The 2010 Michael Vick for MVP Debate Verdict

November 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

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How ironic that I am writing about one of the best quarterbacks in football as I watch a Monday Night Football matchup that features two of the worst quarterbacks in football.

The Cardinals and 49ers this season have been a revolving door at the quarterback position, as guys like Matt Leinart, David Carr, Alex Smith, Max Hall, Troy Smith, and Derek Anderson have all at one time or another been tagged as the “starter” for these two franchises. Although it is unlikely that we will hear the names Derek Anderson or Troy Smith brought up in MVP conversations anytime soon, when this season kicked off they probably would have been considered HEAVY favorites over a guy like Michael Vick.

But here we are, week 12 is now in the books, and Michael Vick is performing as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

There is no denying the impact he has had on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. His performance has almost assuredly earned him many accolades already – team MVP, Pro Bowl, and as Loyal Homer suggested, Comeback Player of the Year. But league MVP?

Babe Ruthless, despite an obvious dislike for Michael Vick the man, feels that his successes on the field simply cannot be ignored when discussing the players who are worthy of being named the most valuable. Considering some direct comparisons between Vick and his counterpart, Kevin Kolb, it is nearly impossible to deny just how valuable Vick has been to his team.

Both quarterbacks got an opportunity to face the Washington Redskins this season. For his part, Kolb was 22 of 35 for 201 yards, one TD and one pick, while Vick, just six weeks later, went 20 of 28 for 333 yards, four TDs, no INTs, and added another two rushing TDs just for good measure.

Clearly, Vick is a difference-maker on the field.

But the Washington Redskins’ defense is not the barometer by which MVPs are measured, and even as well as Vick has played in each of his appearances this season, Loyal Homer does not want MVP voters to forget that Vick has essentially been a part-time quarterback.

To Loyal Homer’s point, it is hard to overlook the fact that Vick has finished less than 60 percent of the Eagles’ games so far this season. Vick has been outstanding, but guys like Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Arian Foster have been equally outstanding (although maybe not as flashy), and have sustained it over a longer period of time than has Vick.

Philip Rivers, for example, is on pace not only for a career best in passing yards for a season, but realistically could put up an all-time NFL best total for the category, having already thrown for 3,362 yards in only 11 games this season. Vick, meanwhile, comes in more than 1,000 yards fewer than that total at 1,941. There are also four quarterbacks in the NFL currently tied for the league lead with 23 TD passes (Rivers, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees). Vick has just slightly more than half of that total with 13.

I’m not one to put a lot of stock in statistics, normally, but differences like that are very difficult to disregard when we are discussing the top performers of an entire season, and so I am awarding this verdict to Loyal Homer.

I just do not feel that Vick deserves consideration for the MVP award in 2010. His value to the Eagles may be immense, but he simply did not have to sustain his performance over a long enough time to truly be compared with Rivers, Brady, etc.

In baseball this season Kansas City Royals pitcher Bruce Chen posted a batting average of 1.000. In fact, Chen has been carried that 1.000 since 2006. He only had one at bat in 2010, and has a total of only three at bats in the last four years, but over that time his average has been perfect. Does that make him better than Josh Hamilton, who sustained a .359 average over more than 500 at bats?

I do not in any way mean to diminish Vick’s performance, but who is to say that he would have remained at the top of the QB ratings leaderboard (or any statistical leaderboard) if he played the additional games against the Redskins, 49ers, Falcons, and Titans? Who is to say that Vick would not have failed epically between weeks four and seven? We will never know.

When recognizing the league’s most valuable player, there can be no room for speculation. The winner has to have been DEFINITIVELY the best over the entire season, and Michael Vick simply cannot state a definitive case.

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The 2010 Michael Vick for MVP Debate

November 28, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Since taking over for an injured Kevin Kolb during week one of the season, Michael Vick has stormed back into the spotlight as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. Entering into yesterday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears, he carried the league’s best quarterback rating at 108.7, and still had not thrown for a single interception all season.

Despite throwing his first interception of the season in a loss against the Bears yesterday, his individual performance over the course of the game remained on par with the rest of his season.

There is little doubt that Vick will be named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad at the end of the season and, assuming he remains healthy, is very likely to lead the Eagles into the post-season as one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

But, does he deserve consideration for the league’s MVP award?

