Why David Wright should win the MVP (but probably won’t)

Much has been made of the Mets’ epic collapse in 2007, and rightfully so. It was historic. It’s been ranked as high as the second-worst regular season collapse in the history of baseball. Some people with short memories even consider this to be the worst. Mets fans will not soon forget September of 2007, when their world came crashing down. It’s going to live with us for the rest of our days. It was horrifying. Some day, we will tell our children about it. Books will be written, graphics will air on SportsCenter during the next major collapse reminding us of this terrible time. This will never go away. And the worst part about it is, it could have so easily been prevented.

However, the person who lost the most from the Mets collapse isn’t you or me, or any other fan. We lost a lot, don’t get me wrong, but how many of us lost an award that we rightfully earned? David Wright can. Wright had one of the all-time greatest Mets seasons, and the best numbers in the National League this season. However, because the pitching staff failed this team (in particular the bullpen), Wright not only will miss out on the postseason, but he likely will not finish as the Mets’ first MVP in franchise history. He may not even finish second.

Since the Phillies’ surge, Jimmy Rollins has received a lot of credit for their division-winning season. And indeed, he had a fine year, the best of his career. This is not to take anything away from him. However, an MVP he is not. He was not the best player in the National League this year. He may not have even been the best player on his own team. Sports journalism is a funny thing, though; a little bit of buzz can get behind a name, it builds some buzz, and suddenly, Justin Morneau is the league MVP. Now it’s happening for Rollins, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure why.

I have decided to make David Wright’s case for the MVP. It won’t have the slightest bit of impact, as I don’t believe any members of the BBWAA read MiracleMets.net. Heck, I think ballots may have been collected already. But I’ve had enough discussion and heard enough weak arguments for Rollins for MVP that I can’t take it anymore, so I’m coming hard with the facts. These are the numbers. They are hard to dispute. And they tell only one story – Jimmy Rollins’ season wasn’t nearly as impressive as David Wright’s.

Counting Stats

Counting stats are stats that are kept through counting methods, such as total number of hits, runs, RsBI, etc. Some of these are numbers I don’t particularly believe in (as I will outline below), but here is a side-by-side comparison between David Wright and Jimmy Rollins in several key counting stats.

Counting Stats

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

R

113

139

Rollins

H

196

212

Rollins

2B

42

38

Wright

3B

1

20

Rollins

HR

30

30

Push

RBI

107

94

Wright

BB

94

49

Wright

SB

34

41

Rollins

Overall Edge – Jimmy Rollins

Why the strike-through on Runs and RsBI? Because these numbers are not entirely in either Rollins or Wright’s control. In order to score runs, each player would need the player(s) who bat after him to drive him home; likewise, in order to accumulate an RBI, a player would actually need to be on base when the batter is at the plate. Runs are kind of like wins in this regard; they are great stats for comparing teams, not so great for comparing players. RsBI are just a horrible, horrible stat.

David Wright’s runs scored are not particularly high, because the players who batted after him were unable to drive him home, despite being on base a high number of times; likewise, Jimmy Rollins does not have as high an RBI count as Wright because there were fewer players on base when he came to the plate (a by-product of batting leadoff). The net result is nil, as Wright led in RsBI and Rollins in runs, so each player loses a category. I’m listing them in case anybody wants to see them and compare them, but I am not counting either as an edge for either player, because they depend too much on other players and tell you little about the individual player.

Looking at the other stats…Rollins had a few more hits, a lot more triples, and a few more steals. Wright has a slight edge in doubles and a big edge in walks. Both were even in home runs. It looks like Rollins takes this category…

But I forgot an important one – outs. The most important thing a baseball player can avoid doing is making outs. As long as a team avoids making three outs in an inning, they have the potential to score runs. A player who avoids making outs is a player who keeps innings alive for his team. Which player was best at avoiding outs?

Counting Stats

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

R

113

139

Rollins

H

196

212

Rollins

2B

42

38

Wright

3B

1

20

Rollins

HR

30

30

Push

RBI

107

94

Wright

BB

94

49

Wright

SB

34

41

Rollins

Outs

434

527

Wright

Overall Edge – Push

Now, I know what Phillies fans are thinking: “Hey, that’s not fair! Jimmy Rollins made more outs because he bats leadoff! He had more at-bats and plate appearances than David Wright! You can’t hold that against Rollins!” That’s true – but it also shows how faulty counting stats are in determining the MVP. Rollins had more hits than Wright because he had more at-bats; you could also argue that the push in home runs is because Rollins got to the plate more than Wright this year. The triples and stolen base edges are big enough for Rollins without argument, but as far as hits and homers, it’s at least debatable. Besides, outs are a good way of measuring on-base percentage as well, which we will discuss in a moment.

So counting stats are a push. Phillies fans may want to give this category to Rollins, and maybe they’re right – maybe I’m just a biased Mets fan who is trying to give Wright an award he doesn’t deserve. I’d be willing to concede counting stats for Rollins because the rest of the evidence is so overwhelmingly pro-Wright, and because counting stats are such a poor way to determine an MVP, that it’s ultimately irrelevant anyway.

