Upton means most to his team, but is he the MVP?
There is a stat out there that judges a player by his wins above replacement value, better known as WAR.
Essentially, it looks at how much a team would suffer if a player was replaced in the lineup. So, how much better is one guy compared to his backup?
By the metric, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Arizona’s Justin Upton is the most valuable player in the National League.
Does that mean the Diamondback should win the MVP award?
Not necessarily, as Stark writes.
So if this is about “value,” Upton might be positioning himself to run away with this election if the D-backs can just hold off the Giants. But here’s where perception — and numbers — might diverge from how voters and people within the sport see this.
Upton’s home/road splits are even more lopsided than Fielder’s: .359/.429/.658/1.087/16 HR at home, .242/.314/.445/.759/9 HR on the road.
Stark also notes Upton’s defense as a drawback, saying a scout told him about Upton: “[He] hasn’t played well in the outfield. He’s got 11 errors, which is a huge amount of errors. And most of them are because he loses concentration. I don’t think he’s a complete player.”
As the scout said and Stark agreed, if the voting was done today Upton would finish no higher than third, as he trails a pair of Brewers in the race for NL MVP.
That’s not to say Upton doesn’t have a chance. If the right fielder can continue his assault on Major League pitching and the D-backs hold off the Giants, he absolutely will be in the conversation.
And, in a year like this one where there is no clear-cut favorite, the D-backs may ultimately find themselves with their first-ever league MVP award winner.