Monday brought us the BBWAA's big reveal of the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player, and in the lead-up, there was quite the healthy debate. Among the most prominent candidates were Justin Verlander, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera. One could argue over the value and measurement of defense. One could argue about the value of playing for a contending team. One could argue about the value of a pitcher versus the value of a position player. This year's AL MVP race had something for everybody.
Our own Rob Neyer wrote that his MVP was Ellsbury, with Bautista getting silver and Cabrera getting bronze. However, Neyer also wrote that:
But with Pedroia and Kinsler splitting some votes and Ellsbury and Granderson splitting some votes and Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera splitting some votes and Jose Bautista's second half, maybe this is the year a (starting) pitcher can sneak in and win for the first time since 1986.
Verlander, of course, won the Cy Young just last week, and many felt he had a compelling case for the MVP. Neyer suggested that he could pull it off. And in the end, as announced by the BBWAA, Verlander pulled it off.
The complete voting table:
|Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers||13||3||3||4||1||2||1||280|
|Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox||4||13||4||1||4||1||1||242|
|Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays||5||7||4||4||4||1||1||1||1||231|
|Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees||3||4||4||8||6||1||2||215|
|Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers||2||9||5||5||2||4||1||193|
|Robinson Cano, New York Yankees||2||2||3||6||4||5||1||1||112|
|Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox||1||1||2||6||8||3||3||1||105|
|Michael Young, Texas Rangers||1||1||1||1||1||1||4||7||4||2||96|
|Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox||4||1||4||6||48|
|Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays||2||1||2||3||27|
|Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers||1||2||1||1||1||25|
|Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers||1||1||2||2||13|
|Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox||5||1||11|
|CC Sabathia, New York Yankees||2||10|
|Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers||2||1||1||9|
|Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays||1||1||7|
|Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers||1||1||2||7|
|James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays||1||5||7|
|Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees||1||1||5|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians||1||2||4|
|Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals||3||3|
|Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers||1||1|
|David Robertson, New York Yankees||1||1|
Verlander picked up 13 of 28 first-place votes, and won even despite being left off one ballot entirely. It seems there are still voters out there - or voter - of the mind that pitchers have their own award and shouldn't be eligible for the MVP. I disagree with that stance, but I don't care enough to rip it. It has been ripped.
The worst vote voted, obviously, is the first-place vote for Michael Young. That is an inexcusable vote, and the vote that will probably end up getting the bulk of the attention in the aftermath, but ultimately it was an irrelevant vote. Justin Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, and that won him some big awesome hardware.