“No prize for 2nd place….”

But if there was, Jacoby Ellsbury definitely deserved it.

Sure, people will be debating this one for a while, but in the end, Justin Verlander had himself a fantastic season. But, so did Pedro Martinez in 1999. In fact, looking back at the various stats and research, Pedro had a better over all pitching season in 1999… but wasn’t voted the first starting pitcher since ‘The Rocket’ Roger Clemens in 1986 to win both the Cy Young and MVP awards in a single season.

That, I have a problem with.

  •                                                        1999 Pedro Martinez                     2011 Justin Verlander
  • ERA                                                        2.07                                                 2.40
  • Wins                                                        23                                                     24
  • Losses                                                      4                                                        5
  • K’s                                                           313                                                   250
  • WHIP                                                    .923                                                 .920
  • BB                                                            37                                                      57
  • Innings                                                  213.1                                                 251
  • WAR                                                       8.3                                                    8.5

Yes, Verlander threw his second career No-Hitter and was the American League’s answer to Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and eventually Clayton Kershaw.  However, Pedro pitched a SABRmetric statistically stronger season in the midst of the steroid era, a season which again saw combined league home run totals reach new records, had that Hall of Fame inning in the All-Star Game at Fenway and was the American League’s answer to Randy Johnson.

Both won the American League pitching Triple Crown.

Both led their respective teams to 90 plus win seasons (and both made it to the ALCS)

Pedro finished 2nd in the BBWAA voting, with 8 First place votes (1 more than winner Ivan Rodriguez) and was intentionally left off 2 ballots cast.

Many of the ‘experts‘ who have spent weeks of expensive air-time on both radio and television debating the issue and who now proclaim “Well, now the precedent has been set” must be either retarded or just stupid. Verlander is one of several pitchers to win both awards including Kofax, Fingers, Blue (also the last switch-hitter to win an MVP), the aforementioned Clemens and most recently Dennis Eckersley. No, the precedent wasn’t set, it was just another salvo in the argument of ‘everyday’ players versus pitchers and the qualified standards of being ‘Most Valuable Player’.  Of course, a lot of these experts are the same who contend that the award is not a popularity contest…. really?  Ask Albert Bell about that… I’m sure he remembers who won the award in 1995.

1999 Nomar   1999 Ivan Rodriguez  1999 Manny  2011 Ellsbury  2011 Adrian Gonzalez   2011 Pedroia

AVG               .357*                        .332                         .333                   .321                        .338                          .307

HR                   27                             35                             44                      32                          27                               21

RBI                 104                           113                            165                    105                         117                              91

OPS               1.002                        .914                         1.105                  .928                       .957                           .861

SB                    14                             24                             2                         39                            1                               26

WAR              6.5                            6.0                           8.0                      7.2                         6.9                             6.8

In ’99, Manny Ramirez, who had a statistically greater year with Cleveland than MVP winner Pudge Rodriguez did in Texas, finished third in the BBWAA voting behind Pedro.  Nomar, winning the first of two consecutive batting titles, finished seventh while all played for 90 plus win playoff bound teams.  This year, Ellsbury finished a solid second ahead of Toronto’s Jose Bautista (who’s 2nd half of the season really didn’t merit his finishing ahead of Granderson, Cabrera or perhaps even A-Gon) third place finish. Adrian Gonzalez in his first year with the Scarlett Hose finished seventh and I’m including Petey who came on strong in the 2nd half to accumulate a ninth place vote.

If anything, I think many will agree that the Red Sox collapse in September weighed like an anvil on Jacoby’s chances, which is unfortunate given he was one of the few players (Adrian’s ‘power outage’ but sustained average) who thrived during the season ending swoon.  If the Sox had won just two more games, this blog post might just be moot.

With the age of Moneyball in what some have deemed its ‘twilight’ (especially under the terms of the new CBA) and the Bill James Sabermaticians now fully entrenched throughout MLB, more and more statistically curious tidbits of information continue to hit the mainstream.  For example: Babe Ruth, arguably one of Baseball’s greatest players (as compared to marquee draw), won his only MVP award in 1923 (keep in mind it was a ‘league’ award as compared to the defunct Chalmers Award and pre-dated the current BBWAA MVP Award).  Using todays metrics… Ruth should have taken the award 12 times.  That’s eleven more times than he actually won it and all based on his actual factual numbers.  Shout out to Brian Kenny on MLB Network’s Clubhouse Confidential for combing through the blinding historical numbers and keeping it entertaining.  Would love to see his team take a look at Ted Williams lifetime stats.

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