Saturday, October 3, 2009

Most Disappointing = Least Valuable?

At the conclusion of every season, Jayson Stark writes a column handing out numerous traditional and not-so-traditional awards throughout the league. These include one of our recent favorites here at ATH, the prestigious Least Valuable Player Award. Now even though this award is completely fictitious and bears no significance whatsoever, I feel the need to make sure that no stupid selections for imaginary hardware go unnoticed.

One game left in the 2009 regular season. Let's do this.

Least Valuable Players

That's the title for this portion of his article. Looks familiar, right? Bastard stole it from the article written here the other day with the title of the same name. I'm pretty sure it's copyright infringement. We're looking into it.

NL: Milton Bradley, Cubs

Something is about to occur that happens very rarely throughout the sports world. More rare than a Pittsburgh Pirates playoff birth. More rare than a Cubs World Series win. More rare than a Derek Jeter-bashing article. More rare than an Alex Rodriguez-praising article. Even more rare--dare I say-- than a Juan Pierre homerun. Here it is... Milton Bradley is about to be DEFENDED, rather than condemned. I know. Mind-blowing. This is the kind of absurdity that Mr. Stark has forced upon me.

Is "disaster" too strong a word to describe the calamitous marriage of Bradley and a team that had won more games than any club in the National League in the two years before he showed up?

Yes. It is too strong of a word. "Disappointing" is acceptable, but not "disaster."

All right, how 'bout "catastrophe"?

Nah. Still too strong. Probably even stronger than your last adjective as a matter of fact.

Or "fiasco"?

I'd say that's about halfway between "disaster" and "catastrophe." Not really sure which direction you're trying to go here.

Whatever, the ever-combustible Bradley had himself about as cataclysmic a Cubs mini-career as anyone since, well, who? George Bell? Mel Rojas? Benito Santiago?

Neifi Perez? Todd Hollandsworth? Nomar Garciaparra? Eric Karros? Todd Hundley? Ismael Valdez? Eric Young? Willie Greene? Is the fact that there are so many players who had a "mini-career" with the Cubs that was as bad or worse than Bradley's hurting your case at all? Seems like it.

Bradley waged regrettable wars with his favorite umpires, bleacher creatures and media pals. He yanked himself out of games, lost track of the outs and -- maybe most amazing of all -- didn't do the one thing he'd done all his life: hit.

First of all, if you knew anything about Milton Bradley at all, you would know that he has a track record of being somewhat of a distraction. He didn't get along with Manager Eric Wedge when he was on the Indians. He threw things at fans while he was on the Dodgers. He missed the playoffs with the Padres after injuring himself during an altercation with an umpire (that one wasn't completely his fault, but still). It's not like this guy doesn't have a history of making mistakes. It should come as no surprise that the non-baseball aspect of Milton Bradley was once again an issue. The Cubs should have expected this going in.

Now, secondly, Mr. Bradley was not as awful of a hitter as you're making him out to be, Mr. Starky. He had a .378 OBP, which was second best of anyone on the team who played at least 85 games, and it was actually above his career average. His .345 WOBA was third highest on the team (.001 behind Fukudome) and not too far off from his career .357 mark. Overall, his offense was probably about the 4th most valuable on the team. And yet you chose this man as the Least Valuable Player in the entire National League.

He made it to home plate 553 times -- and still thumped fewer homers (12) than Kurt Suzuki, hit fewer doubles (17) than Everth Cabrera, drove in fewer runs (40) than Mike Fontenot and slugged under .400 (.397) for the first time since he was an Expo (2000 and 2001).

Kurt Suzuki had a .313 OBP and Cabrera had a .317 WOBA. Mike Fontenot--who is also on the Cubs-- had a .296 WOBA!!! Despite your misleading comparison tools, none of these players even came close to having the kind of offensive season that Bradley had. Not even close I say!

We'll never know what might have been if Bradley had just hit .318 in April instead of .118.

Bradley basically had two bad months this season. Okay, he had two awful months this season. Those two months came in April and September. For a four month span, though, he was actually really good.

May 1st-August 31

Believe it or not, he had a .401 OBP on August 30 (.821 OPS) before he imploded with a horrible September. Obviously the first and last months count just as much as the four months in between, but it wasn't all bad for the Hasbro man this year (Hasbro. Milton Bradley. Get it? Hilarious). If I were to choose a "Least Valuable Player" for the Chicago Cubs this season, Hasbro wouldn't even be a finalist. Some Cubbies more deserving of the LVP would include Kevin Gregg, Alfonso Soriano, Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman, Mike Fontenot, Carlos Marmol, and Mike Hoffpauir. I would probably give the (dis)honor to Soriano. As you can see in our previous LVP post, he wasn't too impressive this season.

But it's too late now. The saddest part of this story is that this man doesn't just need a new team. He needs help.

That may be true. It's probably not good to speculate on one's mental status, but at the very least it seems that he may have some anger issues. However, it is a far cry to say he was the least valuable player on the Cubs, let alone in the entire league. This man had a 1.2 WAR. He was actually more valuable than the $5 million the Cubs paid him this year. Among players with at least 200 PA, there are literally 78 position players with a better case for LVP than that of Milton Bradley.

Okay. I'm done. The "once in a blue moon" occurrence is over. Based on Juan Pierre's last 1610 plate appearances, his next homerun will occur sometime between 2011 and 2012. Stay alert, people!

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