Saturday, November 22, 2003

A Musing Interview

Richard Lederer has his third off-season interview posted now. This one is with Baseball Musings author David Pinto. It's another interesting read, so go check it out.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Warning: non-baseball post

So, I finally got around to seeing The Matrix Revolutions and I must say that I enjoyed it. I had heard a lot of bad things about it, but I wasn't a bit disappointed with it. Some of the scenes were a bit too long, but I'm satisfied with the way they wrapped everything up and, unlike many people, I'm happy they made three movies.

The Matrix trilogy may be one of my all-time favorite trilogies because it addresses some very interesting questions. It makes you wonder about certain things, and it doesn't claim to have the final, absolute answer about such things. It's a good thing that there are things you are left wondering about when you watch any of the Matrix movies (if you care enough to think about such things).

There are a lot of uncertainties in the world, some of which we never even think about. The Matrix raises questions about a lot of those things, and provides some thoughtful insight into what some alternatives might be. If you allow yourself to do so, you can ponder a lot of neat philosophical questions while watching the Matrix.

The main focus of the movie is choice. What is choice? Do we have choice? Is there such thing as fate? They even pose an interesting theory about choice, saying that you've already made your choices, you just need to understand them. It's an interesting theory because it's not completely outside the realm of possibility.

What if we have already subconsciously made all of our choices already? We all have moments of indecision, of thought, of debate in our lives. Are those moments just us trying to understand a decision we've already made? If we've already made our choices, is there any way we can change them?

Like I said, these are interesting philosophical questions (at least to me, but I was a philosophy major...). And there are many more questions posed in the trilogy.

What is love? What is power? Which is more important? What is compassion? What is control? Which is more important? What is happiness? What is perfection? Is it better to have happiness and sadness both or to have perfect happiness but not be able to appreciate it because there is nothing to compare it to? What is faith? Is faith necessary?

All of these are things that people like me love to think about, and movies like the Matrix give us reason to think about these things. There is, however, one question that the Matrix almost totally ignored that I would have liked to see addressed. That would be the question of knowledge.

Most of us think that we know quite a lot of things. I know that I'm sitting in a chair. I know that I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving. I know that Rochester is a city in New York. I know that the Earth is round. I know that the Boston Red Sox won the first World Series in 1903. I know that my girlfriend is afraid of spiders. I know that 1+1=2. I know that all squares are also rectangles. I know that the sun will set tonight.

All of those are things that I know and they are all different sorts of things. The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge says that there are three conditions for a person, S, to know a thing, p:

1) S must believe p
2) p must be true
3) S is justified in believing p

The third condition is important because I could say that I believe the Red Sox will win the World Series in the year 2020. If it turns out that the Red Sox actually do win the World Series in the year 2020, I will not have known today that they would despite my believing it and it being true because I have no justification for thinking that they will win the World Series 17 years from now.

There are some problems with the Traditional Analysis of Knowledge, but I don't really want to get into all of them today. What I want to get into is the unique opportunity the Matrix had to discuss knowledge.

As you may know, there are some people who are called skeptics. They basically think that we do not know the kinds of things most people generally assume we do know. One argument they use is the Evil Demon or Brain in a Vat theory. I'll give you the Brain in a Vat example, but they're really the same theory.

Suppose there are two people: Bryan and Brain. Bryan is a normal person who does normal things and has normal sensory reactions to those things. Brain is just a brain in a vat whose senses are manipulated in such a way that he always thinks he's doing whatever Bryan is doing. When Bryan eats an orange, both Bryan and Brain have the sensation of eating an orange and both think they know that they are eating an orange. Bryan is correct because he is eating an orange. Brain is not correct because he is not eating an orange.

Since it is possible to have the sensation of doing something and not actually be doing that thing, skeptics say, then you cannot have knowledge of such things because you don't know if you are like Bryan or like Brain. Many people disregard this argument because they think it's impossible that we're all just brains in vats being prodded in such a way that we feel like we're doing things.

However, that's exactly the scenario the Matrix provides. Every human being is hooked up to a computer program that makes them think they're living a normal life when in fact they're merely sitting in a vat of goo. Since every person who escapes the Matrix believes that it is possible to feel like you are leading a normal life when in fact you are just hooked up to a machine, they should all wonder about whether or not they really know anything at all.

For instance, if they were to prick their finger in the real world, they would have exactly the same sensation as if they pricked their finger inside the Matrix. How do they know that this is real when that was fake?

How do they even know they've escaped the Matrix? The machines realize that some people will not accept the Matrix program and will want to rebel against it. What if they created a Matrix sub-program for those rebels that makes them think that they have escaped the Matrix and are living in the real world and are helping other people to escape the Matrix, but really they're still in their vat of goo?

Isn't that at least a possibility if it was possible to be hooked up to the Matrix in the first place? You think people are upset about the Matrix movies now? Imagine if the third movie had ended with the revelation that everybody was still hooked up to the Matrix and none of that stuff had actually happened.

At the very least, I would have liked to see some discussion about knowledge in the movies, but that's about my only real criticism. And maybe they thought about including it but decided that it would be too confusing for most people to care about, I don't know. Overall, though, I'm very pleased with the Matrix trilogy and I don't really understand most of the criticisms that have been levied against it.

Maybe I'm just weird though. At any rate, back to baseball tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Catching up

Nothing really major has happened recently, but there have been quite a few transactions over the past week or so and I haven't really said much about any of them yet. So, today I'm going to give my thoughts on some of the things that have been going on.

First, I want to talk about three free agent signings that say a lot about the teams that made them. Here they are:

Toronto signs Pat Hentgen

Seattle signs Raul Ibanez

Houston re-signs Jose Vizcaino

One of those free agent signings is good, one of them is bad and one of them is just a waste of time and money. The signing I think is good is Pat Hentgen.

Hentgen had Tommy John surgery in 2001 and came back at the very end of 2002, but was not effective at all. He was not very good in the first half of this season either, posting a 5.25 ERA before the All-Star break. However, Tommy John surgery generally takes 18 months to recover from, and Hentgen posted an impressive 3.10 ERA after the All-Star break.

Now, I know Hentgen wasn't really that good over that period of time. He gave up 13 home runs (1.34 HR/9IP), walked 27 batters (2.79 BB/9IP) and struck out 57 batters (5.90 K/9IP) in 87 innings. However, he will only cost the Blue Jays $2.2 million dollars and there's at least a chance that he could pitch 180-200 innings with an ERA below 4.00. Even if he has the same 4.09 ERA for the season that he had last year, he will be an improvement for Toronto, which had a 4.69 team ERA last year.

The Blue Jays have signed a player who has a shot at improving their rotation a lot, and should definitely improve it at least a little, and they didn't use too much money or lose a draft pick (because Hentgen's not a Type A, B or C free agent).

Raul Ibanez, on the other hand, is a Type A free agent. Since the Mariners signed him before the arbitration deadline, they must give the Royals their first-round draft pick (Kansas City will also get a sandwich pick). In return for this draft pick and what is reportedly a $13-million deal over three years, Seattle gets a 31-year-old left fielder who doesn't play defense well and who hit .294/.345/.454 (.799) in a great hitter's park.

Ibanez hit .316/.361/.482 (.843) at home this year and .274/.328/.427 (.755) on the road and now he moves to a great pitcher's park. The absolute best numbers I could see Ibanez putting up next year are .280/.340/.430 (.770). Want to guess what the left fielder Ibanez will be replacing did this year? Randy Winn hit .295/.346/.425 (.771) and he played much better defense than Ibanez did.

And that comparison is assuming that the Mariners re-sign Mike Cameron, who hit .253/.344/.431 (.774), and get rid of Winn, which certainly isn't a sure thing. It's entirely possible that they won't be able to re-sign Cameron and Winn will end up playing center field. In that case, Seattle's defense would suffer in center field and in left field and the offense wouldn't improve at all (and it would probably get worse, because I don't really think Ibanez will reach the absolute best numbers I could see him getting).

