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SB Nation Awards: MVP

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There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier. The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
  1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
  2. Number of games played.
  3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
  4. Former winners are eligible.
  5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from one to ten. A tenth-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all ten places on your ballot. Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, and that includes pitchers and designated hitters. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.

The above instructions are the ones given by the BBWAA to their members, when it comes time to vote for the Most Valuable Player award. Did the same criteria hold true for the SB Nation MVP awards? After the jump, we'll find out...

Rk Player Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Pts
1 Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals 31 - - - - - - - - - 434
2 Hanley Ramirez Florida Marlins - 6 8 11 2 1 2 - - - 220
3 Chase Utley Philadelphia Phillies - 7 11 2 3 1 - 1 - 1 192
4 Prince Fielder Milwaukee Brewers - 5 4 4 7 7 1 - - - 186
5 Troy Tulowitzki Colorado Rockies - 4 1 5 2 3 3 4 1 2 134
6 Tim Lincecum San Francisco Giants - 4 1 - 1 2 2 3 1 - 79
7 Ryan Howard Philadelphia Phillies - 4 - 1 4 1 - - 3 1 79
8 Ryan Zimmerman Washington Nationals - - 1 3 3 3 3 1 - 2 79
9 Adrian Gonzalez San Diego Padres - - 1 - 3 3 2 4 3 4 71
10 Pablo Sandoval San Francisco Giants - - - 1 2 2 2 3 4 3 57
11 Matt Kemp Los Angeles Dodgers - - 1 1 1 1 5 3 - 1 56
12 Ryan Braun Milwaukee Brewers - - 2 - - 2 2 1 1 - 39
13 Chris Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals - - - - 2 1 1 - 1 2 25
14 Derrek Lee Chicago Cubs - - - - - 2 1 1 3 2 25
15 Andre Ethier Los Angeles Dodgers - - - - 1 2 2 - - - 24
16 Adam Wainwright St. Louis Cardinals - - - 1 - - 1 1 4 1 23
17 Javier Vazquez Atlanta Braves - - - - - - 2 1 2 1 16
18 Matt Holliday St. Louis Cardinals - - 1 - - - 1 - - - 12
19 Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds - 1 - - - - - - 1 - 11
20 Mark Reynolds Arizona Diamondbacks - - - - - - - 2 1 2 10
21 Todd Helton Colorado Rockies - - - 1 - - - - - - 7
22 Jayson Werth Philadelphia Phillies - - - - - - - 1 1 1 6
23 Adam Dunn Washington Nationals - - - - - - - - 1 3 5
24 Juan Pierre Los Angeles Dodgers - - - - - - 1 - - - 4
25 Justin Upton Arizona Diamondbacks - - - - - - - 1 - 1 4
26 Raul Ibanez Philadelphia Phillies - - - - - - - 1 - 1 4
27 Ubaldo Jimenez Colorado Rockies - - - - - - - 1 - 1 4
28 Brian McCann Atlanta Braves - - - - - - - - 2 - 4
29 Dan Haren Arizona Diamondbacks - - - - - - - - 2 - 4
30 Michael Bourn Houston Astros - - - - - - - 1 - - 3
31 Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals - - - - - - - 1 - - 3
32 Nyjer Morgan Washington Nationals - - - - - - - - - 1 1
33 Yunel Escobar Atlanta Braves - - - - - - - - - 1 1

It's unanimous. Albert Pujols is the Most Valuable Player in the league this season. And, I suspect, if anyone did such a poll, he'd rank as the MVP for the entire decade, since his numbers are far and away the best of any position player since his arrival in 2001. In that time, in the BBWAA awards, he has never finished lower than ninth, has been in the top three six times (excluding this year) and, if the SB Nation ballot is any predictor, will pick up his third victory next week. This is for good reason. Here's a chart showing the ten players with the best OPS+ since 2000 (min. 3,000 ABs - why, yes, that figure was deliberately chosen to exclude Barry Bonds...).

Rk Player OPS+ PA R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Albert Pujols 172 6082 1071 1717 366 1112 811 570 .334 .427 .628 1.055
2 Manny Ramirez 160 5874 933 1562 348 1106 828 1085 .317 .419 .599 1.018
3 Alex Rodriguez 154 6768 1190 1740 435 1243 850 1243 .304 .401 .587 .988
4 Jason Giambi 152 5387 775 1171 303 912 942 965 .275 .418 .544 .961
5 Lance Berkman 148 6248 959 1553 309 1026 968 1030 .300 .413 .559 .972
6 Chipper Jones 147 5887 916 1535 273 921 884 768 .311 .413 .547 .960
7 Jim Thome 147 5681 877 1255 368 986 973 1431 .271 .399 .563 .962
8 Vladimir Guerrero 146 6094 929 1751 315 1037 569 670 .323 .392 .569 .960
9 Todd Helton 146 6409 1017 1756 260 981 1001 741 .331 .436 .569 1.006
10 Carlos Delgado 144 5938 863 1416 324 1045 796 1121 .286 .394 .553 .947

Pujols is there or thereabouts in just about every offensive category, and has batted .334 over a period of nine years - that's a point better than the epitome of the slap-hitter, Ichiro, who arrived here the same year. In the integrated era since 1947, only two players have a better average: Tony Gwynn (.338) and Ted Williams (.340). And, despite his domination, Pujols is still only in his twenties. Through their age 29 season, here are the top five hitters by OPS: Babe Ruth (1.195); Williams (1.129); Lou Gehrig (1.084); Jimmie Foxx (1.063) and Pujols (1.055). That's the kind of company in which Pujols operates: Cardinals fans are truly in the presence of greatness.