So if Rollins or Wright can earn benefit in this area through one player having more at-bats than the other, how can we more objectively look at each player? I’m glad you asked, hypothetical person. Let’s take a look at rate stats.

Rate Stats

Rate stats tell how two players would fare if they had the same number of at-bats, plate appearances, and stolen base attempts. They are a very good way of looking at two players because it eliminates advantages earned due to batting order and offers a strong apples-to-apples comparison between two players, as opposed to the apples-to-oranges method of just counting stats. Let’s see how well Wright and Rollins match up in several key rate stats.

Rate Stats

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.325

.296

Wright

OBP

.416

.344

Wright

SLG

.546

.531

Wright

OPS

.962

.875

Wright

SB%

.871

.872

Rollins

Overall Edge – David Wright

Wow. Wright fares a lot better when you eliminate the advantage of at-bats and plate appearances. I mean, it’s still pretty close; Wright’s advantage in batting average is the equivalent of one base hit getting through the infield every two weeks. It’s an edge, but it’s not THAT much of an edge. Likewise, the slugging is very close as well. I would almost concede that to Rollins, because the thirty point edge Wright enjoys in batting average is not maintained through slugging, thus Rollins was a slightly better slugging player in 2007, due to his big edge in triples. The stolen base advantage Rollins enjoys is miniscule, and wouldn’t manifest itself unless each player stole 1,000 bases in 2007, but an edge is an edge.

Where Wright enjoys his best showing is on-base percentage. That is just a massive edge in OBP. As noted above, the best thing a batter can do at the plate is avoid making an out. Wright was much, much better at avoiding outs than Rollins. In fact, Rollins’ OBP for a leadoff hitter is not very good; he ranked 47th out of 75 qualifiers in the category of OBP. By this measure, even Jose Reyes was at getting on-base than Rollins, and it has almost become universally acknowledged that Reyes did not have a good year this year. Wright’s 25 point advantage in batting average is almost irrelevant, but his 72 point edge in on-base percentage is huge, and results in most of Wright’s edge in OPS.

It’s especially noteworthy because Rollins is a leadoff hitter, and really should be getting on base more often than half of the regulars in the National League, so any arguments made about how Rollins’ role as the “table setter” for the Phillies is different than Wright’s role as the “run producer” are rendered moot, as Rollins was really more of a slugger/run producer than a traditional leadoff hitter anyway. Rollins was not even as good a table-setter as Jose Reyes, albeit with far superior slugging numbers.

With the big edge in on-base percentage, Wright takes the rate stats pretty handily. But perhaps you’re the type of guy who thinks overall stats don’t tell the entire picture, that it’s how a player performs in clutch situations that determines how valuable they are. That rate stats aren’t the numbers to look at, but situational stats are the keys to the MVP race.

Situational Stats

How many times have we heard announcers, usually former ball players, mention that it’s how a player performs in the clutch that determines their worth to the team? How many times have we heard A-Rod chided as a player who can’t deliver in the clutch? I took a look at a few key situational stats to determine who plays better in the clutch. I will use rate stats here, because of discrepancies in the number of at-bats. My own personal take on situational stats is that the number of at-bats players receive in these situations is often too small to make a sound judgment one way or another, but because there are people who find these numbers important, let’s take a look.

I chose the following categories for this area: September numbers (since both teams were in a pennant race), close and late (defined by ESPN.com as “results in the 7th inning or later with the batting team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck”), runners on base, runners in scoring position, and runners in scoring position with two outs.

Situational Stats

September

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.352

.298

Wright

OBP

.432

.333

Wright

SLG

.602

.542

Wright

OPS

1.034

.875

Wright

Close and Late

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.346

.255

Wright

OBP

.447

.318

Wright

SLG

.590

.490

Wright

OPS

1.037

.808

Wright

Runners On

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.332

.314

Wright

OBP

.433

.366

Wright

SLG

.571

.548

Wright

OPS

1.004

.914

Wright

Runners in Scoring Position

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.310

.272

Wright

OBP

.431

.339

Wright

SLG

.544

.538

Wright

OPS

.975

.877

Wright

RISP, 2 Outs

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

AVG

.200

.239

Rollins

OBP

.366

.302

Wright

SLG

.400

.534

Rollins

OPS

.766

.836

Rollins

Big Overall Edge – David Wright

Wow. I’ll admit – I was expecting the numbers to favor Wright, but I didn’t know it was going to be so lopsided. Can we please let those September numbers put aside any doubt that David Wright “didn’t do enough” this year? For God’s sakes, he slugged over .600! In the heat of the pennant race, Wright had his second-best month of the season. He put up great numbers when his team needed him most; it’s just a shame the pitching staff couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Wright dominates the situational stats in every category but runners in scoring position with two outs. Those are pretty impressive numbers for Rollins there; of the seven home runs he hit with runners in scoring position, four came with two outs. But it’s important to note that, with two outs the most important thing to do with runners in scoring position is avoid making the out – a hit will drive in the run, but making the third out strands the runner. In these situations, Wright is much less likely to make the third out. That being said, if either team needed a big hit, Wright was the one most likely to deliver it.

