Baseball BeatSeptember 10, 2007
New York: The Hottest Corners in Baseball
By Rich Lederer

Weekend News: Alex Rodriguez hit his 52nd home run of the season on Sunday, extending his consecutive games streak of going yard to five. ARod has slugged seven homers during this span.

David Wright hit his 27th home run during Saturday's game, matching his career best in 2005. Including a day off on Sunday, Wright has jacked three homers with six RBI in his last six contests.

Rodriguez and Wright have jumped to the forefront of the Most Valuable Player discussions in the AL and NL, respectively. Should these two win the MVP awards, they would become the first players from the same city to capture such honors in the same year since Nellie Fox and Ernie Banks made the Windy City proud in 1959. Miguel Tejada (A's) and Barry Bonds (Giants) in 2002 and Jason Giambi (A's) and Jeff Kent (Giants) in 2000 were named MVPs as crosstown rivals in the Bay Area.

The third basemen would also become the first pair of players manning the hot corner to earn MVPs since George Brett and Mike Schmidt in 1980. Brett and Schmidt met in the World Series that fall with the latter leading the Philadelphia Phillies to the title over the Kansas City Royals in six games. The reigning MVPs were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the magazine's baseball preview in April 1981. The headline aptly read, "Hotshots at the Hot Corner."

If Rodriguez and Wright were to win MVP honors in 2007, SI could do worse than putting them on the cover next spring. In the meantime, like Brett and Schmidt, New York's finest could lead their teams to the Fall Classic. The Yankees are 5 1/2 games back in the AL East but sit atop the Wild Card race with a four-game margin over the Detroit Tigers. The Mets enjoy a six-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East and could wind up with the best record in the league, earning home-field advantage in the NLDS and NLCS.

Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers have been running 1-2 all season. ARod got off to an incredibly hot start, slugging 14 HR in the first three weeks of the season. He slipped to .235/.361/.422 in May, allowing Ordonez (.381/.450/.619 in May and June) to gain some traction in the AL MVP debate. However, with a strong September, Rodriguez (.533/.600/1.367 with 8 HR in 30 AB) is beginning to pull away from Mags.


1    Alex Rodriguez        77
2    Magglio Ordonez       65
3    David Ortiz           52
4    Carlos Pena           50
T5   Curtis Granderson     38
T5   Jorge Posada          38
7    Vladimir Guerrero     36
T8   Ichiro Suzuki         35
T8   B.J. Upton            35
10   Alex Rios             32

ARod is also leading Ordonez in Wins Above Replacement Value (WARP) and Win Shares, both of which incorporate defense into their tallies. At this point, it would be a huge surprise if Rodriguez didn't win his third MVP award this season.

Wright, on the other hand, experienced a poor April (.244/.370/.311) and has only recently become a strong candidate for NL MVP honors.


1    David Wright          55
2    Chase Utley           51
3    Chipper Jones         48
4    Prince Fielder        47
T5   Barry Bonds           46
T5   Hanley Ramirez        46
7    Albert Pujols         42
8    Miguel Cabrera        35
T9   Ryan Braun            32
T9   Matt Holliday         32

Wright not only leads the pack in RCAA but he also is #1 in WARP and Win Shares. According to the latter measurement, Eric Byrnes, Russell Martin, and Carlos Beltran should factor into the discussion as well. Beltran will have a tough time beating out Wright but Byrnes and Martin could become darkhorse choices if one of them leads their club to the NL West title.

Upon first blush, Wright's stats pale in comparison to ARod's. However, except for the differential in HR (and R and RBI), their numbers are remarkably similar. They have virtually the same totals when it comes to G, AB, H, 2B, 3B, SB, CS, BB, SO, AVG, and OBP. I realize that HR are a big deal – in fact, the biggest deal of 'em all – but I still think it is instructional to recognize the commonalities between the two. ARod has Wright beat up and down and around in HR and SLG, yet the latter's 27 dingers and .539 slugging percentage are impressive nonetheless.

