Most Valuable Position Player?

There has been a rather exciting MVP race through the second half of the season in the American League.  It has been a race that has been fun to watch, interesting to debate, and all around good for baseball. At the forefront have been the dueling center fielders of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson have both put together stellar seasons to place them at the top of the list.

Curtis Granderson has been the best player on the AL East Champion New York Yankees all season.  He’s hit 41 home runs and knocked in 119 RBI’s to this point all while holding up a .270 batting average and scoring 134 runs himself.   He’s been spectacular batting #2 for that team all season, and is a big reason why the Yankees won the east.

On the flip side of the rivalry, Jacoby Ellsbury has also been stellar.  Ellsbury has hit 32 Home runs and 103 RBI’s.  He has 38 stolen bases and an average of .319 with 119 runs scored and 105 RBI’s. Ellsbury is the 11th leadoff hitter in history to hit 30 homers in a season (Ian Kinsler is the 10th, accomplishing that earlier this season).  He is also the first Red Sox player ever to hit at least 30 home runs and steal at least 30 bases in a single season. Even though the Red Sox have been struggling at the end of the season, Ellsbury has stayed hot and has kept the Red Sox in the wild card race almost single handed.

Just with these two players this has been one of the best MVP races in recent memory.  It’s been the best one since the steroid era at the very least.  You have 2 speedsters playing center field who’s games revolve around stolen bases and defense, and all we can talk about is how many home runs they are hitting.  2 guys who have found their power stroke while still keeping up their average, stolen bases, and runs scored.  It’s been an impressive season out of both of them and they are both getting a lot of consideration due to the markets they play in, but there has been another player who has quietly inserted his name into the discussion.

Justin Verlander has had the best season of any player in the league this year; not only does he deserve the Cy Young Award but also serious MVP consideration.

There is an argument that pitchers can’t win the MVP award because they have their own award, but this argument cannot hold true anymore.  Since 1999 the Hank Aaron Award has been given to the best hitter in each league.  This award is the equivalent to the Cy Young for a hitter and if it is treated that way then it opens the MVP conversation to the player that actually is the most valuable to his team.

Justin Verlander won his team 24 games lost 5 and didn’t factor into the decision in 5.  So out of the 34 games he started only 5 of them were losses directly attributed to him.  Looking at his wins and no decisions he has won or given his team a chance to win in 29 games this season.  In a league where there is so much emphasis on the bullpen having a starting pitcher being a part of 29 decisions and winning 24 of them is a big deal.  Can we say that a position player has that kind of affect on that many games in a season?

For those still leaning toward position players because they play everyday I offer this argument.  Curtis Granderson has had 688 at bats this season and Jacoby Ellsbury has had 655 to this point.  So they have had a chance to affect the game that many times. Justin Verlander has pitched 251 innings, which means if he faced the least amount of batters in those innings  (which he did a few times) he would have affected 753 at bats directly.  That is quite a bit more that the 2 leading position players contending for the award.  Saying that pitchers don’t have the same affect on games just doesn’t hold up.  Sure Verlander only played in 34 games, but he affected more at bats than any hitter in the MLB.

For historical significance, the last person to win 24 games was Randy Johnson in 2002 and the last person to win more than that was Bob Welch in 1990 with 27.  Also, the last pitcher to win the MVP was Dennis Eckersley as a closer in 1992.

Wins being only one pitching statistic; Verlander also has the best ERA in the American League, the most innings pitched and strike outs in both leagues, and tossed a no hitter this season. If there has been anyone more dominant in the league this season I haven’t seen him.

Now that we are past The Steroid Era it’s time to start looking at the Most Valuable Player as just that and not a trophy for a guy who hits the ball the farthest the most often.

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One Comment on “Most Valuable Position Player?”

  1. On the other side of the aisle, Matt Kemp quietly ALMOST became the first person since 1937 to win the NL Triple Crown.

    That being said, as a Cubs fan, this was a tough year for me and i’m pretty sure that the season was over in April. Sigh.

    Hell of a MVP race, though. I think it should absolutely go to Verlander.


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