Cespedes for MVP is lazy analysis

 

A few days ago, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggested that Yoenis Céspedes – based on his performance since being traded to New York Mets by the Detroit Tigers – could be a contender for National League Most Valuable Player (MVP). Since his article was published, several of Morosi’s peers have stoked the flames of the “Céspedes for MVP” fervor by rationalizing how a player with only 36 games with his new team could potentially be a serious MVP candidate.

Although I have the utmost respect for Morosi as writer and baseball person and I hold many of his co-conspirators in high regard, anyone who buys into this nonsense has succumbed to a notion based on lazy analysis.

I know those are strong words, especially when discussing a supposition made by someone I admire. But, no one Met has been the undisputed catalyst behind the team’s superb performance since late July. Yes, Céspedes has been phenomenal since arriving from the Motor City. But, he hasn’t been a one-man gang behind team’s surge – far from it.

The Mets’ push for their first division title since 2006 is being fueled by a compilation of players – including holdovers and new roster additions from several sources. The following table illustrates the performance of nine select Mets – including Céspedes – during the last 28 days. Players highlighted in yellow have been added onto the 25-man roster since late July.

Key Mets performers over last 28 days

Name G PA H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Yoenis Cespedes 24 116 35 5 3 13 .330 .388 .802 1.190
Travis d’Arnaud 20 84 23 7 0 6 .324 .417 .676 1.093
Michael Conforto 22 76 22 6 0 5 .324 .382 .632 1.014
Curtis Granderson 22 109 25 9 1 3 .284 .413 .511 .924
Michael Cuddyer 17 52 15 4 0 2 .319 .385 .532 .917
Wilmer Flores 21 76 23 4 0 5 .311 .329 .568 .897
Kelly Johnson 19 59 15 2 0 3 .278 .339 .481 .820
David Wright 13 64 16 1 0 2 .286 .375 .411 .786
Juan Uribe 19 64 11 5 0 2 .200 .313 .400 .713
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2015.

Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe have bolstered the Mets’ bench since arriving from the Atlanta Braves just a week before Céspedes. Although their overall numbers with New York haven’t been spectacular, they’ve both provided big moments and helped cover for injured teammates Lucas Duda and David Wright.

Speaking of Wright, the Mets’ captain returned in late August after missing over four months due to spinal stenosis, providing both an emotional boost in the clubhouse and a positive bump on the field with superb third base defense and a a solid .286/.375/.411 slash at the plate.

Another Met who’s been a huge contributor since returning from the disabled list is catcher Travis d’Arnaud. During the month prior to his return, the club’s catchers had no home runs and a meager .525 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). In contrast, d’Arnaud’s 1.036 OPS is the best among major league catchers over the last 30 days.

Where would the Mets be without the 26-year-old’s presence behind the plate and with a bat in his hand? Probably the same place they’d be without Cespedes. Maybe both teammates could share the MVP award?

Not all of the team’s new contributors came from the trade market or the disabled list. Rookie Michael Conforto arrived from Class-AA Binghamton on July 24 and immediately lived up to the hype that surrounds a top-20 prospect with his six home runs and a .288/.367/.541 slash. It’s only fair to point out that the 22-year-old Seattle native has been used nearly exclusively against right-handed pitching with only 11 at-bats against southpaws.

Regardless of his platoon employment, Conforto has started in 30 games of 42 games and has been the team’s best offensive performer during the team’s victories – even better than Cespedes. It should be noted that the statistics on the following two tables encompass a player’s entire time with the Mets – not just since late July.

Performance during wins

Name G PA H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Michael Conforto 22 83 26 8 0 5 .361 .434 .681 1.114
Travis d’Arnaud 32 137 40 10 1 9 .325 .380 .642 1.022
Yoenis Cespedes 25 117 33 8 1 10 .300 .342 .664 1.006
Curtis Granderson 76 339 85 19 1 14 .296 .395 .516 .911
Kelly Johnson 20 70 19 4 0 5 .288 .329 .576 .904
Michael Cuddyer 55 211 63 12 1 7 .325 .379 .505 .884
Juan Uribe 23 72 15 5 0 3 .242 .347 .468 .815
Wilmer Flores 68 280 79 15 0 12 .297 .323 .489 .811
David Wright 15 72 19 0 0 2 .302 .389 .397 .786
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2015.

If Céspedes was the only major addition that the Mets made since the end of July, suggesting the 29-year-old for NL MVP would seem more rational – assuming you could get past the notion of a league MVP playing just under 60 games in that league. But, Céspedes is one of several impact players that New York added via acquisition, minor league call-up, or the disabled list.

Certainly, Céspedes’ arrival has played an enormous role in the team’s superb win-loss record and his offensive output has helped propel the Mets to the top of the National League in runs scored, home runs, and OPS. Conversely, where would the Mets’ offense be without the contributions of d’Arnaud, Conforto, Wright, Johnson, and Uribe?

More than likely, the “Céspedes for MVP” fervor would have remained inside someone’s head and not provoked empty chatter on television, the radio, and the internet. Perhaps, an “Alderson for Executive of the Year”  conversation would be a more productive use of everyone’s time.

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Luke Arkins

Luke is a native New Yorker, who grew up a Mets fan. After the US Navy moved him to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, he decided to make Seattle his home. During the baseball season, he can be seen often observing the local team at Safeco Field. You can follow Luke on Twitter @luke_arkins
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