             G    AB   R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS   BB   SO   AVG   OBP   SLG 
Rodriguez   141  519  132  165  28   0  52  140  22   3   82  101  .318  .424  .672
Wright      140  523   97  165  34   1  27   93  30   4   84  108  .315  .410  .539

Rodriguez, who is on pace to hit 59 home runs, could become just the sixth player in the history of the game to slug 60 in a season. If so, he would be the first non-OF/1B to reach this hallowed mark. Amazingly, he is the only non-OF/1B to rip 50 – something he has accomplished THREE times (52 in 2001 and 57 in 2002 as a SS and 52 and counting in 2007 as a 3B). Mike Schmidt never hit 50. Eddie Mathews never hit 50. Ernie Banks never hit 50.

                              YEAR       HR     
1    Barry Bonds              2001       73   
2    Mark McGwire             1998       70   
3    Sammy Sosa               1998       66   
4    Mark McGwire             1999       65   
5    Sammy Sosa               2001       64   
6    Sammy Sosa               1999       63   
7    Roger Maris              1961       61   
8    Babe Ruth                1927       60   

ARod also has the opportunity to catch or surpass Babe Ruth and Roger Maris as the all-time, single-season HR king among Yankees.

The man who wears #13 on his jersey is projected to score 150 runs and knock in 159. ARod could become the first player to go 150-150 in the same season since Ted Williams in 1949.

                              YEAR       R       RBI    
1    Babe Ruth                1921      177      171   
2    Lou Gehrig               1936      167      152   
3    Lou Gehrig               1931      163      184   
T4   Babe Ruth                1927      158      164   
T4   Chuck Klein              1930      158      170   
6    Al Simmons               1930      152      165   
T7   Jimmie Foxx              1932      151      169   
T7   Joe DiMaggio             1937      151      167   
T9   Ted Williams             1949      150      159   
T9   Babe Ruth                1930      150      153   

Once again, we're looking at nothing other than OF and 1B. ARod's potential inclusion in lists like those above is a testament to his hitting prowess as well as his overall value as an infielder.

And that other third baseman in New York is Wright behind him.

Source of Tables: Complete Baseball Encyclopedia


player who should win MVP: Hanley Ramirez
player who will win MVP: David Wright
player who will be left in the MVP voting dust because he is a disrespected veteran who doesnt play in NYC: Chipper Jones. (He better come in top 5 MVP voting).

David Wright is .14 behind A-Rod in OBP and world's apart in hitting for power. He is not even close to being Wright behind him. The two measures you used to show why A-Rod is having a historically great season are the 60 HR barrier and the 150 Runs and RBI club. How can you also brush off these measures in order to say that Wright is having a similar season?


Hanley certainly deserves notice for hit hitting, but what makes you think he deserves it more than Wright? Ramirez has been brutal with the glove, and the value of his stats at SS, are much diffused by his poor defense.

If Chipper hadn't missed so much time to injury, I imagine he'd be right in the MVP race.

Rich doesn't brush off the difference in HRs and slugging at all. Just because ARod's season is far superior by those measures, doesn't mean there aren't similarities between the his season and Wright's. "Wright behind him" was clearly just a play on words.

BTW same for Utley, if he didn't get hurt, he's almost assuredly the leading candidate for NL MVP.

TFV: As Kyle pointed out, I wrote, "ARod has Wright beat up and down and around in HR and SLG." In the same paragraph, I also noted, "except for the differential in HR (and R and RBI), their numbers are remarkably similar."

ARod is having a historical season that will lead to him being chosen as the AL MVP. Wright is just having a season worthy of being selected as NL MVP. I apologize for not making myself more clear.

If utley played at shea, wright's numbers would be 10 times better than his. If you're going to use the injury excuse, at least factor in the fact that utley plays in a bandwagon. In fact, wright is the only candidate that plays in a pitcher's park.

While I agree that Utley's numbers are mitigated by the bandbox he's plays his home games in, that actually accentuates my point that if he were healthy he'd be the leading MVP candidate. During his injury, he missed something like 18 home games, where he OPSs over 1.000. Injury isn't an excuse, it's a real reason that (rightly or wrongly) Utley isn't the leading candidate for NL MVP.

FWIW, for MVP candidate home parks, both Hanley and Miggy Cabrera play in a park that has traditionally favored pitchers (though it seems to have a positive park factor this year). ATL's Turner field has played as a pitchers park this year. Prince Fielder's home park has played fairly neutral for the past few years.