Forty HRs / Who’s the MVP?

Manny checks into the Oakland series at 37 HR, with Ortiz at 34. With 27 games to go, it’s a foregone conclusion that Manny will hit 40, and David Ortiz – barring a collapse, will see 40 HR also. So when’s the last time the Boston Red Sox had two 40-HR guys? To find that, I had to travel all the way back to 1969 to see that one of the people that swatted 40 for Boston that year was Carl Yastrzemski.
Okay, so whose the other person? I guessed maybe Tony C. Wrong. Reggie Smith? Nope. Jim Rice? Hadn’t arrived yet. So who was it? None other than … Rico Petrocelli, he of the career .251/.332/.420 line. In his career 1969 season, Rico Petrocelli hit .297/.403/.589, knocking in 40 HRs along with 97 RBI. He would never come close to these totals again, although he did knock in 103 runs in 1970 – but his HR total dipped to 29, along with a .261/.334/.473 line.
Rico always had a good OBP in relation to his batting average, consistently posting differences of the two at .90, which is phenomenal. I put the bar at .60 – if you are at .50, it’s acceptable, but at .60 is good. Anything higher than .60 is great. For comparison, Ortiz’s difference is .60, and Manny’s is .90 this year. Rico Petrocelli’s career average line was boosted by those .291 and .267 seasons. Without those seasons and more normal seasons, he would have been a career .240 hitter.
Someone needs to send a letter to Rico Petrocelli asking him what he ate for breakfast every day in 1969 and why he stopped doing so.
Should the Red Sox MVP — and for that matter, the American League MVP go to Manny or Ortiz? What about Johnny Damon? He’s been having an unbelievable year, .314/.390/.471 which is only bested by his breakthrough 2000 season. Damon has knocked in 66 runs while scoring 106 – and before the injury (but even still then) he had a chance to make a career best out of runs scored, which currently sits at 136 (in 2000).
Let’s check in on some more in-depth statistics for Johnny Damon, found at the fledging Red Sox Stats, in which we find this:
Secondary Average

Developed by Bill James to measure a player’s offensive contributions beyond batting average. Secondary Averages of leagues are always very similar to the league batting average, but player secondary averages run from .100 (for truly inept offensive players) to upwards of .600.

Johnny Damon checks in at .378. (Same as Pokey Reese, better than Orlando Cabrera. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Doug Mirabelli, and Jason Varitek are all over .600.)
Offensive Index

An abstract statistical rate intended to correct for the double-weighting given to batting average in the runs created formula. An Offensive Index of 10 indicates a very weak hitter; an Offensive Index of 30 or more is a superstar.

Johnny Damon checks in at 23, while Manny hits 30 and Ortiz at 28. Millar and Mueller have 22 apiece.
Batting Eye

A measure of a player’s strike zone judgment ? the raw ability to distinguish between balls and strikes ? used as a leading indicator for batting average. Similar in usage to a pitcher’s Command ratio. The best hitters have eye ratios over 1.00 (indicating more walks than strikeouts) and are the most likely to be among a league’s .300 hitters. At the other end of the scale are ratios less than 0.50, which represent batters who likely also have lower BAs.

Johnny Damon checks in at 1.16, easily tops on the Red Sox. No other Sox gets higher than 0.87, which is Doug Mientkiewicz.
Couple all the above, plus his leadoff abilities and the recent offensive slump through the Texas series when it was missing a certain player in the lineup, and you may just have your Most Valuable Player. Unfortunately, the voting will split among the four most deserving – Manny, Ortiz, Damon, and Varitek. But I’d rather have 4 MVP worthy candidates than one, who wins the trophy for he got all the votes.

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