Rob Neyer discusses the case of Ben Zobrist as the American League Most Valuable Player.
Just off the top: Zobrist leads the American League in FanGraphs’ Runs Above Replacement (51.5) but he’s just 20th in Baseball Prospectus’ Wins Above Replacement (4.1).
Why the difference? Maybe one of our favorite lines of all time (emphasis ours)…
Why the big difference? Simple: According to FanGraphs, Zorilla has been phenomenally good at second base, and excellent too in the outfield; according to BP, he’s been just an average fielder this season. And just when you thought the pinheads had figured out defense …
Of course, then Neyer goes in the opposite direction and deducts points from Zorilla’s candidacy for not scoring enough or driving in enough.
As a practical matter, Zobrist isn’t in the top 10 in the AL in runs scored or RBI. That’s why he’s not going to draw a great deal of support from the voters.
Of course, those are the two categories that Zobrist has the least control over.
In the end, Neyer says that he is “not convinced that Zobrist is the most valuable player in the American League.” And we have to agree. Heck, he might not even be the Most Valuable Ray. If the Rays were in first in the AL East by a couple of games, we might have a different story.
Zorilla’s MVP chances [ESPN]