While it is true that Vick has been exceptional when on the field, it is important to note that he has not been on the field all that long. He was not the season’s starter for the Eagles, and after leaving the game early in week four with an injury, he did not return to the field until five weeks later.

So, the question for today’s debate is: To this point in the season, does Michael Vick’s performance earn him consideration for the NFL MVP award?

At this point in the season, I think it is safe to assume that the Philadelphia Eagles may have been a good team WITHOUT Michael Vick at starting quarterback, but WITH him they are one of the best teams in the NFL. And, as Babe Ruthless will argue, his presence makes such an impact on the field that he absolutely MUST be considered for the award, regardless of the fact that he missed a couple games due to an injury.

Meanwhile, Loyal Homer will argue that Vick’s performance, albeit outstanding, must be taken in context. Even if he finishes the season healthy he STILL would have missed a full 25 percent of his team’s games this season when players like Philip Rivers, Arian Foster, and Tom Brady have been equally vital to their teams’ success, and they will have played the ENTIRE season to this point.

Can you be the league’s most valuable player when you did not even play the entire season? We are about to find out.

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The 2010 National League MVP Debate… Pujols Continues to Reign Supreme

September 15, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Loyal Homer.

The Holy Grail of hitting in Major League Baseball is to win the Triple Crown as the league’s leading hitter in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average, all in the same season.

Usually by this time each year, hopes of seeing the first Triple Crown hitter since 1967 (when Carl Yastrzemski became only the 16th player in history to do it) have been long since forgotten. This year, though, there is not only a possibility of one player contending for the Triple Crown – We actually get to enjoy a race between THREE of the best hitters in the National League!

Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, and Joey Votto each have a genuine opportunity to close out the 2010 baseball season by winning the first Triple Crown in over 40 years.

These three hitters each stand with a very real chance to earn the greatest hitting accomplishment in baseball, and have created baseball’s most exciting LEGITIMATE batting race (sorry Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, your races just don’t count anymore in my book) since Pete Rose chased Ty Cobb’s career hit total.

It will be fun to watch, and we can only hope that one of these three players can accomplish the seemingly impossible.

But that is not the only race that Pujols, Gonzalez, and Votto have created. As a side effect of this quest for possible baseball immortality, another very real competition has been formed between Pujols, Votto, and Gonzalez that is far more relevant to the context of baseball today. That is the race for the National League MVP.

Obviously, if any one of the three is able to pull off the Triple Crown, they should be a shoe-in for the MVP award. But let’s assume that things will play out in similar fashion to where they stand right now, and once more a season passes by without a Triple Crown winner.

Who wins the MVP award then?

While each can stake a claim for the crown, the clear frontrunner for the award in 2010 is once again Albert Pujols.

Pujols is already a three-time winner of baseball’s highest individual season honor, and has reigned uninterrupted as the National League MVP since the close of the 2008 season, and with good reason. No player has meant more to his team, and to the game of baseball, than has Albert Pujols.

Triple Crown statistics are one thing, and they already speak very highly of Pujols’ individual performance over the 2010 season. He leads the NL in homers and RBIs with 39 and 104 respectively, and has the fifth best batting average in the league.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg when you are discussing Pujols’ contributions to his team. There are other areas, arguably more meaningful to a team in the game of baseball, where Pujols also sets himself apart as being far more valuable than Votto or Gonzalez.

For starters, Pujols is not an all-or-nothing hitter. Some batters may swing for the fences with each at bat. Sure, they get their share of homeruns, but they also fail to have their share of quality at bats, often striking out in their quest for big hit glory.

Albert Pujols is different.

Compare his homerun and strikeout numbers to those of Votto and Gonzalez. Joey Votto has 34 homeruns and 112 strikeouts so far this season, and Carlos Gonzalez has 32 homeruns with 122 strikeouts.

Basically, Votto and Gonzalez are good for nearly four strikeouts to go with every one homerun they hit.

So where does Pujols fall? With his aforementioned league-leading 39 homeruns, Pujols has struck out only 69 times this season. That is less than two strikeouts for every homerun hit!

Now, let’s add walk totals into the mix – Once again, it is Pujols at the top with 85 walks, leaving Votto (83) and Gonzalez (33) trailing.

