Friday, November 15, 2013

It's the thrills that make the MVP

Endemic to baseball’s new age of advanced metrics is the hard truth that any modern mathlete can deal you a dozen numbers that demonstrate why Andrew McCutchen is the Most Valuable Player in the National League today.
And a dozen more for why Paul Goldschmidt should have been the MVP of the National League.
And a dozen more for why Yadier Molina was most deserving among the top three vote-getters.
And somewhere out there along the algebraic continuum, I’m sure there’s a set of integers that strongly suggest the award should probably have gone to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, for all that most of baseball knows, probably spent a couple of weeks in the bullpen of the Houston Astros this summer.
But here’s the number that best defines McCutchen, who on Thursday night became only the sixth Pirate to take the honor since its creation in 1931, and no, it’s not WAR, the wins above replacement figure we all respect so much for expressing exactly how far above average a player who is so obviously above average is. Exactly.
Cutch’s figure is not his WAR, it’s his TAR — thrills above replacement, and the number itself is incalculable. From the passionate baserunning to the circus act center field play to the jolt of his hot liners to the gap and beyond, the broad emotional impact of Andrew McCutchen on the Pirates, the city, the fan base, and the whole arc of 2013’s baseball narrative can’t be fully expressed.

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