Friday, October 22, 2010

Underrated Seasons: John Valentin 1995

In 1995, a Boston Red Sox player won the MVP. That is the way it should have been, but the wrong player was the winner.

Controversial theory: John Valentin should have been the 1995 AL MVP. Instead, he finished ninth.

I have seen arguments for Albert Belle and Edgar Martinez over Vaughn, but I have not often seen an argument for Valentin, who is a better candidate than all three of them.

My evidence: John Valentin's Major League-leading 8.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He didn't just lead the league that year, he had a higher WAR than any National Leaguer, including NL leader Barry Bonds. That's crazy.

Valentin was a highly effective hitter in 1995 and a great all-around player. He scored 108 times, with 27 home runs, 103 runs batted in, 20 stolen bases, a .298 batting average, .399 on base percentage, and a .533 slugging percentage, for an on base plus slugging of .931. On top of that, he played a sterling shortstop. He did commit more errors than other shortstops, but that was more of a function of his range and having the hopeless Mo Vaughn at first base to take throws. Valentin was also one of the few Red Sox who did much of anything in the postseason, hitting one home run and one double against Cleveland.

The most amazing thing is that you do not hear much about this season when talks turn to great seasons by shortstops. That's because Valentin's season came just before Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Derek Jeter started having historic seasons at shortstop. It's a shame, because Valentin really was incredible in 1995. He did win the Silver Slugger, but he deserved so much more.

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