It’s interesting who tends to win MVP awards.
Usually, it’s some sort of RBI-heavy slugger, a la Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, etc.
And there’s no denying those guys are great players.
Sometimes, though, voters do a complete 180, and vote for “gritty, heart and soul”-type players. Hence Jason Bartlett winning Tampa Bay’s team MVP in 2008.
Of course, guys known for “grit” and “heart” more than actual skill don’t usually stand up in sabermetric circles.
And yet, the sabermetric formula for “value”–the WAR formula–says that David Eckstein, the quintessential “heart” guy, is the Padres’ most valuable player this year.
Eckstein has 1.6 WAR, 0.1 ahead of Chase Headley and 0.3 ahead of the guy you’d expect to be MVP–Adrian Gonzalez.
The reason Eckstein’s been more valuable than Gonzalez? Partially his position–the standards of hitting are much higher at first base than second–and partially his defense, as Eckstein has an excellent 28.3 UZR/150 this year. Gonzalez has a solid 6.9…above average, but nowhere near Eckstein.
Will David Eckstein be the most valuable Padre this year? I doubt it. But it’s looking like he’ll wind up at least being an average starting second baseman, which is more than I would have ever thought.