I love MVP discussions. Everyone has his own idea of what constitutes the most valuable player on a team. Some people rely on more advanced statistics to evaluate player value, while others believe in intangibles like leadership and grit. Some people think that pitchers should not be included in these discussions, since there is a separate award for the best pitchers in both leagues, but others argue that pitchers do have value like position players and therefore have to be included in the conversation. Ken Rosenthal thinks Delmon Young is the most valuable player in the American League this year, others think it’s Robinson Cano (and I agree), and still others think it’s Josh Hamilton. Anyway, I agree with Nick Nelson: while Delmon is having a nice season, he isn’t the league MVP; he isn’t even the best player on his own team. See where Delmon ranks amongst his own teammates, after the jump.
Here is how I would rank the most valuable players on the team (For the sake of thoroughness, I included both Fangraphs’ and Baseball-reference.com’s WAR values. They tend to differ a bit because they use different defensive metrics in their calculations. Dave Appelman explains it better than I can here):
Joe Mauer: .331/.405/.489, .381 wOBA, .158 ISO, 4.4 fWAR, 4.9 rWAR. Joe Mauer is hot.
Erm, I mean at the plate. In the second half of the season. He got off to a very unMauer-like .293/.368/.424 start, but he’s been on fire since the All-Star Break. Whether it was due to injury, bad luck, adjustments by opposing defenses, or a combination of three, it is good to have the reigning AL MVP back in MVP form, especially with Justin Morneau out indefinitely.
Francisco Liriano: 3.45 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 3.00 xFIP, 2.71 tERA, 3.30 K/BB, 5.5 fWAR, 3.9 rWAR. Here’s where the WAR numbers really vary. Fangraphs has Liriano as the best pitcher in the league, while Baseball-reference thinks Liriano is very good, but not one of the best in baseball. Either way, I’m not sure where this team would be without the resurgent F-Bomb leading the rotation, so I decided to put him in second place. His 12.6% whiff rate leads the entire league, and he ranks fourth in strikeouts with 165. While his FIP might look good because of his unsustainably low home run rate, I’m not sure that matters much. He’s given up three home runs all year. Certainly, he has been lucky that so few of his fly balls have turned into home runs, but that is still really, really. really hard to do.
Orlando Hudson: .283/.355/.398, wOBA, ISO, 3.1 fWAR, 2.4 rWAR. The biggest knock against Hudson thus far has been his health. He’s missed about 30 games with a variety of injuries, but he’s otherwise been everything the Twins could have asked for in a second-baseman. I would have put the O-Dog higher than Liriano if he hadn’t missed nearly a third of the season.
Carl Pavano: 3.52 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 3.91 xFIP, 3.99 tERA, 3.45 K/BB, 3.1 fWAR, 4.0 rWAR. Yeah, he’s been about as lucky this season as he was unlucky last year, but any way you look at it, Carl Pavano has been fantastic as a Twin. He’s behind F-bomb in both strikeouts and home runs allowed, but he leads the American League in shutouts (with two) and his five complete games are tied with Felix Hernandez and Adam Wainwright for the third-most in all of baseball (behind Roy Halladay’s 8 and Cliff Lee’s 7). Pavstache will be a free agent at the end of the season, and I am really torn about what the Twins should do. On the one hand, I really don’t want to see him go, but on the other hand, mmm…supplemental draft picks.
Justin Morneau: .345/.437/.618, .447 wOBA, .274 ISO, 5.2 fWAR, 5.3 rWAR. The Canadian Crusher is still leading the team in both fWAR and rWAR despite the fact that he hasn’t played in a game since July 7th, but obviously I can’t put him at the top of the list because he has missed so much time. I might feel differently if he comes back in September and helps the Twins clinch the division, but right now I can’t say that he’s the most valuable player on the team.
And then there’s Delmon:
.316/.347/.412, .367 wOBA, .196 ISO, 1.9 fWAR, 0.7 rWAR. Delmon has definitely improved a the plate this season, but he’s still terrible in the field no matter what defensive metric you use. UZR has him at -8.3, Revised Zone Rating has him at a mediocre .862, Total Zone has him at, -24, BIS at -17, and John Dewan’s +/- rates him at -14 runs below average. His 39 Out Of Zone (OOZ) plays rank as the seventh-least of all everyday left-fielders in all of baseball. With a 131 wRC+, Delmon is finally hitting well enough to make up for all of the runs he costs his team in the field, but that doesn’t make him one of the most valuable players in the league.
Erin is a contributing writer for Twinkie Talk. You can follow her on Twitter or email her at erinm725 [at] gmail [dot] com.