August 20, 2003

The Ballad of Phil Rogers

Whenever ESPN.com's Phil Rogers writes something really dumb, which is quite often, I get bombarded with emails from people telling me about it, and asking me to comment on it here. His latest offering on the National League MVP race is no different and perhaps contains some of his worst work yet, which is really saying something.

I have discussed Phil Rogers' work here in the past, several times. In fact, when I discussed his article on Fred McGriff back in February, I tried to explain my bizarre fascination with the man's writing by way of some song lyrics:

And there could be no other way 'cause you're so lame

Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same

And I would walk, you know I'd surely walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

I see your world with rosey colored glasses on

Wanna right what I see wrong

I could never have that power over you

Someday, I'm gonna pack up and leave this town

I'm gonna get my own things goin on

And when I do, I'll forget

I'll forget

I'll forget about how, how you're so, you're so lame

Your tired words are all, your tired words are all the same

And I would walk, you know I'd, I'd walk away

If I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you

I wasn't such a sucker for you


--- John Mayer, "Sucker"

Try as I might, I just can't "walk away" and everytime I read Phil Rogers' "tired words," I get this incredible urge to "right what I see wrong." It's almost as if that song was written about Phil Rogers and I. Heck, if you want to go even deeper, it is quite obvious that, while I am obsessed with dissecting his articles, "I could never have that power over" him. And also, I am trying to start my own writing career, so I am definitely trying to "get my own things going on." Hmmm...

Anyway, I know I said a few days ago that I don't want to get back into the habit of tearing apart other people's articles on a daily basis, but when it comes to Phil Rogers, I just can't help myself. I am definitely a "sucker" for him.

I think my favorite line in his most recent article is the very first line of the entire thing:

"Two years ago, Albert Pujols did more to get his team into the playoffs than any other hitter in the major leagues."

Now, just to be incredibly clear here, Phil Rogers in talking about the 2001 season - Albert Pujols' rookie year and Barry Bonds' 16th major league season.

2001

PA AVG OBP SLG HR EqA RARP OPS+
Bonds 664 .328 .515 .863 73 .428 144 262
Pujols 676 .329 .403 .610 37 .329 65 158

Barry Bonds won the National League MVP that year, receiving 30 of the 32 first-place votes, with the other 2 going to Sammy Sosa (who hit .328/.437/.737 with 64 homers and 160 RBIs).

A little later on in his article, Phil Rogers writes:

"Pujols would have gotten one first-place vote had it been a year when I was given an MVP ballot."

Albert Pujols had a great season in 2001, one of the best rookie years in baseball history. He was one of the top players in the league and he helped lead the Cardinals to a 93-69 record and a post-season berth.

Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 - the most in the history of baseball. He walked 177 times - the most (at the time) in the history of baseball. He had a slugging percentage of .863 - the highest in the history of baseball. He also did all that (and hit .328 with a .515 OBP and 137 RBIs) while playing in one of the most extreme pitcher's parks in baseball. And, of course, Bonds' team went 90-72 and missed the post-season by 2 games.

I could rant about this issue for a few thousand words with no problem. But I won't. I've made similar arguments plenty of times before and, at some point, it becomes pointless to argue about something like this.

If a person can look at this...

           AVG      OBP      SLG

Bonds .328 .515 .863
Pujols .329 .403 .610

...and conclude that Pujols was a more valuable player than Bonds was...well, I think it's pretty much a lost cause.

Fast forward now to the current season. I'm not going to sit here and argue about who deserves this year's NL MVP, because I have done so already in the past and, much like the argument in 2001, I suspect it is all lost on people like Phil Rogers.

What I do want to discuss is that, once again, Phil Rogers is of the opinion that Albert Pujols is a more valuable player than Barry Bonds. His reasoning however, has changed quite a bit in just two years.

Regarding why he would have voted for Pujols over Bonds in 2001, Rogers says that:

"[Pujols], and not Bonds, lifted his team into the playoffs."

Yet, when it comes to this season, Rogers has changed his tune 180 degrees, saying that:

"[Bonds'] only major edge over Pujols is the Giants' standing as an almost-certain playoff team. Pujols, once again, is playing a huge role for a flawed La Russa team. It's time he steps out of the giant shadow Bonds has cast throughout Pujols' brief career."

