Start stream of consciousness: I think we focus too much on players who perform the best. What is an MVP anyway? Is it the player who played the best, or the player who played the best in clutch situations? I tend to think that MVP is based on what actually happened in the past rather than the value of what has happened. Thus, if two players hit a double, and one does it with the bases loaded and the other does it with them empty, the player who hit it with the bases loaded has a significant step up in the MVP race. Sure, their OBP and SLG will be the same, but there was more team value to the double with them loaded. I am not claiming that said player is better in those situations or he will perform that well again. Just that he did, and it had more value to the team than the player who hit it with them empty.
Now that I am done with that tangent, what's this got to do with Werth? Well, we can all point to Utley as our team MVP this year (Pat is good, but a clear second), but in fairly broad terms. What did we expect from Utley? Certainly not this, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility. Starting off the year like this hazes the truth that this kind of streak could have easily occured for him at any time during the year. It is a lot less noticable because at that moment his OPS rises from .902 to .978, which is a sizable increase, but appears a lot less dramatic than an OPS of 1.250. Of course, when his OPS drops down to .978, we will fret because he obviously wasn't performing as well as he had. But an OPS of 1.250 through 25 games is something that we can expect Utley to do (or around that).
What about Werth?
Jason Werth did not even play the season before he played for the Phils. In 2005, he put up the following line .234 .338 .374 .712 in his age 26 season in 337 ABs. Before we got him, my best memory (as vague as it is) was a game in 2004 where he hit 2 homeruns against us, the second tying the game against us in the bottom of the 9th. No problem since we FINALLY got to face Eric Gange in the 11th and scored 4 runs off of him. That was back when Eric Gange went 700 games without letting a run score (though they were all unearned).
So, after the guy puts up a crappy year and then misses one with an injury, the Phils decide that he'd look good on our team. I actually liked it at the time, but who could have expect this line last year?
.298 .404 .459 .863
Or this year?
.292 .386 .569 .955
Werth, is, without a doubt, the best player on this team relative to how we expected him to play. And it isn't even close. If Werth played last year as we had expected, the Phillies would have won 84 or 85 games (I am sure I could crunch the numbers to get the real value, but you get my point). Utley performed around expectations (maybe exceeding them a bit) but nothing you'd double take on. Werth is the #1 reason why we made the playoffs last year. Projections had us finishing with a lower win total and Werth exceeded his expectations by such a large degree that it put it into the post season.
So, I am going to redefine MVP one more time. To me, it is the Most Valuable Player Relative To Expected Value or the MVPREV award (pronounced mev-prev).