Let me show you stats for two players:
R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Player A 118 17 83 .326 .376 .493
Player B 104 35 103 .302 .392 .573
Both of these players are infielders with a shot at a gold glove. Player A played in 19 more games than Player B. If you forecast the Runs based on the extra 19 games played, Player B would have 118 Runs. Player A has been mentioned by many as an AL MVP candidate. Player B has been mentioned by no one.
If you haven’t guessed yet, Player A is Dustin Pedroia. Player B is Alex Rodriguez. To be fair, Pedroia has performed much better in key situations. I’m not suggesting that A-Rod deserves to be the MVP, because he doesn’t. I don’t think anyone believes he does (except maybe his mother and Madonna). I’m just saying that I can’t understand why Pedroia would even be mentioned.
Now that I’ve told you who shouldn’t be the MVP, let me tell you who does deserve consideration. Milton Bradley led the AL in OPS, but he didn’t play in enough games. Neither did Carlos Quentin, who probably had the best season of any hitter and may deserve the award in spite of his injury. Aubrey Huff, Josh Hamilton, and Miguel Cabrera all put up great seasons, but may be hurt by the fact that their teams didn’t make the playoffs. Josh Hamilton may be the most deserving of the three, and it’s certainly not his fault that his team has no pitching.
How about players who fit the profile that MVP voters love? Far be it from me to campaign for a member of the Red Sox, but Kevin Youkilis would be a far better choice than Pedroia and he has 115 RBIs.
That’s not who I would vote for if I had a vote. My vote would go to Cliff Lee. He dominated the AL this year with his 22-3 record and 2.54 ERA. He has two strikes against him as far as MVP voters go though. 1) He’s a pitcher and 2) He plays for a team that didn’t make the playoffs. If I was pressed to vote for a hitter I would go with Carlos Quentin, with Josh Hamilton being a close second.