AL MVP was a very contentious race this season. SeeYouInOctober’s editorial staff voted and here is where the ballots fell.
1- Justin Verlander
This tigers team without him, well they’re a good team, but they are not winning that division as hands down as they did. With him, no doubt they controlled the Central. You are only as good as your next starting pitcher and their staff was really nothing without him. A total of 20 pitchers have won the MVP and the last time someone did it was Dennis Eckersley in 1992 (and he was a relief pitcher) so the argument that pitchers shouldn’t win MVP’s is nonsensical and flat wrong.
Verlander pitched four complete games including a no hitter. He posted 24 wins to only five losses with a league leading 2.40 ERA. He had 250 strikeouts in 251 innings pitched, both league leading. For you sabermetric nuts Verlander’s WAR was an astounding 8.6.
This wasn’t just a stellar season that garners an easy Cy Young award. This was a season in which Verlander pitched on a different level than anybody else.
Plus Mitch Albom thinks he should be MVP and he wrote Tuesdays With Morrie.
2- Jacoby Ellsbury
It’s a shame the Red Sox missed the postseason. It is impossible to pick a player on a team that collapsed so badly as MVP. He couldn’t have been that valuable because they could have missed the playoffs without him. However, Ellsbury did everything humanly possible to drag the Sox into October. He has entered historic levels with a batting average over .300 (.321), 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 39 stolen bases. Not many players can, or have, put together seasons like that.
What should have been his signature performance, the three home run day in the doubleheader with the Yankees last Sunday, capped by the game winning three run home run that kept the Sox flickering playoff hopes alive, is now just a nice day at the plate for a third place team.
3- Jose Bautista
Joey Bats certainly put up impressive numbers. He turned himself into a more complete hitter this season hitting .302 and getting on base at a .447 clip. He also led the league in home runs (43) and put up over 100 RBIs. Unfortunately the Blue Jays are a few years from competition, so it is just a great season for a not-so-great team.
4- Robinson Cano
Cano’s season doesn’t really stick out. .302 BA, 28 HR, 118 RBI. Only the RBI are a career high. Cano also showed even more importance this season dropping to the four spot and excelling all season in A-Rod’s absence. All in all a pretty ho-hum season don’t-ya-know. Plus, it’d be tough not to have one candidate from the best team in the AL.
5- Miguel Cabrera
If he didn’t have the off the field issues he would be the AL’s answer to Albert Pujols. Cabrera still continues to rake putting up an AL best .344 batting average and .448 OBP to go along with another 30 home run, 100 RBI season, his fifth in a row.
If the Rangers asked Michael Young to become a groundskeeper next season he would probably do it without a fuss and still manage to hit .300 on the season. This season the Rangers pushed him into the DH role and Young took it in stride like that’s exactly where he wanted to be put. Young put up a great season from the dish hitting .338 with 106 RBIs despite only 11 home runs. Skipper Ron Washington obviously had faith in him batting him fourth in the lineup most of the season despite having power guys like Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton on the squad. Young might not be as flashy (i.e. he doesn’t hit home runs) but Young was certainly worthy of being called most valuable.
Perhaps you are wondering why the Yankees center fielder isn’t on the top 5. Well the fact is he doesn’t belong there. His power numbers are great (41 home runs, 119 RBIs) but the MVP shouldn’t just be the guy on the best team with the most home runs. Granderson also struck out 169 times, had a batting average of .262 and he just never really passed the ‘eye test’ as MVP. Take that as you will, but if you don’t look like an MVP you’re probably not an MVP.
Obviously teams felt the same way. Granderson received zero intentional walks this season, one of only two regulars not to. Not exactly normal for a guy hitting 40 home runs in a season. To put that in perspective Cano led the team with 11.
Granderson had a great power year but when you have holes in your swing like Granderson does and you just aren’t the guy most teams fear you just aren’t MVP.
Think we got it wrong? Let us know who you think deserves the honors via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or by leaving a comment.