This Day In Baseball: 19 August 2005

Friday, August 19 2005 @ 12:05 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it.
-- Babe Ruth

And this one is the hardest of them all. Who is the American League's MVP?

Every candidate seems to have a "Yeah, but..." attached. Yankees fans have been griping all year that Alex Rodriguez has been sub-par in the field, and doesn't deliver the big timely hit.

Manny Ramirez is a hell of a hitter, but is notoriously erratic in the field, and downright goofy off it.

David Ortiz is also a hell of a hitter, but has even less defensive value than Manny, who at least leads the league in BaseRunner Kills.

Vladimir Guerrero, last year's winner, has played at his usual splendid level, but he missed almost a month of the season, which has no value whatsoever.

It's hardly the fault of Miguel Tejada (or Brian Roberts) that the Orioles have gone into the toilet, but it's not really a strong argument in their favour, either.

And so it goes. In such circumstances, you can count on bizarre candidates popping up - Scott Podsednik or Mariano Rivera or Bobby Crosby - like the inexplicable Shannon Stewart boomlet of two years ago.

I would not be at all surprised to see Podsednik, in particular, receive a significant amount of support. The White Sox are having a great year, and someone needs to get the credit. You obviously can't make an argument based on Podsednik's production. The White Sox are not a great offensive team (they've scored fewer runs than Tampa Bay) - and their left fielders (that would be Podsednik) rank last in the league in offensive production, as came up in the Instant Replay just the other day. And I don't see how you can credit a left fielder with the team's vastly improved pitching and defense.

The argument, and it's one I'm not inclined to dismiss out of hand, will be that Podsednik has changed the culture of the team - that his example and leadership has transformed them somehow. And, you know, in the case of Kirk Gibson with the 1988 Dodgers, I'll buy it. Gibson really did change that team. But I don't buy it with Podsednik - certainly not enough for him to crack the Top 10.

So let's not descend to those levels. Most value means most value. (Most of the time, anyway!)The player with the most value to his team is the best player, not the player who represents the greatest percentage of what is valuable on his team. (I think of this as the Doug Gilmour over Mario Lemieux for the Hart Trophy argument, and I hate it.)

But if you want to go that way - well, Mike Sweeney means much, much more to Kansas City than Rodriguez means to New York or Ramirez does to Boston - without Sweeney, the Royals would finish last in the Pacific Coast league, never mind the AL. But it's still a dumb, dumb argument, even if people make it all the time. Mike Sweeney is not the most valuable player in the American League.

It's Alex Rodriguez. He's not having a Gold Glove Year at third, but as far as I can tell he's been OK. He's hitting .310 when it's "Close and Late," so he must have had a few big hits. In other words, I don't think the quibbles really stand up. At least, they're not enough.

1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Manny Ramirez
3. Vladimir Guerrero
4. Miguel Tejada
5. Jason Varitek
6. Brian Roberts
7. David Ortiz
8. Roy Halladay
9. Eric Chavez
10. Mark Buehrle

Today's games:

Baltimore (Bedard 6-4, 3.06) at Cleveland (Elarton 7-6, 4.58) 7:05
Toronto (Bush 2-6, 4.59) at Detroit (Maroth 10-11, 4.61) 7:05
Texas (Dominguez 0-2, 5.59) at Tampa Bay (McClung 3-7, 7.17) 7:15
New York (Mussina 11-7, 4.00) at Chicago (Garland 16-6, 3.47) 8:05
Seattle (Meche 10-8, 5.22) at Minnesota (Silva 7-6, 3.33) 8:10
Boston (Clement 11-3, 4.53) at Los Angeles (Lackey 10-4, 3.63) 10:05
Kansas City (Wood 3-4, 4.25) at Oakland (Harden 9-5, 2.78) 10:05

Chicago (Prior 8-4, 3.70) at Colorado (Kim 3-9, 5.33) 5:05
Pittsburgh (Wells 6-12, 4.62) at Philadelphia (Tejeda 3-2, 2.71) 7:05
Arizona (Ortiz 4-6, 6.00) at Cincinnati (Claussen 7-8, 4.53) 7:10
Washington (Patterson 7-3, 2.44) at New York (Seo 4-1, 1.35) 7:10
San Diego (Park 9-6, 5.89) at Atlanta (Hampton 5-2, 2.73) 7:35
Los Angeles (Houlton 4-6, 5.31) at Florida (Burnett 11-6, 3.04) 7:35
San Francisco (Hennessey 4-5, 5.68) at St. Louis (Carpenter 17-4, 2.25) 8:10
Milwaukee (Davis 9-8, 4.20) at Houston (Astacio 2-6, 6.66) 8:05