What about other situational stats? Numbers in your own division should also count, right? After all, how a team fares in their division goes a very long way into determining who wins out in their division. Since the Phillies won the division and Rollins is their MVP, he should have played a lot better against the NL East than David Wright, right? And the numbers are…

David Wright vs.

OPP

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

PHI

.286

.378

.614

.992

ATL

.188

.269

.406

.675

FLA

.411

.506

.589

1.095

WAS

.388

.475

.522

.997

TOT

0.319

0.414

0.534

0.948

Jimmy Rollins vs.

OPP

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

NYM

.346

.391

.667

1.058

FLA

.321

.359

.548

.907

ATL

.347

.434

.667

1.101

WAS

.220

.256

.415

.671

TOT

0.307

0.361

0.571

0.932

In case you forgot, Jimmy Rollins KILLED the Mets this year. I mean, Wright put up good numbers against the Phillies, but Rollins blows those numbers out of the water. I mean, I wouldn’t make an MVP case for Rollins based on his numbers against the Mets alone, but certainly, in a year where every little bit helped, you could make a strong case that the Phillies won the NL East because of how Rollins beat up on the Mets and Braves. I give him a lot of credit for playing well against the very best teams the Phillies would be battling in the NL East race.

Wright’s numbers against the NL East were overall better than Rollins’. However, Rollins played strong against the Mets and Braves, and Wright struggled against the Braves while not playing nearly as well against the Phillies as Rollins played against the Mets. I’ll give this area of the situation stats to Rollins by a nose, but Wright’s superior clutch numbers give him the overall edge in situational stats. Rollilns’ numbers against the Mets and Braves should not be ignored, but Wright played so much better this season in clutch situations that the edge has to go to him.

But what about an important part of any considerations for looking at numbers? Are there any factors which would positively influence one player’s counting stats, perhaps even his rate stats, over another? I believe there is…

Park Factors

In Major League Baseball, as long as the home field reaches certain minimum requirements, you can make your home field as big or as little as you want. It is really unique among major league sports in the United States – one team’s ballpark can be drastically bigger or smaller than the other, which can have real effects on a player’s numbers. Fortunately, there have been people smarter than I who have been able to determine just how well each park favors (or hinders) batters and pitchers.

Below you will find a park factor chart for this year. Park factors are determined year-to-year and examine how parks play in terms of both runs and hits. A park factor of 1.000 is considered neutral; park factors above 1.000 favor hitters, and under 1.000 favor pitchers. Looking at park factors, as well as home/away splits for players, can determine what kind of help batters are receiving at home, if any. Here’s the chart for Shea Stadium and Citizen’s Bank Park, taken from ESPN.com’s park factor rankings.

Park Factors

Stat

Citizen’s Bank Park

Shea Stadium

HR

1.418

.900

H

.988

.923

2B

.912

.909

3B

.861

1.069

Looking at the list, Citizen’s Bank Park is a hard place to hit a double, a very hard place to hit a triple, but very friendly for home runs (which contributes towards the park’s overall rating for scoring runs being 1.034, a strong hitter’s park). On the contrary, Shea is not an easy place for homers, hits, and doubles, although very accommodating for triples. In particular, the gap between the two parks for hitting home runs is huge; it is much easier to hit a home run at Citizen’s Bank Park than it is at Shea. This is something to think about as we look at the home/away splits for Jimmy Rollins and David Wright.

Jimmy Rollins Home/Away Splits

Stat Rollins Home Rollins Away
H

104

108

2B

13

25

3B

11

9

HR

18

12

AVG

.300

.293

OBP

.336

.352

SLG

.556

.507

OPS

.892

.859

David Wright Home/Away Splits

Stat

Wright Home

Wright Away

H

93

103

2B

20

22

3B

1

0

HR

16

14

AVG

.335

.316

OBP

.435

.400

SLG

.586

.512

OPS

1.021

.912

We’ll start with Jimmy Rollins. Rollins had 4 more hits away than home, which is negligible, and really, Citizen’s Bank Park doesn’t favor pitchers THAT heavily for hits. He hit 12 more doubles on the road than at home, which is a huge amount, and makes sense; Citizen’s Bank Park is not friendly to doubles hitters, or so it would appear on the surface. Rollins’ eleven home triples came in a ballpark that significantly depresses triples hitting; the fact that he has 11 at home is very impressive. I give him a lot of credit for that.

