All Hail King Albert!
So Albert Pujols of the fourth-place St. Louis Cardinals was voted the National League MVP today by the BBWAA. I'm a fan of not limiting the MVP to players whose teams made, or nearly made, the post-season, so I was a fan of the decision in that regard. Pujols' main competition, Ryan Howard of the eventual World Series-champion Phillies, came in second with 308 points. Pujols had 369. Close but not that close.
Rob Neyer has a piece suggesting other worthy candidates, including Lance Berkman, and I went to the stats to see what I could see.
First. The main argument for Howard is the gross numbers. He led the majors in HRs (48) and RBIs (146) but struck out a lot (199 times). The main argument for Pujols is the percentage numbers: .357 BA, .462 OBP, .653 SLG for a 1.114 OPS. Best in the majors. He also hit 37 HRs and drove in 116. Howard's percentages aren't lousy (.251, .339, .543 for a .881 OBP) but not MVP-calibre. Put it this way: Pujols' BA was higher than Howards' OBP. By nearly 20 points.
That's one thing I saw. Here's another thing, and this wowed me. I sorted by HRs, with Howard on top, and I was glancing to see what other homerun hitters struck out a lot: Howard (199), then Adam Dunn (164), then Carlos Delgado (124)... The next number stopped me cold: 54. Only 54 strikeouts for a homerun hitter? I looked over. Pujols. I looked down. None of the top 15 NL homerun hitters struck out fewer than 100 times. None. And Pujols struck out only 54. Plus he walked 104 times.
Pujols is 2nd in the NL in walks and tied for 116th in strikeouts.
Howard is tied for 13th in walks but 2nd in strikeouts.
Berkman? Fourth in walks (99) and 38th in strikeouts (108).
I know. Walks/strikeouts. Who cares? But it is indicative of who's the dangerous hitter, and Pujols' ratios are like Ted Williams' ratios. It's rare to find anyone in the majors these days, let alone a slugger, who strikes out fewer times than they walk. And a ratio of almost 2-to-1? For a slugger? Wow.
This isn't the argument why Pujols deserved the MVP. Just interesting.