Friday, August 22, 2003


I'm happy that Barry Bonds hit his second walk-off homer in three days, because those are the kinds of things that MVP voters like to see.

I'm not making this post to argue that Bonds should be the NL MVP this year, however. I'm just making a quick post to point out something ridiculous.

Yesterday, I wrote about Alex Rodriguez and the ridiculous month he is having, hitting .360/.478/.933 (1.411) in August through yesterday.

Well, since the beginning of July, Bonds is hitting .413/.581/.981 (1.562).

That is simply absurd. And, as one of you pointed out yesterday, it gets even more absurd because the month that Rodriguez is having isn't really much better than what Bonds has done the last three years.

Since the beginning of the 2001 season, Bonds is hitting .344/.540/.812 (1.352).

That's almost three full seasons, and that's simply unbelievable.

Last week, one of the columnists at the paper I work for asked me who I thought the Greatest Living Ballplayer is now. I said that I think I might have to go with Bonds. The man is simply unreal, and I think he'd go down as the second-best player of all-time even if he retired today.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

I'm back, and so is ARod

First of all, I'd like to thank everybody who continued to check this site during my absence. I really do appreciate. Second, I'd like to say that it's good to be back.

I had a great time the last 2-3 weeks with my increased responsibilities at the paper. I got to write 10 stories from Buffalo Bills training camp and five stories from the PGA Championship and I got a ton of recognition from the higher-ups at the paper (hopefully, that has an immediate, positive impact). However, I have very much missed blogging every day, so it's kind of nice to be winding down a little (and getting internet access back at home helps too).

Now, back to blogging.

I was checking out today, as I often do, and I noticed Sean McAdam's story about the AL MVP race. As you may also have noticed if you read the story, a certain star shortstop is not mentioned at all.

Earlier this season, I wrote that Alex Rodriguez was not the clear-cut best offensive shortstop in the AL as he had been in the past couple seasons. Apparently offended, Rodriguez has hit .366/.489/.930 (1.419) in August so far.

Look at those numbers again just in case you didn't realize the first time how impressive that is. Bret Boone, who is mentioned in McAdam's story as an MVP candidate, ranks ninth in the AL with a .929 OPS. Rodriguez's SLG during August is one point higher than that, at .930. That, my friends, is just ridiculous.

I know what some of you are going to say now. Rodriguez can't be the MVP, his team's in last place. They could still be in last place without him.

Well, the Texas Rangers are in last place, but not alone. With a win yesterday and an Anaheim loss, the Rangers moved into a tie for third place at 60-67.

Want to guess how many games the Rangers have lost in August (the month during which Rodriguez has turned into an offensive force unlike anything the world has ever seen out of a shortstop)?

Four. Out of 19.

The Rangers have gone 15-4 in August so far to pull into a tie for third place with the Angels. I don't think I need to tell you exactly who is most responsible for this incredible surge.

I know I'll never convince most people that a player on a losing team might be the most valuable player in the league, but I think you can see just how important Rodriguez has been to the Rangers, especially in August.

Now, let's see how Rodriguez stacks up against the rest of the candidates for the AL MVP award.

Rodriguez is currently hitting .305/.400/.602 (1.002) with 36 homers, 99 runs, 93 RBI and 16 steals in 18 attempts (88.9-percent success rate) and he has not missed a game this year. He's first in the AL in homers, sixth in RBI, first in runs, eighth in walks (66), seventh in OBP, first in SLG and second in OPS.

He is benefiting from the park he plays half his games in, but not as much as you might think. Rodriguez is hitting .323/.410/.622 (1.032) at home and .286/.389/.581 (.970) on the road. Even if you just compared Rodriguez's road numbers to everybody else's overall numbers, he'd rank 10th in the AL in OBP, second in SLG and fourth in OPS.

The only player who has a higher OPS than Rodriguez in the AL is Carlos Delgado at 1.025. The difference, of course, is that Delgado provides below-average defense at first base and Rodriguez provides above-average defense at shortstop. Also, Rodriguez certainly adds more value on the basepaths, both with his stolen bases and because he can take an extra base on other player's hits more often.

By the way, Delgado is being helped by his home park even more than Rodriguez is. Delgado is hitting .359/.462/.705 (1.167) at home and just .249/.397/.493 (.890) on the road.

So, it's entirely possible, just by looking at generally accepted stats, that Rodriguez provides more offense than any other player in the AL. He also plays a very important position, and plays it well by most accounts, and has not missed a single game.

Let's take a look at some less-conventional stats to see where he stands there.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Rodriguez ranks sixth in the AL with a .330 EqA (Equivalent Average is a measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching). Of the five players ahead of him on that list, four are 1B-LF-DH types (Jason Giambi, Delgado, Manny Ramirez and Edgar Martinez) and the one who isn't (Melvin Mora) has only played 85 games.

Rodrigez ranks second in the AL with 105.1 EqR (this is simply Equivalent Runs, which combines your EqA and the amount you have played). Giambi is slightly ahead of him at 106.9 and he is slightly ahead of Delgado (103.8) and Ramirez (102.9).

In RARP (runs above replacement position, which measures how good a hitter you are compared to other hitters at your position), Rodriguez easily leads the AL with 64.2. Giambi is second at 57.3 and nobody else is above 55.

So, there you have it. You may or may not care, but if the season ended today, Rodriguez would be the MVP of the AL. Of course, he wouldn't win the award.

In fact, I think Rodriguez's legacy as a baseball player will be three-fold: the best shortstop of all-time, the first player to have a $25-million contract and the player who missed out on the most deserved MVP Awards.

This year will likely make four (at least) and counting.