The number that sticks out for me, though, is the home runs – 18 at home, 12 on the road. Including park factors, and comparing home slugging vs. away slugging, and it is apparent that Jimmy Rollins is getting a lot of help, slugging-wise, from playing in a ballpark that favors home run hitting. It would make sense to me that the reason he has so many more doubles on the road is because hits that would be doubles on the road are going over the fence at home. Therefore, I don’t think it’s unfair to penalize Rollins as a hitter a little bit for playing at Citizen’s Bank Park – he’s getting a lot of help playing there, because the park inflates his homer totals.

Like Rollins, the number that stands out for me with David Wright is homers, but for a different reason – Wright has more homers at home than on the road. That should not be possible; Shea is ranked 21st in baseball in terms of park factor for home runs. For me, David Wright hitting 16 home runs at Shea Stadium is more impressive than Jimmy Rollins hitting 18 home runs at Citizen’s Bank Park, because David Wright is hitting those home runs in a less favorable environment. That Wright’s slugging percentage at home is 30 points higher than Rollins’ make his overall rate stats, already established as better than Rollins’, even more impressive. It should also come as no surprise that Wright’s lone triple came at Shea Stadium.

Are there any stats I’ve neglected? There’s one other area we can investigate as well.

Sabermetric Stats

I understand that not everybody accepts sabermetrics as legitimate, for whatever reason. I know of people who feel that sabermetrics are “made up stats” and that there is no basis of fact in them. That’s fine. If you don’t believe in sabermetrics, feel free to skip to the next section. You won’t hurt my feelings, and besides, I’m not going to waste my time trying to make you think something you don’t wish to believe. I am, however, a pretty big believer in sabermetrics, that there are smart people who have been able to constantly tweak and develop stats to better compare players, stats that can remove park factors from the equation and give you a real honest side-by-side comparison between two players. Thus, I’m going to include a sabermetric argument for David Wright, because as you will see below, there is a very strong sabermetric argument in favor of David Wright.

Here are the sabermetric stats I am using for this section, along with links to the definitions if you are not familiar:

Sabremetric Stats

Stat

Wright

Rollins

Edge

VORP

81.1

66.1

Wright

OPS+

152

120

Wright

WARP1

11.2

9.4

Wright

WS

34

28

Wright

EqA

.329

.290

Wright

Huge Overall Edge – David Wright

This one was a clean sweep. In every sabermetrical category, David Wright is better than Rollins, and it’s not even particularly close. Even for stats in which Rollins would be perceived as having advantages such as VORP (because he’s a shortstop, and a league-average shortstop would be a worse hitter than a league-average third baseman) and WARP1 (which has a defensive element, one area where Phillies fans like to trumpet Rollins over Wright), every single category is a blowout. In fact, Rollins isn’t even the leader for any of these stats for his own team; Chase Utley leads him across the board despite missing a month with a broken wrist, and Ryan Howard leads Rollins in every category but WARP1.

Right about now, your average Phillies fan is begging me to stop talking about stats, because Rollins keeps getting smoked. Okay, let’s talk about other areas. These areas are more subjective, and I’m sure I’ll hear arguments that I’m wrong about all of these by the Rollins fan, but I’ve made my point enough using numbers to where there really should be no further argument about Rollins over Wright when no numbers support it. Instead, let’s talk about other areas of the game.

Defense

This is a big one with Phillies fans, most of whom like to call David Wright a below-average third baseman, and cite his 19 errors as proof. You won’t see me making an errors chart here, though, because errors are a horrible stat, probably worse than RsBI and runs. They are completely subjective; different scorekeepers in different ballparks can watch the same play, and score it any one of three different ways in some cases. There is no uniform method for determining what is an error and what isn’t, so I don’t feel comfortable using this as a way to point to one player as being better than the other.

The other problem with errors is that it only tells you about how a player performs on a play they attempt to make. Some players have extraordinary range, and will make more errors because they make more plays. Others have poor range, and avoid making errors because they make fewer plays. Defensive stats in this day and age are not as advanced as hitting stats, so it is hard for me to make the kind of comparisons I made above and state definitively that one is a better defensive player than the other. There are stats out there (FRAA is an example, which I know is a component of WARP1), but I am not as well-read on them as I am about defense, so I do not feel comfortable making a defensive argument for or against either player.

That said, I do think David Wright is an above average third baseman. I have read Phillies fans who have called him a “defensive butcher” afield, and I have seen no numbers to support this. I can only assume that they have not watched enough David Wright, or are similarly unfamiliar with sabermetric defensive stats as I am. Miguel Cabrera is a defensive butcher. Ryan Braun is a defensive butcher. David Wright is an above average third baseman. Since I can only use anecdotal evidence for either Wright or Rollins, and since I have limited anecdotal evidence for Jimmy Rollins, I will avoid making a defensive argument. If somebody who is more familiar with the latest defensive metrics would like to make a case for either man in the comments, they are more than welcome to do so; please save the talk about errors, Gold Gloves, and other anecdotal evidence for another blog. Besides, it is my opinion that any defensive advantage Rollins may hold over Wright is not enough to make up for the massive offensive advantages Wright has over Rollins.

