With a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning last night, Hanley Ramirez brought home the only two runs the Los Angeles Dodgers would score en route to a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Dodgers’ cooling phenom, Yasiel Puig, had another 0-4 night with three strikeouts and even the ever-present and consistent veteran, Andre Ethier went 0-3 on the night. But Ramirez was there to step up and produce the offense necessary to get Clayton Kershaw his 10th win of the year.
The case has been made by writers and fans alike that Ramirez’s hot play in the 47 games he has played this year has earned him the MVP.
When I started to consider which Dodger player has been the Most Valuable Player through the first 100 or so games of the season, one of the most important things that came to mind was the team’s win-loss record with that player in the game. Despite only being able to play in 47 games so far due to injuries, the Dodgers are 30-17 in games that Ramirez has played in this year.
Not to be outdone, Puig has been a part of a 30-16 record in his games played, certainly stating the case for his relevancy in this discussion. Some other positive records to note are from third baseman Juan Uribe (43-35), closer Kenley Jansen (34-16) and starting pitcher Zack Greinke (12-4).
The first two Dodgers have been with the team through thick and thin this season. They were playing day in and day out, through the worst of the lows and then still playing through the best of the highs. This accounts for why the Dodgers have so many losses in games they have played in, but still have more wins than losses as the Dodgers have been one of the hottest teams in MLB recently.
Another really telling statistic is not how well a player performed overall, but how well a player played in his team’s losses. It is easy to be hot and roll with the momentum when your team is winning, but it is very difficult to consistently play well, even when your teammates are not.
In this area, Ramirez has performed admirably, with one home run, four RBI and a .360 batting average in the team’s 16 losses. In the 47 losses Ethier has played in, the outfielder has a very telling .216 batting average.
One Dodger who stands out very peculiarly in this category is Puig. The Cuban rookie has hit an amazing .393 in losses this year, which is better than his .358 average in wins. However, Puig has only two of his 22 RBI this year in losses, which means he is not plating runners in the games the Dodgers need him do so most.
All things considered, if I was held at gunpoint and asked to pick the Dodgers’ MVP today, I would go the surprising route and choose neither Puig nor Ramirez, despite their amazingly hot, shortened seasons. I would pick first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s batting average is still a respectable .261 in losses, but he has about a third of his home runs and RBI in those games, while most of his teammates only have a few of their home runs and RBI in losses. With a season batting average of .300, 15 home runs and 64 RBI, Gonzalez has been the most consistent and durable player for the Dodgers all season. His record with the Dodgers this year is only 53-46, but as I said before, part of this is a result of the Dodgers’ poor play early in the season.
Gonzalez has played first base in all but five of the Dodgers’ 102 games and his consistency, performance in both wins and losses and strong play throughout the whole season, is why I believe he is the Dodgers’ MVP thus far.