Million Dollar Question – Does The ‘MVP Award’ Also Mean ‘The Best Player’??

Million Dollar Question – Does The ‘MVP Award’ Also Mean ‘The Best Player’??

This is an interesting question, and one that seems to come up a lot more often during MLB’s Awards week.

As the days led up to announcement of who won the AL and NL MVP Awards, I watched a lot of shows on MLB Network to get a little insight as to who the ‘experts’ thought would win the MVP.

And you know what, these voters are all using different rules.  Some take the player that they feel is the best player in the sport while others take the guy that they feel helped contribute the most wins for their teams.

Where do you sit on this??

Let me give you my thoughts.  Ultimately, I think that baseball should introduce another award called, ‘Offensive Player Of The Year’ (OPOTY).  This would allow for the voters to vote for the best offensive player in the game while keeping the MVP Award in tact and a little more defined too.  For the ‘OPOTY’, the numbers would mean a lot more – and a player like Paul Goldschmidt and Mike Trout might capture more votes as a result.  The numbers do not have to do with translating to wins, simply pure offense.  And then the MVP Award would become a more ‘true’ award that praised the ‘Most Valuable’ player – the guy that did the most to put his team in a position to win.  This newly revised MVP Award would celebrate the player with the most plays that either saved runs from being scored while also helping put their team in a position to win games by driving in runs to give their teams the lead.  I also think that this new thought of thinking would give the pitcher a much greater chance to win the award, which I think is fair.  If a pitcher wins 18 games in a season due to his efforts, can an offensive player achieve more wins based on his performance on the field?

Think about this.  In 1987, Andre Dawson won the NL MVP Award.  He was the first player in major league history to win the award for a last place team.  Since ’87, only one other player to follow suit – Alex Rodriguez when he was in Texas.  In my newly defined awards, both players were greater candidates for the ‘OPOTY’ as their contributions on the field did not result in elevating their team.


Could a player win both awards?  Certainly!!  If would be even more special…

What do you think about this?  How do you choose your ‘MVP’ when looking at the greatest talents in the game?

Time to debate!!!


10 responses to “Million Dollar Question – Does The ‘MVP Award’ Also Mean ‘The Best Player’??

  1. I’ve said exactly what you’ve proposed for years. The pitchers have the Cy Young, hitters should have some sort of award for best offensive player. Name it the Hank Aaron Award or something. Then the MVP can actually go to the Most Valuable Player. A guy could hit .400 with 70 dingers and 150 RBI and if his team finishes at 25 under .500 how valuable can he be? He kept them from going 35 under .500?

    In my mind the MVP MUST play for a team that is in the race. It’s simple…. the question should always be ‘what player is the most irreplaceable for a contending team?’

  2. So this is the criteria that the BBWAA members have followed since 1931-

    (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

    The criteria is very ambiguous. It doesn’t say that you have to vote for a player who’s team made the playoffs or that you can’t vote for a player from a team with a losing record or a player from a team that just missed the playoffs.

    I think a MVP should be awarded to the most valuable player on a winning team. How valuable can a player be from a losing team? The team lost with him and they would have lost without him.

    I agree with Brian that another award should be created and be called the MLB Player Of The Year. Any player or pitcher would eligible (no matter if they won another award or not) for this award no matter where their team finished in the standings and there would be only ONE WINNER (not one winner from each league- just one winner period). This award should be voted on by people not allowed to vote for the other awards – people like Vin Scully, Bill James, Vince Gennaro, Daniel Okrent, and Bob Costas (people that actually see more baseball than some BBWAA members do) should vote for the MLB Player Of The Year.

  3. Great debate! As I said in my comment the other day on your post about Andre’s 1987 MVP Award, I like that the MVP award is somewhat ambiguous. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much discussion leading up to the awards or afterwards.

    If it was clearly defined as “the most valuable batter on a contending or play-off team,” no controversy this year in the AL; had to be Miggy. I think basing your vote on what presented itself over the season, whether it is someone who carried his team or someone who was head and shoulders the best all-around player, makes it interesting.

    If there was a separate award for the best all-around player, I have a feeling the same guy would win throughout his prime years, a la Mike Trout probably the next 5 years. Mickey Mantle probably would have won an award like this for a 5-year span, Willie Mays for the NL. This loose definition is why it so rare and special when a guy like Miggy wins back-to-back MVPs. Every year, voters could possibly look at something different.

    Would the MVP mean as much if we removed the possibility of “best all-around” player from the equation?

    Here’s an interesting question, would having separate awards change the way we reflect back on HOF candidacy? A guy could be a two or three time MVP, which usually is an automatic qualifier to be a HOF candidate, but it would be easy to counter. “Sure he was MVP, but he clearly wasn’t the best hitter of his generation, he never won OPOTY.”

    What about someone like Ernie Banks? Rarely would he have had a chance to be MVP playing for some bad Cubs teams and probably would have been overshadowed for OPOTY by Mays or Musial.

    I think having various opinions of what an “MVP” is leads to more candidates, and more choices is always a good thing in my mind.

    • Charley- Excellent points about the history of the game and former MVP winners that played on bad teams. I did not even think about how something like this would effect the history of the sport.

      What about coming up with a new award based on the new metrics that some of today’s more advanced thinkers use to judge a player? Sure, they would use these stats and go back to judge players from other generations, but at least it would not tarnish them…

      Just another idea.

      • I know WAR is the hot metric to judge who ultimately had the best season or is most valuable now. To me, WAR is kind of theoretical. It is based on showing number of additional wins a player would contribute to his team compared to a replacement level player at that position (presuming a minor league or bench player).

        I can understand that, if Miggy goes down at 3rd, the Tigers replace him with Ramon Santiago. I don’t need a quantifiable metric to show me how valuable he becomes in term of win difference. But for every case you have like that, you also have a Wally Pip. Wally Pip goes down he’s replaced by Lou Gehrig. Doesn’t that throw WAR out the window?

        Sure you could say Wally would have a WAR of this and that based on an average replacement player. But he wasn’t replaced by an average player; he was replaced by the greatest first baseman of all time.

        I know they say if a player has a WAR of 10, then he is probably an elite player. How do we know if Mike Trout got hurt, that the player who replaces him will mean the Angels win 10 less games?

        I’m probably putting too much thought into this, but I just don’t like a stat that is based on “what if.”

      • Charley- I understand a lot of what you’re saying. I typically point to the McGwire -> Pujols transition in STL more than a decade ago. Who would have thought that a player that clubbed 60-70 HR’s could be replaced by a more valuable player???

  4. I agree with most everyone’s comment’s so far.
    Instead of rehashing what’s already been mentioned, I’ll just say this.
    I’m a little tired of seeing the big bats win the MVP Award. I look back at the winner of the 1985 MVP Award & think how special it must have been for him, a guy who only hit 10 home runs in 612 at bats. In an era of muscle and power, he not only won the award, but took his team all the way to the World Series. He’s my favorite Most Valuable Player. He’s my All Time Favorite Player. He is Willie McGee #51

    • Gerad- I know how much McGee means to you. It’s nice to see you so loyal to him. I never had a ‘home team’ as a kid since I grew up in FL. I can only imagine how cool it would have been to grow up in a MLB city.

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