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Your 2006 MVP’s: Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau

Over the past two days, Major League Baseball announced its Most Valuable Players for the 2006 season. Yesterday, Ryan Howard was crowned the MVP of the National League. Today, the AL honor went to Justin Morneau. Many fans disagree with these choices, but to them I say, deal with it. The two players who got the awards were in fact the Most Valuable Players this season. Here’s why…

NATIONAL LEAGUE


NL MVP: Ryan Howard

In the National League, there were only two players with a legitimate claim to the award. They were Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard, and while both were amazing this season, only one could take home the hardware. If you look only at the “basic” numbers, Albert Pujols bested Ryan Howard in all but two categories. Here are the stats for Howard and Pujols from this season…(Howard/Pujols)

  • Batting Average: .313/.331
  • On-Base Percentage: .425/.431
  • Slugging Percentage: .659/.671
  • Homeruns: 58/49
  • RBI: 149/137
  • Runs: 104/119
  • Doubles: 25/33
  • Triples: 1/1
  • Walks: 108/92
  • Strikeouts: 181/50
  • Howard with RISP: .256/.423/.518
  • Pujols with RISP: .397/.535/.802

Pujols: “Wait, my stats were better, how did I not win?”

Clearly, Pujols beats Howard if you go by the basic numbers because Howard’s stats are better than Pujols’ in just two categories: Homeruns and RBIs. I say basic, because Howard actually did better than Pujols in the 2nd half of the season, when it really matters. Check out the 2nd half numbers for the two sluggers…

  • Howard: .355/.509/.751/30HR/78RBI/59R
  • Pujols: .344/.427/.642/20HR/61RBI/56R

As you can see, Ryan Howard is noticeably better than Albert Pujols in the final months of the season. To prove this further, look at the August and September numbers for the two…

  • Howard in August: .348/.464/.750/14HR/41RBI/25R
  • Pujols in August: .315/.379/.568/6HR/22RBI/24R
  • Howard in Sept: .387/.561/.763/9HR/20RBI/21R
  • Pujols in Sept: .368/.464/.679/9HR/27RBI/21R

I’m not going to tell an outrageous lie and tell you that Pujols’ numbers in August and September were bad; in fact, they were incredibly great. Ryan Howard however, was by far the best hitter in baseball the last two months of the season. Even though his Phillies fell short of the playoffs and Pujols’ Cardinals won the World Series, Howard meant more to Philadelphia than Pujols did to St. Louis in the final months of the playoff hunt. Both of them were terrific (for lack of a better word), but Howard’s 23 majestic Homeruns during the last two months of the season made him more valuable than Pujols.

NL MVP: Ryan Howard (1B — Phillies)

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL MVP: Justin Morneau

Choosing an MVP for the American League was a much harder task than for the NL. Instead of just two players in the entire league having a shot, one AL team (the Twins) had three legitimate contenders (Mauer, Morneau, and Santana). Add to the equation Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Travis Hafner, Jermaine Dye, and Frank Thomas, and you’ve got a whole bunch of great sluggers to choose from. The favorites were difficult to weed out, but after awhile, it became clear that the race would come down to Justin Morneau, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Frank Thomas. Further filtering showed that Morneau, Jeter, and Ortiz were much more likely to win than the Big Hurt. Here are the numbers for the top 3…

  • Morneau: .321/.375/.559/34HR/130RBI/97R/3SB
  • Jeter: .344/.417/.483/14HR/97RBI/118R/34SB
  • Ortiz: .287/.413/.636/54HR/137RBI/115R/1SB

All things considered, each of the three had a rock-solid case for the MVP award if you just look at the basic numbers. The interesting thing is, Morneau, who came away with the award, is not the best in any of the categories. The Twins’ 1st-baseman however, did spectacularly in each area, while Jeter and Ortiz both had flaws in their record.

David Ortiz’s absence in the final months killed his chances

Now, let’s narrow it down to two, by eliminating David Ortiz. I know Big Papi is the MVP in the mind of any Red Sox fan, but lets face it, he wasn’t there to help the team down the stretch, which may have been a big part of the BoSox late-season collapse. Ortiz went down with an irregular heartbeat, and while I know it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t play, Papi simply didn’t factor into the playoff chase or the Red Sox success (or lack thereof) in the latter half of the season. Now that Ortiz is gone, it’s down to Morneau and Jeter — and it’s a toss-up.

Derek Jeter’s case for the MVP was no worse than Morneau’s

Let’s take a look at the post-ASB numbers for Jeter and Morneau to try to determine a winner…

  • Morneau: .342/.399/.531/11HR/57RBI/50R
  • Jeter: .342/.405/.507/9HR/45RBI/60R

Those are as close as it gets. Jeter and Morneau tied in the batting average department; Jeter had the edge in OBP; Morneau bested Jeter in SLG. Morneau and Jeter were virtually tied in terms of HR, and while Morneau was the clear leader in the RBI category, it was Jeter who scored more runs.

Now, let me tell you why I think Morneau was more valuable to the Twins than Jeter was to the Yankees…

A quick glance at the Twins lineup reveals that aside from Morneau, the only power threats are Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Michael Cuddyer. The Yankees lineup on the other hand is filled with big time bats from 1-to-9. While Derek Jeter had the benefit of being surrounded by the best supporting cast in baseball (by a New York-sized margin), Justin Morneau had just 2-3 threats to help him out. That makes Morneau’s spectacular season a bit more impressive than Jeter’s. It also means that the Twins could not have gone nearly as far without Morneau as the Yankees might have without Jeter.

Since MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, the AL honor was correctly awarded to Justin Morneau, because he was more valuable to the Twins than Derek Jeter was to the Yankees.

I know that last statement will greatly anger any Yankees fan, but if you look at the facts, it’s true.

AL MVP: Justin Morneau (1B — Twins)

________________________________________________________________

Today’s trivia question will appear at the end of this evening’s post (Free Agent Profile: Rich Aurilia)

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One Response to “Your 2006 MVP’s: Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau”

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