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November 18, 2008

How I voted for MVP

My counterpart on the other side of the Metroplex did everyone the courtesy of revealing how he voted for the American League MVP award -- and more power to him for answering to the Red Sox nation -- so I thought it's only fair that I do the same.

The main difference in our ballots is at the top. I voted Dustin Pedroia to win the award. His stats -- league- and baseball-leading 213 hits (tied with Ichiro Suzuki) and 54 doubles, league-leading 118 runs, .326 average, 20 for 21 on stolen bases -- are only one of the things that made him the MVP. As a first-time voter, I looked beyond his relative lack of production and at else what he brought to the RedSox. He's Gold Glove defender. He displayed an alarming proficiency as a clean-up hitter, albeit for only a few games. But, boy, they were critical games. Each time I saw him, whether in person or on TV, he was in the middle of something good.

After Pedroia, Ipicked: Justin Morneau, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Youkilis, Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, Francisco Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quentin and Ian Kinsler. Yep, I'm the writer who voted for Kinsler, who at the time of his injury was ahead of Pedroia in some key categories and was the lead-off hitter for the best offense in baseball.

Just like Evan Grant over at the Morning News, I didn't take this task lightly. I struggled with the first five, and have on occasionsince turning in my ballot on the final Sunday of the regular season.Morneau faded late, but would the Twins have been in a playoff for the Central title without him? Nope. Youkilis played first and third base with equal proficiency and was a big-time run producer. But how many times did he drive in Pedroia? Hamilton was the best player on a non-contending team, but his numbers weren't outrageously better than all others to merit a first-place vote.

I haven't lost any sleep on having Rodriguez in the bottom five or leaving Alex Rodriguez off my ballot. Cliff Lee, the AL Cy Young winner, was very good, but I omitted him as well because I believe Cleveland teammate Grady Sizemore was more valuable. Evan Longoria, the Rookie of the Year, made a world of difference for Tampa Bay, but he didn't play a full season. Ditto for Quentin, who was the MVP at the time of his injury.

There you have it. What would you guys have done differently?

-- Jeff Wilson

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