Ok, this (after a minor glitch yesterday!) is the final category in the 2006 SB Nation baseball awards, that of MVP in the National League. I don't think there is really much doubt about the winner here - probably only the AL Cy Young was a little bit more of a foregone conclusion. But here are the final standings, together with the ballots submitted by William and I:
|1.||Albert Pujols||Albert Pujols|
|2.||Carlos Beltran||Ryan Howard|
|4.||Adrian Gonzalez||Rafael Furcal|
|5.||Ryan Howard||Miguel Cabrera|
|6.||Lance Berkman||Lance Berkman|
|7.||Miguel Cabrera||Chase Utley|
|8.||David Wright||David Wright|
|9.||Ray Durham||Jason Bay|
|10.||Nomar Garciaparra||Chipper Jones|
As mentioned before, you could certainly argue a case for Howard being the best player in the league, but to my mind (and William's), Pujols was undeniably the most valuable. Without him, the Cardinals don't come within sniffing distance of the playoffs; the Phillies were already eleven games back by the end of June, and never really got any closer than that, so Howard's performance, while impressive, took place in a vacuum as far as value went. I'm still wondering how Soriano mustered 17 mentions, including a first-place one, playing for a last-place team that finished 26 behind.
That may also explain the luke-warm reaction to Mets players, as the roster with the best record in the National League - by nine games - got just two first-place votes. It's kinda impressive that a 38 HR, 114 RBI hitter who posted a .909 OPS like Carlos Delgado didn't receive a single nomination, but that just goes to show the depth of the Mets roster. It's probably true to say that there was no single "Most Valuable Player" there; they could have lost anyone, and still won their division.
Really surprised no-one else voted for Adrian Gonzalez: he led the Padres in HR and OPS, but then again, the NL West playoff teams received absolutely no love at all. Neither the Padres nor Dodgers placed anyone in the top fifteen, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks combining to get three players mentioned before anyone from the sea-side of the division made it. Speaking of which, nice to see Brandon Webb make it into the top ten, even though neither of us in Arizona voted for him (I'm guessing William feels the same way I do about pitchers for MVP). If we had put him first, he'd still only have been =8th, so I don't feel too bad about my omission.
Interestingly, Trevor Hoffman finished ahead of Chris Carpenter for the MVP award, a reversal of their position for the Cy Young. Derek Lowe also got a vote here, when he was omitted entirely from the pitcher's prize: a beneficiary of the longer ballot for MVP. Usual bunch of interesting choices at the back-end, likely spurred by hometown favouritism in some cases, or apathy in others. ;-) Still, it all proved a very interesting exercise, and thanks to Martin Gandy at Talking Chop for tallying the numbers. I look forward to doing it again in 2007 - and, hopefully, being able to vote for a few more Diamondbacks...