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Something to Ponder

Who has been the most valuable member of the Mets this season? No one from the rotation has pitched enough (or well enough) to seriously merit consideration. If you listen to the news reports and the media, David Wright and Jose Reyes seem to be the two who come to mind. Wright has certainly come into his own offensively in 2006, and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at one point. Jose Reyes finally met the level of hype he has generated the past few seasons, and they were both awarded with long-term contracts that pay them well. Still, the most valuable player on the Mets has been last season's top acquistion, Carlos Beltran.

Beltran is hitting .289/.390/.626 this season; that's the highest OBP and highest SLG of his career. He's currently on pace for 11.5 WARP3, which would be his career high by a almost two full wins. To emphasize how valuable Beltran has been, the half season in Houston that earned him his massive contract had a line of .258/.368/.559. Let's take a look at these three Mets using positionally-adjusted Net Runs Above Average:

2006 pNRAA
David Wright 329 .303 120 26.43 -5.32 21.40 .269 21.42 17.14
Jose Reyes 369 .285 117 16.41 9.43 20.01 .254 35.09 27.37
Carlos Beltran 302 .327 111 40.28 10.89 40.28 .260 65.33 48.34

As you can see, it's not even close. Beltran has already earned more in pNRAA in 111 games than Reyes or Wright are expected to earn in 150 games. He's the best defensive player in the starting lineup, and his bat is also the most valuable. His EqA is .024 points higher than second ranked Wright, and Wright's defensive issues at third keep him from being as valuable as he should be. He certainly makes some fantastic plays, but overall that talent hasn't translated into positive defensive run value as of yet. He's still 23 though, so there's time to figure things out.

Where does Beltran rank in the grand scheme of the National League MVP race?

NL pNRAA Leaders
Carlos Beltran 302 .327 111 40.28 10.89 40.28 .260 65.33 48.34
Albert Pujols 267 .348 105 49.36 8.82 41.46 .277 68.05 47.64
Lance Berkman 282 .330 114 39.61 9.40 31.27 .277 50.54 38.41
Miguel Cabrera 304 .333 122 44.87 -6.05 40.22 .269 43.40 35.30
Chase Utley 348 .300 122 25.80 3.44 28.64 .255 38.65 31.44
Alfonso Soriano 370 .307 123 32.84 2.70 24.57 .273 32.66 26.78
Ryan Howard 320 .319 120 36.81 -3.11 27.35 .277 31.07 24.86
Chipper Jones 236 .322 89 28.75 -2.40 25.14 .269 39.97 23.72

The table is ordered by the cumulative version of pNRAA. So far, Beltran has been worth just slightly more than Albert Pujols due the differences in position and the fact that Pujols has missed a few more games than Beltran.

One thing to note about Beltran is the fact that his Home/Road splits are extremely severe. Beltran has hit .224/.350/.474 at Shea Stadium, while putting together an incredible .347/.428/.764 line on the road. His power was greater on the road in 2005 as well, but not by this much. His home ISO was .128 in 2005, while his road one was .167. In 2006, the home/road Isolated Powers are .250 and .417. Should Beltran get extra credit for playing in such a difficult park for hitters? If he stays as close as he is to Pujols in cumulative value, I see no reason why his park disadvantage shouldn't give him the advantage for MVP. I can't begin to imagine what his overall value would look like if he were able to hit like he does on the road at home as well.

Who do you think should win the NL MVP if the season was ending today? Vote in this poll and tell us how you feel in the comments. If you have any other players to suggest, let me know and I'll run the numbers for them as well.