Monday, November 21, 2011

Granderson's 4th place MVP finish disappointing

OK, I definitely understand why Justin Verlander won the American League Most Valuable Player award. What I don’t understand is the fourth place finish for Curtis Granderson.

The ace of the Detroit Tigers received almost half of the first-place votes, ensuring his victory in a tight competition. Of course, one writer took it upon himself or herself to ignore the rules and left Verlander off the MVP ballot completely, likely due to a mistaken personal belief that pitchers should never win MVP awards, even though they are eligible. Not a surprise at all.

What was a surprise was the relatively poor showing for Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees. Granderson finished fourth while his teammate Robinson Cano finished in sixth place. I was rooting for Granderson and thought that if he didn’t win, he would finish second to Verlander. How on earth could he finish behind both Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays? The Red Sox collapsed in September and even if Ellsbury wasn’t directly responsible for that epic failure, he was a key member of a team that blew a substantial lead in the wild-card race. And I don’t care how many home runs Bautista hit. The Blue Jays finished 16 games behind the Yankees in the AL East division so why did he get so many votes?

The Yankees were the best team in the American League in the regular season. How their two best players could finish no higher than fourth in the MVP vote is mind boggling. Perhaps Cano siphoned off some votes from Granderson. There is no doubt that Cano is the best player on the Yankees. But Granderson carried the team at a time when everyone else, including Cano, was struggling.

If the award is really about the player that is most valuable to his team, then guys on teams that fail to make the postseason should not receive MVP votes. The definition of MVP is left up to the interpretation of the writers, unfortunately, but the word valuable seems pretty clear to me, which is why Granderson’s fourth-place showing is so disappointing. Perhaps it’s time to institute an explicit definition of MVP so that players are not at the mercy and whim of the writers.

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