The 2017 MVP award balloting wasn’t that bad, overall. The two winners were more than deserving, and Joey Votto even finished a close second in the NL, a rare achievement for a player on a bad team.

The cases for Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Altuve were both fairly clear-cut:

Let’s start in the NL, where Stanton won not only his first MVP but also the first in Marlins history. Although you could build a reasonable MVP case for at least four or five NL candidates, the slugger is certainly a worthy winner.  Stanton’s 59 home runs were the headline on an all-around extremely strong season, in which he batted .281/.376/.631 and finished first or second in the NL in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, FanGraphs WAR and Baseball-Reference WAR.

Over in the AL, Altuve won thanks to a .346 batting average (first in the AL), a .410 OBP (third), a .957 OPS (third), and a 160 wRC+ (third). He led the league in Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR and finished second in FanGraphs’ version. He award, the second in Astros history (Jeff Bagwell owns the other) comes weeks after Altuve helped lead Houston to a World Series title.

That’s all well and good, and it’s hard to complain too much when the writers actually get something write. And yet, because I’m apparently the most miserable human being on the internet, I have to point out that Archie Bradley received a 10th-place vote for NL MVP.

The Diamondbacks reliever had a very good season, to be sure, racking up 2.1 fWAR in just 73 innings, running a 1.73 ERA and striking out 9.74 batters per nine innings. That’s very good! And as Bradley was strictly a middle reliever, recording just one save, it’s nice to see a voting pool willing to at least think outside the box when it comes to recognizing value that hasn’t always been recognized thanks to arbitrary and (in some cases) bad traditional statistics.

The writer in question, Andrew Baggarly, even pointed out his rationale on Twitter:

And hey, in the grand scheme of things, a 10th-place MVP vote doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not the end of the world, and it wasn’t going to have an effect on the eventual winner. But Archie Bradley was very much not the best reliever in the National League:

Jansen was better by just about every metric that matters, and I’m not including saves, it’s important to note. Jansen ended up with 3.5 fWAR despite fewer innings pitched, a sign of how dominant he was for the Dodgers; the big closer finished with a 1.32 ERA while striking out an astonishing 14.36 batters per nine. That’s astonishing, and clearly a better performance. So why did Baggarly vote how he did?

Because he interprets the “valuable” part of MVP in that annoying way that some writers interpret “value”:

This is a fallacy on mutliple levels, not least of which being that an individual award really shouldn’t factor in the player’s team. And indeed, it doesn’t, because a player’s value is static regardless of his team’s performance.

Baggarly not naming Jansen there is further silliness, but let’s focus more on the team element. By Baggarly’s logic, the only way to judge “value” is by factoring in that player’s team. This means a player could have a 30-WAR season, but if his team won 50 games or 110 games, they don’t deserve the award, as their “value” wasn’t the difference between making or missing the postseason.

That’s dumb!

Value should be and is how a player performed. Baseball is the sport best equipped to quantify individual performance separate from team results, and we should be taking advantage of that. Often, writers who vote based on the “valuable” theory point out that the award should simply be renamed “Most Outstanding Player” if it weren’t a team award, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

Think of it this way. There’s a gallon of milk at Kroger that costs $2. That very same gallon of milk is also at Whole Foods, and also costs $2. It’s the same milk for the same price, even though one store features cheaper items around it than the other one does. It’s the same milk.

Just pick the best players, people. That’s what the award was meant to do, it’s what it traditionally has done, and it’s what it should do going forward.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.