Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Report: Top Five WTF Most Valuable Player Candidates

With 2010 MVP voting now in the books (and belated “Hey, nice job” to Toronto’s own Joey Votto), it’s time to reflect on some “head scratchers” in past MVP votes—players who received consideration in spite of otherwise pedestrian careers. These no doubt made sense at the time but appear dubious out of context.

5. Dick Schofield, SS, California Angels, 1986
Schofield was a good (not great) fielder and a good (not great) base stealer during his career. The Angels won their division in 1986 and Schofield was one of four Angels to receive MVP votes that year (Wally Joyner, Doug DeCinces and Mike Witt were the others). 13 home runs and 23 steals are actually decent for a shortstop. A 0.249 average—not so much. Side note: I once saw Schofield and ex-teammate Kirk McCaskill checking out a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens. They shared popcorn.

4. Bill Almon, SS, Chicago White Sox, 1981
A career year for a middling shortstop in a strike shortened season apparently translates to MVP consideration. Almon was a versatile stop gap for a number of teams that never did anything and somehow dazzled voters in 1981 with a career high 0.301 batting average, ignoring a less impressive 4 home runs, 0.341 OBP, etc.

3. Deivi Cruz, SS, Detroit Tigers, 1997
Third and final shortstop on the list. Please pick up on the trend of me picking on shortstops. Perhaps these were sympathy votes since his parents butchered the spelling of Deivi/Davey. Whatever the case, Cruz impressively managed to factor into most the MVP and ROY discussion while wielding a truly forgettable 0.241/0.263/0.314 resume. Again, I’m assuming sympathy.

2. Lew Ford, OF, Minnesota Twins, 2004
Considering Ford played recently, I remember next to nothing about this guy. Something of a “late bloomer”, Ford put together a solid rookie campaign in 2004 (15 home runs, 72 RBIs, a 0.299/0.381/0.446 line) and followed that up by not doing much to follow up in future seasons. Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel gobbled up Ford’s at-bats and he faded to black after the 2007 season at age 30. He spent the 2010 playing for Guerreros de Oaxaca in the Mexican League, swatting 5 home runs as the token “Gringo”.

1. Scott Eyre, RP, San Francisco Giants, 2005
It’s amazing that a man who averaged just over 2/3 innings/appearance would merit chatter as the MVP of the National League. But noted “Loogy” Scott Eyre turned the trick in 2005 for the Giants. He had a great season, leading the circuit with 86 games, striking out almost a batter/inning and keeping hitters off balance with a 1.083 WHIP. But seriously. This is ridiculous. Somewhere, Rob Murphy and Buddy Groom are fighting back tears.

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