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Tossup Alert: The AL MVP to be announced at 2pm Eastern

Nov 21, 2011, 11:05 AM EDT

Jose Bautista Reuters

Today the BBWAA will give out the only award that looks to have any kind of intrigue or potential controversy to it: AL MVP.

This year’s award throws a couple of time-tested argument starters out there: should a pitcher win the MVP?  Should the MVP winner come from a team that didn’t go anywhere? Is year-long excellence somehow less impressive for MVP purposes than a guy who has a late dominant surge that carries a team into the playoffs?  And what if that late surge couldn’t quite do it because all of that guy’s teammates were eating fried chicken and drinking beer?

Justin Verlander, Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury all fall into that matrix somewhere.  I have no freaking clue how it will break down.  My gut tells me that Verlander will get it. Why? Because I imagine that when the Sox crapped out on the last day of the season Ellsbury lost support and that those people — storyline voters, I’ll call them, who wanted to give it to him on the theory that he was carrying Boston into the playoffs — will defect to Verlander in greater numbers than Bautista.

And yes, that’s not far removed from me just pulling it all out of my butt. Cut me some slack. I’m a little tired this morning.

One thing I’m more sure about:  anyone who throws a fit about the MVP voting this year is just trying to start a fight because they’re bored. It’s OK, I do that all the time, but it’s hard to see oodles of daylight between these candidates in my view. I’d probably vote for Bautista, and I’ll get a little miffed if Verlander doesn’t win due to people simply leaving him off their ballots entirely, but there just doesn’t seem to be any room to call whatever results we get an atrocity.

Adjust your rage accordingly.

  1. skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Even if the Sox had staggered into the playoffs I think Verlander is most valuable to his team.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      Even though they won the division by eleventy bajarillion games? And if Papelbon gets strike three, Ellsbury is the biggest reason they make the playoffs?

      I dislike the argument that the playoffs is the dividing line between MVPs and not . But if you’re going to believe that, arguing that Verlander is more “valuable” is a little ridiculous, given that the Tigers easily make the playoffs without him, while the Sox don’t stand a chance without Ellsbury.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      Any particular reason why?

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        Most wins in AL since 1990, 12 consecutive wins, pitches in AL.
        I’m a Sox fan so maybe I’m just jealous of good pitching…

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        It’s not wins. Teams get wins. Pitchers get pitcher wins, which is a convoluted statistic that has as much to do with run support and bullpen support as the quality of the pitcher.

        Verlander’s season wasn’t even in the top ten pitching seasons since 1990, let alone best.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        meh.

      • paperlions - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:53 PM

        He’ right though. Teams get wins, not pitchers.

      • bozosforall - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        Because he’s a Lame Sox fan. Trust me, his criteria will flip-flop next season faster than John Kerry in the 2004 election, once it no longer supports the guy that he wants to win the MVP.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        So you’re saying it didn’t matter during those 12 consecutive starts that it was Verlander and not Porcello on the mound?

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        … he’s a Sox fan, so he wants the non-Sox player to win?

        I think you’re doing it wrong.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        I think that was meant for you. Nested quotes don’t nest.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        The two admitted Sox fans are trumpeting Verlander and Bautista. So… yeah.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        So you’re saying it didn’t matter during those 12 consecutive starts that it was Verlander and not Porcello on the mound

        7/26 – 8IP 4 ER – Win
        8/27 – 6IP 4 ER – Win
        9/7 – 6 IP 4 ER – Win

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        I would do the quotes if I knew how but:

        2.28 ERA 0.93 WHIP 91 K 23 BB 87 IP 58 H

        over those 12 starts.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:03 PM

        List of teams he faced:

        MIN
        CHW
        LAA
        KCR
        CLE
        MIN
        TBR
        MIN
        CHW
        CLE
        CHW
        OAK
        BAL

        Not exactly murderer’s row here

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:19 PM

        Do you one better:

        wRC:

        MIN – 84
        CHW – 89
        LAA – 96
        KCR – 102
        CLE – 96
        TBR – 103
        OAK – 90
        BAL – 97

  2. dlevalley - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    My Prediction: the sheer awesomeness of all these guys having such amazing years gets drowned out by the hue and cry from each losing players’ camp by 2:02pm.

