There’s a popular opinion out there that if you’re a midseason acquisition – especially if you switch leagues – that you cannot win MVP.
Well, Barry Larkin – MLB Hall of Famer and 1995 NL MVP – disagrees. In fact, not only can Yoenis Cespedes, who has led the Mets to a 34-13 record since July 25, win the MVP, but he also might be the frontrunner.
“He certainly can win the MVP,” Larkin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “If a pitcher can win the MVP (even though he only appears in a certain number of games each year, Cespedes can win it, too). Clayton Kershaw . . . was very dominant . . . and that’s what Cespedes has been. He’s been very dominant in his contribution with the team. Certainly the pitchers have to go out there and do their job, and other guys have to get on base in order for him to drive in the runs that he’s driving in, but his presence alone makes a difference on that ball club. You can see it every single day. I think his presence not only affects the team offensively, but it affects the pitchers as well. Pitchers feel like they don’t have to go out there and throw shutouts, so it makes them better. When you have great pitching, it works the other way where the hitters don’t feel like they have to go out and score five or six runs because your pitcher is going to give you a chance to win. That’s why the Mets are doing so well.”
Whether Cespedes wins MVP or not, Brandon Tierney does not think the Mets should sign him to a big-money contract in the offseason. Cespedes, Tierney argued, is historically a low-OBP guy, and he misses 15-20 games a year.
“But he also won the Home Run Derby,” Larkin said.
That doesn’t matter, Tierney countered. What does that mean?
“It means he can step up on the big stage,” Larkin said. “That’s what it means. That’s the type of player you have to have. That’s the type of player you have to have in New York. I’m sorry, but I think the guy is perfectly built to be here. I would pay him to stay in New York because I think he is the type of player that you need to have here. You have to have a face – and he is a face. He’s a guy that is willing to put himself out there and be that guy every single day. That’s just the personality that he has, and that’s just the game that he plays.”
Larkin was also asked about his future in baseball, as he is reportedly interested in becoming the next Reds manager, assuming that Bryan Price does not last through the winter.
Would Larkin take the job if it were offered?
“Possibly,” he said. “Now, if offered would be No. 1. And possibly because there certainly would have to be some conversation on where the organization is going. I don’t have any managerial experience at the big-league level, so it would certainly be something new for me. And is it cohesive with that unit of players that you have to be a first-time major league manager? Now, I’ve managed. I’ve managed in Brazil and I’ve managed other organizations. I was a bench coach for the WBC team and I have my own philosophies of how to go about doing things. So I think I would be certainly prepared.
“However, the question is, what’s the philosophy of the team going forward?” Larkin continued. “Is it going to be kind of a Joe Maddon type of situation where it is not a win-now situation, where it’s a develop-player situation? That’s where I like to be. I’m into player development, and how much development is there if you have a more veteran ball club, which (is what you) have in Cincinnati? . . . I think I only would be offered the job if they had a clear philosophy going forward.”