We don’t need any fancy stats to figure out that Jose Bautista is running away with the American League Most Valuable Player award this season. But with Albert Pujols struggling in St. Louis, the National League MVP is up for grabs.
And the door may be open for a pitcher to step up and win the award.
Roy Halladay is just 6-3, but he has a 2.21 ERA and leads the National League in strikeouts (80), innings pitched (77.1) and complete games (4).
More importantly, if we look at Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which measures how many wins a players is worth to their team and allows us to compare all players, no player in the NL has been worth more to his team than Halladay. His 3.3 WAR is almost a full win better than Joey Votto and Matt Holliday (2.5 WAR) and second in baseball to Bautista (4.3 WAR).
Halladay’s huge WAR can be explained by his minuscule FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) which, unlike ERA, doesn’t penalise a pitcher for having a bad defence behind him. Halladay’s 1.68 FIP leads the NL and suggests he has pitched even better than his 2.21 ERA.
If Halladay does win the NL MVP, he would be the first pitcher to do so since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. And he would be the first NL pitcher to win the award since Bob Gibson in 1968.
Here are the most valuable players in baseball so far this season based on Wins Above Replacement…
Data via Fangraphs.com