Do the Philadelphia Phillies have any MVP caliber players? Right now the Phillies have two former MVP’s in shortstop Jimmy Rollins (2007) and first baseman Ryan Howard (2006) as well as Chase Utley and Michael Young who have both finished in the top ten a couple times in their careers.
But former winners and candidates mean nothing this year. If you don’t believe me ask Minnesota Twins first baseman and former MVP Justin Morneau just how much his MVP has meant to his statistics since he won it.
So do the Phillies have any MVP caliber players this year? Lets go position by position.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz played like a fringe MVP candidate at times last year, but since Ruiz is suspended 25 games to start 2013 for taking Adderal in 2012, the writers won’t vote for him unless he is stellar.
First Base: Ryan Howard will likely hit 30 home runs with 100 RBI, but he will also bat around .250-.270 and lead the majors in strike outs, which would put him out of the running for MVP. To have a shot he needs to be in the neighborhood of 50 homers, which won’t happen because he won’t see enough quality pitches to jack 50.
Second Base: I always thought Utley deserved an MVP award for his body of work from 2005-09, but there was always someone who performed just a little bit better. If Utley can be young, pre-2010 Utley then the baseball writers could give him an MVP based on his body of work. But that IF is huge, and it would require Utley going back to 30 homers and 150 games played. Both seem very unlikely.
Shortstop: Jimmy is capable of being an all star, but an MVP? I really doubt it. With mid 20 home run power at best and high 80s RBI capability Jimmy would have to steal a ton of bases (40+) and play in 155+ games, as well as earn a Gold Glove. Even if he hits all those goals, if he does so and bats in the .250s like last year, he’s out. He needs to be in .290+ range to earn consideration, and his WAR better be off the charts.
Third Base: Michael Young is going to be closer to what Placido Polaco was in his first year as a Phillies (the second time he was in Philadelphia, not the first). He’ll be a guy the Phillies need to bat .300 and play smart baseball, but he won’t be the center piece of the offense. He simply doesn’t have enough left in the tank to play at an MVP pace all season.
Outfielders: forget the corner outfielders. This comes down to what Ben Revere will have to do to get MVP consideration. Since he has no power, Revere would have to bat over .300, steal about 70+ bases (I’m not kidding. Writers love power, so he’d have to do something so stellar to make them forget the goose egg in the home run column), .400+ on base %, and play Gold Glove level centerfield, and even then it may not be enough.
Pitchers: The writers will never give an MVP to a reliever, or Mariano Riveria would have 5 of them, so throw out both Jonathon Papelbon and Mike Adams. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers won the 2011 AL MVP with these numbers: 24-5 | 251 IP | 8.96 K/9 | 2.40 ERA | 4 CG | 250 K’s
So if any of the big three pitchers want MVP consideration, those numbers give a good guideline to the level of dominance required. I think Roy Halladay is too old to be that dominant any more, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are more likely, but that level of dominance is nearly impossible, and even then baseball writers do not like giving the trophy to pitchers.
Overall: I’d say the likelihood of a Phillie winning the MVP award is very slim, slimmer than most other teams. If Utley can have a huge year he would have the best shot, as his previously unacknowledged seasons would help the writers sympathize with him. I think he is has best shot, but Utleys chances of winning an MVP are miniscule. If you want to bet on a Phillie winning an award, pick a pitcher, and bet on a Cy Young.