Bill Bavasi has a whole off-season remaining to get this team ready for the 2004 season, but his first move as the Seattle GM is terrible. And the fact that Ibanez will be playing in Seattle for three years would scare me as a Mariners fan, because his offense and defense aren't going to get better as he gets older.

Finally, we have the Astros and Jose Vizcaino. The Astros have moaned for a long time now that they don't have much money and they traded Billy Wagner to free up some money because they don't have enough. So, after trading away one of the best relievers in the game to save money, what do they do? They go out and spend $1.2-million on Vizcaino.

Vizcaino is a utility infielder and he's not really a good one. For his career, he's a .272/.319/.345 (.664) hitter. This year, he hit .249/.281/.365 (.646). The best OPS+ in his entire 15-year career is 91, which he did in 2002. This year, he had an OPS+ of 65, which is staggeringly bad, but amazingly only his fifth-worst OPS+ for a season in which he had at least 150 plate appearances.

What I'm trying to say is that there are a lot of players in the minor leagues who could do Vizcaino's job just as well as he does, or maybe better. Any of those minor leaguers would cost Houston a league-minimum salary, which would save the Astros about a million dollars. A million dollars may not seem like a lot when talking about baseball, but if you're going to cry poverty, you shouldn't start throwing money into the fireplace a million dollars at a time.

Houston's re-signing of Vizcaino means one of two things. The Astros aren't really poor and can afford to overspend on a subpar utility infielder by a million dollars or the Astros aren't very smart and don't know that they just wasted a million dollars. I'll give you this quote from GM Gerry Hunsicker to help you decide which it is:

"This was a very important signing for us. Jose is a very versatile player. He's a very steady player. I probably have more confidence in him at the plate when we need a big hit than I do anybody on our team. In addition, he's a quality person and a tremendous influence on his team. He's a team player, he's a quality individual and a great role model. He's certainly the type of player we continue to look to bring into this organization." (The bold is from me, of course)

Next, I'd like to discuss a couple of trades that are somewhat related:

A's trade Hernandez and Long to San Diego for Kotsay

A's trade Lilly to Toronto for Kielty

Let's look at what this mean's for Toronto first, because the benefits are easiest to figure out there. This is an excellent trade for the Blue Jays. Toronto had an excellent offense last year and losing Bobby Kielty doesn't really hurt them because they've still got Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Josh Phelps, Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto. They also have younger players like Gabe Gross and Jayson Werth who may be ready to play in the majors next year.

So, the Blue Jays didn't really need Kielty. They did need better pitching, and Ted Lilly is a good bit better than some of the guys they had in the rotation last year. Still just 27 years old, Lilly had a 4.34 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7.42 K/9IP, 2.93 BB/9IP and 1.21 HR/9IP in 178.1 innings. That's not all that special, but he was particularly impressive in his final seven starts of the season, going 6-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 41 strikeouts, 11 walks and 2 homers in 39.1 innings.

It's entirely possible that Lilly will only be an average starter next year, but it's also possibly that he could finally put everything together and pitch a full season with an ERA in the 3.50-3.75 range. If the Blue Jays can re-sign Kelvim Escobar, their top four starters will be Roy Halladay, Escobar, Hentgen and Lilly. Is there anybody out there who doesn't think that's a whole lot better than Halladay, Escobar, Corey Lidle and Mark Hendrickson?

From San Diego's perspective, the deal's a little more complicated, but it still looks like the Padres did well. Ramon Hernandez was one of the four best catchers in the AL this year and he will be a definite asset to a team that hasn't had a real catcher recently. His offense is above average and he's very well regarded defensively. In fact, much of Lilly's success in the second half of the season is credited to Hernandez as there were reports (I don't know if they're true or not) that Lilly was not allowed to shake Hernandez off for a period of time.

The rest of the deal from San Diego's perspective is that they now have a definite (unless more trades are made) starting outfield of Brian Giles, Ryan Klesko and Xavier Nady, with Terrence Long as the fourth outfielder. The defensive alignment will probably be Giles in center, Nady in right and Klesko in left while Long is probably only better in the field than Klesko.

