Let’s start with the pitching. There really is not a starter that has run away from the pack. C.C. Sabathia, despite missing two stints on the disabled list, still leads the team’s pitchers in fWAR. But has he had a better season really than Hiroki Kuroda? His season is better than Phil Hughes and certainly Ivan Nova. But it hasn’t been a typical Sabathia season. If it was, he would be the team’s MVP hands down. What about the relief pitchers?
Rafael Soriano could probably make a case. His 42 saves after Mariano Rivera got hurt have been invaluable and is a good reason why the Yankees won those 42 games. But how do you valuate a relief pitcher? Is his 64 innings as valuable as Kuroda’s 200+? That doesn’t feel right. He does have a WPA of over three, which leads the team. And his three to one strikeout to walk ratio is nice. But his actual fWAR is 1.5 and David Robertson‘s is 1.6. I can never bring myself to give a relief pitcher any kind of Cy Young or Most Valuable Player Award kinds of awards. Truth be told, the Yankees would have been in a pickle without him. But still.
Okay, so no pitcher is running away with the award. What about position players? Robinson Cano leads the those players with a 6.2 fWAR. Perhaps we are too close to Robinson Cano to see him clearly as a value proposition. We watch the games day after day and see his terrible numbers in clutch situations and with runners in scoring position and he just doesn’t feel like an MVP of the team. His WPA is second on the team to Mark Teixeira. But Cano does lead the team in wOBA and wRC+ and has played his position with aplomb this season. So perhaps he is the guy. He never misses any time and is a constant in the Yankees’ order and always a threat.
Teixeira would have had a chance at the award if he had stayed healthy. Despite missing thirty games, he has driven in 81 runs and played superb defense. But he simply missed too much time. Alex Rodriguez is out for the same reason, though he hasn’t produced like Teixeira. Nick Swisher is the only other regular that has been a fixture in the lineup all season. He has had a good season, but not a great one. No one believes me, but Russell Martin has played way better than most people think. But he is not the team’s MVP.
So that leaves us with the Captain. Derek Jeter has had a season nobody expected him to have. His 3.5 fWAR is hurt by horrible defensive numbers but is still his best since 2009. The guy has 203 hits for crying out loud and his slugging percentage is right around his career average. He is going to finish with a batting average of around .320. But again, there is that defense. And despite his batting average, he is second on the team in wOBA to Cano. I couldn’t give the award to Jeter. He’s been a horse. He’s been an inspiration. But he’s not an MVP.
So…by default and somewhat grudgingly, the team’s most valuable player has to go to Robinson Cano. Sometimes he frustrates those of us who watch him play every day. But on the whole, he is the team’s best player.
What do you think? If you had a vote, who would you give the team’s most valuable player award to? Would you give it to Soriano? Jeter? Cano? Or someone like Kuroda who has been the one rock solid starter in a season of starter flux? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter.