Pujols first, daylight second

The Cardinals slugger was so good, MVP voters couldn't figure out a way to deny him the award.

Topics: Baseball,

The baseball writers got it right Monday, though not without their fair share of bang your head on the desk nonsense. They voted Albert Pujols the National League Most Valuable Player.

I used to care a lot more about this sort of thing than I do now, which I don’t anymore. There was a time when Brad Lidge getting two first-place votes, or Ryan Howard getting 12 of them, or Jose Valverde getting the same number of votes as Jose Reyes, would have really toasted my cookies.

But I got tired of arguing about what the word “valuable” means. I think the most valuable player in the league is the best player. Many members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who vote on the awards, operate under different definitions.

I’d tell you what they were but I don’t understand them and they change from voter to voter and year to year. The methodology seems to be: Figure out who you like as MVP, then fashion the current year’s definition of “valuable” to fit.

It’s not that it’s hard to argue with that kind of logic. It’s that it’s boring. There just isn’t an interesting conversation to be had between someone who believes the MVP award should go to the best player in the league and someone like this guy, who turned in a ballot that had Pujols in seventh place. He had Pujols down as the fourth-best first baseman in the National League. Think about that one for a second.

Fourth most “valuable,” that is. Whatever that is. The guy, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, explains what it is, and it sounds to me like someone explaining why there’s a giant meatball watching over us all and keeping us safe. “I thought Ryan Ludwick had just as much to do with keeping the Cards in the hunt as Pujols did,” Haudricourt writes, and I respect anyone’s right to practice his religion even if I think it’s a little nuts.

So if the writers want to give the American League MVP to Justin Morneau again Tuesday, like they did in 2006, let them. I don’t think they will. I think they’ll give it to Dustin Pedroia. I’d give it to Joe Mauer but really, I can’t stress this enough: They can give it to Denard Span for all I care. They can give it to Bobby Crosby. They can give it to Bing.

A conversation about who the best player in the league is in a given year, that’s a lot more interesting. Except this year in the National League, when Pujols was practically the best team, never mind the best player.

He was so good he even fit this year’s definition of “valuable.” Whatever it was.

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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