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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Winner: Mike Piazza
Special Citation: Jackie Robinson
2006-02-06 09:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Mike Piazza was voted the all-time Dodger single-season Most Valuable Player by Dodger Thoughts readers for his 1997 season, but the true winner might be Jackie Robinson.

Piazza won the award for a season in which he batted .362 with an on-base percentage of .431 and a slugging percentage of .638 from the catcher position, hitting 40 home runs. He had an EQA of .357 and a WARP-3 of 12.4. (See the nominations thread for explanations of these statistics.)

Piazza 1997 had the same number of first-place votes as Robinson 1949, but was named on 52 ballots as opposed to 49 by Robinson and also scored three-more second-place mentions. (Points were awarded on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis.)

However, Robinson not only finished second with his '49 performance, in which he batted .342/.432/.528 with a WARP-3 of 12.3 as a second baseman, but he also grabbed the No. 3 spot with his outstanding season two years later, when he hit .338/.429/.527 with a WARP-3 of 12.9. Robinson's 532 combined points far outdistance any other player. Let it be a reminder that Robinson isn't memorable simply for making history, but for being an phenomenal player.

Although both players had multiple seasons nominated for the honor, the competing strength of Robinson's '49 and '51 seasons may well have denied him the victory. Piazza's 1996 season was mentioned by five voters.

After delaying my vote as long as possible, my ballot went like this:

1. Robinson 1949
2. Piazza 1997
3. Roy Campanella 1953
4. Duke Snider 1955
5. Pedro Guerrero 1985

I didn't find it easy at all to choose my top five, let alone order them, and even as I write this I have second-thoughts about whether I picked the right year for Robinson. although I'm feeling good about the player. I was certainly partial to catchers who could slug, as the No. 2 and No. 3 spots indicate. I gave points to Snider for a fantastic season that helped give the Dodgers their first World Series title after so many years of agony. And I rounded out my ballot with Guerrero, partly for sentiment, partly because he destroyed the ball like almost no other Dodger ever did.

But to say these were easy or even committed choices would be a lie.

Below are the final totals. Thanks to everyone for participating, or even just taking an interest.

PlayerYear12345MentionsTotal Points
Mike Piazza19972014104452364
Jackie Robinson1949201186449339
Jackie Robinson195196103230193
Duke Snider19557648328159
Pedro Guerrero198518735.524.5115.5
Kirk Gibson1988245582496
Adrian Beltre200422578.524.588.5
Roy Campanella1953062541771
Tommy Davis1962141041047
Pete Reiser194110131625
Mike Piazza199610121522
Gary Sheffield200000222618
Duke Snider195410110318
Reggie Smith197701200317
Shawn Green200210101316
Roy Campanella195100042614
Dan Brouthers189200113511
Steve Garvey197510001211
Maury Wills196201011311
Pedro Guerrero198201010210
Jimmy Wynn19740002359
Shawn Green20010010237
Babe Herman19300002137
Mike Piazza19950100017
Ron Cey19750010126
Duke Snider19560002026
Gil Hodges19540010015
Pee Wee Reese19490010015
Jackie Robinson19520010015
Mike Scioscia19850001013
Zack Wheat19240001013
Dolph Camilli19410000111
Pee Wee Reese 19470000111
Lefty O'Doul19320000000
Mike Piazza19930000000
Jimmy Sheckard19010000000
Duke Snider19530000000

Update: This would be a pretty fun game ...

Team One
Robinson '51 2B
Sheffield '00, RF
Guerrero '85, 1B
Piazza '97, C
Beltre '04, 3B
Green '02, CF
Davis '62, LF
Reese '49, SS
Koufax '65, P

Team Two
Wills '62, SS
Robinson '49, 2B
Snider '55, CF
Campanella '53, C
Gibson '88, LF
Smith, '77, 1B
Reiser '41, RF
Cey '75, 3B
Koufax '66, P

Comments
2006-02-06 09:40:35
1.   Bob Timmermann
The Jimmy Sheckard Marching and Chowder Society must have disbanded.
2006-02-06 10:18:12
2.   Winthrop
Thank you, Jon. That was fun.
2006-02-06 10:38:56
3.   Vishal
that looks like a pretty good list to me.
2006-02-06 11:02:59
4.   D4P
I recently read a biography of Jackie Robinson that surprised me on two levels. First, I hadn't realized just how good he actually was (despite starting in the majors relatively late), and two, I hadn't realized how active he was in the civil rights movement (beyond the obvious "being the first black player in the majors").
2006-02-06 11:03:03
5.   Sam DC
Whew - Bob almost had some competition there as the premiere journalist covering the WBC . . .

