MVP List 2003 plus Bonds & ARod vs. Greatest Ever
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Ruth, Cobb, & Wagner still ahead and Mays just slightly.

2003 MVP List

Explanation of MVP List


If you can download my Word document listed above (2003 MVPs by position) with every spacing, bold face, and font size as I intended, then you can see the relative merit of ARod vs. the rest of the American Leaguers. He blew them away. (Essentially, each column of players at each position was more valuable than the column of players to its right. Within a column within a position the top player was more valuable than the one below it. Bold face means they were outstanding even for an MVP. All caps and bold, means they were freakishly great.)


My criteria for rating each player`s excellence is how much they contributed more than a good AAA or decent bench player would likely have contributed at the same position. If a player`s team makes the play-offs, and, especially, if that player does well in the play-offs, I give him extra credit. RBIs are mostly luck, batting order, and teammate dependent, so I pay very little attention to them. For offence, I look at mostly OBA, SlgA, and playing time. (Hence, a brilliant performance in a limited number of appearances would only garner an Honorable Mention at best.) The number of stolen bases greater than double the times caught help a little. For defense, since nobody is paying me for this, I don`t have zone factors, so I have to rely pretty much on reputations. I do look at range factors, however. For starting pitchers: ERA, Innings, and Wins as compared to run support are the three biggies. Yes, Wins don`t help you much in Scoresheet and I agree it is a contentious stat. However, Cy Young Awards have been based more on Wins than anything else. There is semi-plausible argument for it, if it is taken in the context of run support. Even more contentious in my mind is the value of a save. However, the stat is there and relievers are judged by it, so I will heed (Wins + Saves - Losses - Blown Saves) the same value as Wins for starters excluding the run support component. (I realize a Loss and a Blown Save could be counted twice, but that`s fair as far as I`m concerned.) It boils down to the fact that when I started making this list, I figured no one would pay any attention to it, if I ignored Wins and Saves. Of course, I look at the long term Park Factors for all players.


Alex Rodriguez & Barry Bonds vs. all-time greatest shortstops & outfielders


Alex Rodriguez has been awarded bold face (outstanding even for an MVP) for the last four years in a row, plus twice before that. Only in two years of the past eight, was he merely excellent. Nomar Garciaparra was bold faced four years in a row (and no others): `97-`00, and was about as good as Tejada`s 2002 MVP winning. ARod this year was also in all caps as he was in 2002 and 2000- meaning he frequently has freakishly great years. Yes, he`s a freak. What is freakier, it that it took sportswriters until this year to vote ARod the MVP, when has been clearly the best four times - maybe five times before then.


Derek Jeter first appeared on my MVP lists the same year as ARod. He has been, at least, outstanding each year getting bold face only once in 1999. For what it`s worth, Barry Larkin made my list 12 times - with an even distribution as MVPs, Runner-Ups, Outstandings, and Honorable Mentions. He had bold face twice.


Talk about greatness: as we all know, Bonds has won the MVP award 6 times including the last three. According to my lists, Bonds has been one of the three MVPs of Major League outfielders every year for the last 14 years, except in 1999 when an injury kept him at the Honorable Mention level. He also made Honorable Mention in two of the three years before this run, going back to 1987. I give him bold face distinction seven times. At 39, he is still at his peak, getting all caps these last two years and all caps underlined! in 2001.


To be underlined is to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time.


How do ARod and Bonds compare to other greats? (Were are not talking about personality here - just how they rated on my learned MVP lists. Note: in recent decades I have included more players on my lists, which I believe is justifiable considering how improved athletes are these days.)


Alex Rodriguez: 8 years so far, no Honorable Mentions, 6 MVP bold face honors, all caps 4 times

Nomar Garciaparra: 6 yrs. on list, 1 runner-up, no HM, bold faced MVP 4 times, never in all caps.

Cal Ripken: 14 years on list (all consecutive, of course), only 1 HM, 7 MVPs, 2 bold, 1 all caps

Barry Bonds: 16 years on list, 3 HM, 13 MVPs (nothing in-between!), 7 bold, 3 caps, 1 underlined

Hank Aaron: 15 years made the list, only 1 HM, and also 12 MVPs! Also, 6 bold! 1 all caps

Willie Mays: 14 years on the list, none of which as HM, 13 as an MVP!, 11 bold!, 3 caps

Ted Williams: 12 years listed (missed 5 prime seasons for patriotism), 1 HM, 9 MVP, 6 bold, 1 caps

Joe DiMaggio: 11 years listed (missed 3 prime - see above), no HM, 10 MVP, 5 bold, no caps

Babe Ruth: 17 years listed!, 1 HM (pitcher), 14 MVPs! (2 as pitcher), 9 bold!, 4 caps, 1 underlined

Ty Cobb: 17 years on list, 1 HM, 15 MVPs!, 6 bold, 3 caps, 1 underlined

Honus Wagner: 13 years on the list, no HM, 11 MVPs, 6 bold, no caps


Here are the three underlined seasons:

1911 Cobb:   .420 BA,   8 HR, 24 T, 47 D, 127 BB, 83 SB in the dead ball era! An outstanding CF.

1921 Ruth:    .378 BA, 59 HR, 16 T, 44 D, 171 BB, 17 SB and was 2-0 as a pitcher

2001 Bonds: .328 BA, 73 HR,   2 T, 32 D, 177 BB, 13 SB and his last Gold Glove?


OK, so it is impossible to accurately compare players from one era to another. However, I do think my list analysis gives us an excellent idea of how outstanding these players are. As you can see, having more names on my MVP lists in recent decades doesn`t make much difference with players of this caliber. During their prime, these super stars were vastly superior to everyone else, anyway. During most of these players` finals years, they generally weren`t quite good enough for Honorable Mention. Hence, all this analysis misses is how many years these players were still better than subs, but not above average enough to get an HM. For most players that is significant, but for 11 listed above, it isn`t.


In conclusion, Honus Wagner was more outstanding than Cal Ripken, but not by a lot. ARod and to a lesser extent Nomar are both candidates to be the all-time greatest - at shortstop or any position, but they have a long way to go. Nomar`s chances, in fact, are pretty doubtful. Jeter seems to be in the Barry Larkin echelon, which isn`t very far below.


Ruth very narrowly edges out Cobb as the all-time most outstanding player (assuming it isn`t Walter Johnson or some other non-outfielder). Willie Mays still completes what would be the all-time greatest outfield. Barry Bonds, however, as he is passing his godfather in home runs is very close to nudging him out of the top three. Bonds has now passed Aaron, Williams, and DiMaggio. If anyone wishes to invoke the ``players are faster, bigger, stronger, & all-around better now`` argument and say Bonds & Mays should be ahead of old Ty Cobb and even Ruth, you have my approval, but that`s a whole other discussion. Cobb & Ruth were more outstanding amongst their Major League peers than Barry Bonds.

John Carter