Rich Campbell, from the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance Star, explained why he didn't have Ryan Howard on his NL MVP ballot.
He makes some valid points, saying "there’s more to the vote than just homers, RBIs and the Phillies’ division title." He points to Howard's strikeouts, defense and batting average. He mentions win shares, runs created, OPS, VORP and EQA (sabermetrics for those not in the know). I only wish he had these explanations Monday when I called.
Certainly, there is more to a MVP than run production and division titles, it's just that producing runs and winning games are the two most important things in baseball. As far as the strikeouts (and in a sense, average), Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan said in February, regarding Howard, "You have to be focused on runs. How you get there doesn't actually matter. The shape of an offense doesn't actually matter. It's just a matter of how many runs. You see this throughout baseball. Take two different guys who go 10 for 50 over the course of two weeks. The guy who strikes out 25 times is going to look worse than the guy who grounds to second 25 times." Howard, who also scored a career high 105 runs, hit .251. No MVP had hit lower than .267 (Marty Marion in 1944). But Howard also hit .320 with runners in scoring position, 69 points higher than his overall average. He ranked 10th in the league in hitting with RISP with hitters with 100 more at-bats. Howard came up big when it mattered most from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. He produced.
I'm not saying Campbell should have had Howard first, second, third, fourth or even fifth or his ballot. But he should have had him somewhere. Tim Lincecum deserved the Cy Young, but he wasn't the sixth most valuable player in the National League, like he had on his ballot. Remove Lincecum from the Giants and the Giants are still a bad baseball team in the NL West. Johan Santana is a great pitcher who had a great second half, but Howard helped his team win every day. He carried the Phillies past Santana's Mets down the stretch. Campbell also had Chase Utley fourth on his ballot, although those who followed the Phillies closely knew that Howard, not Utley, came up bigger in the second half of the season.
And leading the majors in home runs and RBIs can't be dismissed. It's not easy to do. Only 13 players have had more than 146 RBIs in the past 25 years, which includes the steroid era: Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa (twice), Juan Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Belle (twice), Andres Galarraga, Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Todd Helton, Mark McGwire and Howard. Take out the suspected steroid users from the group and how many are left?
I know some writers wouldn't dare criticize a fellow BBWAA member for their vote (huh?), but this is an open vote for a reason. Voters, when asked, are supposed to explain their votes. That's why the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant talked with the Boston media yesterday about why he left Dustin Pedroia off his ballot. We could go on about this, but the vote is over. Albert Pujols won, which I have no problem with (the MLBPA also named Pujols its NL player of the year). Howard still finished second. Campbell's non-vote didn't change anything (which again is important to note). But I still feel it was an oversight not to have him on the ballot.
How come I have the feeling Philadelphians will be opening tons of gifts with Phillies gear inside this holiday season?
Here is one gift fans might be interested in: the 2008 World Series DVD.
Major League Baseball Productions and Shout! Factory collaborated on the effort, which is available nationwide Nov. 25 on DVD and Dec. 16 on Blu-ray in high definition. Terrence Howard, the Academy Award-nominated actor from Philadelphia, narrates the DVD, which will be sold at the clubhouse store at Citizens Bank Park, 1-877-GO-PHILS, MLB.com, Phillies.com and retailers nationwide. A press release yesterday said the DVD and Blu-ray editions can be pre-ordered now at MLB.com, Phillies.com, Amazon.com and various online retailers.
The DVD is $19.99. The Blu-ray is $29.99.
I got a peak at the DVD, and it's very, very impressive. (Full disclosure: I make a couple very brief appearances, but surprisingly I don't ruin the thing.)