I believe that Mariano Rivera deserves MVP consideration. How can a player who played "only" 78 and 1/3 innings be the MVP? For me, it's about reliance. How much did we rely on Mo? How important was he to us? Is there a way to measure? The award is the Most Valuable Player and the title fits Mo. There are 3 points in history where relievers have won the MVP award. 1981, 1984 and 1992. Let's look at all three.

In 1981, Rollie Fingers took it. It was 109 game season and he pitched for the Brewers, who won the AL East by 1 game. They lost to the Yankees in the Division Series, 3 games to 2. Fingers pitched in 47 games, throwing 78 innings. He finished with a record of 6-3 to go with 28 saves and a 1.04 ERA. He was 2nd in games and games finished and 1st in saves.

In 1984, Willie Hernandez won the award, while pitching for the Tigers. They won their division by 15 games and went on to win the World Series. He pitched 140 and 1/3 innings in 80 games, going 9-3 with 32 saves and a 1.92 ERA. He was 1st in games, 3rd in saves and 1st in games finished.

Most recently, Dennis Eckersley took the award in 1992 when he was with the Oakland A's. Oakland won the West by 6 games that year and lost in the ALCS. Eckersley was 7-1 with 51 saves and 1.91 ERA in 80 innings pitched over 69 games. He was outside of the top 5 in games, 1st in saves and 1st in games finished.

Mo's Yankees won their division by tiebreaker and where they finish is still up in the air. He was 7-4 with 43 saves and a 1.38 ERA in 78 and 1/3 innings pitched over 71 games. He was outside of the top 5 in games, T3rd in saves and 1st in games finished.

The Yankees were 53-28 at home and they were 42-39 on the road. Mariano pitched 34 of his 71 games on the road. In those 34 games, he was 0-0 with 26 saves and a 0.26 ERA, a 0.54 WHIP and a .121 BAA. He blew 1 save on the road. They were 32-2 when he pitched on the road. He pitched in 32 games that the Yankees won by 2 or less runs.

Compare these road numbers to the other closers in the top 5 in saves in the AL.

Francisco Rodriguez: 30 games, 0-2, 21 saves, 3.34 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .178 BAA.
Bob Wickman: 31 games, 0-1, 25 saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .289 BAA.
Joe Nathan: 31 games, 2-0, 21 saves, 1.62 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .175 BAA.
Danys Baez: 34 games, 1-2, 21 saves, 2.52 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .263 BAA.

0.26 on the road is insane. Simply: Mariano comes into your house where it's harder for the Yankees to win and he gets it done. I read this in an article (and I can look it up if need be), but Mariano (as in ALDS Game 1 where he was brought in to face the 3, 4, 5 hitters), and closers in general for that matter I would guess, are brought in to face a higher concentration of better hitters than starters. Mariano's been doing this for 10 years. People know him, people know what he does, people have seen him. The fact that he had what is arguably his best season is a testament to his greatness and to his value. This is what these numbers tell me: if we have ANY other closer in the AL, we are not in the playoffs. A 1.62 ERA on the road = Yankees lose a couple more games = Yankees out of the playoffs. As far as value to his team, Mo is up there with anyone. Edit: (Late addition from Seamus). And, if you are considering a DH like Ortiz, consider the fact that Mariano probably spent as much time actually on the field as Ortiz did.

If we're talking hitters, we're talking Ortiz and A-Rod. The only reason Ortiz is really in the discussion is because of his incredible performance with runners on. You can look at those numbers here. A-Rod was good in those situations, but obviously not as good as Ortiz. You can view his numbers here.

But, let's take a straight up statistical look, side by side. Very similar. Big differences? 18 more RBI for Ortiz, 20 more stolen bases for A-Rod, 24 points higher OBA for A-Rod and 21 points higher batting average for A-Rod.

So, I would say that A-Rod has just as much offensive value as Ortiz, if not more. But then, think about this: A-Rod plays gold glove caliber third base. Even if you feel that Ortiz is a better run producer, is he so much better a run producer that it outweighs A-Rod's gold glove D for Ortiz non existent D? Ortiz drove in 148 and scored 119, A-Rod drove in 130 and scored 124. Ortiz played in the field a total of 10 games this year. All at first base. And he managed to make 2 errors. A-Rod played 161 games at the hot corner and 3 at shortstop and made a grand total of 12 errors all year. I'm not saying you give away MVPs based on defense, but it has to count for something. Especially when the offensive numbers are so similar. A-Rod is a better hitter. He's a better contact hitter and no less of a power hitter. Anyway you cut it, at worst he's a similar run producer, if slightly less productive. He can run faster, he is more flexible and he is infinitely more valuable on defense. A-Rod could have DHed as well as Ortiz this year. Ortiz couldn't have played third base as well as A-Rod this year - or any year. If you have a thing against relievers (and possibly if you don't), A-Rod is your AL MVP.