October 2, 2012
Putting the V in MVP
Every year, at this time, there is a debate over what "valuable" means, in terms of Most Valuable Players. The instructions to voters say: "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 rules of voting do provide some guidelines:
Is there any recourse, though, to clarify the first point? Why, as a matter of fact, there is:
1.00—Objectives of the Game.
1.01 Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires.
1.02 The objective of each team is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent.
1.03 The winner of the game shall be that team which shall have scored, in accordance with these rules, the greater number of runs at the conclusion of a regulation game.
So. It seems pretty clear about what the point of baseball is: "The objective of each team is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent." Value is being good at helping your team do the things that lead to scoring more runs than your opponent. We can debate until the cows come home about how to measure that value and the tangible versus intangible components of it, but as far as what value is, that seems to be pretty clear.