Monday, November 21, 2011

Reactions to the AL MVP Vote


By
Image courtesy of Big League Stew
When it comes to overall amazing specimens in baseball, Jose Bautista is one of the best. There's no question he can hit, field multiple positions, he's an astute baserunner and is a great leader to his team.

Apparently those requirements are not enough for Jose Bautista to win the American League MVP Award, as decided by the BBWAA. I guess Jose will have to add the ability to pitch well and sell hot dogs if he wants to garner more votes.

Just so there is no confusion about what an MVP means, the Baseball Writers' Association of America clearly states the following for voting criteria for their Most Valuable Player Award:
  1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
  2. Number of games played.
  3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.  
All I can say is, really ... Justin Verlander? 13 of 28 voters decided a pitcher was the best player in the entire American League this season, and only 5 thought Jose Bautista was the best. I guess I have to rethink my theory that the writers were hip to new statistics.

It's not the fact that Justin Verlander won the MVP that irks me, because I'm sure we all entertained the possibility that might actually happen. What irks me is how the entire AL MVP results were a complete and utter mess.

In the grand scheme of things and as ludicrous as it was, one stray first place vote for Michael Young did not make or break anyone's candidacy for AL MVP. It was the collective of several votes like a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth place vote for Young that really gave this year's results a black eye.

Keep in mind that I and several members of the blogosphere may be a little biased towards Jose Bautista. But if you went around the league, I'm sure you'd find most would agree he was at least one of the top five players in the league in 2011. The results show that four writers thought he wasn't.

Again, it's these little things that really set me off and question why some writers have a ballot in the first place. What reasoning did those four writers have for leaving Jose Bautista out of the top five?

Was it because he didn't play for a playoff contender? Was it because he played in Canada? Or was it because he only led one of the triple crown offensive categories? As crazy as all these reasons sound, I'm sure some of them influenced how some writers filled out their ballot.

One could've argued that Jacoby Ellsbury was actually Jose Bautista's closest competition in the AL MVP race. Had Ellsbury won, I wouldn't necessarily have been happy about it, but I would've respected that decision because he was a formidable candidate.

So not only did Jose get hosed, so did Jacoby. He was left off one ballot entirely, and received a 10th place vote for one writer. His voting cluster is much more consistent, but again ... despite what happened to the Red Sox, don't you think Jacoby Ellsbury was at least a top five player in the AL?

In the end, we can't really be mad or disappointed by any one writer's opinion on who was the most valuable player to their team in 2011. It's their prerogative on who they deem as the best in the American League.

What we can be upset at however, is the ability to let the narrative take over and cloud people's judgement on who is the AL MVP. I still believe that had not the Verlander bandwagon been started by whomever, he would never have been in the discussion.

I hate to say it, but this year's American League MVP results clearly send a message that tangible things like cold, hard statistics are being overlooked in favour of intangibles.

Jose Bautista once again had another hell of a season. He now has a third place AL MVP finish to go along with last year's fourth place finish, and hopefully one day he will add that elusive MVP trophy to his collection.

One of these years, perhaps the writers will get it right again.

8 comments:

  1. I bet the main reason Bautista didn't win is because he plays for the Jays. No one south of the border cares about them :(

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  2. I can't be outraged that Pedro didn't win in '99, and not be OK with Verlander winning this year. So, I'll allow it. But, like you mentioned, the spread is amazing. If you don't have the MVP or runner up even in your top ten, do you really deserve a vote? Can we really rely on your decision making? And, because of the points awarded, people tossing a bone to players like Young can really affect the results. It's a shame

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  3. Adam, if this were the 2010 MVP results, I could understand that. But Jose Bautista received over 7 million All-Star votes this year ... the most EVER for a player. So Jose isn't under the radar anymore.

    Section 36, the voting this year was so varied that it's mind boggling. Ellsbury places 2nd, and yet there was one voter that left him off the ballot entirely, and one that thought he was the 10th best player?

    I realize everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but I think we can all agree Ellsbury was at least in the Top 5 ... if not Top 3.

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  4. Comparing a position player to a pitcher is kind of like comparing apples and oranges, because there are almost no comparable statistics to base a judgement on. In this case, the dialogue in September swung the vote to Verlander. What I wonder, is how much a candidate's teammates influenced the voting.
    Let's put Verlander in the 2011 Jays' rotation, with their inconsistent run support, and blown saves. Would he even have won enough games to win the Cy Young?
    Would Granderson have hit 41 home runs without being protected by Jeter, Tex, and Cano?
    How would Ellesbury do without Pedroia and Papi behind him, both of whom hit over .300?
    When you look at it this way, you start to realize just how good JB is.
    I guess when The Blue Jays make the playoffs, JB will also ride to the MVP on the backs of his teammates.

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  5. Who on Earth would place Bombista anywhere out of the top 4 or 5? Do these people even know where Toronto is? Are they even from Earth?

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  6. George, looking at how the AL and NL MVP voting shook down, I'd say a large part of it did have to do with the player's respective team making the playoffs. One could make the argument that both Ellsbury and Kemp were very deserving, but got overlooked because their squads fell short.

    And I'm not sure what was going through those voters minds who penciled in Bautista 4th or lower. There's no excuse!

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  7. Come on dude, really? I like reading your articles but you mention not having our ducks in a row and the need to develop our arms further.. .OK I concede to common sense there but what you make no mention of is Jose. You dont waste an MVP's best years and a contract 1/3 of what he'd get on the open market by developing pitchers from within. Im not trying to see through blinders here, I understand how much money it is (can u say Rogers communication rounding error) but this move is a must. Last I checked we don't have any other MVP talent in the minors to take his place. Although it should be noted Verlander actually won the MVP and any one of 5 arms could chase it (one can hope) one day.

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  8. Evil, I'm not sure which player you're referring to - are you talking about Prince Fielder?

    There's no question that the time is ticking on Jose's contract, and that it doesn't make sense to waste away the best years of his contact.

    There may not be another MVP caliber player in the Blue Jays farm system, but it's a total crapshoot. Who could've guessed that Bautista would turn out to be the player that he did? I certainly didn't.

    If it makes sense to spend the money and the right player is there, then the Blue Jays should go for it. But I don't think they should spend money just for the sake of spending it. The Mets, Cubs and Orioles did that, and look where it got them!

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