“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” — Voltaire.
I’m not convinced. I know I shouldn’t admit it — not in this day and age, when being the loudest and most confident is a currency.
When it comes to voting for the major awards, I have reservations. Doing it for over three decades has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and context, as well as indecision and conflict.
Even though I use Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as a tool to better appreciate the whole player, I have reservations about it.
Let’s see if I can use Joey Gallo as an example to explain why I’m hesitant to vote based on that statistic above all others. Gallo was a 4.1 WAR (Baseball Reference) player for the Rangers this season, and I am confident that if he hadn’t been traded, he would have kept up his 1 WAR-per-month pace and reached around 6 WAR. And there would have been plenty of people arguing that it wasn’t his fault he was on a losing team and that he deserved to finish in the top ten of the AL MVP voting, if not the top five.
However, he was acquired during a pennant race and has contributed 0.4 WAR in his nearly two months with the Yankees. When the stakes are higher, it’s more difficult to win. Take note of the word “meaning.” I understand that a victory in April or September is worth the same. They do not, however, have the same meaning. In April, no one is counting magic numbers. In May, the entire team is not on the dugout’s top step, living and dying with each pitch. A gnat bite in June and a two-by-four across the skull in September is losing a game to a terrible opponent like the Orioles.
This strengthens my belief that MVPs benefit from being in a winning, high-pressure environment. Nonetheless…
I have a lot of doubts. But not in this case. Ohtani isn’t just the American League’s MVP. He is the most valuable player in the entire sport. This is the greatest MVP season in history.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has had an outstanding campaign. But I’ve seen similar seasons before. In fact, I’m not sure Guerrero is the Blue Jays’ MVP over Marcus Semien.
It’s almost as if we’ve become so accustomed to seeing Ohtani hit and pitch that we’ve lost some of the “holy crap” factor. But there is one human who has pitched 130 1/3 innings in the major leagues and has more than 600 plate appearances. There is only one person. It would be incredible if the results were No. 4 starter and seventh-place hitter.