Sunday night in the fifth inning when Dustin Pedroia stepped to the plate, ESPN's Dan Shulman said this:
The Red Sox with two acknowledged MVP candidates -- still accounting for the fact that there's about seven weeks left in the season -- Adrian Gonzalez, and Jacoby Ellsbury coming up fast on the outside. And Terry Francona says if Pedroia keeps going like he's been going, maybe they'll have three MVP candidates.
Gonzalez is having a great season.
Ellsbury's having a great season.
But what's made the Red Sox so fantastic this season is they've got five guys having great seasons.
Of the dozen American League hitters with the highest OPS's, five wear the scarlet hose (when they bother to dress uniformly, that is). That's a lot, five.
Wanna guess which of them plays second base brilliantly?
Wanna guess which of them runs the bases brilliantly?
It's the same guy: Dustin Pedroia.
Recently, Buster Olney apparently wasn't comfortable with a bunch of big-hitting first basemen not ranking at the top of the Wins Above Replacement lists. It just looks wrong, I guess. But as our friend Dave Cameron demonstrates, positional adjustments are real (and yes, they're fantastic).
Which is how the Red Sox list looks like this:
Pedroia: 6.7 fWAR
There are, of course, other lists:
Ellsbury: 23 Win Shares
Pedroia doesn't have Gonzalez's power, or for that matter his batting average.
Pedroia doesn't have Ellsbury's power, either. Not this season, anyway.
What Pedroia does have is almost Ellsbury's power, plus a better stolen-base percentage, other baserunning skills, and a fantastic glove at second base.
The numbers really aren't precise enough to tell us which of these guys has been the best ... and Win Player Average drops Pedroia below Ellsbury and Gonzalez. But regardless of which metrics you prefer, it's pretty hard to avoid concluding that the Red Sox already have three legitimate MVP candidates. Which is why they're where they are.
Of course, I would vote for José Bautista.