Even the teams with the worst records in baseball name a Most Valuable Player. I think it’s the law.
In Baltimore, that honor is known as Most Valuable Oriole - or MVO if you’d like to save space.
I’m always reminded of the year that the media bestowed that honor upon B.J. Surhoff. Reporters gathered at his locker after a game, seeking his reaction to the news. He looked up from his stool and said, “I know why you chose me. Cal’s hurt and you hate Albert.”
An instant classic.
We still have about six weeks left in the 2011 season. Ballots won’t be handed out for a while. But that won’t stop me from filling out one in my head.
If I had to pick an MVO today, I’d go with center fielder Adam Jones.
Jones is batting .294 heading into tonight’s series opener in Anaheim, with 23 doubles, two triples, 21 homers and 73 RBIs. He’s also been very good defensively - his 13 assists lead all major league center fielders - though we can pick out moments that make you want to shield the kids’ eyes.
I haven’t heard many complaints about him playing too shallow.
Jones is 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts. Every spring, we hear how he’ll better utilize his speed on the basepaths. Every season, we wait for it to happen. I’d like for him to run more.
The ballot leaves room for three players, so I’ll put shortstop J.J. Hardy second behind Jones.
Hardy is batting .266 with 19 doubles, 23 homers and 58 RBIs. His 507 slugging percentage tops Jones (.487). He’s committed only five errors.
Imagine if he hadn’t missed a month with a strained oblique.
Hardy is mired in a 2-for-22 slump and he ran at half-speed during Wednesday’s game in Oakland. I’ll reconsider my choice if he can’t make it to the finish line, or if he crawls to it.
Reliever Jim Johnson would be my third choice. He’s 5-4 with a 2.97 ERA, 14 walks and 48 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He’s allowed only three home runs.
Johnson has carried a heavy load this season, and it didn’t get any lighter after the Koji Uehara trade.
Asked recently who he’d pick for MVO, Jones replied, “I’d vote for J.J. It’s kind of self-centered voting for yourself. He’s played a helluva shortstop. He’s been consistent since he’s been here. Aside from the 15 or 20 days he missed earlier in the year, he’s been unbelievable.”
Told of Jones’ endorsement, Hardy replied, “I vote for him. Tie, 1-1 right now.”
I’m curious about your selections. I’m wondering if anyone will find room for Mark Reynolds, who happens to lead the club with 27 home runs and 61 walks, and ranks second with 63 RBIs and 22 doubles.
He’s also batting .214 with 142 strikeouts and set a franchise record for errors by a third basemen with 23.
Will Matt Wieters’ work behind the plate and All-Star status allow him to sneak onto a few ballots?