Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Kemp Are My MVPs

Writing about baseball every day is kind of hard. Writing about baseball every day during the off-season is even harder. Thank goodness we currently have the Most Valuable Player awards to write and get worked up about, otherwise we’d have to resort to some semblance of creativity and talent, and we know that’s not about to happen. Speaking of lacking creativity, both of my MVP choices can be found smack on top of their respective league’s Fangraphs WAR leaderboards. I suppose, relatively speaking, that using a metric like WAR as a tool when comparing players for the MVP, I’m thinking outside of the box. But my results, no matter how I came to them, are pretty predictable and inside of the box. There’s just no getting outside of all these boxes! For what it’s worth, I believe that MVP means Most Valuable Player means Most Valuable Performance means Best Player Period. I’m not interested in some vague notion of leadership or whether or not a player’s team was in contention or not. I think that’s a pretty reasonable stance to take and it drives me crazy when people disagree with me. Like most people, I don’t enjoy it when others see things differently than I do. Conflict is aggravating!

AL MVP- Jacoby Ellsbury: All season, I really wanted Jose Bautista to win this thing. He’s such an interesting player and such a cool story that it was hard not to root against him. He was also absolutely mashing on one of my two fantasy teams. And mainstream blowhards were discounting him based on pure nonsense. The usual. But as it goes, he slowed down a bit, and Jacoby Ellsbury sped up a bit, and here we are. Picking between these two players really boils down to whether or not you believe that playing center field is really important and worthy of extra credit, which I do, and if you’re convinced that Jacoby Ellsbury played that center field at an elite level defensively, which I am. I worry that Justin Verlander is going to win this award, because the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t very good this season and because the Red Sox lost a bunch of games at an important time and Dan Johnson hit one of the most exciting and improbably home runs in MLB history—and because Verlander’s teammates were just shitty enough for just long enough that the narrative of Verlander As Singular Force And Savior was able to take over at the perfect time when everyone was bored and talking about this stuff before the final exciting month of the regular season. If Justin Verlander wins it’s going to be a bummer. Both Bautista and Ellsbury played better this season.

NL MVP- Matt Kemp: Same verse, similar to the first. Matt Kemp really did me a favor in the final month of the season by continuing to play really well and make this an easier decision. This was a purely one-sided and unspoken favor, considering that my baseball player evaluations should really concern no one. That’s not a shot at you, I’m thrilled to death that you’ve taken me seriously enough to get to this point, but alas, it’s still the truth. So yeah, Matt Kemp plays center field, not particularly well, but well enough this season as to not be a liability. This may not last much longer (someone give that guy 160 million dollars!), but we’re not concerned with the future here, by God, we’re concerned with the past! Ryan Braun could make a case here, but him and Kemp profile extremely similar on offense, and Kemp wins the tiebreaker by not sucking at a more important position. Roy Halladay was once again his inhuman self, but I’m not convinced he was inhuman enough to surpass Kemp. How’s that for some in depth analysis? That seems like an appropriate enough tone to go out on. The tone of me mocking myself for lazy writing.

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