    That said, if Bautista doesn’t win I’m gonna…

  3. marshmallowsnake - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    If pitchers can win the MVP, then they should do away with the Cy Young. Maybe they should rename the MVP and make it just for hitters? I know the Hank Aaron award is for that, but it does not hold as much weight as the Cy Young.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      Pitchers have won, and routinely won the MVP award and it’s precursor in the early days.

      • marshmallowsnake - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM

        I know pitchers have won, and will win in the future. I just think that the Cy Young is their MVP and that the MVP ahould be for hitters.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      Disagree that pitchers can’t win MVP. But Verlander wasn’t dominant enough, in my opinion. People are talking about his year like it was an all-time great, when most years there’re better seasons than he had.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1986.shtml#ALmvp

        Clemens beat out a position player that hit .352, had 238 hits, 30+ HR’s, 100 RBI’s and scored over 100 runs. Don’t see much difference here in 2011.

      • bozosforall - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        Thanks, skeleteeth. Didn’t think I’d have such an immediate refutation to Ari Collins’ obvious biased opinion. LOL

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        What do you mean, biased? I think Bautista should win, and I’m a Sox fan.

  4. TomTom - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Did anyone see the Insider article Buster Posey wrote today? It’s not so much the content of the main article that caught my eye but this quote later on in the “Notables” section – “The players seem to be in favor of HGH testing, writes Phil Rogers. There is a wide presumption among scouts and executives that some players are cheating; in fact, there is one player whose physical development draws guffaws from some in the sport because of his Canseco-like growth.

    What kind of weak sauce allegation is the bolded line?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      Honest question, who are they referring to? Because Joey Bats is like 6′ <200lbs. He's not exactly a hulking behemoth out there.

      • TomTom - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        Yeah, they are talking strictly physical development not the quick-jump in HR numbers that would fit both Joey Bats and Ellsbury. I can only imagine it’s David Eckstein.

      • b7p19 - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        I could see it being Eck. He’s the kind of team player that would take HGH for the sake of the TEAM while other players take it for the sake of THEMSELVES.

      • cur68 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:39 PM

        Fits Granderson, too.

    • JBerardi - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      Name names or shut up.

      • TomTom - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        That was my point initially…you stated it much better than I.

  5. philliesblow - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    For those who don’t think pitchers should win the MVP because they don’t play every day, should the same limit be put on the Rookie of the Year award? I’ve never heard that complaint before but shouldn’t the same logic apply?

    I think it’s a little too easy to look at the end of season standings and say the Tigers win the AL Central easy w/o Verlander. It was a tight division until mid August. Without Verlander in May, June & July, the Tigers may have been too far back to catch up.

  6. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    I’d probably go with Ellsbury. I think he was the best player in the AL and perhaps baseball this year.

    • Kyle - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      Same here, but wouldn’t be upset if Joey Batts won. Verlander will annoy me because his support is greatly narrative driven.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        Exactly what Kyle said.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        And I’d add that the narrative for Verlander doesn’t even make sense, considering his team would’ve made the playoffs without him.

    • rhandome - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      Please tell me you’re joking.

      Ellsbury: 321/376/552, 928 OPS, 32 dingers and a 146 OPS+ playing in a bandbox.
      Bautista: 302/447/608, 1055 OPS, 43 dingers and a 181 OPS+

      I mean, claiming that Jacoby had a better year than Bats isn’t just wrong. It’s flat out dishonest IMHO.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        I think Bautista still had a better year, but not bringing in their defense, position, baserunning, and the fact that Toronto is quite a bandbox itself (and Fenway unfriendly to left-handed power), obscures the facts.

      • mabunar - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:31 PM

        baseball reference gives both parks a 105 (favorable to hitters rating)

        In regards to HRs, ESPN shows Toronto with a 1.186 rating
        and Fenway with a .880….over 1.0 favoring the hitters.

      • wendell7 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        You can take the bandbox argument out of the equation for Ellsbury since most of his homers at home were bombs into or over the bullpen, not hooking liners around the Pesky pole. Plus, he put up his numbers primarily from the leadoff spot, not the 3 or 4 hole. While I’ll agree Bautista is a premier power hitter, you expect his type of numbers from your 3 or 4 hitter. Throw in Jacoby’s 39 stolen bases and gold-glove defense and I think the award has to go to him.

        Plus, speaking of dishonesty …. we never heard any accusations of pitch tipping from the Fenway outfield this season.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:57 PM

        According to fangraphs:
        Baustista WAR of 8.3
        Ellsbury WAR of 9.4

        Sure, I mean if one factors only OPS in the determination of who had a better year then Bautista would get the nod. Now, factor in SB, basrunning, and defense. So, how is it dishonest that I think Ellsbury had a better overall season?

  7. yankeesfanlen - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Win the MVP or not, Curtis Granderson had a remakable year with the Universe and is my MVY.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM

      Don’t understand the thumbs downs here. It was an excellent year, and clearly the MVP of the Yankees.

  8. hansob - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Verlander batters faced: 969
    Most plate appearances by any batter in baseball: 732 (Ellsbury)

    Who cares if he pitches every 5th day. He factors into more matchups than the hitters who play every day and get up to bat 5 times a game. Would the writers feel better if Verlander could somehow pitch 1 2/3rds innings 150 times instead of pitching an average of 7 1/3 innings 34 times?

    • Ari Collins - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      Yes, but he’s hardly responsible for 100% of the results of his batters faced. In fact, speaking of defense, Ellsbury adds a lot on that side of the ball as well, while Verlander adds nothing on offense whatsoever.

    • JBerardi - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:46 PM

      If you want to argue that a pitcher CAN be the most valuable pitcher in his league, I buy that. If you’re arguing that Verlander WAS the most valuable player in the AL in 2011, sorry, he wasn’t.

      Verlander pitched 240.0 innings and had a 3.45 ERA. How special is that, really? Roy Halladay pitched more innings at a lower ERA twice in Toronto. Sabathia did it in Cleveland. Where are their MVPs?

      • hansob - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        more that a pitcher CAN be the MVP. The “doesn’t play every day” thing has always bothered me. Some position players don’t factor into ANY play for 3-4 innings a game.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        No. 2.40, not 3.45.

        12 consecutive wins is pretty impressive. And let’s throw in a no hitter, too, though it really means squat. Those wins late in the season, man those are big though, even if you have a 20 game lead in the division.

    • kehnn13 - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      My main reason for not wanting a pitcher to be mvp has to do with pitchers already having an award of their own that is well known. Unless a pitcher is insanely dominating, I’d prefer to give the MVP to an every day player. As insanely dominating pitchers have routinely been denied the MVP, I don’t think Verlander should come close.

  9. rhandome - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Bautista and Cabrera have far and away the best batting stats, and Joey Bats plays a so-so right field while Miggy is one of the worst defensive first basemen in the league. Bautista should win, and it shouldn’t be all that close.

    • mabunar - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:17 PM

      Far and away?

      Bautista .302/.447/.608 105 Runs, 43 HRs, 103 RBI, 9 SB, 8.3 WAR
      Cabrera .344/.422/.582 111 Runs, 30 HRs, 105 RBI, 2 SB, 7.3 WAR
      Ellsbury .321/.376/.552 119 Runs, 32 HRs, 105 RBI, 39 SB, 9.4 WAR

      You can cherry pick any stats you want and probably make a case for any of the three.

      I’m sticking to my original argument regarding the splits where Bautista slowed greatly as the year went on, and Ellsbury got hotter….and would expect Ellsbury to be the MVP if they didn’t give it to Verlander.

      • rhandome - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:31 PM

        Lol, way to cite team-dependent stats like runs and rbi.

        Bautista: 1.055 OPS, 181 OPS+, .441 wOBA
        Cabrera: 1.034 OPS, 181 OPS+, .436 wOBA
        Ellsbury: .928 OPS, 146 OPS+, .402 wOBA

        Also, a player needs to steal bases at a 75% success rate to add value to his team. Ellsbury had 15 CS to go along with his 39 SB.

