Earlier this week, BizofBaseball.com published a wide ranging interview with Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News that covered everything from the Rockies fortunes to the BBWAA inclusion process, and much more.
One of the topics that brought up considerable interest was Ringolsby's statement that he was leaning toward Phillies closer Brad Lidge for NL MVP. A day later, Ringolsby commented on the site that he was no longer leaning, but was intending to select Lidge.
Many questioned the selection, to which Ringolsby replied that MVP stands for Most "Valuable" -- an important part of the selection, and then went on to challenge readers to make a case why Lidge should not be MVP.
I decided to take up the challenge, and over the course of the last day, Tracy and I have been debating "MVP." As you will see, the award, not the Lidge selection itself, made for lively discussion. - Maury Brown
Brown: You challenged readers on your Lidge selection. We can debate the merit of Lidge, but my issue is with the award being most "valuable."
Ringolsby: What too often gets overlooked by some is that the MVP is for the Most Valuable Player not the Most Outstanding Player. There are other organizations that recognize a Player of the Year and I frequently would vote different for the MVP as the POY. The word Valuable is in the MVP award for a reason. I feel there is a need to consider the Valuable part.
Brown: It's that, "What's one man's trash is another man's treasure." If the idea is to make it a subjective judgment based on opinion, then I understand it and take it as much.
You didn't do this. Nor did the voting members. The public is the one that gets confused, which after all, is what this is about... not the main stream media, or alternative media. They say, MVP=Best Player, which is not how the vote is rendered. It's "most valuable."
Ringolsby: Maury, can you tell me any time a person makes a decision where it is not subjective? I can't. That's why whenever people make selections there can be debate. Heck, when stats are used there are debates. Check out the Elias ranking of free agents. There is also a series of questions that comes out as to why certain players are or are not Type A or Type B. If everyone saw everything exactly the same there wouldn't be a vote. There would be a simple acclamation.
Brown: Point taken, but at least those arguments are based on numbers. I say so-and-so deserves merit based on his ability to hit with runners in scoring position, and Tracy argues so-and-so has better OBP. We can point to something tangible to make our case. But "valuable" has no stat with which to make your case. There is no "clubhouse guy" metric, or some other criteria. It's opinion based.
So, here's my question... Does Lidge get the MVP if the Phillies were to somehow miss the playoffs?
Ringolsby: On Lidge, I don't know. That is why ballots don't have to be in until before first post-season game is played. But I do know if you question the value of the closer, which is a growing sentiment in some circles, ask the Brewers and Mets about it. Heck, ask Ned Yost. A big part of the fact both of them are trying to survive in the post-season is the lack of a quality late-inning guy. Stats are a part of the decision, but as far as the fact there is some intangible to the decision, which makes it more challenging, I don't see that as a negative. As I have said before there are other groups that give out Player of the Year awards. For some reason the MVP has gained a lot of attention and respect over the years. Maybe the intrinsic values are part of what it makes it so much more intriguing to the fan base.
Brown: You bring up a good point, which, in part, has fueled the debate around the award. I have a concern that given the award's popularity, more and more player contracts have bonuses attached to the BBWAA awards -- a player gets an amount if they are MVP or Cy Young winners, runners-up, etc. The subjective nature of "valuable," to me at least, now has dollar signs attached to it, and that, I believe, should not be allowed.
Ringolsby: The BBWAA has for several years pushed to have its awards removed from player contracts. There have been meetings with the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball requesting that they not allow such clauses. We have suggested that the MLBPA could even substitute it's own awards in place of the BBWAA awards, but have been told it is none of our business to involve ourselves in contract negotiations. They have indicated they want the BBWAA awards because they are more recognized. The BBWAA in general agrees with you on that.