Ok first of all, no way am I saying that The Big Hurt should be the AL MVP; maybe not even in the top 3. I do however, think that he should defiently be in the top 5 or 6. He is not having as good of a year as Papi, Man-Ram, Jeter, Hafner, Morneau, Dye, Thome or Wells...but IMO he is more valuable to his team than ANY of those players.
The A's are atop the AL West that has two other very good teams, the Angels and Rangers. It seems as though they will make the playoffs, and I don't think they would make the playoffs without the Big Hurt.
Who would lead the A's if they did not sign Frank Thomas this year? The .241 hitting, .402 slugging Eric Chavez? Mark Ellis or Bobby Crosby who are both hitting .229? Dan Johnson's .237 average and 25 RBI? The oft-injured Milton Bradley? Mark Kotsay, Jason Kendall or Bobby Kielty who between the 3 of them have 14 home runs? The closest they would have is the very, very cold Nick Swisher who's average is down to .248 and slugging down to .472.
Then comes the Big Hurt, who is currently hitting .263, .521 slugging %, and is a few walks away from a .400 OBP. And even though he has a rep for being injured, he has played in 52 games in a row. If you take the Big Hurt off the A's, I think they are nowhere near as good.
If you take David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez out of the Red Sox lineup, they still have either Papi/Ramirez, Willy Mo Pena, Mark Loretta, Mike Lowell ect. Take Jeter off the yanks and they still have Giambi, Cano, A-Rod, Abreu, Posada ect. If you take Jermaine Dye off the White Sox, Thome, Konerko & company still make it a tuff lineup to get through.
The only other players I could say that are about as valuable to their teams are Travis Hafner & Justin Morneau. But even then, the tribe has Sizemore, V-Mart & Blake. The Twins have Mauer, Hunter, & Michael Cuddyer.
After thinking about how valuable they are to their team I think my MVP votes would go as follows....
How many games has Thomas missed? I don't think in any way MVP considerations can come from the AL WEST except Vlad. He's been good while he's played but not anywhere near good enough to be in the top 10, imo.
Thomas' overall stats aren't good enough to merit top MVP consideration. The A's would be in a much different place without him, so in terms of value to a team, Thomas is definitely one of the top in the league, but the MVP is more than just value to the team.
More important to Oakland's success in 2006 has been their 5th ranked bullpen ERA and 7th ranked starter ERA. You don't need much offense when your team has the 3rd best combined ERA in the major leagues, trailing just the Tigers and Padres. Having two of the top six AL pitchers in pitching runs created -- Zito, Haren -- while having a #3 in Blanton with more pitching runs created than Buehrle, RJ, Beckett, or Felix is the reason those A's are on top, not Thomas.
Furthermore, when you're a position player and you only play in 81% of your team's games, while being on the field 1/9th of the time, half the time, I don't see a way in hell Thomas can win that award. Not only that, but he doesn't lead the A's in runs created or win shares.
Heck, there are four AL DHs with over 20 more runs created than Thomas. He doesn't stand a chance...doesn't even make my top twenty, let alone ten.