It’s possible to think too hard sometimes.Friday night, Erik Hahmann, the editor of Tampa Bay blog DRaysBay, did a public service by watching Network and
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Robinson Cano or Adam Jones for AL MVP? Stop overthinking it, guys


Robinson Cano or Adam Jones for AL MVP? Stop overthinking it, guys

It’s possible to think too hard sometimes.Friday night, Erik Hahmann, the editor of Tampa Bay blog DRaysBay, did a public service by watching Network and calling attention to Dan Plesac’s statement that Adam Jones is the current MVP of the American League. Upon receipt of a snarky reply about Mike Trout, with a nod to the song “Forgot About Dre,” Hahmann noted that Greg Amsinger picked Robinson Cano, on the grounds of where the Mariners might be without their second baseman. Robinson Cano (AP Photo) MVP WATCH: Trout or Abreu in AL? | McCutchen or Kershaw in NL?The question of how much worse a team would be without a specific player is germane to MVP conversations. Last year, when I was covering the NHL, I used it to help sort out my Hart Trophy ballot, and the Washington Capitals’ reliance on Alex Ovechkin for so much of their offense led me to give him the nod over Sidney Crosby in a very close call — Ovechkin did win the MVP.The problem comes when you give too much weight to this question as a factor in the MVP debate. Cano is at 4.6 wins above replacement this season (all WAR data from FanGraphs), while Jones is at 3.9. But there’s also the small matter of Trout being at 5.9 and Felix Hernandez being at 6.1, the major league WAR leader.Aside from Cano, the only member of the Mariners lineup contributing any sort of offensive value is Kyle Seager. Seattle is dead last in the American League in team on-base percentage and OPS, next-to-last in slugging and runs scored. Take away Cano, and the Mariners’ lineup still stinks, but they’re probably still in the mix for the wild card because of the best pitching staff in the league, led by Hernandez.Cano is to the Mariners what Jamal Lewis was to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, when the rookie running back rushed for 1,364 yards and split the year between Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer at quarterback. Lewis was very much his team’s most important offensive player, but that Ravens team won the Super Bowl because of the Ray Lewis-led defense.Even if you want

to make the argument that Cano should be the MVP because the Mariners are ultra-dependent on him as a position player, and you don’t believe that pitchers should be part of the MVP discussion, you would be wrong. Josh Donaldson is at  4.7 WAR for the A’s, just a shade ahead of Cano and by far the highest mark on Oakland’s first-place roster over Derek Norris, at 2.8. That’s the second-biggest WAR differential between the best and second-best players on a team in the American League this year, as in Kansas City, Alex Gordon is at 5.3 WAR to Lorenzo Cain’s 3.1.Adam Jones (AP Photo)Here’s a look at the top 10 spreads between best WAR on a team and second-best WAR on a team this year, including pitchers, because pitchers can win the MVP, have won the MVP, and should definitely be able to win the MVP…Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki 5.1, Corey Dickerson 2.5Royals: Alex Gordon 5.3, Lorenzo Cain 3.1A’s:AJosh Donaldson 4.7, Derek Norris 2.8Angels: Mike Trout 5.9, Garrett Richards 4.1Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt 4.2, A.J. Pollock 2.6Mariners: Felix Hernandez 6.1, Robinson Cano 4.6Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton 4.5, Christian Yelich 3.0Braves: Jason Heyward 4.6, Freddie Freeman 3.1Blue Jays: Jose Bautista 4.2, Edwin Encarnacion 2.9Pirates: Andrew McCutchen 4.8, Josh Harrison 3.5Voting for the MVP is a subjective undertaking. If it wasn’t, they would just give trophies to the league leaders in WAR and call it a day. Subjective, though, does not mean that you are free from having to back up your opinion with facts.If you want to say that the MVP of a league is the player on a team who stands head and shoulders above his teammates, then your 2014 MVPs at this moment are Tulowitzki and Gordon. Last year, you would have picked Trout and Carlos Gomez.At least you would be standing on some kind of philosophical ground. If you’re picking Jones or Cano to be the MVP of the American League this year, all that you’re doing is racking your brain for a good player on a contending team who isn’t Hernandez because Hernandez is a pitcher, isn’t Trout because everyone always says Trout is the MVP, and isn’t Gordon or Donaldson because you have been thinking too hard. That’s when it becomes a problem.IS MIKE TROUT GOOD AT BASEBALL?Yes.And it seems that word is spreading that Mike Trout is good at baseball. Source: Mike Trout is good at baseball. Hits Hr No. 26 to tie the game, 3-3, in the 8th. #Angels— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) August 10, 2014 More on this story as it develops.

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