Jose Bautista did not win the AL MVP Award. You know this by now. Justin Verlander was named the winner, the first time a pitcher has won since 1992. You already know this by now too.
Am I disappointed with the results? Yes, of course I am. I thought Jose Bautista deserved the award. He not only proved that 2010 was no fluke, he also improved on it, which is incredible when you think about it. He lead the league in HR, BB, IBB, OPS, Slugging, and OPS+, hit over .300, and reached base almost 45% of the time, all while having little-to-no lineup protection (Toronto gave a lot of actual at-bats to the following players in 2011: Corey Patterson, Rajai Davis, Juan Rivera, Aaron Hill, a broken and hurt Adam Lind, Mike McCoy, John McDonald, and Jayson Nix. Seriously). He lead an injury-plagued Blue Jays team to an 81-81 finish.
But am I surprised by the results? No, not at all. I have become accustomed to voters getting things wrong. I mean, Ricky Romero got one Cy Young vote! One!
Fundamentally I disagree with a pitcher winning the MVP award. Justin Verlander appeared in only 21% of Detroit’s games. I understand the counter-argument that people make to that claim – that although he only appeared in 34 games, he had a much bigger impact on those games than a regular player, who may only get 4 AB. If you want to argue that ’til your blue in the face, fine. I have no problem with that. I don’t agree with it (because unless a pitcher strikes out every batter AND hits home runs, I’m pretty sure he depends a lot on offense and defense to win games) but I understand it.
But here’s the thing: despite my stance against a pitcher winning the award, I’m actually not too upset with Verlander winning it. He had a fantastic year. It was by no means a historical, record setting year like many want you to believe, but it was a very good season.
No. What gets me upset are all the other stupid things that voters did with their votes. To put it bluntly, there was a lot of messed up stuff going on this year. Below are the results of the MVP voting. I have put a red circle around things that make no sense.
First – the Ellsbury and Bautista voting. Bautista won the Hank Aaron award as the top hitter in the American League, and Jacoby Ellsbury won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award while putting up crazy statistics. It was generally agreed that these were if not the top-two then two of the top players in all of baseball. Yet Ellsbury received a 6th and a 10th place vote, and Bautista a 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th place vote. What? There are really nine players more valuable than Ellsbury and eight more valuable than Bautista? Really?
Second – Ben Zobrist received a 5th place vote? 20 HR and an .822 OPS are nice numbers, but not that nice.
Third – David Robertson? Are you jokiing? Yes, I know he only got one tenth place vote and it’s not worth much, but come on. He pitched 66.2 innings this year! And how is it possible that Jered Weaver, Jose Valverde, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, and Ricky Romero were deemed to be better pitchers than David Robertson in 2011 (see the AL Cy Young voting), yet NONE of them get an MVP vote and Robertson does? Just…amazing.
Fourth – the big one. Michael Young. Many people on Twitter are outraged over this one. I wouldn’t say I’m outraged, but I’m shocked. That he received a first place vote is idiotic. But that he also received a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place vote is stupefying. I just don’t get it. He had a nice season – 213 hits, .338 average, .854 OPS. But with a WAR of 2.4 (according to baseball reference) he isn’t even the most valuable player on his team. He isn’t even in the top-5! (Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando all had higher WAR numbers). But somehow, not one, not two, but FIVE voters thought to put him in the top-5 of the ENTIRE AMERICAN LEAGUE!!! Why? Because he demanded a trade, then rescinded his demand and played multiple positions for the AL West champs? Stunning.
In the end, you can gripe and argue and debate all you want and it won’t change anything. But I think if there is anything that we all can agree on it’s this:
Jose Bautista deserved better.
Some AL MVP voters are idiots.