If the Padres still had Mark Kotsay, he probably would have seen a good deal of time in center and Nady, who I'm not sold on as the real deal, would have spent more time on the bench. This outfield is probably a little worse offensively and a good deal worse defensively, but it's probably worth it for the upgrade at catcher.

If Hernandez deserves his reputation as a good signal-caller, then his addition will be especially important because the Padres have a lot of young pitchers who could benefit from his help. All in all, I like this trade from the Padres point of view.

When talking about Oakland, we have to take the two trades in conjunction. The A's lose their fourth-best pitcher and their starting catcher and gain two outfielders who are better than what they had. Adding Kielty and Kotsay to the team will allow them to mix-and-match with Eric Byrnes and Jermaine Dye and most likely have a much better outfield than they had last year.

Losing Lilly doesn't really hurt Oakland because the A's still have Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, who are as good a top three as any team has. Oakland also has Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer, who are probably ready to be major league starters full-time now. The A's also have Joe Blanton in AA, who is supposed to be their next great pitcher. So, like the Blue Jays with their outfielders, the A's were dealing from a position of strength with Lilly.

The big loss for the A's is Hernandez, and I'm not sure exactly how big a loss it is because I don't know how they plan on addressing it. Oakland has three players in its system that it could probably use at catcher next year -- Adam Melhuse, Scott Hatteberg and Mark Johnson.

Melhuse is a 31-year-old who has spent most of his career in the minor leagues. He hit very well in his brief time with the A's this year and has generally hit well in the minors. Hatteberg has been Oakland's first baseman the last two years, but didn't really hit well enough to be a first baseman last year. He was a backup catcher with the Red Sox, but he can hardly throw at all and probably couldn't catch every day, if he still can at all. Johnson has a .311 career OBP, having played most of his games with the White Sox. Billy Beane said the first thing he would have done if he had taken the Boston GM job is trade Jason Varitek and give the starting job to Johnson, who had a .369 OBP in Sacramento this year.

None of those players are great options for your starting catcher, but I'm sure Oakland could mix-and-match the three of them and come up with an adequate replacement for Hernandez. Also, they could still sign a catcher in free agency or trade for a catcher. Jeremy Brown had a nice .388 OBP in AA for Oakland, but he's probably not quite ready to be catching in the big leagues.

I'm kind of on the fence about whether or not I like these trades for the A's, and the determining factor will probably be what they end up doing about the hole at catcher. If they can fill it reasonably well, then they have done a good job improving their outfield. If not, then they probably didn't improve their outfield enough for the cost they incurred.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Time for my choices for the final award of the year -- the NL MVP award. Unlike all of the other awards, this one is between just two people. There are only two people who have a case for winning the award and, unless the BBWAA is even more screwed up than I thought, there are only two people who will get first-place votes. If everybody with a ballot is thinking clearly, there should even be only two people who are listed in the top two on any ballot, it's that obvious who the top two players were this year.

5. Todd Helton, 1B, COL

Helton probably won't get much support at all because his team wasn't very good and because most people think he gets so much help from Coors field that he'd need to hit about 80 homers to be considered an MVP, but he had another excellent season. Even when you factor in his home park, he was the best first baseman in the majors.

Helton hit .358/.458/.630 (.1088) while missing just two games this year. He had 49 doubles, five triples, 33 homers, 135 runs, 117 RBI, 111 walks and 72 strikeouts. He also had a .345 EqA, 131.9 EqR and 73.3 RARP.

He was second in the NL in OBP, batting average, walks and runs and third in OPS, SLG and EqA. He ranked fourth in EqR and RARP and sixth in RBI.

He certainly was helped out by Coors Field, where he had a 1.219 OPS. However, playing for Colorado meant that the three parks he had the most at-bats in after Coors Field were all pitchers parks -- Dodger Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium and PacBell Park. That certainly had something to do with him posting a .949 OPS on the road.

I don't think it matters that much at first base, but his defense is generally considered to be very good. So, he was the best offensive player at his position (easily the best in the NL) and he's a very good defensive player (most likely) and he only missed two games. Sounds like he deserves to be number five in the MVP voting to me.

4. Javy Lopez, C, ATL

Lopez had an unbelievable season, and in the AL he probably would have gotten my vote for MVP. Unfortunately for him, he played in the NL, so he's fourth on my ballot. That's just the way it goes.

After two awful seasons that made everybody think he was just about done, Lopez hit .328/.378/.687 (1.065) this year. He did only play in 129 games, but he had 29 doubles, 3 triples, 43 homers, 89 runs, 109 RBI, 33 walks and 90 strikeouts. He had a .337 EqA, 101.2 EqR and 64.4 RARP.

He didn't have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, but he finished fifth in EqA, RARP and homers and eighth in RBI.

His home/road splits are very strange. Atlanta is a good place for a pitcher to play, but Lopez somehow posted a 1.252 OPS at home and a .912 OPS on the road. I don't know how to explain it, but that's what he did.

He did have a slow start to the season, post an OPS of just .745 in April. That may actually help him, however, as the voters seem to think that the games get more important as the season goes along. Here's a hint: they don't. A win in April is worth just as much as a win in September.

3. Gary Sheffield, RF, ATL

I haven't done any research on this at all, but Sheffield may have just had the best performance in history by a player that nobody is really even talking about as an MVP candidate. The fact that he hit as well as he did and is clearly third on the list is simply a testament to how good the top two players were this season.

Sheffield hit .330/.419/.604 (1.023) in 155 games this season. He had 37 doubles, 2 triples, 39 homers, 126 runs, 132 RBI, 86 walks, 55 strikeouts and 18 steals in 22 attempts (81.8-percent success rate). He also had a .341 EqA, 132.5 EqR and 73.9 RARP.

He was second in the league in RBI and third in EqR and RARP. He was fourth in OPS and EqA, fifth in SLG and batting average, sixth in OBP and seventh in homers.

He also played for Atlanta, but his splits were normal. He had a 1.013 OPS at home and a 1.034 OPS on the road. He was also very consistent, as his worst OPS was .957 in September.

Like I said, most years that would be a good enough performance to at least get you considered for the award, if not enough to make you the MVP. This year, it's enough to get you third place, without a thought of being placed higher.

2. Barry Bonds, LF, SF

1. Albert Pujols, LF, STL

Because these two are the only two really under consideration, I'm going to talk about them together. The funny thing is that I've argued many times that Bonds should win an MVP award instead of somebody else who had better RBI numbers, and this year I'm arguing for the player who had better RBI numbers. But I'm not doing it because of the RBI numbers.

Bonds was clearly the better hitter here. He hit .341/.529/.749 (1.278) while Pujols hit .359/.439/.667 (1.106). He had a ridiculous .420 EqA whil Pujols had a .362 EqA. He led the league in OPS, OBP, SLG, EqA, RARP and walks while Pujols led the league in less important categories like EqR, batting average and runs.

The numbers that concern me the most, however, are 27 and 135. Pujols played 27 more games than Bonds did and had 135 more plate appearances this season than Bonds did. To put it in percentages, Pujols had 24.5-percent more plate appearances than Bonds and played in 20.7-percent more games than Bonds.

That's an awful lot more time that Pujols spent on the field than Bonds did. You want a comparison? Pedro Martinez was unbelievably good this season, but Esteban Loaiza was also very good and he pitched 21-percent more innings than Martinez did. Loaiza finished second in Cy Young voting and Martinez finished third.

Also, Pujols performance this season is closer to being Bonds' equal than Loaiza's is to being Martinez's equal.

Bonds and Pujols are basically very similar. They both play left field and neither one is known for his defense, at least not anymore. They both played in pitcher's parks, but both hit better at home. And they both had an OPS of at least 1.000 in every month.

The differences are that Bonds was the better hitter and Pujols played a lot more frequently. In my mind, that makes Pujols the MVP, but I can see how you could disagree with me. Heck, I debated it myself an awful lot, and I would have given it to Bonds had Pujols had a season that even just a little bit less impressive.

