NL MVP race not a walk in the park

Originally Published: July 16, 2004
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
A dip into the Insider mailbag as we ponder two pressing questions of the day: 1) Would Bush ever consider dumping Cheney from the GOP ticket?; and 2) is there a shred of truth to the speculation that Mike Piazza was tipping Roger Clemens' pitches at the All-Star Game? No way that could ever happen ... right?

NL MVP? When you awarded the MVP title to Scott Rolen you must have been talking about the non-Bonds division. As of (today), Bonds' on base % (.628) is better than Rolen's slugging %. A .500 OBP is unheard of, let alone .628! Offensively, Rolen gets the edge in RBI, which we all know is a function of your lineup and the hitters around you. Every other category goes to Bonds and most of them aren't close. I'm sure you can counter that Rolen plays a tougher defensive position better than anyone else in baseball (although Eric Chavez and Corey Koskie should be mentioned), and the positional value argument is one I understand and usually agree with. If Bonds and Rolen were playing offensively at a remotely similar level I would give the edge to Rolen as well. However, the offensive numbers aren't even comparable. Yes, you could argue that the Cardinals are surprisingly in 1st place. But even more surprisingly, the Giants are in 1st place as well. Jason Schmidt and Bonds have masked a plethora of Giant flaws.
-- Kevin
Washington, D.C.

Points well taken. Statistically, Bonds in on a different level than every other player in baseball (not to mention baseball history). No player has ever been deemed so good, opponents simply refuse to pitch to him as a matter of course. But you wonder how far it goes. Theoretically, if National League managers walked Bonds every time up and he had an OBP of 1.000, would he still be the most valuable player in the league? Maybe, but he's forcing all of us to redefine the standard perceptions of what constitutes an MVP.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer