For the first time since 1992 (Dennis Eckersley), a pitcher has won an MVP award. Justin Verlander’s incredible season for an ALCS team was too much to deny as he was crowned the AL MVP on the Monday before Thanksgiving. He won the pitcher’s triple crown with the most wins (24), lowest ERA (2.40) and the most strikeouts (250). Hopefully he’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with his family celebrating both his AL Cy Young award and his AL MVP–a pretty spectacular feat.
Way back in August I wrote a blog post about who should win the AL MVP. At the time I had Granderson in first place, Jose Bautista in second, and Justin Verlander in third place with Ellsbury and Gonzalez garnering honorable mentions. Here’s the article.
As the final month of the season progressed, everything that needed to happen for Verlander to win the award happened. Granderson, my pick at time allowed his batting average to drop to .262 with a three home runs .205 batting average in September, essentially destroying his MVP season. Bautista also faded in September, hitting just .259 with four home runs.
Jacoby Ellsbury finished strong, slugging eight home runs while hitting .358 with an OBP of .400 on the dot in September. It would have been enough to win him the MVP–which would have been the second Red Sox MVP since 2008 when Dustin Pedroia won the award with just 17 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and 83 RBI. The final chip that had to fall for the voters to allow themselves to vote for a pitcher was the Red Sox historic collapse. After the Sox blew their 9 game wild card lead it became hard to justify giving anyone on that team any award. Ellsbury would finish second with four first place votes.
Verlander won with 13 of the 28 first place votes. Nobody could be more deserving. I’m pleased to see that the voters got it right, and didn’t snub Verlander just because he is a pitcher, as I expected they would. He was clearly the most dominant player in baseball this season and was the most vital to his team’s success. Congratulations to Justin Verlander!
…and back to my diatribe about Pedroia’s ridiculous 2008 MVP award. In 2006 Derek Jeter tallied 97 RBI with a .344 batting average, 14 home runs, and a career high 34 steals. All of those marks are better than what Pedroia posted in 2008 except the home run totals. Obviously the competition was stiffer in 2006, but man what a soft MVP winner Pedroia was in 2008. How do you give someone without excellent power (17 home runs), excellent speed (20 steals, two triples), or especially impressive production ( 83 RBI) an MVP award? Weak sauce 2008 voters! Weak!
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