It will be interesting to see what the voters do today. We've already seen that they don't really mind voting for good hitters from non-playoff teams because Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado finished first and second, respectively, in the AL voting. However, we've also already seen that they don't mind voting for players who don't play every day because Shannon Stewart finished third after playing just 136 games as a slightly above-average left fielder and David Ortiz finished fourth after playing just 128 games as a designated hitter.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that if Pujols does win, they voters will be giving it to him for the wrong reasons. But they've already handed out the AL award to the right person for the wrong reasons, so I'm prepared to accept the same thing in the NL. And I certainly wouldn't be upset if Bonds won either. He is pretty damn good, after all.

Monday, November 17, 2003


Time for my top five choices for the AL MVP award. This is the award I am most eagerly anticipating because it's so completely up in the air. The person who should win the award isn't as much of a slam dunk as he has been in years past --when he didn't win -- and there are at least half a dozen players for whom legitimate arguments could actually be made. Of course, there are also at least three or four players for whom the writers are making arguments, even though those arguments are the worst kind of absurd. It will be interesting to see who actually wins.

5. Bret Boone, 2B, SEA

When Boone hit .331/.372/.578 (.950) with 37 homers and 140 RBI in 2001, everybody thought it was a fluke. And with good reason, as his best batting average over the previous six years was .267, his best OBP was .326 and his best SLG was .458. However, Boone followed that up with a decent .801 OPS last year and this year he was almost as good as he was in 2001, so he has firmly put himself among the best second basemen in baseball.

Boone hit .294/.366/.535 (.902) this season, with 111 runs scored and 117 RBI. He played in 159 games and hit 35 doubles, 5 triples and 35 homers while drawing 68 walks and striking out 125 times and stealing 16 bases in 19 attempts (84.2-percent success rate). He also won a Gold Glove at second base.

Boone's EqA this season was .313, but his other Baseball Prospectus numbers are even more impressive. He ranked fourth in the AL with 121.5 EqR and 66.0 RARP. He also finished in the top 10 in the AL in RBI (3rd), runs (7th) and homers (8th).

Boone also played in a park that is favorable to pitchers and he posted a somewhat higher OPS on the road (.914) than at home (.889).

Who knows, if Boone hadn't posted a .727 OPS in August, Seattle might have made the playoffs and Boone might be the front-runner for the award. Instead, he gets my pick for fifth and he might not even finish that high in the real voting.

4. Manny Ramirez, LF, BOS

Forget all the talk about David Ortiz for AL MVP because he wasn't even close to the MVP of his own team. Ramirez was not only the Red Sox MVP, he was the best hitter in the AL this year, on a per-game basis.

Ramirez hit .325/.427/.587 (1.014) with 36 doubles and 37 homers, 97 walks and 94 strikeouts, 117 runs and 104 RBI in 154 games. He also had a .341 EqA, 130.9 EqR and 70.7 RARP.

He led the AL in OBP and EqA and ranked second in batting average, EqR, RARP and OPS. He also finished fourth in SLG, tied for fourth in runs, fifth in walks and seventh in homers.

The strikes against Ramirez are that he missed eight games (particularly five games during the most important part of the season with what some people thought wasn't a real illness), he played left field in a park where left field is particularly unimportant and the writers don't like him all that much. He's also perceived as lazy, but he's really more quirky. He forgets to do things that most people can't understand him forgetting, but he spends a lot of time honing his skills as a hitter. It's just that all of that time is spent away from view, so he doesn't really get credit for it.

Ramirez does also play in a park that helps hitters, and his OPS at home (1.028) was a bit higher than his OPS on the road (1.000).

3. Carlos Delgado, 1B, TOR

Delgado was just a touch behind Ramirez as the best hitter on a per-game basis this year and just a touch ahead of hmi as the best offensive contributor overall. He hit .302/.426/.593 (1.019), which is very similar to what Ramirez did, but Delgado only missed one game all season.

In his 161 games, Delgado had 38 doubles, 42 homers, 109 walks, 137 strikeouts, 117 runs and 145 RBI. He also had a .338 EqA, 131.8 EqR and 70.1 RARP.

