Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why couldn't Quentin be the AL MVP?

Alternate title: Why Jon Heyman is not as insane as he first appears.

The MVP picks made by SI.com's Jon Heyman are, at first glance, totally crazy. He picks Manny Ramirez for National League MVP and relegates Albert Pujols to fifth on his ballot -- behind C.C. Sabathia, Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge. He gives Francisco Rodriguez -- he of the seven blown saves, more than all but four American League relievers -- the nod as American League MVP. He doesn't even list Tim Lincecum among his top three Cy Young candidates in the National League, selecting Johan Santana, Sabathia and Lidge instead.

But a closer look at one of his ballots reveals that Heyman might not be entirely insane.

(Note to self: You're about to agree with Jon Heyman, sort of. You'd better be awfully sure of your position. Are we good? Good. Let's go.)

Behind K-Rod on the American League MVP ballot, ahead of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox as well as Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer of the Twins, is Chicago's Carlos Quentin. What that says to me is that if you managed to convince him that Rodriguez was a ridiculous choice for MVP, Quentin would be his next choice.

And that gets me to thinking: Shouldn't Quentin be getting more love for American League MVP than he's getting?

Everyone seems to be on the same page with the same knee-jerk reaction: Quentin broke his hand on Sept. 1 and hasn't played since; therefore, he's not going to win the MVP.

But why shouldn't he?

Quentin, it's worth pointing out, finished second in the American League in home runs (36), ceding his lead to Miguel Cabrera only on Sept. 27. Nonetheless, Quentin finished with 36 home runs and 100 RBI, and he finished third in the American League in OPS behind only Milton Bradley of Texas and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.

His OPS+ (on-base-plus-slugging adjusted for ballpark and league) of 149 is higher than that of Pedroia (123), Grady Sizemore (128), Mauer (135), Morneau (135) and Youkilis (145); as far as I can tell, only Rodriguez (153) has a better OPS+ among American Leaguers.

No, Quentin didn't play during the final month of the season. But he was one of the big reasons that a team that wasn't supposed to contend this season spent most of the season in first place and eventually captured the American League Central in a one-game playoff. He played in 130 games, and he more than put up the numbers needed to win the award.

He's not going to win it. But the numbers he put up during the first five months of the season -- particularly if you're of the opinion that Sabathia ought to garner some hardware consideration in the National League -- are worth considering rather than being automatically disqualified.

No comments: