On Justin Verlander winning the MVP

Normally we only talk Mariners, and in light of Greg Halman’s passing I don’t even feel completely right talking about something as trivial as an MVP award, but this isn’t a topic that is really exclusive to Detroit.

I have no problem with a pitcher winning the MVP, and by old-school measure, there is no doubt that Verlander was the best pitcher in the American League (even stat-analysis doesn’t show a significant difference between Verlander and CC Sabathia). The problem however, is that Jose Bautista and Jacoby Ellsbury had amazing seasons. Curtis Granderson may have stood in their way though. His team made the playoffs, while the former two didn’t. Granderson is probably a close fourth place in the MVP race by conventional measure combining new-age and old-school analysis techniques, were the voting to occur in a vacuum. However, it’s very hard to ignore context, and while Bautista and Ellsbury were great, Bautista’s team didn’t come close to the playoffs, while Ellsbury’s team collapsed at a historic level to close out the season.

One of the beautiful things about baseball are its aesthetic qualities. There is poetry and art to baseball. It is a game of failure, where we try to celebrate players overcoming steep odds, while attempting to temper our enthusiasm in the next sentence.

In the end, the MVP award doesn’t matter. Justin Verlander had one hell of a season, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s was probably better. Verlander probably didn’t deserve the MVP, but I don’t think it is such a horrible decision that we need to get worked up over it.

Then again, I’m a non-Red-Sox fan who remembers when Mo Vaughn stole an MVP award from about a dozen more-deserving American League candidates. Including Randy Johnson, who led Major League Baseball in WAR by 1.1 while playing for the Mariners.