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Jimmy Freaking Rollins Is Not the Freaking MVP!

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A week ago tomorrow, we at The Crawfish Boxes submitted our SBNation Baseball Awards ballots, and, now that the hated Yankees have been dispensed with, I am pleased to finally have a chance to be able to write about the guys that I picked.

In mimicry of the Baseball Writers' awards, baseball bloggers along the network were asked to pick Top Ten MVP, then top three Cy Young, then top three Rookie of the Year, and lastly, top three Manager of the Year, in the league they blog.

I thought the proper choices were pretty clear-cut, although I still went ahead and used the same method I had used last year, which was to rank the candidates, at least the players anyway, in key statistical categories, then add up their scores, highest number = the winnah!

So I got Matt Holliday, Jake Peavy, and Ryan Braun, and reverting to my sixth-grade vocabulary, I was like, no duh.

But while Peavy and Braun have received nearly universal support, I've been noticing that a LOT of folks are giving their MVP support to Jimmy Rollins.

Which is, umm, whack.

Seriously. No offense to the Phillies or to their dynamic leadoff hitter, but to bestow the hardware on Rollins while leaving Holliday in the cold would be just stupid.

To go into a little bit more detail, I looked at the NL hitters in seven categories:

Batting Average
OPS
OBP
RBI
Runs
HR
EQA

Holliday finished in the top ten--thus garnering at least one point in my system--in every one of them. Rollins admittedly led the league in runs, but that was the only category in which he finished in the top ten.

NL Leaders of Leaders
Candidate Score
Matt Holliday 51
Chipper Jones 39
Prince Fielder 37
Albert Pujols 29
David Wright 29
Miguel Cabrera 28
Ryan Howard 25
Chase Utley 24
Hanley Ramirez 19
Todd Helton 13
The perception exists that the Holliday vs. Rollins dichotomy is a battle of archetypes, between the slugger and the leadoff guy, and I suppose it's true, but what really opened my eyes is that not only did Holliday do the slugger's things better than Rollins did, he did the leadoff guy/Speedy Gonzalez things better than Rollins did, as well.

I don't know if you've looked at it, but Rollins actually posted a surprisingly low .344 OBP, which turns out to be lower than what Willy Taveras was able to post. Meanwhile, Holliday was one of only nine qualifying players in the National League to post an OBP of .400 or above.

And of course the slugger Holliday can mash, being one of only three players in the NL with an OPS over 1.000, but we undervalue the speedy guys and all those doubles they hit, right?

Well, not in this case, anyway. Holliday hit 50 doubles, 12 more than Rollins, who didn't even finish in the top ten in doubles.

NL Leaders in Doubles
Candidate Team 2B
Matt Holliday COL 50
Dan Uggla FLA 49
Chase Utley PHI 48
Hanley Ramirez FLA 48
Adrian Gonzalez SDG 46
Aaron Rowand PHI 45
Khalil Greene SDG 44
Derrek Lee CHC 43
Carlos Lee HOU 43
Ryan Church WAS 43

Admittedly, Rollins had an astounding 20 triples, while Holliday had only 6. But when you add it all up, Holliday had more extra base hits than anyone, including Rollins, who finished second in the league.

NL Leaders in Extra Base Hits
Candidate Team XBH
Matt Holliday COL 92
Jimmy Rollins PHI 88
Prince Fielder MIL 87
Hanley Ramirez FLA 83
Dan Uggla FLA 83
Alfonso Soriano CHC 80
Adrian Gonzalez SDG 79
Carlos Lee HOU 76
Chipper Jones ATL 75
Chase Utley PHI 75

OK, maybe we're beginning to understand why Rollins has gained a following, anyway. It's similar with another favorite stat of mine, I call it Simple Runs Created, I think I've seen it called Runs Produced, but the gist is how many times the scoreboard moved because of the player. Once again, while Rollins has produced very creditable numbers, Holliday outdistances him.

NL Leaders in Simple Runs Created
Candidate Team AB R HR RBI R+RBI-HR
Matt Holliday COL 636 120 36 137 221
Jimmy Rollins PHI 716 139 30 94 203
David Wright NYM 604 113 30 107 190
Chase Utley PHI 530 104 22 103 185
Ryan Howard PHI 529 94 47 136 183
Chipper Jones ATL 513 108 29 102 181
Carlos Lee HOU 627 93 32 119 180
Troy Tulowitzki COL 609 104 24 99 179
Prince Fielder MIL 573 109 50 119 178
Hanley Ramirez FLA 639 125 29 81 177

I've heard people invoke the defensive spectrum in support of Rollins' candidacy, and what can I say: shortstop is harder than left, and looking at his Zone Rating and his Range Factor, Rollins has been a pretty good (if not great) shortstop this year.

But, while not arguing any of that, did you know that Holliday led NL left fielders in Zone Rating this year? Or that he, along with the hugely talented Carl Crawford and the maniac Eric Byrnes, was one of only three left fielders in all of baseball with a Zone Rating above .900?

Look. I'm a fan of Adam Everett's (within reason), so I think I have a proper appreciation of the importance of good D.

Just for kicks, I went over to Baseball Prospectus and looked at Fielding Runs Above Replacement for both Rollins and Holliday, and found out that the 2007 number for Rollins was 34, while the number for Holliday was 25, suggesting that even after you adjust for defense, Holliday still creates more runs than Rollins.

I have to say here, however, that I don't trust Prospectus' defensive stats all that much, not since I found out that they have actually rated Derek Jeter highly.

Still, I'm willing to accept what the numbers suggest: that Rollins is a pretty good shortstop, but not good enough to make up for the offensive advantage Holliday possessed in 2007.

There is of course the matter of Holliday's home park, that Coors Field, despite regressing towards normalcy over the past few years, still hasn't gotten there. Coors had a 107 Park Factor this year, down from the 120 it had just three years ago for sure, but still more than most parks across the league.

Most, but not all, though. Great American Ballpark actually received a 108. So perhaps Holliday received an advantage: the fact that his adjusted OPS of 151 was only 6th in the league suggests that he might have. But unlike what would have been the case in year's past, it was not a ridiculous one. And it's worth noting that Rollins himself plays in an offensively-distorted ballpark.

Looking at it now, I'm not sure if a stathead could take Turner Field's Park Factor, throw in a batting title silver medal, and make a case for Larry Jones as MVP, and never mind what Holliday did. After all, it was Jones who led the league in Adjusted OPS+.

Maybe they could.

But having squeezed out a goodly amount of numbers already, I think I'll stop here, and simply say that Matt Holliday as MVP makes a whole bunch of sense, and that Jimmy Rollins as same--despite a pretty damned good year--makes almost none.

If interested, my ballot as submitted is after the fold.

MVP:

Matt Holliday
Chipper Jones
Prince Fielder
Albert Pujols
David Wright
Miguel Cabrera
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Hanley Ramirez
Todd Helton

Cy Young:

Jake Peavy
Brandon Webb
Chris Young

ROY:

Ryan Braun
James Loney
Hunter Pence

MOY:

Bob Melvin
Lou Piniella
Clint Hurdle