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A-Rod Easy Call for AL MVP

October 02, 2005|From Associated Press

Apparently, defense doesn't count in baseball.

That must be it.

That's the only explanation for all this foolish wrangling over the American League MVP race.

From talk-show callers to respected columnists, folks everywhere seem to think the award should be decided at Fenway Park this weekend, right along with the AL East title.

Their logic is this: If Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees get out of town with another division crown, go ahead and give him the spoils. If David Ortiz gets the clutch hits that carry Boston to the playoffs, then he deserves the prize.

Right?

Nonsense.

Turning this three-game series into a winner-take-all showdown for an individual honor certainly adds to the drama of an electrifying pennant race, but it doesn't make sense at all.

Most Valuable Player awards should be based on production all season, not one weekend -- no matter how bright the spotlight during a pressure-packed climax.

And, just as important, they should take into account all-around performance, every facet of an intricate game that calls for a variety of skills. That means offense, defense and baserunning for non-pitchers, and that's why this race really isn't very close.

Rodriguez in a runaway.

Think about it in the most basic terms: Their prodigious offensive numbers are nearly identical, but Ortiz, a designated hitter, doesn't even participate on defense, while Rodriguez has played a Gold Glove-caliber third base for New York, gobbling up tricky grounders and committing only 11 errors at a demanding position.

"In games that Alex does not contribute with his bat, he's helped us win ballgames, so I think that should be part of the equation," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I think it's a part David doesn't have."

Of course Torre is going to favor his own player, but he has a legitimate reason and he's absolutely right. Determining a ballplayer's value to his team can be a vague and complex task, but this annual argument happens to be plain and simple this year.

Granted, Ortiz is baseball's best designated hitter, one of the most feared sluggers of this decade. And he has an incredible (and extremely valuable) flair for coming through in the clutch. Thursday night, perfect example. A tying homer in the eighth, game-winning single in the ninth: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4 -- and a delirious Boston crowd chanting "MVP! MVP!"

But, by definition, Big Papi is a one-dimensional player. He has played a mere 10 games at first base this season because his glove work leaves a lot to be desired. If he was better in the field, he would be a regular first baseman. Simple as that. And he would be a more valuable player.

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