I will say this flat out, Andruw Jones is one of my favorite baseball players of all time. I’ve always liked and defended him. This year has been “the year” we’ve been expecting from Andruw for so long, and I think that he is going to get even better and possibly win multiple MVP awards in his career. However, I don’t think he deserves it for the 2005 season. I say this with a heavy heart, because so many of my friends have written me proclaiming this year to be Andruw’s year. I want to believe them so badly.
So many of the anti-Andruw arguments have been plain stupid—if you think Andruw should be denied the MVP because of his batting average in scoring position, I’ll give your opinions the time they deserve. Obviously, if he’s not doing things with men on, he’s making up by doing very well when they are not on. My goodness, the guy leads the league in RBI and he’s hitting poorly with men in scoring position. Hmmm, I wonder how he’s doing it then?
Some people say AJ’s defense is off, I don’t buy that either, though it’s not a bad argument to make. The guy may not look fast, but no one takes a better angle to the ball and carries such a huge gun. The fact that the defensive measures we use are so limited gives them little value. His ZR, RF, Assists, Put Outs, Errors, etc. aren’t so hot, so what? Judging AJ on these measures is like dumping a supermodel because she has a pimple on her back. David Pinto’s PMR, a very good defensive measure, has him as the top regular center fielder for two-years running. I don’t know what he rates this year, but I bet it’s good again.
After reviewing these arguments, I was actually starting to believe that maybe AJ was deserving of the MVP. I can’t say exactly how much defensive skill he needs to catch up with the other candidates—Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols, who clog up the old-folks home of first base on defense—on offense. And there’s no doubt he’s leading the intangibles category, you can’t argue with that. I needed to know if he was even close.
So, I decided to go back to the stats for another look. Let’s break this out using linear weights. Here are the top ten NL batters in linear weights (minimum 500 PAs).
Rank Name LWTS Games 1 Derrek Lee 81.144 146 2 Albert Pujols 74.366 150 3 Jason Bay 57.518 149 4 Bobby Abreu 50.176 150 5 Carlos Delgado 50.004 133 6 Miguel Cabrera 49.332 148 7 Todd Helton 48.154 131 8 Brian Giles 44.248 145 9 Andruw Jones 42.984 149 10 Adam Dunn 42.400 147
And my heart sinks. There’s Andruw at number (gulp!) nine on the list, just edging out Adam Dunn. No matter how much better Andruw is on defense. No matter how “clutch” his hits have been. No matter how much his leadership matters. No matter how much his home park hurts him. I don’t see how Andruw makes up for the difference between himself and Lee and Pujols. I can bump him up to number three without any guilt, based on all of the other stuff he does well. But, Lee and Pujols are just in a different class of player this year. That’s testament to how good they have been, not to how poorly Andruw has played.
Braves fans, hold on. An MVP season from Andruw Jones will come. It’s just should not be this year. If I had a vote, I’d vote for Lee.