An MVP you have to watch play to understand

An MVP you have to watch play to understand
October 1, 2012, 3:19 am
Share This Post

The case for Yoenis Cespedes as American League Most Valuable Player comes too late, flies in the face of the two actual candidates, and really has no constituency.His numbers arent good enough to match Miguel Cabreras. His WAR doesnt even merit comparison with Mike Trouts; hell, hes tied for 61st with Desmond Jennings. He plays for the Battling Piefaces, the team that laughs at conventional analysis.And without him, the Oakland Athletics are . . . well, the Chicago White Sox.But with him, the As are positioned unusually well to end up with the best record in the American League of Baseball Clubs after all the games are played. Thats right. Theyre only two games behind Texas, with the faltering Rangers coming into Seagull City for the final series of the year. They are also a game behind both Baltimore and New York. In short, they could Cespedes their way to the absolute top of the game that has stood on their necks for the last five years.But Johnny Lawns (the rough English mang-lation of his name) isnt an MVP candidate. He is that bane of the sabermetricians skills and the traditionalists biases the guy you have to actually have to see to comprehend. And since Oakland has been baseballs must-see-something-else team, Cespedes doesnt register on radar.But a game-winning home run, a triple, a stolen run because he decided to gamble on a close play at the plate, and his general command of his new position has made him The Best Candidate Who Missed The Filing Deadline.Bob Melvin knows his value. So does Wm. Lamar Beane, who committed 20 percent of Johnny-Boy Fishers payroll to the notion that Cespedes might be ready to be functional major leaguer by June.As it turned out, Beane was too generous by three months, underpaid Johnny Lawns based on productivity and general eye appeal, and is now reaping the benefits of the guy who fixed not only Melvins lineup card but his outfield defense. He got Coco Crisp out of the holding cell of left field and back in center, where he rightly belongs, and took the bull by the pointy hat to learn left field. Add Josh Reddick, and the As may have the most productive O-D outfield combination in the game.Now we ask is that valuable, or what?Of course it is. And while we dont mean to suggest that this alone cured the As of their hardened arteries, irregular heartbeat and gout, it did change the nature of the team. The pitchers didnt have to win their game, 0-to-minus-one. The other hitters didnt have to master the five-run homer. The third baseman and shortstop werent responsible for any fly ball between the infield dirt and the warning track.And yes, we understand that hitting .291 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs in 126 games isnt Triple Crown stuff, and a WAR that is almost seven games lower than the league leaders. We get that he will get approximately no first-place votes, and frankly, he shouldnt. Mike Trout is a better candidate, and so is Miguel Cabrera.But the As are one game away from savaging baseball logic, dismembering the pundit class, and making the We Believe Warriors look like a dull, featureless collection of disinterested parties. They also are the new model in lie detectors anyone in this plane of existence who says he or she thought this was better than a 75-win team is a liar and should be treated as such.Thats valuable, too. Defying gravity always is.So maybe Bob Melvin can reflect on Monday morning what he might have done had he sold Cespedes a little harder to the notebookedmicrophoned hyenas. Maybe Beane could have made a few calls to schmooze the electorate, and lets be frank here, the electorate is always willing to be schmoozed.But it wouldnt be the same. Yoenis Cespedes, Johnny Lawns, has created a new template for the award, one that means more actual money and automobile fuel to be expended.The MVP you have to watch play to understand.Nahhh. Thatll never catch on.

More Team Talk