So, just who is the fantasy MVP this season? The decision is extremely difficult, with numerous very worthy candidates. Let’s run down some of the other candidates and why they didn’t get chosen before I get to who actually takes home the award:
- David Wright – New York Mets – He’s not going to win the real MVP award, and that’s clear, but we are talking about fantasy here and he certainly deserves to be in the running. He hit .302 with 33 HR, 124 RBI, 115 R and 15 SB on the season. That’s a tremendous year, but still is viewed a little bit as a disappointment, to be honest. Drafting him in the first round, the hope was that he would once again emerge as a 30/30 candidate, but it just wasn’t to be this season. He was still great, but with the lack of SB, does he still deserve to be considering here, especially given where he was drafted in most leagues? I’d say that his name belongs in the conversation, but at the end of the day, he just didn’t do enough to get the award.
- Lance Berkman – Houston Astros – A tremendous first half puts him in the conversation, but a drastic falloff after the All Star Break pretty much takes him out of play. Only 7 HR and 33 RBI to go with a .259 average? His overall numbers certainly helped your team succeed this season, but his disappearance in the second half easily could have cost some a championship. I know an owner in my keeper league had held down first place much of the season, but after Berkman and Chipper Jones slowed down, he slipped to third. Is that the only reason he fell off? Maybe, maybe not, but it definitely contributed to his slide. That takes him out of contention here.
- Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees – It wouldn’t be an MVP award if he wasn’t a least discussed, but he certainly didn’t put up numbers that make him worth giving the award to. A .302 average with 35 HR, 103 RBI, 104 R and 18 SB is a great season for most players, but the expectations are much higher on the consensus #1 pick prior to the season. It was a good year for him, but we all know that he can do significantly more.
- Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers – After posting 95 RBI prior to the All Star Break, expectations raised tremendously on the breakout star. He was solid after the Break, but it was a far cry from how he opened the season. Still, hitting .296 with 11 HR and 35 RBI is nothing to sneeze at. The numbers were solid and he certainly has emerged as a top choice for next season, but they just aren’t enough for me to consider him the MVP this season. He certainly helped owners tremendously, but again, the falloff after the Break cost him.
- Manny Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers – His impact on the Dodgers will put him up as a candidate for the NL MVP Award. Those same numbers thrust him into the picture and made everyone realize just how good he actually is. He finished the season hitting .332 with 37 HR, 121 RBI and 102 R. Those really are amazing numbers and the only reason he’s not among my two finalists is the fact that the average is enough lower then that of Albert Pujols to knock him out of consideration. If Pujols didn’t hit close to .360, Ramirez would have had a chance.
- Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies – The MLB leader in HR at 48 and RBI at 146 deserves to be mentioned here, but the decreased average (.251) makes him a significantly tough choice for the award, since he actually hurt your case in the category. If he could hit .270-.280, then he would be a very logical candidate to win, but the way he has been hitting for average is just too big of a detriment. He’s still a player I would love to have on my team, I just can’t consider him the MVP.
Now that we talked about a few players who didn’t win the award, let’s look at the final two players and the ultimate winner.
- Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals – The player that many people shied away on draft day because of injury concerns, Pujols proved them all wrong early and often. He was as good as he ever was, hitting .357 with 37 HR, 116 RBI and 100 R. That type of production speaks for itself, and the fact that he was drafted lower then he deserved to be simply adds to his case here. The guy is one of the best sluggers in the game and he just continues to prove it again and again. In one league I was actually able to snag him in the second round, so getting #1 overall statistics from a player at that point in the draft is almost unbelievable.
- Hanley Ramirez – Florida Marlins – There were only two 30/30 players in baseball this season. Grady Sizemore was one, but he does not get any consideration here with his .268 average. The other was Ramirez, who had a monster season hitting .301 with 33 HR, 67 RBI, 35 SB and 125 R. The RBI total is a little bit lower then owners would have liked, but out of a leadoff hitter it actually is a very good number. He led the league in Runs, while helping you in every other category immensely.
So, who is going to get the award? It really is a tough call and I keep bouncing back and forth between the two. In the end, I feel like it has to be Pujols, however. There were so many doubters heading into the season that his stock just plummeted. No one expected him to be able to produce the way he did, and he has the potential to be the #1 pick come next season.
While the same can be said for Hanley Ramirez, I would be more comfortable with that if the Marlins did indeed move him down to the #3 hole in the line-up. The 35 SB are great, but they are by far not an elite number, and when you drive in only 67 RBI, you need to be getting elite production somewhere else to make-up for that. The Runs were elite, but that’s about it.
Pujols, meanwhile, was elite in his average and RBI, while he was also above average in Runs and HR. Yeah, he doesn’t really steal, chipping in just 7, but the other numbers are too good to ignore. The drop in draft position and his elite numbers give him the edge and make him Rotoprofessor’s 2008 Fantasy MVP.