06 November 2004

Boy of Summer 2004 AL MVP

Let me tell you a little about my pick for the American League Most Valuable Player of 2004:

* He did not win a batting title. Ichiro Suzuki had an historic season on a last place team, and even if he'd had the same season for a division-winner, he would not be my MVP. A singles hitter, even an extraordinary one, playing an easy defensive position will almost never get my vote.

* He did not lead the league in RBI. Miguel Tejada had an excellent season on a mediocre team, but he also had about 50 more plate appearances with runners on base than any other MVP contender in the AL. RBI have much more to do with circumstances than talent.

* He did not lead the AL in homers. Paul Konerko and a couple of idiots had a handful more.

* He did not lead the league in walks, falling well off Eric Chavez's pace of 95. (Interestingly, for the first time in a fuill season since 1976, the league leader did not have 100 bases on balls. I guess Barry Bonds took them all.)

He didn't have the best OBP, Slugging %, OPS, the most doubles, triples, or steals.

He did lead the league in Runs Scored. By one.

Other than that, all he did was win. All he did was to take a team that had a losing record a year ago, and carry them to the playoffs, beating out not one, but two very good teams for a division title.

Their big-name-free-agent "ace" had an ERA over 5.00. They got 118 games and fewer than 400 at-bats combined out of their starting thirdbaseman and starting DH, not to mention barely two-thirds of a season from their starting centerfielder and cleanup hitter. This team's firstbaseman was such a bad hitter that his OPS among AL regulars with at least 450 plate appearances at that position was better than only John Olerud, who was so bad that a last-place team released him in mid-season. Talk about having your work cut out for you.

Vlad the MVPer Posted by Hello

But Vladimir Guererro did just that, and more. He took his bat and his helmet, left the concerns over his gimpy back in the clubhouse, and went out every day to prove that the Anaheim Angels' 5-year, $70 million investment was not a waste. He picked up the team in September, hitting ten homers, winning AL Player of the Month honors and virtually holding open the door to the playoffs for his teammates, the Angels' first division title since 1986. All for the bargain-basement price of $11 million this year. Chan Ho Park This in the Right Field Stands made $13 million.

Oh, and he put fannies in the seats. Almost 3.4 million people came out to Edison Field this year, many of them to see their new star right fielder. That increase of over 300,000 from last year set an Angels' record. Most Valuable, indeed. In more ways than one.

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