Intangibles

Another area I am loathe to bring up, not because I believe Rollins has better intangibles than Wright, (seriously, how can one man have better intangibles than another?) but because there is no way of quantifying it. Phillies fans are always quick to bring up the effect Jimmy Rollins has his teammates, but how can we know for sure? Can we really give him credit for Ryan Howard’s 47 home runs this year? Can we give him credit for Pat Burrell’s bounceback year? Can we give him credit for Chase Utley being one of the finest young players in the game? For Aaron Rowand’s career year? I mean, what did he do, move the fences in for his teammates? What does Jimmy Rollins do to make his teammates better? I’d really like to know.

I think what people are saying when they say that Jimmy Rollins makes the Phillies better is that the Phillies’ clubhouse is full of guys who appear to be having a good time together, who play ball, who look like they’re having fun. By comparison, David Wright was part of a clubhouse where the mood never seemed as joyous this year. Last year, the Mets’ clubhouse looked a lot more relaxed, this year, it was more business-like. The Mets were not as fun a team to watch as they were last year, and meanwhile, here come these rockin’ and rollin’ Phillies, who look like they really like each other, and who were full of fire and energy.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s fair to give credit for a clubhouse full of players who look like they’re having fun to one guy. I’m sure Jimmy Rollins made a lot of positive contributions to the Phillies’ clubhouse, but then again, I’m sure many other players did as well. Likewise, it’s not fair to penalize David Wright for playing on a team that by September, looked like they couldn’t wait to get out of there. David Wright never stopped playing hard; in case you forgot, his September stats are above. I watched almost every game in the month of September, and I never saw quit on David Wright’s eyes, not even during that horrible last game.

And that’s the problem with intangibles; they are so rooted in anecdotal evidence (I promise I’ll stop using the term anecdotal). I can say I saw Wright playing hard and you can say you saw Rollins leading the Phillies clubhouse and…who’s to say one’s intangibles are better than the other? They were both in different situations. There is nothing to quantify their intangibles, nothing to make you believe that one player had a greater effect on the rest of the team on the other. The only way we can compare two players and see what kind of real, on-field effect they had on their team is through numbers. That’s why you can’t award an MVP based on intangibles, otherwise David Eckstein would have won more MVPs than Barry Bonds. Intangibles can’t even enter the discussion unless two players’ stats are close, and Rollins’ numbers are nowhere near as impressive as Wright’s.

The Switcheroo

Here is my final test for two close MVP candidates (well, let’s pretend Rollins and Wright are close for the sake of this column). Put Rollins at shortstop for the Mets (we’ll pretend Reyes is a third baseman for the sake of this experiment) and Wright at third base for the Phillies (we’ll pretend…well, we’ll pretend the Phillies have somebody competent at shortstop). Who wins the MVP in this case?

Anybody who doesn’t think Wright wins this unanimously is crazy. First of all, playing at Citizen’s Bank Park, Wright probably hits at least 5 more home runs, putting his total around 35. Wright’s slugging also receives a nice boost from this, as several balls that were doubles at Shea are home runs in Philly. Wright’s numbers, already better than Rollins’, become insanely better. Meanwhile, without the boost of Citizen’s Bank Park, Jimmy Rollins’ home run and slugging totals drop significantly. Considering one of the big talking points of the Rollins’ MVP candidacy is the 30-30 season, Rollins probably isn’t even in the MVP discussion.

But the real benefit for Wright, and the reason why he would win the MVP in a walk; the stigma of the Mets’ collapse is no longer on him. He’s no longer on a team that went 1-6 at home over the last week to fall out of playoff contention; he’s on a team that’s in the postseason. That’s the key for Wright, as a lot of people seem fine to deny him the MVP because of the Mets’ failure to make the playoffs, and the epic collapse that resulted in this. Look at the numbers; David Wright is not the reason the Mets didn’t make the postseason. The Mets’ pitching staff was the reason the Mets didn’t make the playoffs. Not David Wright, not Carlos Beltran, not any player on offense (not even Jose Reyes), but because the bullpen couldn’t hold simple leads and because the starters got rocked by teams like the Washington Nationals.

Nobody would be talking about Jimmy Rollins’ superior intangibles if he played on a team that stunk. In fact, nobody ever talked about his superior intangibles on the four years in which he played on teams that stunk. If Rollins played on the Mets’ team that collapsed, none of the factors that are talked about for his MVP candidacy now would be mentioned, because he would be playing on a team that failed to make the playoffs.

With great but not amazing numbers, he wouldn’t even finish in the top 20 in the MVP voting. If anything, the Mets without Wright would not have fared nearly as well in the final standings, and likely would have lost the NL East by 3 or more games. There wouldn’t have been a collapse to begin with, because the Phillies likely would have taken the NL East division lead by mid-September and never looked back. For me, that’s the big difference – if you swapped Wright for Rollins, the Phillies win the division by even more games, and the Mets aren’t even as competitive as they were. So why is Rollins getting the MVP?

