WHAT MAKES FOR AN MVP? There are no criteria for determining an MVP. This makes for a lot of room for argument—desirable for sportswriters and also for fans. (A similar situation exists with voting for the all star game—is it performance for the first few weeks of the season that counts or is there to be an attempt to determine who the best player is? The ambiguity makes possible many articles complaining about selections.) If best player is always arguable, value to a team is even more controversial. Sports writers through the years have been primarily story tellers, taking what is in a box score and constructing a narrative around it, so they are comfortable with telling stories about value to a team. The stories about Miguel Cabrera feature his triple crown, his improved hitting in the last 6 weeks of the season, the fact that his team came on at the end to make the playoffs, that he was a good teammate, and his willingness to play a position he was not good at in order to help his team. ( Here is a column by Paul Brassard which tells the story of the position change eloquently.) Historically, some assessment of value has carried the day, but sometimes the “best player” is chosen. Notably, Andre Dawson overcame the argument that “they could have finished last without him” by being voted the MVP in the National League in 1987 even though his team, the Chicago Cubs, finished last in its division.

This entry was posted in Baseball, Journalism, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to WHAT MAKES FOR AN MVP?

  1. Nick says:

    Interestingly, looking back, I’m pretty sure Dawson didn’t come close to deserving the award for non-narrative reasons.


    It looks as though Ozzie Smith, Jack Clark, Darryl Strawberry, Tony Gwynn, Dale Murphy, and Tim Raines were all much better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.