11 September 2002

I read a piece in an issue of The Sporting News today about who might be the AL and NL MVPs. The writer indicated that three NL pitchers were having great seasons: Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and John Smoltz, and that there is little precedence for a relief pitcher winning the MVP in the NL (only once) or the AL (3x), and that they usually happen only when no hitter is having a stand-out season. Then he said "Sound familiar?" Now, I hope that he meant that the "familiarity" for which we should listen is that the same argument was made in recent years for why Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez wouldn't/shouldn't win it, but initially I thought he meant that this year met those qualifications. Man, I hope I'm wrong on that though. I'd hate to think that an established magazine like TSN would hire a guy who doesn't recognize a season like Barry Bonds' as "stand-out". The Man is on a pace to break his own single season walks record, which had stood for 78 years before he set it last season. In fact, if you took away all of his hits, he still walks at a .316(!) clip. That means that there are only five guys in the NL who get a hit more often than Bonds gets a walk. Oh, and he hits a little, too. He's leading the league with .364/.569/.808 averages, AKA the Only Baseball Matters Triple Crown. That .569 would break Ted Williams' single season OBP record, standing since 1941, and his 1.377 OPS gives him a chance to beat Babe Ruth's record of 1.379, set in 1920. He's tied for 12th in the league with 95 RBI, and is third with 103 runs and only one behind the league lead in homers with 43, despite the fact that Jeff Kent is the only other player in Dusty Baker's lineup who knows whether you're supposed to hold onto the skinny end or the fat end of the heavy piece of wood when you walk up to the flat, white, house-shaped thing in the dirt. If that's not "stand-out" I don't know what is. But enough plugging John Perricone.

Besides, how do you say that John Smoltz is having a season worthy of MVP consideration without mentioning Eric Gagne? I mean, if you're gonna blow the relevance of a player's contribution to his team totally out of proportion, shouldn't it be the player who's actually better at that particular job?

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