On the surface, the MVP is a bit misleading. The person who does not follow Baseball would think the MVP award goes to the best hitter or top pitcher. This is not the case. The best pitcher wins the Cy Young Award. The top hitter may win the Silver Slugger Award or the Home Run title. The Most Valuable Player is just that: The Most Valuable.
It goes to the one individual who has the biggest impact on his team. Where would the team finish without that particular player? This is why you seldom see the MVP award go to someone on a last place team. The theory is that the team could have just as easily finished fifth without him.
The Mets this year have had some valuable players. For the last 3 months, Carlos Delgado has been a one man wrecking crew who has carried this team squarely on his back and has brought us ever so close to the post-season. Jose Reyes is the sparkplug, the table setter. As Reyes goes, so go the Mets. David Wright is…well, David Wright. ‘Nuff Said. Even Billy Wagner’s value has been realized. Since his injury the troubled bullpen has seemed even worse. However, I believe the true MVP of the 08 Mets–the most ‘valuable’ player on this club… is Johan Santana.
Now, sure, I’m not exactly going out on a limb with this one. To say Santana ‘aint too bad’ is like saying, ‘That Cobb guy got a lot of hits’ or ‘That Ripken fella didn’t get hurt too much.’ But has anyone truly been more ‘valuable’ than our ace lefty?
How valuable? As difficult a season as this has been, close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine where we would be without him. There’s no need to go over his stats. It’s unnecessary to write about his 2.65 ERA which is 2nd in the NL. Or his 187 K’s, which puts him 6th. But here’s something interesting to consider: 17 Earned Runs in 45 2/3 innings for a very acceptable 3.72 ERA and 11 walks versus 33 strikeouts. These are the stats for Santana in his seven losses! When a guy can maintain a 3.72 ERA in losing, that shows how dominant he is when he wins.
He has been everything we dreamed of when optimism ran so high last winter after his signing. We were a bit guarded with our confidence. Our club has never been overly successful in the free agent market. Mo Vaughn anyone? Bobby Bonilla?
In some ways, he has been under the radar. We have already come to expect great things from Johan. Therefore, when he pitches superbly, we are not at all surprised. We expect it. And why not? He has been the ace we needed. When we need him to go deep into the game to give our overworked and less than effective bullpen a rest, he has been there. When we need someone to lift our team, he has stepped up. When we need an ace to step forward and stop the bleeding, Santana has answered the call every time.
I’ve been a Mets fan my entire life. I go back to the days when Shea was considered a ‘new and modern’ stadium. Only a handful of times have I been lucky enough to see a Mets pitcher with the impact of a Santana. I feel it’s justifiable to include Santana in the same breath as Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden. Santana, like Seaver and Doc, was the stopper. He is the guy who gives us the confidence and peace of mind knowing that every fifth day we can walk away with a “W” and don’t have to score 8 runs in the process. These three pitchers take control of the game from the first pitch and don’t give it up. These are the guys that other teams fear. There is, however, one glaring difference between Santana and Seaver & Gooden. Number 41 and number 16 have been part of our Championship teams. Santana has not…yet. Hopefully, sooner than later, that will change.