Your AL MVP
They never like giving the award to a pitcher. They say it’s because the pitcher has their own award, the Cy Young, and that the MVP is reserved for players who play everyday. Well, screw this! That’s like saying a rookie can’t win the MVP award because they also have their own award. So far this year, the American League MVP crosses both those boundaries—being both a rookie and a pitcher. That’s right, you may have guessed it from my clues and/or that giant picture—Francisco Liriano is my MVP candidate.
Like I said, the real people who vote don’t like giving it to pitchers. The last time a pitcher won was Dennis Eckersley back in 1992. I was all for giving the award to Pedro Martinez in 1999 when he had a 23-4 record, a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. These are amazing numbers period, despite the fact that Pedro did it during the “juiced” era. Instead, Pudge Rodriguez got the award. Yet, odds are Liriano has no shot in hell of winning, given whose voting. I mean, the guy barely made the All-Star game after posting a 1.84 ERA at the break.
By my definition, the other candidates are David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Vernon Wells, Jim Thome, Joe Mauer, and…though he won’t be considered because he plays for a “losing” team, Travis Hafner. First of all, I think a DH should have an opportunity to win the MVP. That being said, they need to put up Bonds-on-steroids numbers to win. This immediately discounts Thome, Ortiz, and Hafner. Not to say these guys aren’t having monster years, but, if you can’t contribute at all on defense it sets you back. Plus, like I said, Hafner won’t even be in this discussion because the Indians aren’t playing very well, despite the fact he’s been the best hitter in baseball. Offensively, Manny is having another great year at .312/.430/.616. But his defense is so piss poor in left that I almost want to count him as a DH. His numbers are also a grade lower than Mauer’s, Jeter’s and Wells’. So let’s get rid of Manny.
Derek Jeter is having one of his best years as a Yankee, and hasn’t taken the award home in his career. He also never lacks in media attention. Jeter is doing a lot of good for his team batting .346, albeit, he’s only hitting singles, having one of the worst power hitting years of his career. That, coupled with his overrated defense at short and the lineup around him—A-Rod, Giambi, Damon, Posado--make Derek seem like less value to his franchise than some others.
A very strong case could be made for Joe Mauer and Vernon Wells this year. Both play premium defensive positions where usually even a little bit of offense is helpful. Wells is hitting .322/.385/.624, is playing nasty in centerfield and the Blue Jays are 55-44. Mauer is batting .380 with a little bit of power and playing adequately behind the plate. The Twins sit at 57-41.
So how could I possibly justify giving the award to a 22-year-old pitcher who didn’t even start the year in the rotation over one of these guys? Since becoming a starter on May 19th, the Twins are 40-17. He is averaging 10.51 strikeouts/9 innings pitched—better than any pitcher in baseball. He also has a 1.93 ERA, a .97 WHIP, and rarely gives up a home run. But what it really comes down to is that pitchers these days are just more valuable than hitters. When Estaban Loaiza can get $7,000,000 from the Billy Beane, you know something is up. When Franciso Liriano has been more valuble than 2004 Cy Young teammate Johan Santana in 37 less innings pitched, you also know you have something special. There are plenty of great hitters—and I’ve mentioned all the candidates—but there are only a couple special pitchers. Francisco Liriano won’t win the award this year, but he should.