And then there's the also-rans - everyone else in the league. I don't have a complete copy of my ballot - the list I have is missing a name or two - but of the players I could assemble only Mark Reynolds ended up outside the first ten in the overall voting. My top three were Pujols, Utley and Tulowitzki: I tended to go for players who were the biggest help in getting their teams to the post-season, so Fielder, for example, was dropped lower down the ballot than his performance would likely deserve. Though I am probably happiest about the fact that Mandy was completely blanked: not one single person gave him a vote. Interestingly, the Dodgers didn't get anyone in the top ten, despite their league-best record.

Further down the ballot, from the Diamondbacks we find Reynolds in 20th, Justin Upton in 25th [I think he'll be going up from there in future seasons] and Dan Haren in 29th - Mark was the only one on my ballot. True Blue LA are up in arms over the 7th-place vote assigned to Juan Pierre. I believe that vote did come from us, but I can't recall if that was a missing vote from my nominations, or if 'charmer has some 'xplainin to do. :-) Given my fondness for using OPS+ as a metric - and Pierre ended up with a mediocre 105 there - I am inclined to go for the latter until 'charmer claims otherwise...

Over in the American League, Joe Mauer was almost as convincing a victor as Pujols, while Derek Jeter wasn't even the highest player on his own team. Justice was therefore served, and I will be able to go to sleep tonight. Here's the full AL ballot.

Rk Player Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Pts
1 Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins 24 3 1 - - - - - - - 371
2 Ben Zobrist Tampa Bay Rays - 10 6 2 2 1 - 1 - - 172
3 Mark Teixeira New York Yankees 2 3 2 4 3 2 7 1 - - 158
4 Derek Jeter New York Yankees 1 5 3 4 4 2 1 1 2 1 157
5 Evan Longoria Tampa Bay Rays - 2 4 1 2 3 2 3 2 1 106
6 Zack Greinke Kansas City Royals 2 3 2 1 1 - 2 - - - 92
7 Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers - - 3 1 2 4 - 2 - 5 74
8 Kevin Youkilis Boston Red Sox - 2 - - 1 3 1 8 1 - 69
9 Chone Figgins Los Angeles Angels - - - 3 4 1 - 1 3 1 60
10 Jason Bay Boston Red Sox - 1 - 4 2 - - 1 - 2 54
11 Kendry Morales Los Angeles Angels - - 4 - - 1 - - 1 - 39
12 Ichiro Suzuki Seattle Mariners - - 1 - 2 - 1 2 2 3 37
13 Franklin Gutierrez Seattle Mariners - - - 1 1 1 3 - 1 2 34
14 Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers - - - 2 1 1 1 - 1 1 32
15 Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners - - - 2 - - 1 3 2 - 31
16 Jason Bartlett Tampa Bay Rays - - 1 1 1 - - - - 1 22
17 Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees - - 1 - 1 - 1 - - - 18
18 Roy Halladay Toronto Blue Jays - - - 1 - 1 1 - - - 16
19 Adam Lind Toronto Blue Jays - - - - - 2 - - 1 4 16
20 Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox - - - - - - 1 - 4 1 13
21 Bobby Abreu Los Angeles Angels - - - 1 - - - 1 1 - 12
22 Aaron Hill Toronto Blue Jays - - - - - 1 1 1 - - 12
23 Mariano Rivera New York Yankees - - - - 1 - - - 1 1 9
24 Torii Hunter Los Angeles Angels - - 1 - - - - - - - 8
25 Brian Roberts Baltimore Orioles - - - - - - 1 1 - - 7
26 CC Sabathia New York Yankees - - - - - - 1 - 1 - 6
27 Carl Crawford Tampa Bay Rays - - - - - - - 1 1 1 6
28 J.D. Drew Boston Red Sox - - - - - 1 - - - - 5
29 Jon Lester Boston Red Sox - - - - - 1 - - - - 5
30 Jonathan Papelbon Boston Red Sox - - - - - 1 - - - - 5
31 Robinson Cano New York Yankees - - - - - 1 - - - - 5
32 Victor Martinez Boston Red Sox - - - - - 1 - - - - 5
33 Michael Cuddyer Minnesota Twins - - - - - - 1 - - - 4
34 Shin-Soo Choo Cleveland Indians - - - - - - 1 - - - 4
35 Michael Young Texas Rangers - - - - - - - - 1 1 3
36 Jacoby Ellsbury Boston Red Sox - - - - - - - - 1 - 2
37 Jason Kubel Minnesota Twins - - - - - - - - 1 - 2
38 Alex Gonzalez Boston Red Sox - - - - - - - - - 1 1
39 Nick Markakis Baltimore Orioles - - - - - - - - - 1 1

xxx