Saturday, December 16, 2017

A cool card of a guy who didn't deserve an MVP vote in 1997

I'm loving the reactions to this series thus far, with people supporting/defending these down ballot MVP nominees fairly consistently.  I'm curiously if that will continue with today's player, as he seems a little more obscure and had a shorter career than my first two entrants.

The player's name: Deivi Cruz

Mo Vaughn won the American League MVP in 1995.  In 1996, he had a top five finish.  In 1997, despite a decent season, he fell to just two votes.  Which tied him with rookie Deivi Cruz, the defensive-minded shortstop who put up -0.5 WAR (Our first negative WAR player of the series) with a .241/.263/.314 batting line.

It's always been hard to measure defense, but I do remember people thinking of Cruz's defense on the level of an Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel when he first hit the league.  As he aged, that reputation faded some, and the stats we have now don't look as kindly on his early years.  His defense was certainly always better than his bat though.

The card:
What an interesting card.  Three hall of famers on the front, two defensive specialists (Although advanced stats have been even harsher to Snow than to Cruz in that area) and Matt Williams on the back.

A random rookie more deserving of the award: Mike Cameron.  Cameron was overlooked his entire career, and finished last in the AL rookie of the year voting despite 4.4 WAR, 14 homers, and a .356 OBP.  Nomar won the rookie of the year, and deserved it, but Cameron deserved to be second, and definitely deserved an MVP vote before Cruz.

As a fun side note, Cruz was NOT the lowest WAR of a guy who got rookie of the year votes in 1997.  Tony Womack had a -0.9 WAR in the National League, while his Pirate teammate Jose Guillen had a whopping -3.3 WAR due to few walks and bad defense.  Both Pirates finished behind third teammate Rich Loiselle (Who I do not remember at all) in the NL voting, with Loiselle finishing fourth overall thanks to 29 saves and a 3.10 ERA.


  1. What a really interesting read - I enjoyed it. And what a sweet card!

    1. Thanks! I definitely wouldn't throw this card out.

  2. Can't help but think of the Sesame Street song... "one of these things is not like the others". The front of that card is one for the ages... and Snow & Williams were both solid players who the fans loved. Playoff went out on a limb with Cruz and fell flat on their face.