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Why Rodriguez Is the Right MVP Choice

By Yong-yi Zhu

COLUMNIST

What is valuable? Is it defined only through a player’s bringing his team to the playoffs? Do a player’s stats have anything to do with his value to the team at all? And what about the leadership and heart that he brings to the field? Well, the voters had a hard time deciding this week what is the true determinant of an MVP, and so the end result appears to please nobody. After all the votes were tallied and the scores counted, Alex Rodriguez, the $250 million man, ended up being the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

What were the writers thinking, voting a man on a last place team to an MVP? That’s only been done once before, by Andre Dawson in 1987. What were the writers thinking, voting a man who didn’t play at all in the pressure of a pennant race? Most of the players voted on were on contending teams.

Were they all right, making the choices that they did? After all, A-Rod only had 47 homers with 118 RBIs. He only led the AL in runs, home runs, and slugging percentage, was second in RBIs, third in OPS, and in the top 20 in most other statistical categories including stolen bases. Those stats shouldn’t really matter, since A-Rod wasn’t under the same pressure as the other players in pennant races. Just listen to how insane that sounds. The guy has a ton of talent, and he plays like it. Not only that, but he also plays with heart and leadership. He is the perfect man to lead by example after all.

In fact, A-Rod is valuable to the Rangers, contrary to everyone’s belief. Without him, there would be nobody to build a team around. In fact, they’ve begun to build the semblance of a team with Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock. Thus, he’s worth every cent of his contract, unlike some. (Chan Ho Park, cough cough)

Sure, he didn’t play on a team that went to the playoffs, but that’s not his fault. I think that had he not been there, the Rangers might easily be in the same ranks as the Tigers. You put him anywhere else, and he’ll give an extra five or 10 wins. You can’t say that about that many players. Not only is he a great candidate because of his statistical numbers, but there were a ton of other reasons why A-Rod should have won MVP. For one, there were no clear-cut candidates this year, and all the voters were aware of that.

Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Nomar Garciaparra were all good candidates. That means they should cancel each other right out. If the Red Sox were missing any one of them, they wouldn’t completely tank, I’m sure. The fact that the entire Sox line-up is filled with All Stars shows how they are all valuable, and none of them is the most valuable. In fact, nobody knew how valuable Manny was since he got votes in all 10 rounds of voting. Those three finished 5, 6, and 7 in the voting.

Shannon Stewart was also a candidate, as he received 140 points in fourth place. He helped by lifting Minnesota to the central title, but it was clear that his numbers didn’t even come close to being outrageously good.

Another potential candidate was Jorge Posada. Sure, he did help the Yankees to the pennant, but were we ever in question about whether the Yankees would make the playoffs? It could have been me catching for them, and their run production would not have mattered too much. He ended up receiving 194 points and was third.

The other man, A-Rod’s closest competitor, Carlos Delgado, wasn’t really on a winning team either. He was with the Blue Jays, and they fell out of contention quite early on. So, he shouldn’t win MVP by the voters’ original standards anyway.

That leaves A-Rod. There is nothing wrong with voting someone who is statistically superior if there are no other viable candidates, and this race was clearly a case of that. If anyone can make a stronger case for some one else, I wouldn’t mind hearing it.

Some may say that this vote begs the future voters to consider their criterion for an MVP. Maybe the league should specify some nominations for the player, or the league should have some criterion for the vote. However, as of now, there are no requirements for this award. It’s left open to interpretation for the voters. It is a voting process because it allows everyone’s opinions to be heard. Since nobody came out boldly and made a statement, it went to A-Rod. Those 47 home runs are real. These supposedly unwritten laws of MVP standards are not.