With the playoffs starting--and finishing, depending on your team--another season of baseball starts and that's the awards season. This is one of my favorite parts of the year because the regular season is over and we can finally step back and analyze the numbers. We've finally got a perfect sample size--a whole season! Here's who I think should take home the hardware.
I'll start with an easy one. The National League MVP is Albert Pujols. Yes, I know Ryan Howard had a monster September and finished with the league lead in homers and runs batted in but that alone does not mean he should win the MVP. Despite leading in those categories, he didn't crack the top ten in Batting Runs, Runs Created, or Batting Wins. To his credit, he did finish first in ABs per homer and fourth in total bases, and seventh in slugging percentage. All in all, that's a pretty good year considering how awful he started; but Albert Pujols wasn't other-worldly for just a month like Howard was for September.
He was other worldly for an entire year. This year, Pujols is second in OBP (.462), first in sluggling (.653), first in OPS (1.114), third in hits, first in total bases, fourth in doubles, homers, and runs batted in, second in walks, first in OPS+, first in runs created, first in batting runs, and first in batting wins. To paraphrase what I read in an article on The Hardball Times: Albert Pujols is better than anyone on the planet at hitting a baseball. If the baseball writers flub this one, which I'm sure they will, I will completely lose what little faith I had left in them.
Take this into consideration as well: Ryan Howard was third on HIS OWN TEAM in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). While VORP has its flaws, it's a nice little crutch and the fact that Howard was the third hardest person on his team to replace is indicative of why he shouldn't be winning the MVP. Albert Pujols, on the other hand, was the hardest man in the majors to replace, with a VORP of 96.8. Ryan Howard was 39th in VORP for the 2008 season.