November 24, 2010

What’s up with the landslide MVPs

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

Wasn’t there supposed to some sort of debate in the MLB MVP races? Were we really supposed to get two landslide winners? The two award winners combed to collect 53 of a possible 60 first-place votes. Talk about a race, right?
In the National League, Joey Votto was nearly unanimous in taking his award, losing only one vote to Albert Pujols – who no doubt got a vote from one of the writers from St. Louis. Votto becomes the third Canadian to win an MVP award, after Larry Walker and Justin Morneau, and becomes the first Reds player to win since 1995.
Votto was mired in a supposed race for the Triple Crown with Pujols and Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez down the stretch, but it was an unrealistic race with Gonzalez far ahead in batting average. In fact, Votto didn’t win any of the Triple Crown categories, finishing second in average and third in RBIs and HRs.
He did finish tops in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, which I’m sure sabermetricians are drooling over right now, along with Felix Hernandez’s Cy Young win with a 13-12 win-loss record.
In the Junior Circuit, Josh Hamilton completed his comeback from a history fraught with alcohol and drug addictions to win his first MVP award after being the first-overall pick in the draft in 1999. Hamilton’s is an amazing comeback story, the likes of which will no doubt make a wonderful Disney movie one day. Heck, he already has written a book.
But wasn’t Robinson Cano supposed to grab a lot of votes? Detroit missing the post-season hurt Miguel Cabrera’s candidacy, but he still managed five first-place votes. And the Jays Jose Bautista, this season’s undisputed king of the long ball, only garner one first-place vote thanks to his team’s average showing, although his .260 batting average didn’t help either.
The case against Hamilton is that he missed 30 games thanks to an injury. Can a guy really be the most valuable in the league when he missed almost a fifth of the season? His injury came down the stretch run too and when you figure that he was sitting during the most important part of the season, is he really the most valuable?
Perhaps there were no true candidates from the AL and that Hamilton had to suffice, but he shouldn’t have won it in blowout fashion like he did. I guess that’s just what happens in a year when pitching dominates and it’s hard to justify giving this award to a guy who is only in the lineup every five days.

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