November 27, 2012
Out of Left Field
The Least Valuable Player
Value is one of those things people love to argue about. “Yes!” say some. “No!” say others. “This isn’t really a yes or no kind of thing,” say others. (Different others.) In the end we agree to disagree to each other’s faces and say mean things about each other’s mothers behind each other’s back.
While the substance of the mother insults is likely less than fact-based in nature (except for what I said about that guy’s mom, the truth of which is only exceeded by its grossness), the MVP disagreements manifest mostly through statistics. The sticking point lies in which stats you choose to look at, because that informs how people think about, and vote on, the Most Valuable Player award. Pick the right stats (everything on BP’s stat pages minus RBI) and you end up with the right choice. Pick the wrong stats and you end up with not Mike Trout. The venerable BBWAA picked the wrong stats and thus the wrong player, the end result being that Trout, the consensus most valuable player, was not the consensus Most Valuable Player.
So lets get rid of the controversy surrounding the MVP! How can we do that? We can’t! Because the MVP award is supposed to go to the best player*, voting for the award is going to be controversial because being the best at something is important.
*Unless you subscribe to some alternate version of the meaning of the word ‘value,’ something along the lines of grit + grime + in + tangibles = VALUE!
What we can do however is invent an entirely new award, one which focuses on the least valuable player. That way it won’t be important, nobody will care about it, and thus no controversy. Genius, you say? Well, I don’t like to brag, but sure.
The least valuable player in baseball is a combination of bad baseball and, that most American of commodities, opportunity. If a player is too terrible, the team will say, “Hey you’re terrible” and not play him. If a player earns his playing time through good play, well, wave good-bye to your LVP* award, bud.