I bring this point up because it makes my original point – David Wright is not going to be MVP for reasons beyond his control. David Wright doesn’t pitch for the Mets. He’s not responsible for the bullpen’s inability to hold a lead in five out of the seven games the Phillies’ took from the Mets in late August and mid September. He saved his best ball for the final two months of the year, and put up great numbers in September to try to keep this team alive. Rollins simply did not play as well as Wright. He had a very good season, possibly among the best in the history of Phillies’ shortstops. The one thing that is being held against Wright is his team’s epic collapse. It likely cost him an MVP award. I’m just puzzled how it gave Jimmy Rollins the MVP when he clearly did not have nearly as good a season as Wright, or several other candidates.

16 Responses to “Why David Wright should win the MVP (but probably won’t)”

  1. Joeadig says:

    So, um… do you have any numbers to prove your point? :)

  2. johnadig says:

    Very nice little package ya got here Cox. I will compare this column to a Britney Spears album…its complete drivel (although you have the huge edge over Britney in writing talent), over-produced (slight edge to Britney), and packaged in a nice little box (edge to Britney, she’s got nicer tits). They both appeal to the mindless american public (people who don’t know good music & homer mets fans) who eat this shit up because thats what the tv (or in this case, Cox) says. Now I prefer to think for myself and enjoy all kinds of music and I enjoy well played baseball. Thats why I’m a phillies fan. We know hard work and we can appreciate a hard working ballclub. We enjoy players who have a certain confidence and back that confidence up with good play. We know good baseball because we watch baseball. We (I) watch all baseball, even the miracle mets. We don’t buy Britney Spears albums and we don’t buy your sales pitch on Mr. Eyebrow. And yes Joe, I said “we”. Because around here, I represent Philadelphia. Cox, the Bush administration might have a position for you on their spin-control team.

  3. Chris Wilcox says:

    C’mon John, let’s stop with the ad hominem attacks and talk about the discussion at hand. I’m talking about David Wright having better numbers than Jimmy Rollins. It’s a fact. You can try to make arguments all you want about being a “real baseball fan,” but look at the numbers. If anything, these arguments of “I watch games and I can tell you who’s better by watching the game” mean nothing to me. I deal with facts. Reread my column again. Please tell me what area of the game Jimmy Rollins is quantifiably better than David Wright. I don’t want vague recollections of “watching all the games.” That doesn’t fly here. I want facts. Bring me facts. I brought a ton of them here. All of the numbers point at David Wright being a better ballplayer than Jimmy Rollins. If anything, your comparison to the Bush Administration works better for fans like you, who assume you can look at a situation (be it the MVP race or Iraq) and can tell other people who’s better because you have some intimate knowledge that other people don’t despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Facts, John. Bring me facts. If there is a real case to be made for Jimmy Rollins for MVP, it can be made in ways other than amusing anecdotes about how well he plays the game. Calling me a homer Mets fan, when I made my case through facts and you make your case through opinions, is somewhat ironic from where I sit.

  4. johnadig says:

    we’ll see next month what the writers have to say. david wright looks like a frightened little boy when he plays, and thats a FACT! probably the fact that he acts like a pussy sways some voters, and me. i’d like to see this much research for the top 25 guys in the league. i bet there’s several guys with “better stats” than both wright and rollins, but you wouldn’t even consider them in the mvp running.

  5. johnadig says:

    The rules (and FACTS) on MVP voting:

    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.
    5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

    #3 is a big one. I’m sure in a few years, maybe even next year, Brow will grow some testes and take leadership of his team. And I’m willing to bet he’ll win an MVP or two of his own down the road, but this year goes to Jimmy.

  6. Chris Wilcox says:

    I’ve already conceded the MVP – Rollins is probably going to win it. The voters have made mistakes before; I even cited Justin Morneau in one of my opening paragraphs. I’m not sure if the BBWAA has ever voted the 15th best player in their league the MVP before, but I’m sure there’s precedent.

    Who cares what David Wright “looks like”? I don’t care if he craps his pants every time he’s at the plate if he continues to hit like he has. Look at the numbers. Please. He can continue to look like a scared baby if he continues to get on base and hit well in virtually any situation.

    I’m comparing Wright to Rollins because Rollins is the front-runner (not to mention the guy who was brought up in whatever E-Mail conversation we were having). There are cases to be made for Matt Holiday, Albert Pujols, and yes, even Chase Utley. If this were a Phillies blog, I probably would have gone through the trouble of making Utley’s MVP pitch over Rollins, that’s how strongly I feel about Rollins being overrated here. There is simply no statistical evidence that Rollins should be the National League MVP, there are no facts to back this up, and it’s going to happen anyway. Hell, if the Braves had played a little bit better, Chipper Jones would be a real MVP candidate, although he’s another case of a player who is legitimately hurt by his defense (as opposed to Wright, who is unfairly hurt by his defense). Holiday has a real case for MVP, and I wouldn’t be upset at all if he won (although he’s another player who gets a HUGE benefit from playing at home). Rollins being such a big contender is ridiculous to me.

