341)
Jamie Moyer was traded in December 1988 and still pitching in 2012.

Wikipedia claims Cap Anson was traded by Rockford to Philadelphia between the 1871 and 1872 seasons (I don't know if that's accurate). He was still playing in 1897, which would give him 26 seasons after being traded.

Players who were not traded:

Hoyt Wilhelm was transferred from the Braves to the Giants in 1947, but via the minor league draft. He was still pitching in 1972.

Bobo Newsom played for three different major league teams in both leagues before he was first traded (in 1935). That has to be unusual for the stable post-Federal League, pre-free agency era.

Red Faber was sold by the Pirates to Des Moines in 1912, and then by Des Moines to Chicago in 1913. Unfortunately he was already in his mid-20's when this happened.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: September 17, 2020 at 07:33 PM (#5977342)
First guy I checked was Jesse Orosco with no idea if he'd been traded was just gonna use him as a hypothetical ... but sure enough, traded in 1979 (for Koosman), pitching in 2003.

Koosman was on the mound for the last out of the 1969 World Series - and Orosco was for the Mets' only other title in 1986.
   17. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:39 PM (#5977404)
Koosman was on the mound for the last out of the 1969 World Series - and Orosco was for the Mets' only other title in 1986.


and it's stuff like this why I still like this site. Thx for sharing Howie, great bit of trivia
   18. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 18, 2020 at 08:32 AM (#5977432)
Cruz was traded for the first time in 2000; 20 years later he's still playing. I assume that makes him the active leader in "years since first time traded" but I wonder what the all-time record is. It's probably an obvious answer -- find an old player traded early, for example Smoltz was still playing in 2009 after being traded in 1987.


Doesn't quite get there but Edwin Encarnacion is still active and was traded in 2001.
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: September 18, 2020 at 09:11 AM (#5977435)
and it's stuff like this why I still like this site. Thx for sharing Howie, great bit of trivia

the same guy who made the last out of the 1969 World Series against the Mets was their manager when they won their other one in 1986 - Davey Johnson
   20. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 18, 2020 at 09:59 AM (#5977440)
Nelson Cruz most similar players by BB-ref:

Frank Howard
Albert Belle
Rocky Colavito

Remember when Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales were both free agents well into spring training in 2014:
Nelson signed with the Orioles and led the majors in home runs.
Morales continued holding out, eventually signed with the Twins, hit .234/.259/.325 and they dumped him after 6 weeks.

Morales bounced back to at least be a useful player, albeit definitely a poor man's Nelson Cruz.

Now the Twins have the right one at last.

   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5977516)
Cruz has hit 340 home runs since the beginning of his age 30 season, which is #9 all-time. He's 41 HR away from #5 on the list (Mays) so has a decent chance to catch him next year. Palmeiro at #3 is 74 away so would take at least until 2022, Ruth at #2 is 90 away. Bonds is pretty safe at #1.

1. Bonds 503
2. Ruth 430
3. Palmeiro 414
4. Aaron 413
5. Mays 381
6. Thome 379
7. Ortiz 364
8. McGwire 354
9. Cruz 340
10. Sosa 336

Only two other active players are even over 200 in their 30+ years (Encarnacion and Pujols), and neither looks likely to crack the top 10.
   22. TomH Posted: September 19, 2020 at 06:38 AM (#5977651)
the shorter the season, the weirder the MVP
1981 Rollie Fingers? over a bunch of great hitters and SP, none of whom had the counting stats normally associated with awards, thus the rate stat of ERA looked larger. Heck, Goose Gossage thrw 46+ innings and was 9th in MVP voting.

Your 2020 MVP, Liam Hendricks! leads in saves, 2nd in WPA, 1.23 ERA!
   23. Rally Posted: September 19, 2020 at 02:34 PM (#5977676)
I thought Fingers winning was weird at the time, but looking back, ERA just over 1, 78 innings in 109 team games. How often does a reliever throw 78 innings in a 162 game season anymore?
   24. Icebox Posted: September 19, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5977679)
Not as a player in the second later trade, but Lou Piniella was traded in 1964 from the Washington Senators to the Orioles for Buster Narum, and traded by the Mariners with Anotnio Perez in 2002 to the Devil Rays for Randy Winn. Those trades were made 38 years apart.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: September 19, 2020 at 04:26 PM (#5977681)
Piniella - who got a MLB cup of coffee in 1964 - was property of the Indians, Senators, Orioles (his cup of coffee), Indians again (second cup of coffee in 1968), and Pilots. His Topps rookie card is with the latter team - though he never played for them.

then he was traded on April Fool's Day 1969 to the Royals, for whom he became AL Rookie of the Year at age 25.

#whatalongstrangetripitsbeen
   26. Ron J Posted: September 19, 2020 at 07:27 PM (#5977693)
#25 There's a fair amount on Pinella in Ball Four -- despite the fact that he wasn't with the Pilots for long.