How about extra-base hits? You guessed it. Pujols leads the NL with 74, while Gonzalez (72) and Votto (66) once more fall short of Pujols’ exceptional standard.

Oh yeah, he also happens to lead the league in runs scored with 100 so far in 2010.

All of those numbers point to one single fact – Pujols is by far the most productive hitter in baseball. He is extremely smart at the plate, and is good for considerably more QUALITY at bats than either of his two likely MVP competitors.

So allow me to sum up the 2010 National League MVP race for you:

Albert Pujols has hit for more homeruns and bases than any other batter in the National League. He has personally crossed home plate more than anyone else, and has driven more teammates across the plate than anyone else. Even when he DOESN’T hit the ball, he manages to make it on base more than just about anyone else in the league.

Contrarily, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez strike out almost twice as often as Pujols, walk less, and produce much less offense.

If my team is down to their last out, and I can pick the one person I want stepping up to the plate, I am going to take Albert Pujols every single time.

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The MLB 2010 Best First Half Player Debate… A Texas Ranger Who Hits Harder Than Chuck Norris

July 5, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Babe Ruthless.

Now that the 2010 MLB All-Star rosters have been announced, who among them is THE All Star of the All Stars? That’s easy – Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

While Hamilton may not boast the “most” home runs or the “best” batting average to this point in the season, he has turned in the best overall hitting performance of the first half, not just in the American League, but in all of the Majors.

Most impressive was his absolute tear through the month of June. Beginning on June 1, Hamilton proceeded to collect 49 hits in only 108 at bats for an average of .454. He also ripped nine home runs and 31 RBI, for a slugging percentage of .815.

Those totals propelled him onto the leaderboard for every single major hitting category, something that no other starting All-Star can claim (Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera COULD have claimed this, but he was edged in voting by the Twins’ Justin Morneau).

Here is a breakdown of where Hamilton’s hitting ranks today:

    Batting Average: .339 (fourth in both the AL and the Majors)

  • Hits: 106 (third in the AL and fourth in the Majors)
  • Home Runs: 20 (second in both the AL and the Majors)
  • RBI: 61 (fourth in the AL and fifth in the Majors)
  • Slugging: .617 (second in both the AL and the Majors)
  • OPS: 1.001 (third in both the AL and the Majors)

Along with those dominating totals, Hamilton has also racked up 23 doubles (only two behind the AL leaders), two triples, and has an on-base percentage of .385.

It is a performance worthy of the most fan votes for any American League outfielder, and it earned Hamilton his third consecutive starting nod.

But the REAL All-Stars aren’t just those who turn in big individual performances. Instead, the REAL All-Stars are those who not only perform exceptionally well, but they always seem to step it up a notch even further when their team needs it. After all, baseball is a TEAM sport, and individual accolades mean nothing if they are not in support of the team.

And that is precisely what Hamilton did. His Ruthian performance during the month of June may have added some value to his personal resumé, but the TRUE value of that performance was realized by the entire Texas Rangers organization.

As the month of May closed, the Rangers were riding a four game losing streak and they sat in second place in the AL West, one game behind Oakland. But when the calendar turned, and the Rangers began the month of June with a series against the Chicago White Sox, Hamilton kicked his performance into high gear.

He started off the month with a “quiet” 3-5 performance against Mark Buerhle, as the Rangers ended a four-game skid by beating the White Sox 9-6. That was just the beginning, as Hamilton’s bat would ultimately lead the Rangers on to a 21-6 record during the month, including an 11-game win streak during Interleague play against the top teams in the NL East (much to Loyal Homer’s chagrin).

And when the calendar flipped again as June rolled into July, the same Rangers team that started June on a losing slide finished it with a 4.5 game LEAD over the rest of their division.

The Rangers managed that impressive run by way of offensive explosion. During the month the team would go on to outscore opponents by a combined 173-100. It was Hamilton who led that offensive charge.

Being an All-Star is not just making yourself look good, it is making your TEAM look good by providing exactly what the rest of the team needs exactly when they need it most. Josh Hamilton did that.

He has proven to be the league’s best all-around hitter, and he stands poised at the All-Star break to now lead his team to its first postseason appearance since 1999.

That is what makes Hamilton the Most Valuable Player from the first half of 2010.

