November 21, 2011
Hey, why not? The big Detroit Tigers right-hander may not make for the type of wacky television favored by A&E, but he's laying down his own monopoly on the AL's award hardware. Verlander made another big addition to his personal trophy case on Monday afternoon, nailing down the 2011 AL MVP award to display alongside the Cy Young prize he won last week and the AL Rookie of the Year award he won in 2006. He's the first pitcher to win both the Cy Young and MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first MVP from the Tigers since fellow pitcher Willie Hernandez won both awards in 1984.
• With a number of good candidates but no clear-cut winner, there will definitely be some deserved appeals for the men who finished behind Verlander's final total of 13 first-place votes and 280 total points. Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) finished second with 242 total points (four first-place votes) while Toronto's Jose Bautista(notes) was third with 231 and five first-place votes. Curtis Granderson(notes) and Miguel Cabrera(notes) rounded out the top five. (BBWAA has the full voting breakdown.)
• I'm actually surprised that such a large number of writers were open to placing a pitcher atop their ballot — those 13 votes are more than I expected — but it definitely destroyed the theory that Bautista was going to ride a wave of second-place votes to a win in a year with multiple candidates.
• The vote I don't own would have gone to Ellsbury, a center fielder who posted a .321/.376/.552 line and led baseball with 364 total bases in an unbelievable comeback season. Not that I'm against pitchers being named MVP if they're clearly the most deserving candidate. Rather, it's because I believe an everyday player should hold the tiebreaker in a crowded and competitive field like the one we had this year. I suspect that Ellsbury would have received more first-place votes had the Red Sox not collapsed in September (a month in which he posted a .358/.400/.667 line with eight homers and 21 RBIs) and that's a shame. Bautista had a great case as well while playing for a team that didn't make the playoffs, but I see Ellsbury's season as rating a tick or two better when you consider positional value and Ellsbury's 39 stolen bases.
• Your headscratching tally from the BBWAA breakdown: Michael Young(notes) getting a first-place homer vote from Dallas Morning News writer Evan Grant, Yankees reliever David Robertson(notes) getting a token 10th-place vote and Verlander being left off one ballot entirely (guessing that one was from the true hardliners among the "no MVPs to pitchers" faction).
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