Commentary: Baez is not the Cubs' MVP


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Stan Szeto - USA Today Sports
Stan Szeto - USA Today Sports

I understand my writing colleague Ken Allison was offended the other day when I mentioned that Javier Baez might not be the Cubs MVP and so he went out a wrote a long, and detailed, story laying out why he feels Baez should be named MVP on his way to the Hall of Fame this year.

Look, I have absolutely nothing against Javy Baez, in fact, he may be the most exciting player in baseball right now, but that doesn’t mean he is the MVP. Larry Biittner was exciting, and nobody ever thought he should be MVP. Again, I am not here to disparage Baez, I think he is a wonderful ballplayer, a great person, and a real star.

Being the MVP, to me, means is he someone that if you took him off the team would the team do better or worse? If the answer is worse then he should be considered for the MVP. Now you do that for every team in baseball and then you take the list of guys you have and work it down to one guy left standing and he is your MVP.

If you, objectively and not fan crazily, do that with the Cubs is Baez the Cubs selection? I’m not sure he is, right now, on August 4th. Once again, by order of my editor I must point out, I have no axe to grind with Baez. I have also need to mention that my opinion does not reflect the views of CubsHQ.com, their advertisers, or followers.

Ken did a great job using a boatload of facts and figures, and stats, and pictures, and charts, and all kinds of things to prove his point. I’m going to go old school and just base my opinions on the eye test and common sense.

After eliminating 20 of the 25 guys on the current roster because frankly they don’t deserve to be in the conversation and it saves time, I have left myself with five possible team MVP candidates. One of those eliminated I should point out is Jon Lester, and while I shudder to think where this team would be without this guy, I have a thing about giving this award to someone who only plays every five days.

In alphabetical order, the remaining options are Albert Almora Jr., Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist. I can hear Ken’s eyes rolling in his head from 1800 miles away already and I think that is his blood pressure that is sizzling up to 467 over 632.

My case for all of them begins with Almora. Rarely does a platoon guy ever get considered but without looking it up, it seems that when he plays the Cubs usually win. Additionally, he will likely someday be the one of the greatest centerfielders in Cubs history. For 2018, I believe that if he played more the Cubs would have won more, especially because it means that Happ would have played less.

Javy Baez, as I said, may be the most exciting player in the major leagues right now. However, being exciting does not mean he is the most valuable, but he is an integral part of this team for sure. My two issues with him winning this are that he is clearly best positioned at 2nd base, no matter how many times Joe Maddon tries to make him the shortstop over Russell. When he plays short it exposes his bad things and actually hurts his MVP case. He also struggles to deliver in the clutch at times and as an MVP you want that guy to deliver.

Willson Contreras is near the top of my list because he helps the pitching staff be better by throwing guys out and finding a catcher who can do that is really hard. There may not be a better catcher in the national league right now and that is what an MVP looks like.

Anthony Rizzo is this team. I cannot imagine the Cubs being anything close to a division champ without Rizzo leading this team and saving 40 errors a season at first base from bad throws. If he is gone, who the heck plays over there? Remember early in the season when he was struggling? The Cubs record was awful, and they were in 4th place. He starts to hit and suddenly they are in first.

Finally, Ben Zobrist is one of those players that you keep looking for ways to sit him and he just keeps showing you that you really, really, need him in the line-up. The guy plays everywhere and is terrific at best and adequate at worst and frankly, I want him on my team every day.

So, on my ballot, it comes down to Rizzo and Contreras. I can’t imagine how bad the Cubs would be without either one, but I know for sure how bad they actually were without Rizzo at his best and that is what pushes him over the top for me in 2018.

For those that are still here reading, and care, on my ballot for NL MVP, Nolan Arenado.

For all you Baez fans, you have a ton of reasons to love the guy and you should love him. He is fun to watch and represents this team respectfully, but his MVP days are still ahead of him.

Someone please check on writer Ken Allison and make sure he is OK.

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