VA Beach, Va.: What are you covering in March....World Baseball Classic or the Conference/NCAA Tourneys???

Michael Wilbon: Wish I could do both, because unlike some writers, I love the idea of the international baseball tournament. But let's face it; college basketball is huge in D.C. so I'm going to NCAA games...But how I wish I could split time between the two.

washingtonpost.com -- look for the wilbon online chat.

2006-02-06 11:08:25
6.   Jon Weisman
See the update above. Maybe Xeifrank could play a simulation.
2006-02-06 11:41:34
7.   Bob Timmermann
I cover the WBC because there isn't much else in the way of baseball news now.

It's either that or lots of links about players avoiding arbitration.

2006-02-06 11:57:23
8.   Marty
Well, the super bowl is mercifully over. I always mark the start of baseball season as the day after the superbowl.
2006-02-06 11:59:35
9.   Bob Timmermann
I don't mark the beginning of baseball season until the Westminster Kennel Club show is over.
2006-02-06 11:59:41
10.   LAT
4. DP, Bob Costas recently did a piece on Jackie Robinson's only living son, David, who is a coffee farmer in rural Tanzania. He, with his African wife and family, run a coop farm. They all live in what we would consider abject poverty. He feels he's continuing the mission of equal opportunity that his father began. Equally remarkable, his 84 year old mother comes to visit him once a year for a week. IIRC, the trip is more than 24 hours, much of it by car over unpaved roads.

I'm not doing it justice. The whole story was amazing.

http://tinyurl.com/8o6bm

2006-02-06 12:03:38
11.   Bob Timmermann
The other surprising thing about Jackie Robinson was that he was a Republican too. But he was a Nelson Rockefeller liberal Republican and that breed went extinct when my dad passed away in 2002.
2006-02-06 12:05:30
12.   Uncle Miltie
Jon- Jackie's '49 and 51' seasons should be reversed

I don't understand how anyone could be more impressed with Green's 2001 season than 2002 season.

2006-02-06 12:15:10
13.   LAT
12. Very scientific: 2001 = 49HRs = more excitement.
2006-02-06 13:03:56
14.   Sushirabbit
11 - Wow.
2006-02-06 13:05:35
15.   FirstMohican
12 - I don't understand how anyone could be more impressed with Green's 2001 season than 2002 season.

If that is in reference to MVP voting, then I'll say that an MVP - in my book - doesn't necessarily have to have the most impressive season.

2006-02-06 13:17:36
16.   Bob Timmermann
14

Wow, that Jackie Robinson was a Republican or that my father was the last liberal Republican (OK, he wasn't, but darn close to it.)

Robinson endorsed Nixon in all three of his races for president I believe.

2006-02-06 13:18:18
17.   Uncle Miltie
Actually I meant Green's 2001 is more impressive than 2002. Green was terrible for the first month and a half in 2002. Yea he drew more walks in 2002 (though 12 more of them were intentional). Green was an excellent base stealer in 2001, whereas in 2002, his baserunning was actually a negative. Green hit into 16 fewer double plays in 2001.
2006-02-06 13:22:40
18.   Humma Kavula
11 - I could be wrong about what I'm about to write, but if I remember my history correctly...

I think I read somewhere that many African Americans of Robinson's generation were Republicans. That was a century-long tradition; Lincoln was a Republican and political affiliations are often passed down in families.

It wasn't until the 20th century that the parties "changed clothes," if you will; the Democrats remade themselves as the liberal party, primarily under FDR -- a change that would be set in stone (at least as far as civil rights are concerned) during the Kennedy-Johnson years. It was then that African Americans (and, not incidently, white southerners) changed their voting habits.

Or do I have everything wrong? If so, a thousand pardons.

2006-02-06 13:29:06
19.   blue22
17 - I posed this comparison in the original thread as well. I think his '01 was a better year too. His eqa is higher in '01, as is his BA, SLG, and SB/SB%. I think the difference in WARP must be attributed to his fielding, which was apparently abysmal in '01, vs. above average in 2002.

