Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers has spent the season at or near the top of the National League in wins above replacement, the sabermetric stat that fueled a heated debate in last season’s American League Most Valuable Player race between Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels’ rookie Mike Trout.
But as for Gomez, his WAR figure might be somewhat fluky. WAR isn't a precise stat. It depends on the judgments and valuations of the people who set it up. And it's hard to imagine Gomez deserving exactly a 6.6 based on the WAR figures of other players having better and in some cases much better seasons.
It’s obvious Heyman looked at the B-R.com numbers, having cited Gomez as having a 6.6 WAR. FanGraphs.com has a slightly different formula and has Gomez second in the league behind McCutchen with a 6.3 WAR.
For the record, even the most hardcore Milwaukee Brewers fan wouldn’t be pushing too fanatic an argument for Gomez as MVP (although if he doesn’t win a Gold Glove this year after a season of plays like this one below, there may be riots).
Gomez has had a breakout year in 2013. He made his first All-Star Game this year, has matched his career high with 19 home runs, has established new career highs with 25 doubles and nine triples and is hitting a career-best .286/.341/.508. Provided he stays healthy, he will also shatter his previous career highs for runs, hits, RBI and stolen bases.
That having been said, he’s tailed off in the second half. Since the All-Star break, Gomez is hitting .261/.351/.435 with five homers and 12 RBI in 135 plate appearances. That compares to .295/.337/.533 with 14 homers and 45 RBI before the break in 362 plate appearances.
August was particularly bad. Gomez hit .197/.301/.268 (14-for-71) with one homer and three RBI. He opened September with a 2-for-4 night, including a home run, against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday before asking out of the lineup on Monday. He’s been dealing with some aches and pains in the second half, including a knee sprain that kept him out of the lineup for a week in August.
It would be great to see Gomez get some support in the MVP race, because he has been one of the top performers—particularly defensively—in the National League. But the Brewers are 19 games under .500, have long since been eliminated from the pennant race in every way but mathematically and are in the position of trying to finish strong with players making their case to be part of the organization’s plans moving forward.
There hasn’t been a player from a losing team win an MVP award since Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles in 1991. The last time it happened in the National League was when Andre Dawson of the last-place Chicago Cubs snared the award in 1987.
So, relax, Jon Heyman. The MVP voters aren’t likely to bypass candidates from NL contenders when handing out the hardware in 2013.
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