What Should Define an MVP?

Photo Credit: Golden Gate Sports

One of the most debated topics in sports, particularly football, baseball, and basketball, each season is what should define the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the MLB, the NBA, or the NFL. People have different interpretations of what the MVP award means and who it should go to based on that judgment. This article is meant to provide readers with what is the best possible definition of an MVP with multiple interpretations spun into one.

One interpretation that people have of the MVP award is that it should go to the best player no matter how good his team is. After all, the better the player is, the more he produces for his team. An example of this would be center fielder Mike Trout winning this past season’s American League (AL) MVP award in the MLB despite being on a Los Angeles Angels team that had a terrible 74-88. He won the award because he was the best player in the AL, and without him, the Angels would have been a whole lot worse.

Another interpretation that people have of the MVP award is that it should go to the best player on the best team. After all, we are talking about value, hence the name “Most Valuable Player”. If it were meant to be awarded to the best player, it would not be called the MVP award. An example of this would be point guard Stephen Curry winning the 2015 NBA MVP award. He did not have the best statistics in many of the key categories, but he was the best player on a Golden State Warriors team that went on to win the NBA Finals. He won the award because of his contributions to the Warriors and because he was their highest contributor while they were the best team in the NBA.

What an MVP award winner should be is a combination of these two interpretations. The MVP award of a sports league, whether it is the MLB, the NBA, or the NFL, should be given to the player that if you take him off the team, the team would falter more than any other team would if any other player in the league would be taken off of his respective team. In addition to this, said team also needs to be a pretty good team and perform at a high level when the MVP is playing.

This definition of MVP prevents the MVP award from going to someone like Mike Trout with his 2016 season as referenced above, or even someone like quarterback Drew Brees with his 2016 season. Despite leading the league in passing yards and putting up amazing statistics, the New Orleans Saints finished with just a 7-9 record, so they were not a great team even with Brees playing quarterback. This also prevents the MVP award from going to someone like Stephen Curry with his 2014-2015 season as referenced above, or even someone like Tom Brady with his 2016 season. Despite putting up amazing statistics and leading the New England Patriots to the best record in the NFL of 14-2, Brady was shown not to be the MVP by this definition when the Patriots still went 3-1 without him, which means that the Patriots clearly did not falter to the extent that they would have needed to in order to really show that Brady is deserving of the NFL MVP award.

With this interpretation combination of a definition for what an MVP should be, the best candidates for the MVP award for the MLB in the 2016 season, the NBA this season, and the NFL this season are as follows as well as some players that people may think should be in the MVP discussion but really should not be based on this definition.

For the MLB, Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts would have been a great candidate to win the AL MVP award last season. He put up great numbers and the Boston Red Sox were a great baseball team; had he been taken off of the Red Sox, there would have been a noticeable drop-off in the overall performance of the Red Sox. Mike Trout should not have won the AL MVP award since even though he put up fantastic statistics, he was doing so on a terrible team and his presence on that team was not making that team a great team.

For the NBA, Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook are great candidates to win this season’s NBA MVP award. Both players are putting up amazing statistics, and both are on exceptionally good basketball teams. Removing either one of them from either of their respective teams would cause their respective teams to perform at a much lower overall level. Stephen Curry and Warriors small forward Kevin Durant should not be in this discussion because even though they are putting up great statistics on the best team in the NBA, removing either one of them from that team would not cause a huge drop-off in how that team would perform.

For the NFL, the best candidates for the NFL MVP award this season should be Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. All three of these quarterbacks put up great statistics and all led their respective teams to the NFL playoffs this past season. Removing any of these three quarterbacks from their respective teams would cause their respective teams to be nowhere near as good as they were with these quarterbacks playing. In fact, we got a good look at how bad the Raiders were without Carr when he went down with an injury late in the season, further solidifying his case to be on this list as what an MVP should be defined as. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott should not be in this discussion because even though they put up great statistics for one of the best teams in the NFL, removing either one of them from that team would not cause a huge drop-off in how that team would perform.

It is pretty safe to say that being one-sided about how you interpret what should define an MVP is not the way to go when actually selecting an MVP award winner. There are always multiple sides to any story, and in this case, a combination of the two main sides to the argument of what should define an MVP of a league is what results in the best definition of what a player needs to do in order to be crowned the MVP of his league.

 

-Asher Fair

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