  7. Chris Wilcox says:

    1 – This has been established as being David Wright beyond any reasonable doubt.

    2 – Jimmy Rollins played in two more games than David Wright. Why is this relevent?

    3 – This is completely subjective. Jimmy Rollins could have blown off an interview request by a member of the BBWAA and thus he won’t vote for him as a result. David Wright may have taken time to sign a game ball for a reporter and got his. Who cares? Why should this matter more than one’s accomplishments on the field? Well, it really doesn’t – the top qualification is play on the field. I assume that if the stats were close between Wright and Rollins, this might matter. They’re not.

    Barry Bonds has won seven MVPs. Jeff Kent has won an MVP. Why? Not because they’re assholes, although they are, but because their play on the field is so great, they have to be acknowledged as such. Also, I still don’t know exactly what Jimmy Rollins does that gives him the edge in this award over Wright. Does he lead any better or worse than Ryan Howard? Chase Utley? Hell, even Greg Dobbs? Was Ryan Howard a real clubhouse leader last year when he won the award, but now takes a back seat to Rollins this year? Make his case, and don’t make his case by saying “Well, Wright looks scared crapless even when he’s hitting the cover off the ball!”

    4 and 5 are irrelevant.

    I go back to the #1 qualification – who had the greatest impact on the field. That’s David Wright. There’s no question of this. There’s a reason that’s the first qualification you read, because it’s the most important. I assume the #3 qualification was added to keep Ty Cobb-types from winning it when 90% of the league hated him (seriously, check out Ty Cobb’s Wikipedia page sometime. People think Barry Bonds was hated? How many managers have ever conspired to help a player from the OPPOSING TEAM win a batting title on the last day of the season because they hated the front-runner? This happened with Ty Cobb.)

  8. johnadig says:

    You may not care what wright looks like when he plays, but it seems that many people do. If we’re only comparing wright and rollins, rollins plays like an mvp, wright is a great player no doubt, but the fact remains he doesn’t play like a leader. like it or not, thats how it is. take all the stats you want that show wright had the better year, but rollins’ stats are pretty damn good. he is the only 200-20-20-20-20 player ever, he started every single game this year, led the league in runs scored (i know that is irrelevant, but humor me), plays the second most demanding position and plays it well, and acts and projects like an mvp should. Now if you watched more than 5 phillies games this year, you would see that he plays the game with an energy that is contagious. I can’t explain it, but any true fan of the game who has seen him play knows what i’m talking about. even if you just saw how he played against your mets, you know what i’m talking about.

    I know all about Ty Cobb and have heard that story, and ya know what, i love Ty Cobb! probably because he always reminded me of my grandfather (Art of course, Joe). And I love Jeff Kent too. They were (are) professionals and view the game as a job and liken it to war. Bonds is just a spoiled, ignorant, douch bag.

  9. Chris Wilcox says:

    What does this mean, “play like a leader”? It sounds like it’s a bunch of subjective crap being used to make an MVP case for a player who lacks the on-field qualifications for the award. I have never seen this “scared baby” look that you seem to be imagining as a way to impugn David Wright’s legitimate MVP credentials. “Playing with a certain energy” is not an MVP qualification, or else Darin Erstad would be a multi-time reigning MVP. “He plays like an MVP” just means nothing to me, because he doesn’t hit like an MVP. Wright does.

    Seriously, Bonds and Kent are notorious assholes whose clubhouses HATED them both. Barry Bonds doesn’t play like a leader, he plays like the best hitter in baseball, chemically-enhanced or not (and everybody was chemically-enhanced during his days, so I’ve always felt this to be moot). Albert Pujols is a brooding loner. I can go on and on and mention the lousy human beings who don’t play with fire and energy but who won the MVP because they were great hitters. David Wright is not an asshole, but he’s not being considered for the MVP strongly because of other factors.

    The problem is, this year the field seems a bit more wide open without a single player with much significantly better stats than the other. David Wright played on the Mets, who carry the stigma of having suffered one of the worst collapses in history. Nobody wants to give it to a Mets player under those circumstances, so the talk goes to the top players from playoff teams. There are no obvious Cubs or Diamondbacks (although Eric Byrnes is starting to get some buzz for some reason). Prince Fielder is out because the Brewers had a mini-collapse of their own. The rest of the NL stunk, and while players like Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Hanley Ramirez had great seasons, (well, Cabrera and Ramirez at the plate at least) none had the kind of blowaway years at the plate you would need to consider giving the MVP to a player from a losing team.

    This leaves the Phillies and Rockies among playoff teams. The Rockies have Matt Holliday, a legitimate MVP candidate, who is ultimately flawed because MVP voters will always hold a Rockies player’s numbers against him because of Coors Field (and in fairness, he has major home/away splits, even worse than Rollins). That leaves the Phillies. Utley and Howard both missed a chunk of time this year, so they can’t be candidates. That leaves Jimmy Rollins as the MVP front-runner for the following reasons:

    1) Because his home/away splits aren’t as drastic as Holliday’s
    2) Because the other playoff teams do not have anybody who stood out in particular
    3) Because nobody on the non-Mets non-playoff teams had amazing, blowaway seasons to justify giving it to a player from a non-playoff team
    4) Because the two best players on his own team missed 20+ games each
    And the big one,
    5) Because nobody wants to give the MVP to a player who played on a team that suffered an epic collapse down the stretch, even if the collapse was totally not his fault and his numbers were awesome.

    That’s the reason Rollins is going to win. If Utley had played a full year, he would probably be the front-runner, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. His numbers were excellent and he would deserve it. You would have seen no argument from me for Utley for MVP. I would probably be writing something else right now, or I would be doing this pile of work I am letting accumulate as I write this.

    All this crap of “Rollins plays like an MVP,” beyond being a subjective argument that cannot be proven, is bogus, because that’s not why he’s winning it. It has nothing to do with his energy, his spirit, or any of that crap. Most of the writers in the NL don’t even see that regularly enough to consider that as part of his MVP candidacy. He’s winning it because of process of elimination. If all things were equal, David Wright would be the MVP this season, but they’re not, and he won’t win. I’m not saying Rollins should give the award back, but the numbers just don’t bear it out.

  10. johnadig says:

    next year cox, try WATCHING baseball, not sitting up all night studying stats. someone as closed minded as you deserves to have his blog. ciao.

  11. Chris Wilcox says:

    Who’s being close-minded here, me or the person who sticks his fingers in his ears and refuses to acknowledge the facts? I watch plenty of baseball. Please don’t give me the “you never watch the games” crap. I remember at one point in this argument, you told me that I “needed to look at the stats.” You challenged me, I provided. The stats are overwhelmingly for Wright, so now all I’m hearing is “David Wright is not a leader” or whatever other way you’re trying to spin the J-Roll argument. I still haven’t seen a real argument for Rollins as MVP other than “he looks like an MVP.” That’s not an argument for Rollins. That doesn’t mean anything to me. I can easily say “Wright looks like an MVP” and you’ll disagree, and I’ll disagree, and we just wind up yelling back and forth at each other and nothing is decided. I’ve given you plenty of tangible evidence that Wright is the better player. Give me something tangible for Rollins. Stuff like “He looks like an MVP” does not fly here and it should not fly in the MVP voting. Just admit that you have nothing, that there is no real argument for Rollins as MVP, and we can be done here. Thanks.

  12. tjv101 says:

    This may be the best piece of American writing I have ever read. You are a gifted writer and scholar. I would give you a standing ovation for your impartial article, but since people might wonder why a man in uniform is giving a computer in front of him a standing ovation with no one else in the room, I shall pass. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed you stomping on Rollins. Forget the first 200-20-20-20-20 crap. No one cares. Thats not even a legit category. 30-30 or 40-40 yes not 200-20-20-20 x 1 million. Also, Wright may not have a big mouth like Rollins but he certainly is a leader of this team. Plain and simple in a few weeks when the baseball writers association casts their ballot for NL MVP, it will be a true injustice that Rollins will win it just because his team slid into a division crown on the last day of the season because another team had a meltdown. If the Phillies finished second to the Mets, we wouldn’t be having this discussion either.

  13. tjv101 says:

    Also, how long did it take you to write that?

  14. Chris Wilcox says:

    Wrote the whole thing on Sunday – probably about 6 hours or so to gather the information and write everything up, plus time to figure out how to set up tables in WordPress (which, as you can see, I didn’t really get down perfect).

  15. Joeadig says:

    gotta say, Cox, you beat the crap out of John here.

  16. Just googled David Wright + MVP in order to find some statistically minded rational arguments, and came across this. Good article, but the real genius on this page is reading the comments. The contrast in maturity and intelligence displayed between Cox and the Phillie fan is high entertainment.

    Cox: David Wright is better at baseball than Jimmy Rollins, here is why and how.

    PhillieFan: David Wright is a fuckin pussy.

    Cox: That is untrue and irrelevant…I refer you back to the following statistics (minus some defensive metrics that would probably only serve to bolster your argument).

    PhillieFan: Yea but Jimmy Rollins has ENERGY! Fuckin energy man, knahmsayin.

    Mr. Johnadig, you are clearly suffering from some sort of brain hemmhorage or have Fragile X or something (meaning you are retarded). I am truly shocked that you know how to turn on a computer, let alone use the internet.

    Mets fans tend not only to watch the games, but to use intelligence when thinking about baseball. Phillies fans, as a friend of mine says, “are just too drunk and stupid to realize they’re not watching an Eagles game.”

    And Chase Utley is a homo. Maybe you can understand that.

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