Verlander Named MVP – Sadly, As I Expected
Man do I hate it when I am right about stuff that I know is going to happen when it shouldn’t. It’s like when a friend tells you his plans for the weekend with the not-yet-divorced-air-headed-bimbo he just met in line at the unemployment office (Vegas, baby….Vegas!!!) and all you can think is “wow, this is going to end badly” – ever have that happen? That’s how I feel about Justin Verlander winning the AL MVP. Or at the very least it proves I can foresee the thoughts of the feeble minded men (read: sheep) who voted on MVP for the American League for 2011.
This is from my Michael Young MVP article from September 22nd. You can read that article in it’s entirity here : http://www.dugoutcentral.com/?p=2236
For those who want the quick version here are the specific excerpts:
Every year we look at a handful of guys (usually the one’s ESPN and such tell us to look at) and we choose an MVP from that small assorted batch. On more than one occasion (Miguel Tejada and Dustin Pedroia spring to mind) the media so heavily pushes for a particular candidate that the voters fall into line and select them in an almost predetermined fashion. It’s called a fall-in-line-vote. That’s not to say that inevitable winner of the award doesn’t deserve to win – it just means the sheep that vote follow the heard and get tunnel vision…
Let’s look at this years crop of AL ‘chosen’ – Justin Verlander, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez.
A solid group of great players all having great years.
As a matter of fact – I called the Granderson MVP before the season started – err…before the 2010 season that is. Here was my pick for AL MVP as it was written for Dugout Central prior to the 2010 season.
- AL MVP: CURTIS GRANDERSON- New York Yankees–Look out boys, it’s my boldest prediction of all. I loved the addition of Granderson the minute the trade was announced. His game is built perfectly for the New Yankee Stadium and the lineup around him. He’ll be looked upon as the spark for the best offense in the game. He could easily finish the year with 35+ homers, 90+ RBI, 20+ steals, and a whopping 130+ runs scored. Most importantly, the press likes him and he’s an acknowledged good guy. The kind of guy you can get behind win casting your vote. If he can keep his average up (around .280 or higher), and have a career year in OBP, he could easily win the award over the glamour choices of ARod, Longoria, Teixeira, Jeter, Youkilis and any number of big names you can add to the list.
Like I said – that was from March of 2010. I’m a regular Nostradamus.
Except Granderson won’t win the 2011 award. It’s already been determined by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and others. Your MVP will be Justin Verlander. Mark it down. Or mark it zero if you are Big Lebowski fan. Either way – you can mark it, and count on it.
The ESPN and SI influence over this year’s choice is as I previously mentioned – a fall-in-line-vote. Verlander is having a great year, but I for one, and many of you, don’t believe a pitcher should win an MVP award over any substantial everyday player.
Many of you – at the time – felt that my prediction within a prediction of Verlander winning was way off base. No way it would happen. And I wish it hadn’t. I stand by my belief that no matter how great the pitcher or the year he has had is – he is not and can never be more valuable than a great everyday player.
I’m sure many of you will break out some new statistical apparatus (approved by SABR, NASA and the CIA no doubt) that will show the value of Verlander over any individual everyday player. For the sake of what will largely be a statistical free argument on my part I will use Miguel Cabrera as my counter argument to Mr. Verlander – teammates make for the easiest and cleanest of examples.
Justin Verlander started 35 games for the Tigers this year (give or take a game, I must admit I am not looking up any stats as I am writing this so feel free to jump on my back for that as we go along).
In those 35 or so times he toed the slab for Detroit Verlander was – more often than not – the friggin’ man. He won 24 starts and (without looking up the numbers for certain) presumabley had his team scored some a few runs here or there and/or had he not been removed from a game when it was tied he might have won 4 or 5 more. He was totally dominant and deserving of a unanimous Cy Young Award.
Now here is the crux of my case against him as a MVP.
The Tigers, if I am not mistaken, played 162 ball games this year – just like every other team in baseball. Basic math tells me that Mr. Verlander – having never played for the Tigers in any other way, shape or form outside of those 35 assorted, incredibly outstanding performances on the mound - had absolutely nothing to do with 127 of those 162 games played. Even if Verlander had gone 35-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 35 perfect games he still added nothing positive (or negative) to those other 127 games.
Now – Miguel Cabrera played everyday for those same Tigers. He too was an MVP candidate (I believe he finished fifth in this years voting) as the season ended with seriously terrific individual numbers (again, I don’t have the actually numbers in front of me but I know he lead the AL in doubles, average and OBP). He scored over 100, drove in over 100 and walked over 100 times as he easily staked his claim as the best everyday player on the best team in the AL Central this year. He also played in 161 of the Tigers 162 games this year.
What would you rather have – great player playing in 35 games or a great player playing in 161 games? The Tigers won 95 games this year. Who had more of an impact on those 95 wins – the man who pitched in 24 of them (with a maximum of 35) or the man who played in all 95 wins. The rest of the Tigers pitching staff had a hand in the other 71 wins. You could argue that anyone of those men on any given day was just as valuable as Verlander in securing an individual win for the team.
The main component to my argument is that Verlander doesn’t win 24 games without Cabrera’s participation. You can probably argue Verlander wins an MVP because Cabrera IS THE MVP.
This is completely off the top of my head – and I will research it later tonight to find out the official answer – but I am willing to bet that Cabrera had some sort of positive offensive impact on a minimum of 10 of Verlander’s wins. And believe me, If I am wrong on that statement I will post that info as well.
Verlander is a great pitcher and he had a great year. But regardless of whatever some long winded statistical formula may tell you he only had an impact on a maximum of 35 of 162 games. Cabrera played in 161 and is one of the five best offensive players in the game today and most likely had a hand in more than a few of Verlanders 24 victories.
So is Cabrera the AL MVP? Maybe. Maybe not. But he and multiple other everyday players (Granderson, Bautista, Ellsbury, etc) are all far more deserving of MVP status than Verlander simply based on the fact that they affect the outcome of the entire season, not just a small portion of it.
So back to the sheep as they graze. Why did Verlander win the award? Simple. Bandwagon jumpers know no bounds. It’s easier to participate with the heard than try to reason on your own. Once “the establishment” (ESPN, SI – I mean, for Christ sake, SI had Verlander on the cover touting him as MVP in mid August) passes on the required info to the rest of the heard – how dare the mindless in the heard go against them. Wait – SI and ESPN think Verlander should be MVP??? Wow…I guess…well…yeah…so do I. I’m now part of the winning team.
Mindless sheep. They ruin it for the rest of us.
I congratulate Mr. Verlander on his win. Keep Cabrera’s (or Granderson’s, or Ellsbury’s, or Bautista’s) MVP award well dusted and polished on your mantle.