Here's a bit that is characteristic of the rest of his career:

Lou Piniella has the red ass. He doesn’t think he’s been playing enough. He’s a good-looking ballplayer, 6-2, handsome, speaks fluent Spanish and unaccented English. He’s from Tampa. He says he knows they don’t want him and that he’s going to quit baseball rather than go back to Triple-A. He says that once you get labeled Triple-A, that’s it. I suggested to him that this wasn’t the year to quit because the Seattle people were bound to make mistakes in their early decisions and I thought there would be a shuttle system between Vancouver and Seattle and that guys who didn’t stay with the club the first month might be called up real quick. But he said he was going to quit anyway and force them to do something. And since he cost $175,000 in the expansion draft he figures they’d rather make a deal for him than lose him altogether. He’s probably right. A lot of decisions in baseball are based upon cost rather than ability. Cost is easier to judge.


And an earlier bit that I didn't recall:

Piniella is a case. He hits the hell out of the ball. He hit a three-run homer today and he’s got a .400 average, but they’re easing him out. He complains a lot about the coaches and ignores them when he feels like it, and to top it off he’s sensitive as hell to things like Joe Schultz not saying good morning to him. None of this is supposed to count when you judge a ballplayer’s talents. But it does.


Pinella had a sore shoulder and was taking it easy. Schultz wasn't happy and told some reporters that Pinella wouldn't make the team throwing the way he was. Pinella found out and confronted Schultz. Didn't go well. And things went downhill from there.
   27. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 19, 2020 at 08:34 PM (#5977699)
I think a more interesting question would be about greatest number of years between trades. (Piniella doesn't count.) If you get traded really young it often means that your team doesn't think that you're going to be special (either that or you're part of a really big deal), but if you get traded late it means that someone still thinks well enough of you to want you.

On that question, the first name that comes to mind (for me) is Christy Mathewson. Traded for Amos Rusie Dec. 15, 1900, and traded again as part of a larger deal July 20, 1916.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: September 19, 2020 at 09:03 PM (#5977708)
It’s almost certainly not the record, but McGriff was traded in 82 by the Yankees and in 01 by the Rays.
   29. flournoy Posted: September 19, 2020 at 09:21 PM (#5977720)
Randy Johnson was traded on May 25 1989 from the Expos to the Mariners, and on January 9 2007 from the Yankees to the Diamondbacks. Not at long as McGriff's span, but pretty close.

Greg Maddux was traded twice in his career, both at over 40 years old.
   30. Ron J Posted: September 20, 2020 at 12:42 AM (#5977744)
#27 Pretty sure you know this but Matty's first trade was really more a scam. Trying to screw Norfolk out of a few bucks.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogSteve Cohen’s Mets purchase approved by MLB and de Blasio
(9 - 12:24pm, Oct 31)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(10258 - 12:12pm, Oct 31)
Last: base ball chick

NewsblogSources: Angels to bring in at least 7 candidates for GM position
(4 - 11:38am, Oct 31)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogAre analytics to blame for Rays’ Kevin Cash pulling Blake Snell too early from Game 6 of 2020 World Series?
(129 - 11:34am, Oct 31)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogDetroit Tigers hire A.J. Hinch as new manager
(15 - 7:55am, Oct 31)
Last: crict

NewsblogNBA Post-Bubble offseason thread
(233 - 3:53am, Oct 31)
Last: All Oriole Tragic heard was ruff ruff

NewsblogIndians place Brad Hand on outright waivers
(23 - 1:09am, Oct 31)
Last: Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim

NewsblogChamps! The best Dodgers team ever ends L.A.'s 32-year title drought | ESPN
(59 - 11:34pm, Oct 30)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogPotential Orioles bidders line up in hopes the Angelos family decides to sell
(4 - 10:04pm, Oct 30)
Last: JRVJ

Sox TherapyMeet the 2021 Boston Red Sox - Position Players
(37 - 8:32pm, Oct 30)
Last: Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert

NewsblogMajor League Baseball cancels owners meetings, winter meetings due to COVID-19
(2 - 6:05pm, Oct 30)
Last: JRVJ

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-30-2020
(7 - 5:26pm, Oct 30)
Last: Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama

NewsblogWhy Tony La Russa is a sincerely curious choice for Chicago White Sox manager
(6 - 4:01pm, Oct 30)
Last: Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus

NewsblogSpokesperson: Mayor Bill de Blasio still 'evaluating' Mets sale to Steve Cohen
(37 - 3:27pm, Oct 30)
Last: Adam Starblind

NewsblogTony La Russa has some expletives for Harold Baines' Hall of Fame detractors
(12 - 3:16pm, Oct 30)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

Page rendered in 0.3804 seconds
50 querie(s) executed