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Nick or Brian for MVO?

I am writing this sitting in the press box at Camden Yards, where myriad baseball arguments are being tossed around as I type.

It’s September in Baltimore, we have to entertain ourselves somehow.

I may recycle a couple of them later, but I want to throw one at you today.

We have kicked around who should be the 2009 Most Valuable Oriole a couple times this season.

It has been an award of attrition. And now there are two candidates standing: second baseman Brian Roberts and right fielder Nick Markakis.

Injuries wiped out Brad Bergesen and Adam Jones (who had struggled in the second half anyway). Luke Scott’s post-break slump took him out of the competition, too.

George Sherrill might have had a chance had he stayed in Baltimore, but he and last year’s winner, Aubrey Huff, were shipped out.

That basically leaves Markakis, who leads the team in RBIs, batting average and is third in homers while playing a strong right field.

And Roberts, who leads the team in runs scored, is second in RBIs and set a franchise record for doubles Tuesday night with his 52nd of the season.

Both have had good years. Either is a fine choice.

I lean toward Markakis for the all-around game. Others argue for Roberts, because of the doubles.

I am sure some of you will say it doesn’t matter because being the MVO is akin to the world’s tallest midget.

But, to me, it is worth arguing/discussing. Really, what isn’t? So let’s do it.

Daily Think Special: Nick or Brian for MVO?



can you make a least valuable orioles column? you can already tally my Brian Bass vote in that one...

Eddie Gaedel - Dan you used the "M" word!!

I'd have to say Roberts - I have just seen too often where Nick comes up in a situation where he can change the game with a key hit and come up empty, or have a possible turning point or game winning situation, and whiff at the chance - yeah NMs stats are respectable, but often times they are padded when it doesn't matter. I've always contended he is not a 3 hole hitter , but more like a 6 or 7. Roberts is by far a better 2 strike hitter, coupled with his value as a leadoff hitter, an outstanding middle infielder, a switch hitter and a stolen base threat. Roberts has had 2 slams in a month that wound up being difference makers. With the game on the line I would much rather have it on Roberts shoulders than Markakis.

Dan, I can see either being worthy or both (split the award), but I lean toward Brian mainly because he's the offense catalyst of the team more than anyone else, including Nick. More often than not this year ithe rule has been: As B-Rob goes, so go the O's.

Between stealing bases and all those doubles, he great at getting himself into scoring position. And when he's on base, he's a disruptive force who can be enough of a distraction to cause pitchers to lose focus and throw one where he doesn't want to throw it.

But there's more.

Roberts has 74 RBIs, nearly all from the leadoff spot. That's pretty impressive, given that there aren't all that many opportunities to drive in the bottom of the lineup, since those guys don't get on base that often.

And there's the fact that he works the count as well as anyone else on the team, which helps drive up the pitch count and gives his teammates the chance to see more pitches and get a better feel for what the pitcher's throwing.

Finally, I don't agree with your statement that Nick has been an all-around better player this season. That's the perception some have, but it doesn't stand up to closer scrutiny. If you look at their offensive numbers, they're really pretty much dead even. Nick has the higher batting average, but Brian has a better on base percentage and more extra base hits.

The combined runs and batted in for each are almost the same, though Roberts already has reached 100 runs scored, while Markakis still has six more RBIs to go to make it to 100.

Most interesting are the power numbers. While Nick is perceived to be more of a home run hitter (and has been over the past couple of seasons), he has only one more homer than Brian despite having 17 more at bats. So that's pretty much a wash too, but Roberts has a chance to hit 60 doubles this season, which would place him in pretty elite company.

Offensively, then, I give a slight edge to B-Rob, for the reason given earlier as to what he brings to the team as a leadoff hitter, setting the tone for innings and even games. Markakis's contribution is big, but he normally doesn't jump start the offense like Brian.

Nick evens things out in the defensively, being a Gold Glove caliber right fielder. Brian doesn't embarass himself at second and turns two nicely with Cesar Izturis, but this clearly goes to Markakis.

For me base running and in particular stealing bases is what tilts the decision to B-Rob. He's nearing 30 steals again, while Nick is stuck at only five, despite having good speed. And as I mentioned, Brian creates havoc for opposing teams when he's on first or second. Significant advantage to Roberts.

So, no, after further review, it's Brian Roberts who's had the better all-around season and is more deserving of the MVO award, if only slightly more deserving.

Please, if you have a vote in this, Dan, I urge you to rethink this, because I hate to see you part of an injustice by not giving B-Rob his due. Nick will get his awards in the future, to be sure, but 2009 belongs to Brian.

Barkeep's Reply: I do. And I will think about it more.

I saw a really tall little person once. Really creeped me out, man. Little person parts, but normal height. Even had that distinct way of walking that only little people have. And no, I'm not talking about Brian Roberts.

Either way, I'm going to have to give this one to Roberts by a relatively narrow margin. I don't think anybody should be making light of his double total. His 52 doubles are currently tied for 37th on the all-time single season doubles list, and he has quite a bit of time to improve on that. 60 doubles is not entirely out of the question, and only 6 people have EVER done that.

Pound for pound, Markakis is having an alarmingly similar year, but I think Roberts has to get the edge for the historical significance of what he's doing this year.

It's Nick. He's going to drive in 100 runs and hit close to .300. He does it all in his quiet, classy way, his eyes growing wider as he watches each pitch.

Nick is a guy every team in baseball would love to have. Thank God he is an Oriole.

But what makes Nick really special is his defense. He should already have two gold gloves. His arm--17 assists last season with Suzuki second in the AL with 12--is a laser.

He's firing guys out again this season at second and home. In the Yankee series, he made a smart play throwing the ball in behind one of the league's fastest runners, Brett Gardner, at third on a night when the rain made stopping difficult for an aggressive, quick guy. Nick's throw to Melvin nabbed Gardner who had overrun the bag and couldn't scramble back in time.

My order for Most Valuable Oriole 2009:
1) Markakis, 2) Roberts, 3) Bergesen, 4) Reimold, 5) Izturis, 6) Jones, 7) Matusz, 8) Wieters, 9) Johnson, and 10) Pie.

Funny you should ask that question....had the same thought myself, and the only way I can separate the two is to give the guy who sets the table a slight edge. BRob's going to have more than 80 RBIs, mostly from the leadoff spot -- an almost unheard of number, especially on a team with a lineup weak at the bottom. And please don't dismiss his defense, they are both GG caliber.

I'm gonna get really crazy and say Nick Markakis for AL MVP. Historically (though not recently w/Pedroia), the MVP was the top run producer (R + RBI) who batted at least .300. As it stands today, that's Nick. Might not end like that but Nick Markakis is MVO at a minimumm and deserves to be in the top 5 in AL MVP voting.

I'd pick Markakis, but it's a close call.

Roberts - He now has career highs in both doubles and RBIs from the leadoff spot. He has an outside shot at a career high in home runs. If he doesn't get on base, Markakis doesn't get the 100 RBIs. His defense is rock solid. The only stats that are down for him are stolen bases and triples, but he's been fighting nagging injuries and illnesses most of the year. Vote B-Rob for MVP!

Roberts just doesnt bunt enough as a lead off man. He could hit better and get on base more if he did. Also, he doesnt steal enough despite having a green light.

Just plays hard everyday and continously makes adjustments. Look at where he ranks in the AL, not just on the team.

He is clearly our best Oriole.

I have to give the slight edge to B-Rob.

One thing that was not mentioned. The 13 assists that Nick has, how does that rank among his peers in the AL?

B-Rob but only by a few hanging chads. In a transitional year such as this, they both should be commended for sticking it out here in Bawlamer. I give Roberts the edge with his production at the top of the order, steals, 50+ doubles and 75+ rbi's.

If Bergesen hadn't gone down and kept pitching at the level he was, he could have garnered some votes.

I'd have to go with either Bergeson or Wieters.

Their value to the team is to show the (long suffering) fan base that there at least appears to be legitimate MLB talent arriving and on its way from the farm system.

That's far more valuable than run production, at least in the long term.

I just don't see how anyone on the Club can be the most valuable, not with the record this team has this year. Let's wait until next year and try again.

andy macphail and joe jordan. putting together a solid young foundation in majors and quality prospects in minors

Dan, if we are going to at least tread on the edge of political incorrectness with our analogies describing the worth of MVO this year we could also liken it to winning in the Special Olympics, but I'm not sure we should go there.

