The All-Star break is often time for the sports writers and broadcasters of the world to take stock in their team and try and place arbitrary value on their contributions thus far in the season. While this is a generally useless exercise it can be a lot of fun and it helps to fill the four-day baseball void in our lives and the newspaper's sports section. I even attempted it here for SBNation just last Tuesday in my Mid-Season report.â†µ
I realize I'm just your garden variety basement-dwelling Internet blogger/troll, but I have a beef with some of the names thrown around in the local publications and broadcasts. This past Sunday, Dave Wills and Andy Freed said during the Rays vs Yankees broadcast that their is "no doubt in their minds" that Kyle Farnsworth is the team MVP to this point. Today, in the TBT (A St. Petersburg Times publication), Rays beat-reporter Mark Topkin also ranked the team MVP's and had Kyle Farnsworth in the top spot.â†µ
With all due respect to the people that cover this team for a living... They are absolutely wrong.â†µ
While the debate for the MVP can be tricky, it most certainly doesn't start with Farnsworth.... Hell, it barely ends with him either. There are currently eleven other Rays ranked ahead of the non-closer in Wins Above Replacement (A stat measuring overall value added), including three other pitchers. The group is lead by Ben Zobrist and his 4.5 WAR, thanks to an above average offensive season and stellar defense at a premium position and the talks should definitely start here.â†µ
For pitchers, James Shields and David Price have both amassed over 3 WAR each, while Farnsworth has been worth less than one win at 0.7 WAR. Shields has already hurled 7 complete games and three shutouts, while Farnsworth has accumulated just 17 saves on a team with 49 wins. There seems to be a perceived value with closers because the last three outs of the game are considered more important than any of the other 24 outs but in reality its far more difficult to get to the 9th with a lead than it is for someone to go three outs without surrendering it.â†µ
The very same publication, the St. Petersburg Times, even calls James Shields the early favorite for the Cy Young award, which despite the arguments for Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and so on, just further exacerbates how little sense Topkin's choice makes. You can be a Cy Young candidate and at the same time not be a team MVP? Well that just makes no sense to me at all...