MVP award only goes to players on good teams

    With everyone getting geared up for the second half of the NFL season and perhaps one of the most intriguing NBA seasons in years, there were some announcements this week you may have missed.

    The Major League Baseball regular-season Most Valuable Player awards were handed out (How long has it been since the World Series ended?). Barry Bonds was the 14th-ever unanimous choice in the National League, and Miguel Tejada edged Alex Rodriguez to win the award in the American League. Which brings up the question: Is the MVP award given to the best player in the league or to the best player on a good team?

    The answer of the voters was resoundingly in favor of the latter. What other argument for the A’s shortstop could be made? Tejada, a member of the American League West champion, hit a respectable 34 home runs and drove in 131 runs — definitely good numbers. But Tejada didn’t touch Rodriguez’s consistency. What Tejada did was lead his team when it mattered most: through its 20-game winning streak and into the playoffs. And in doing so, he overtook his fellow shortstop this season as the most valuable to his team. Let me rephrase that: most valuable player to his successful team. I didn’t say the best player.

    In the category of “”best”” players in the league this season, there were two — and only two.

    As much as it pains me to talk about him in my first column, the first such player is Barry Bonds. He is on another planet. The guy is unbelievable. And I’m a Dodgers fan. Not only is he the best player in baseball, he is also most valuable to his team. Because of him, other teams change the way they play.

    With Bonds in the lineup, the Giants got into the playoffs with average pitching and several arguably below-average position players. Without him in the lineup, the Giants are mediocre and my Dodgers probably would have made the playoffs last year.

    In many other sports — basketball, for example — one player can take control of a game almost single-handedly. This is next to impossible in baseball, where you have to wait your turn to bat and only with the success of others can you have opportunities for success of your own.

    But Bonds has managed, unlike any other player I’ve ever watched, to make an impact on the way the opposition approaches the whole game. This guy changes the way other teams pitch to every single batter in the Giants’ lineup, because in the back of their minds they’re thinking, “”How many more batters until Barry’s up?”” This is why Bonds was possibly the easiest MVP choice in history.

    The MVP in the American League was a different story. Rodriguez, the best player in baseball (except for Bonds) has yet to win an MVP award. This season, he led the majors in home runs with 57 and RBI’s with 142, while maintaining a .300 batting average. But his team’s record was a horrendous 72-90. They started the season with such high hopes riding on the shoulders of stand-up guys like John Rocker and Carl Everett, yet the Rangers finished in last place once again in the division that Tejada’s A’s captured with 103 wins — 30 more than the bumbling Rangers.

    Which brings up another question: As long as Rodriguez is getting paid $25 million per year, will the Rangers ever be able to put enough good players around him to be successful as a team? And if the Rangers aren’t successful, can A-Rod ever win the MVP award? Hank Aaron, baseball’s all-time home run king, almost went his entire career without an MVP; many hall-of-famers never got their hands on one.

    Rodriguez, who is 27 years old, is on pace to break Aaron’s record before he’s 40. But he hasn’t won that MVP award because his team isn’t a winner. And winning is what matters. Cliche or not, as evidenced by the MVP voters, it’s the truth.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal