18 October 2007

MVP vs Newcomer of the Year

Luciano Emilio is up for two overall awards this year in addition to leading in the race for the Budweiser Golden Boot award. There has been some internal discussion amongst the DCenters about whether Luchi is more likely to win the Honda Most Valuable Player award or the MLS Newcomer of the Year award (or both!).

Here are some of the arguments, excerpted from e-mails.

The discussion began when I heard Rob Stone make a comment on Thursday Night Soccer a few weeks ago about Emilio v JPA for league MVP. Paraphrasing, he said that JPA would win the award because of the high quality of players on DCU versus the players on RBNY [snigger]. Essentially JPA stands head and shoulders above his teammates whereas Emilio is just another amazing player from DCU. At first I was confused, because I didn't think that had much to do with it, so I consulted with the DCenters.

D first answered with,
"Personally, I prefer [Ben] Olsen for MVP. If quality of support determines MVP, then Maurice Edu (Toronto FC) should be in the running."
and then Kinney chimed in with,
"It is a common argument among MVP voters. Do you vote for the best player, or do you vote for the player "most valuable" to their team. Take away Emilio and put in a decent striker DC United is still doing pretty well, take away JPA and what happens to the Metros? This is the type of thinking that leads to [Amado] Guevara being voted over [Jaime] Moreno, but without it [Michael] Jordan would have been MVP [in the NBA] for basically every year in the 90's instead of just four of them. This is especially the case in baseball or college football where the disparity is so huge; you usually don't see too many issues in leagues with parity. For example, looking at the history of MLS MVPs, the top scorer or point getter (MLS used to count points like hockey) has never lost out to another striker. This year might be the first. I think that is why Ives on his blog put Emilio as MVP but JPA as best newcomer."
Oscar responds thusly,
"It's an interesting dichotomy - I can see how a player could have one value to his team (Emilio) and have a different perceived value in the rest of the league. That is, while he might not be the MVP as a player for DC, drop him on any number of other teams, assuming he replicates his performance, and he'd be an MVP shoe-in, no problem.

I hate the Guevara/JPA MVP argument because in those cases, it's usually one player making a crappy team noticeably less crappy. If NY was #1 in the east, then you might convince me, but when they're losing to TFC..."
D finally decided we should define what to be the MVP actually means,
"Personally, I would evaluate the MVP of the league as "who had the most value to the league" instead of to the team. To me, Emilio's goal scoring has been more interesting and valuable on a league wide basis (since goals are highlights, and he's provided a ton of them). That also allows us, if we want to, to say Olsen is more valuable to the team, but perhaps less to the league."
Oscar then pointed out that D's definition could lead us down ridiculous paths,
"Umm, then you could argue that Sir David Beckham should be the MVP this year. It could work if you were crazy and insane, but it could be done."
Of course, no one is nominating Becks as league MVP. But also, no one is denying that his value to league is huge. RFK was sold out. The Meadowlands were at or near capacity. But what about longer term? As soon as the Galaxy left DC, attendance moved back to normal levels. But in the next few years, as more international players like Emilio, Fred, JPA, Denilson, C. Blanco, G.B. Schelotto, Beckham, etc) make their mark in the league and increase the overall level of play, isn't there an argument about these players having the biggest impact on the league, of being the "most valuable" to the league?

Two points here.
  1. I'll answer my own question by saying, "of course". And that's why the league created the MLS Newcomer of the Year award. These players aren't rookies but their instantaneous value to the league has to be acknowledged.
  2. Emilio, should he win the Golden Boot award, should be seen as the first player of his kind to come to the league and dominate it. Even if he is edged tonight by JPA against LAG, he's been leading the stat category for the whole season, and I think that other teams in the league have had to scramble to go out to sign internationals of their own. That's where Emilio's value to the league lies. Not only has he scored 20 goals this season, not only has he been named player of the week three times this season, but I consider him one of the first internationals to make other teams sit up and say, "hey - DCU might be on to something here."
Please add your own thoughts in the comments.

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At 19 October, 2007 10:44, Blogger Donny said...

Well, if you're going by value to his team, aren't we something like 20-2-6 when Clyde Simms starts? :)

You have to give it to Emilio. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have the Shield. If the Red Bulls didn't have JPA, they'd probably still be in the playoffs. Not much would change.

He's also proving that spending irresponsibly to buy a big name isn't the way to build a contender. That, more than anything, is going to help MLS in the long term. Sound investment in players who provide what the fans are paying for, performance on the field.

At 19 October, 2007 11:00, Blogger Bob said...

Donny - you used too many pronouns. By "he" in the 3rd paragraph you mean JPA, right? And when you say "that", you are referring to responsible spending, right? A tad confusing what your point was.

At 19 October, 2007 18:07, Anonymous Goose said...

The first player to come into the league like he did and dominate it? Carlos Ruiz sort of beat him to the punch by about five years.

At 19 October, 2007 21:16, Anonymous bigkris said...

Bob, I don't know if you win the DCenters MVP award this year, but you definitely take home Newcomer of the Year honors.

Sorry guys, but homer tendency aside, I find it hard to vote for Emilio as MVP. Yes he scored a lot of goals, but few of the "create it yourself" variety like Gomez does. Usually it's a function of him being the pointy end of DC United's well-honed spear.

When the DC faithful sit down and talk about who is their team MVP from this year, I don't know that Emilio is the guy: it could be Jaime, Ben, Clide, or Troy. Hell, he may not even win a United-only newcomer of the year award given Burch's play of late. So it's hard for me to see him being the league MVP.

Let Angel have the MVP award. In DC we play for silverware, not crystal.


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