On Friday, it was Redbird Rants’ turn to ask a question for the United Cardinal Bloggers Preseason Roundtable.
My question was as follows:
I decided to revisit a question I asked a few years ago. In the early to mid 2000s, the MV3 consisted of Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen. As Edmonds and Rolen moved on, the MV3 shifted over to pitching. Who would you consider to be the Cardinals MV3 today?
Bill Ivie: It’s an interesting question that I’m not sure always fits. The MV3 were focused on because it was abnormal to have three players producing at that caliber at the same time.
I can’t say there is an “MV3” right now. That’s not to say there in not leadership on this team or good players, there are portions of both. But the MV3 were three players that could win a league-wide MVP award that season. I don’t think there are three players on this team that can say that going into 2015.
And that’s the way it should be. If there were an MV3 every year, we wouldn’t remember that group quite so fondly, would we?
Ben Chambers: Like Bill said, I don’t think there are three players on the team that could each be a legitimate MVP in their own right each year like the MV3.
There were 3 players in the top 15 of MVP voting last year: Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Jhonny Peralta. In 2013, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina were third and fourth in the voting. Even that goes to show the different players that can all have very successful years to help the team. It doesn’t rely on 3 very, very good players, but a larger group with solid talent.
If I were forced to name the top three players on the team, however, the top two would be the easy part: Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. It’s nailing down the third that is the hardest part. I want to say that would be Matt Carpenter because he’s been a great for the team the last two years. On the other hand, I think that Jason Heyward is a great player and would say that he deserves to be third on that list, so he’s who I’d go with.
Daniel Shoptaw: I’d second what we’ve heard so far. No one stands out like those three of Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen. Of course, you had them back-to-back-to-back as well, which helped the MV3 label.
However, if Wacha is healthy and Lynn does what he did last year, an MV3 of them and Wainwright would be at least in the ballpark, especially if the offense doesn’t come around like expected.
Dan Buffa: When I think of an MV3, I think about three players that are integral to the team’s success year in and year out. We won’t see another MV3 like Pujols, Edmonds and Rolen. Their production was out of this world and in a land of far less stellar pitching(just check out the slugging percentage drop). When the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf died down in 2003, The Cards three sluggers kept it alive in the Lou for a few years. So, if the question is, do the Cards have three dead set sluggers in this 2015 lineup, than the answer is a flat NO.
However, I like the idea of an MV3. Since Albert left and the Cards don’t have that one unique superstar who always leads them, they use a committee of leaders who perform on and off the field. Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday are my MV3 for this team. For the past 5 seasons, they have been a constant in this city. Waino is a Cy Young caliber pitcher when he takes the mound. Molina is a perennial Gold Glove winner and one of the faces of the game. Holliday is the most consistent hitter in their lineup and plays the game right. He hustles, plays it clean and is a leader. These three guys walk into the room and don’t need to say a single word and younger players just get it.
I’ll take that brand of MV3 in this pitching dominated baseball landscape.
Lots of clubs would be thrilled to have that trio.
Matt Whitener: I think more than any other top tier team in the game, possibly with exception of the Nationals, it is harder to pull apart the single most valuable Cardinal than any other team. The Pujols-Edmonds-Rolen trio was special; one of the best cores of any Cardinal lineup in history, a fact that is significant considering this is a team with 11 World Championships.
But currently nearly every part of the everyday lineup is on a similar tier. Yadier Molina is obviously the most important and valuable portion of the team, but there are a lot of debates that can be had in determining the value tiers from there. Matt Holliday’s bat is just as important as Jon Jay‘s defense. Matt Carpenter’s on-base acumen is just as important as Jason Heyward’s defensive prowess. Kolten Wong‘s speed is just as important as Jhonny Peralta’s power. And so on and so forth.
And that is before the pitching staff is brought into the equation. Outside of the standout elite consistency of Adam Wainwright, the presence of Lance Lynn and John Lackey are of comparable value. Michael Wacha‘s is arguably the owner of the best overall “stuff” on the staff now, while Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Jordan Walden all own perhaps the best arm.
I say all of this to say that balance is the Cardinal cornerstone and its greatest strength. So while it was wonderful to have a standout group of performers in the old MV3, those days have evolved. And for the better.