Ken - Roberts should take you along for his next contract negotiations. Great job laying out the case for him.

At Kubatko's Educational Institution I suggested Sherrill for having a good enough year to bring two legitimate prospects in return for trading him. Others have mentioned the work of the front office in drafting, signing, and/or trading for players who look like they have a real future with a vastly improved team and organization over the next decade. But I'll stick to the active players.

Markakis gets my vote for most consistent season, but really, Roberts IS the Most Valuable Oriole. Without him the offense really doesn't get going. How many of Nick's RBI came from knocking in Roberts? For the rest of my argument see Ken's comments above.

Could you imagine what kind of numbers both those guys might be able to put up if the Orioles had, say, Adrian Gonzalez hitting cleanup behind them?

Can we talk about OBP and SLG when discussing this? Doing so makes Brian the favorite, as he both outslugs and gets on base more often than Nick.

But looking at these categories reveals a dark horse that no one's mentioned. Nolan Reimold hasn't played a full season, but he's got a better OBP than anyone and only Luke outslugged him.

Nolan for MVO!

Andy MacPhail


Ken Francis lays it out perfectly. And though Roberts has had too many ice cold patches, he sure is impressive with the xbh out of leadoff spot.

He's taken a lot of heat this year. So lets give him his due

Great comments, all. Just want to point out, though, that the statistic "runs produced" that a few folks have cited is calculated runs scored plus runs batted in minus home runs. If you don't subtract HRs, you're counting that run scored twice -- it's both a R and an RBI. A solo HR produces only one run, but in the box score it's 1R, 1RBI, and 1HR.

Based on the stats through 9/15/09, Nick still has the thin lead, 163 to 160.

(Nick 85R + 94RBI - 16HR)
(Brian 101R + 74RBI - 15HR)

Erik Bedard

Roberts and Markakis feed off each other.

A lot of Markakis' RBI's are because Roberts was on base.

A lot of Roberts runs scored are due to Markakis' bat.

If you could split the award I would do it. If I had to chose, I would pick Markakis because of his bad-ass arm. He's saved quite a few games with that cannon of his.

Markakis hasnt had a clutch hit in as long as i can remember... i choose roberts.

I think the substory is the annual dropoff of pretenders. For several years, Roberts and Markakis have been the O's top performers, yet people are always disparaging their achievements, sometimes promoting the newest guy to have a two-week hot streak. But at the end of the season, you check the stats and see that these two guys have done it again, day in and day out. I think Markakis is the one that other teams will not let beat them, so he isn't going to get much to hit. Someone said in a post he's just slapping the ball, but I think the number of doubles disputes this; they're not going to let him pull the ball, and he probably doesn't have the power to hit homers to the opposite field. I think it wise that he doesn't develop bad habits because of the O's weak batting order. Roberts or Markakis? Ruth or Gehrig? It's a nice choice to have. Re-signing these two guys is one of the best moves the front office has made. (Yes, I know I'm fainting with dam praise.

Bill Bavasi

That's like choosing between food and water. You need both to live.

Co-MVOs. Nuff said.

no doubt both are haveing a great year on a horrible team . both of them in a quiet way , but if you ever put a real hitter behind nick and i meam powr and average nick numbers will skyrocket on better pitches , but i have to have them share it on concentation alone and nothing to play for , what they would put up on a team contending would put them on the mnp ballot fot the league every year , what a waste .

Oriokes may have an interest in a great baseball novelty act before the end of this season or for 2010.

I saw the act on Letterman:


Here is the URL for the video:

Cal Ripken's stance is in his act also!


Having an MVO for this year's O's is like the trophy my stepson got for his 0-15 basketball team. But here goes anyway.... I'd give it to Brian. As many others have said, he seems to come through in the clutch more and 75 rbi from the leadoff spot is amazing. Especially considering how weak our lineup is. Plus he disrupts the pitching with his speed. Nick would be a great 6-7 hitter but can't really be a clean up guy with less than 20 HRS.

Prediction for next year, Felix Pie as MVO. I like that kid and how he plays. Kudos to him for his effort for and not giving up.

Still think Markakis is the MVO, Dan??

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