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Early Season MVPs: Evan Longoria in AL, Albert Pujols in NL

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Pundits and sports experts across the land love to hand out awards. So it comes as no surprise that they are trying to figure out who were the major leagues most valuable players for the all important month of April. Well the discussion should be pretty simple; who has been worth the most wins above replacement level? Here is your early season WAR leader board provided by fangraphs:

Name

Team

WAR

Dollars

Evan Longoria

Rays

1.8

$8.10

Kevin Youkilis

Red Sox

1.7

$7.70

Albert Pujols

Cardinals

1.7

$7.60

Chase Utley

Phillies

1.5

$6.90

Ian Kinsler

Rangers

1.5

$6.90

Raul Ibanez

Phillies

1.5

$6.70

Mike Cameron

Brewers

1.5

$6.60

Marco Scutaro

BlueJays

1.4

$6.50

AdrianGonzalez

Padres

1.3

$5.80

Carlos Beltran

Mets

1.3

$5.80

Longoria for AL MVP! As you would expect I have no argument there. It started in the opening series against the Red Sox and continued through last night's grand slam performance against them. He is third in the AL in home runs, second in OPS, second in wOBA and leads the junior circuit in RBI. You could make a strong case for Kevin Youkilis, who leads the AL in OPS and wOBA, but Longoria is already a +2.0 UZR at the more demanding defensive position.

In the NL, nobody is in shock that the best player is Jose Alberto Pujols or Albert Pujols for short. He leads the league in two of the three Triple Crown categories: home runs (9) and RBI (29). He is also in the top five in batting average (.356). As we get into the more important stats, Pujols holds a slim lead over Jorge Cantu to top the NL in OPS (1.192) and is third behind Cantu and Chase Utley in wOBA(.495). Like Longoria, defense puts Pujols over the top of his closes competitors. Utley plays a more demanding position, but has been as average second basemen so far. Cantu is hitting a monster pace, but is already a -2.3 UZR at first base.

The biggest surprises on the early season leader board have been Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro. Cameron is slugging over .600 and playing fantastic defensive centerfield for the Brewers. He has passed the one and a half WAR threshold and should be a 4 WAR player when the season is all said and done. As for Scutaro, it's a nice story, but even Scutaro himself would tell you this type of offensive performance from a career .262/.329/.383 hitter is a bit unsustainable. His BABIP and line drive percentage are lower than his career norm, but his walk rates have skyrocketed. I guess a change is approach and improved discipline could be sustainable, but I doubt pitchers are going to continue to walk Scutaro at a 19.8% rate. His 23 walks in 119 plate appearances are almost half of the 57 he drew in 592 PAs in 2008. And unless he took a winter trip to the swing mechanic, it is hard to believe 5 ft 10, 186 pound, Scutaro will slug over .500 when his career high for a season is .397. I'd like to believe he can do it, but common sense says otherwise.