So, let me get this straight. Two years ago, Rogers would have voted for Pujols over Bonds, despite Bonds' vastly superior season, on the basis of the Cardinals winning two more games than the Giants, and advancing to the post-season. Yet, this year, the fact that the Giants have more wins than St. Louis and are headed to the playoffs, whereas the Cardinals may or may not make it, is not reason enough for Bonds to get Rogers' vote? And now Pujols playing for a "flawed team" is seen as a positive for his MVP case?

Near the end of the article, Rogers tries to make one last point in Pujols' favor:

"Many players are their statistics. Only a handful of the great players mean even more than the numbers they produce."

When filtered through the bulls--- detector, I believe that sentence comes out, loosely translated, as:

"Bonds has better statistics than Pujols, so let's say Pujols deserves huge amounts of credit for things that no one can really quantify."

As if all this stuff weren't enough to make you crazy, Rogers said one thing about past MVP voting that really makes me wonder if he's mentally insane. Regarding the 2001 MVP voting, where Bonds won despite missing the playoffs by 2 games, Rogers writes that:

"Obviously a team's success is not a decisive consideration for the majority of voters."

Seriously, does Phil Rogers live on the same planet that I do? How is it even remotely possible that he believes this to be true?

Bonds had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball in 2001 and won the NL MVP, despite his team winning "only" 90 games, compared to Pujols' 92. So, because of that, Phil Rogers takes that to mean the MVP voters are somehow not placing enough value on team performance.

Meanwhile, for the past year I have been constantly ranting about how the MVP voters place far too much emphasis on team performance. The most obvious example being last year's AL balloting, of course.

                    AVG     OBP     SLG    HR    RBI     EqA    RARP    OPS+

Alex Rodriguez .300 .392 .623 57 142 .334 87.6 152
Miguel Tejada .308 .354 .508 34 131 .300 56.9 122

Despite all that, plus the fact that Alex Rodriguez won the AL Gold Glove at shortstop, Miguel Tejada won the American League MVP. Why? Well, the A's won 103 games and the AL West division, while the Rangers won 72 games and finished 4th.

I really don't see any other conceivable way in which you could argue for Tejada being better than Rodriguez last season, other than to make team performance an integral part of the equation. Yet, because Barry Bonds won the MVP in 2001 and his team didn't make the playoffs, Phil Rogers is of the opinion that team performance is not being given nearly enough weight.

Maybe, just maybe, Bonds won that MVP in 2001 because he was the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER and had ONE OF THE BEST SEASONS IN BASEBALL HISTORY. What do you think Phil? Nah, couldn't be, because the Giants only won 90 games and the Cardinals won 92, right? Those damn voters aren't paying enough attention to team performance! Someone might want to break the news to Alex Rodriguez though.

Oh, by the way, since the strike in 1994, there have been 8 completed seasons and 16 MVP awards given out. Of those 16 MVPs, 14 of them (88%) played for playoff teams.

Okay, enough about Phil Rogers and MVPs...

I was out of the house and away from my precious DirecTV (or any TV) last night, so I went an entire day without baseball for one of the first times all year.

Without me watching every single pitch for maybe the 10th time this season, the Twins beat the Indians 4-3. Also yesterday, the Royals lost to the Yankees 8-7 and the White Sox beat the Angels 5-3.

All of which means...

AL Central

W L Win% GB
Kansas City 65 60 .520 --
Chicago 66 61 .520 --
Minnesota 65 61 .516 0.5

Well, whaddya know, it looks like we've got ourselves a good, old-fashioned pennant-race. More on this exciting development tomorrow. Assuming Phil Rogers doesn't write anything new between now and then, of course.

Link of the Day:

The Red Sox Rag - "Observations and ramblings of a lifelong, 31 year old Red Sox fan"

Today's picks:

Milwaukee (Davis) +160 over Philadelphia (Padilla)

Texas (Lewis) +175 over Chicago (Colon)

Total to date: + 2,045

W/L record: 211-211 (3-0 yesterday for +405, which means I am back to .500, over +2,000, and officially rolling.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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