He led the league in OPS, EqR and RBI and finished second in OBP, SLG, EqA, homers and walks. He also finished third in RARP and tied for fourth in runs.

The best thing about Delgado is that he was very consistent throughout the season. Yes, he only had 48 RBI after the All-Star break, but he also had an OPS of at least .945 in every month. Delgado's worst month was September, when he hit .278/.374/.578 (.952). That's pretty darn good for his worst month of the season.

The worst thing about Delgado is his home/road splits. He played in a park that favored hitters, but it doesn't favor hitters to the extent that his splits would indicate. Delgado had a 1.138 OPS at home and an .899 OPS on the road. I don't know what the explanation is, but it is a bit troublesome that his road OPS was below .900.

2. Jorge Posada, C, NYY

I don't know if Posada will actually win the award, but his case probably got a big boost from what he did in the second-to-last game he played this year. In that game, he hit a home run and drove in three runs, giving him 30 homers and 101 RBI on the season. It doesn't make a bit of difference to me, but 30 homers and 101 RBI looks a lot better to the voters than 29 homers and 98 RBI.

Posada hit .281/.405/.518 (.922) while playing 142 games. A .922 OPS for a catcher is excellent, but that .405 OBP is the best part. Posada had a .313 EqA, 99.7 EqR and 58.4 RARP. Not only was he the best offensive catcher in the league, he also led the league in games played by a catcher (tied with Jason Varitek, although Ramon Hernandez did start more games at catcher, 133-131).

Posada finished fifth in the AL in OBP, sixth in RARP and walks and 10th in OPS and EqA. Also, like Boone, Posada played in a home park that is favorable to pitchers. Posada's home OPS (.918) was a little bit lower than his road OPS (.926).

Posada was also fairly consistent, as his worst month was May, when he posted an .839 OPS.

1. Alex Rodriguez, SS, TEX

It's funny that after so obviously deserving the MVP award on more than one occassion in the past, Rodriguez may finally win it this year with what's probably the fifth-best season of his career. The reason I think Rodriguez might win is the same reason a lot of other people do. Writers will hand out first place votes to a lot of different players this year, but Rodriguez will be the only player who consistently appears in the top two or three. At least, I hope that's how it will work, because he deserves to win.

Rodriguez hit .298/.396/.600 (.995) with 30 doubles, 6 triples, 47 homers, 87 walks, 126 strikeouts, 124 runs, 118 RBI and 17 steals in 20 attempts (85-percent success rate). He had a .326 EqA, 130.5 EqR and 79.1 RARP while winning a Gold Glove at shortstop.

He led the league in RARP, SLG, homers and runs and finished second in RBI. He was third in OPS, EqA and EqR and eighth in walks and OBP. Basically, there are only three strikes against him.

The first is that he played for a last place team, which I don't care about. If he had been hurt before the season and had to miss the whole year, the Rangers may have taken a run at losing 100 games for the first time since 1973. Just because his value didn't translate into a winning record for the team, doesn't mean he didn't have value to the team.

The second strike is that Texas is a nice place for a hitter to play and his OPS at home (1.028) was significantly higher than his OPS on the road (.961). However, even if he had posted that road OPS as his season OPS, I still think he would deserve the MVP award, so I don't think this strike holds much weight either.

The final strike is that he wasn't the most consistent hitter, as he posted just a .778 OPS in May, during which time the Rangers went just 12-15. So, he may not have helped his team much then, but he certainly helped the Rangers a lot in August when he had a 1.303 OPS and Texas went 17-12.

All in all, I think Rodriguez added the most value to his team, and I hope he finally gets the award that he has deserved for awhile now.

Tomorrow, I'll have my NL MVP choices and later this week (hopefully Wednesdsay, but maybe not til Thursday) I'll have a fun post looking back on the season.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Another good interview

Richard Lederer has his second interview of the off-season posted right now. This one is with Alex Belth, who himself is probably best-known for his excellent interviews with baseball writers. Go see what Alex has to say when he's the one answering the questions, it's a very good read.