      • mabunar - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM

        lol, you’ll lop off the SBs because he was 72% vs 75%.

  10. Jonny 5 - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    “Should the MVP winner come from a team that didn’t go anywhere?”

    All of the candidates mentioned could all say the same. None of them made it to the WS. So Batista wins.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM

      *Bautista* (even though Bat-ista fits him these days)

    • yankeesfanlen - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Jonny, Jonny, Jonny. Even I’ve gotten over the WS.

      • cur68 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        Gonna be a long post season for Jonny, Len. Poor man faces a regular season with Papelbon on his team and Wiggington as the answer to a right handed power bat. His apoplexy should be ‘biceptual by spring training if they don’t shore up the hitting.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        The Phillies are a dead lock to win the WS.. Hear me?? 4 aces, who loses with 4 aces??

      • cur68 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        You’re not doing it right, Jonny: “The Phillies are a dead lock to win the WS. Hear me?? 4 aces, who loses with 4 aces?? And they’re American!

  11. bozosforall - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Because he’s a Lame Sox fan. Trust me, his criteria will flip-flop next season faster than John Kerry in the 2004 election, once it no longer supports the guy that he wants to win the MVP.

  12. gijlyons - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Ellsbury. Not just for his statistically amazing year: Jacoby Ellsbury hit .321 with 32 homers and 105 RBI, led the league in total bases (364), posted a .928 OPS, stole 39 bases and earned an All-Star spot, a Gold Glove…AND many Boston sports writers (even a team mate or two) plus a few sports radio talk show hosts lambasted him for most of the 2010 season after he suffered multiple broken ribs in a collision with then Red Sox 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre and missed most of the season while recovering.
    Many people feel Ellsbury had a point to make and that he played the 2011 season with a sustained vengeance. I hope he wins the MVP because he deserves it and also just to shove it up the arses of those naysayers and swivel chaired second guessers. Go Ells!

  13. cur68 - Nov 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I think because its expected of me I shall engage in hyperbolic rage-statements when Bautista doesn’t win but, in truth, it could be anyone and will be anyone but Bautista simply based voter tendency to vote the straight post season ticket.

  14. skeleteeth - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Yup.

  15. icanspeel - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    This may be a stupid question, but really I don’t know the answer.. Why is Adrian Gonzalez not mentioned at all when his stats are very comparable, if not better in some areas than Jacob Ellsbury? For the record I think neither should win, but just for the purpose of discussion

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      If a first baseman and center fielder put up the exact same offensive line, the center fielder is better. This is where the defensive spectrum comes in:

      C-SS-2B-CF-3B-RF-LF-1B (though some versions switch center field and 3B). From left to right, it shows the ability to find players capable of playing that position at an acceptable level defensively. That’s why so many sluggers are first baseman…it’s easier to play their at an acceptable defensive level! In many cases, assuming equal defensive at their position, a .300/.380/.480 catcher is more valuable than a .310/.390/.500 1st baseman.

      Also, Ellsbury is better defensively and a better baserunner. As amazing as he was, Gonzalez may have been the Sox 3rd best player in 2011! How did they not make the playoffs again?

  16. phukyouk - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Verlander won and its bullshit!

    • philliesblow - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      No, it’s justice. He was the best, most dominating and most valuable player in the league.

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      I would have gone with Bautista, but Verlander I would hardly call is “bullshit”. The guy won the pitching triple crown, lead the league in innings pitched and tied Bautista for the lead in bWAR.

      Andrew Dawson in 87 was bullshit.
      Juan Gonzalez in 96 and 98 was bullshit
      Willie Hernandez and Dennis Eckersley was bullshit
      Miguel Tejada was bullshit

      But this was a case of two great players (Ellsbury and Cabrera deserve their props too) and being forced to pick one. It’s was pretty impossible the BBWAA to screw this up.

  17. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Michael Young got a 1st and 2nd place vote, unbelievable

    • thefalcon123 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      Are you trying to say that a DH who ranks 4th on his own team in OPS isn’t the league’s most valuable player?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        I’m not now!

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