FRAA / Rate2 (as RF)
2001 - -3 / 98
2002 - 11 / 107

2006-02-06 13:37:51
20.   Uncle Miltie
19- I did not realize that he was so much better fielding. That definitely makes a difference. I always thought that Green was an average fielder.
2006-02-06 13:51:58
21.   LAT
20. Me too. Except for the ball that some say he should have dove for to preserve a nono (I can't remember whose, OP maybe and that was 2004 I beleive) I don't recall him dropping or misplaying a lot of balls. No spectacular catches but not a lot of errors either. Maybe its his throwing arm. Is that included in OF defensive stats? Or more likely, I just remember what I want to, i.e. the good, not the bad.
2006-02-06 13:55:36
22.   Bob Timmermann
18
With the advent of the New Deal, African-Americans started to switch over to the Democratic party.

I don't know how active Robinson was politically when he played, but he became much more so after he retired. Robinson received a fair amount of opposition within the African-American community because of his support for Rockefeller and Nixon, but he supposedly genuinely liked each man and also thought that the Republicans of that era would better serve African-Americans.

In the 1960s, the Democratic Party still had a large section of it dominated by segregationists.

Sorry for the political discussion, although I feel it is more of a historical discussion.

2006-02-06 13:57:21
23.   blue22
21 - The trend isn't consistent with what I remember, namely that when he came to LA, I was very impressed with his play in the OF, which gradually worsened as the years passed. He never had the quickest release, but his arm was strong and accurate.

According to his rate-2, he was average to below average for his 1st two years here, then great for two years, awful his last year in LA, then great again for AZ last year.

2006-02-06 15:19:15
24.   Woody
Having lived in Alabama for most of the last 13 years, the political picture here is almost strictly based on racial lines. Being a left-winger myself, I find the African-American community and a FEW southern liberals to comprise the Democratic Party with virtually everyone else being Republicans. Occasionally, you'll find a redneck who votes Democratic, but it's maybe 1 in a 100.

Back in the day, all these southerners were
Dixiecrats whose influence prevented FDR from pushing desegregation on any meaningful scale.

2006-02-06 15:43:36
25.   Suffering Bruin
Bill James wrote an article in the recent Historical Baseball Abstract about Jackie's defense. He was essentially a gold-glove caliber fielder wherever he played.

When I was young, Jackie was thought of as a better player than his numbers showed. It was the CW of the time. Now, thanks to further study, we know otherwise. He was one of the very best and his numbers prove it.

2006-02-06 16:51:58
26.   FirstMohican
A little off topic... former Dodger great Jose Valentin is apparently playing centerfield for Puerto Rico.
2006-02-06 19:09:04
27.   bill cox
Thanks Jon for the interesting vote.seeing as there is a political strain here,I was disenfrancised from voting for Dodger MVP by my computer operating at a turtle's pace.
I would have voted for Tommy Davis in 1962 as he was the MVP of my childhood.I guess it was a lively ball year,but TD could flat out mash.When he broke his leg the next year ,it was the equivilant to my adolescent mind of getting turned down at the friday night dance.
Woody,where in Alabama do you live?I thought I was the only Dodger fan here in the land of the Dixie Braves.I think the prevalence of Republicans here is because of the influence of the church and social issues.The straight Democrat voting by blacks is astonishing when you consider Lestor Maddox,George Wallace,Bull Connor,Orville Faubus,Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis were all
donkeys.And so it goes.
2006-02-06 19:21:37
28.   Suffering Bruin
Our most valuable Dodger season... and it didn't even win the MVP award. Mike Piazza, having perhaps the best offensive season of any catcher in history, lost out to Larry Walker.

IIRC, the estimable Ross Porter voted for Walker over Piazza, writing at the time that Walker couldn't have enjoyed much of an advantage at Coors Field since he also hit very well on the road.

2006-02-06 20:46:19
29.   popup
Congrats to Mike Piazza. Along with Sandy, that would have made quite a battery. So Jon, when do Sandy and Mike stop by to pick up their awards? While they are there, you might as well invite Vin to pick up his lifetime achievement award. No need for a vote on that one, he would win by acclimation. Any of you Dodger Thoughts posters want to vote against Vin? I didn't think so.

Stan from Tacoma

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