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The Bad Team with an MVP Player Debate – Failure is NOT a Valuable Contribution!

October 1, 2009

Read the debate intro and Loyal Homer’s argument that a league MVP CAN come from a lousy team.



Every team in the league has an MVP. It does not matter if that team wins 90 games, or loses 90 games, there is one player who is the most valuable to the organization in any given year.

There are also league honors in place for recognition of that player’s accomplishments. Such honors are All-Star invitations, contract bonuses, team MVP awards, even Hall of Fame candidacy for the truly special. Each of those honors exists to recognize a player’s performance on the field, and each are completely blind to the condition of the team on which that player is a member.

There are 30 different Team-MVPs every year in Major League Baseball.

Each of those player’s individual contributions were most valuable, in the context of their teams performance, and each one is duly recognized for those contributions.

When you talk about a League MVP, though, you have to consider their contributions in the scope of LEAGUE performance, not just TEAM performance.

A League’s Most Valuable Player is not necessarily the best hitter… that is what the Silver Slugger award is for. He is also not the best pitcher… those guys get the Cy Young. As for the best fielders, the Gold Glove award is their recognition.

The League’s Most Valuable Player is the award that should be reserved for the one player whose contributions were so vital that their team would not have been able to attain success without him. Consider the most valuable player from each team. Which player had the single greatest contribution to the success of their team in comparison to the other teams? Sometimes that contribution is leading a team to a Division Championship, or a Wild Card berth. That contribution could ALSO simply mean that a player’s performance was so good that a team which would have otherwise been bad was able to remain competitive throughout the season. Maybe they did not reach the playoffs, but they finished at third in the standings instead of dead last, all thanks to the player’s performance.

Sports Geek brings up the example of the 1987 National League MVP award, which was given to Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs finished 1987 with a record of 76-85. I am curious to know what contribution Dawson made to the team that was SO great that he was named the Most Valuable Player of the entire National League that year, when his team only managed to win 76 games! Is it that the Cubs would have only won 40 games if Dawson had NOT played?!

When discussing the qualities of a LEAGUE MVP (league is the operative word, here), you have to consider the scope of their performance as it compares to the ENTIRE league!

The 1987 Cubs finished 18.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals that year. Do you know who played shortstop for the Cards’ in 1987? It was a guy by the name of Ozzie Smith… ever heard of him? That year, Smith hit with a .303 batting average, had 182 hits, batted in 75 runs, an on-base percentage of .392, and committed only 10 errors for a fielding percentage of .987! Smith also managed to draw 89 walks on the year, with only 36 strike-outs on the entire season. Oh, by the way, Smith also helped lead his team to a Division Championship in the NL East, and into the World Series.

How did Andre Dawson compare? Dawson finished the 1987 season with a batting average of .287 (that’s .016 BEHIND Smith), 178 hits (4 BEHIND Smith), and an on-base percentage of .328 (.064 BEHIND Smith). He also drew only 32 walks (57 BEHIND Smith) but struck out 103 times (67 MORE than Smith). In the field, Dawson committed 4 errors for a fielding percentage of .986 (which is close, but still .001 BEHIND Smith). The only thing that Dawson had that Smith did not was the long-ball, as he hit 49 home runs that year, compared to Smith, who did not hit any.

The MVP is not for the person with the most home runs!

In 1987, Ozzie Smith was a more consistent and reliable hitter, a better fielder, and led his team to a World Series appearance. Dawson did nothing more than hit a lot of home runs for a crappy team. If that is all it takes to win the League MVP award, then there have been many hitters who got robbed!

Criterion for voting on a League MVP should exceed rating the power behind a hitter’s swing. The criteria for this award should be to evaluate the player’s total contribution to the team, and the relative benefit that the team gained from that contribution. When comparing the contributions that Smith and Dawson made to their respective teams AND how that contribution translated into league competition, Smith comes out ahead by MILES! Dawson may have been the MVP of the Chicago Cubs in 1987, but he should NOT have been the National League MVP.

Moving forward once again to present day, the same principles still apply. The MVP of the league is NOT supposed to be the award for the person who hits the most home runs. It should be awarded to the one person in the league whose contributions were SO vital that the team would not have achieved the success they did without him. THAT is what the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER of the league provides… the MOST VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION of the league.

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