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November 21, 2011

How one writer voted for AL MVP

The instructions sent to voters for the MVP award specifically state that pitchers are eligible for the MVP award, and that ballots are due by the final day of the regular season.

My ballot wasn’t submitted until after Evan Longoria hit his dramatic home run to end baseball’s regular season. And, for the record, I believe a pitcher should not be excluded from MVP consideration because he doesn’t perform every day.

Justin Verlander, who on Monday became the first starting pitcher since 1986 to win the MVP, was on my ballot. He just wasn’t first.

Even though Boston suffered the worst September collapse in baseball history, Jacoby Ellsbury found his way to the top of my ballot.

His season was remarkable (32 homers, 105 RBIs, 364 total bases). That those numbers were accumulated from the leadoff spot adds to his value, as does his defensive ability at a premium position and his tremendous speed.

The Red Sox’s fall wasn’t his fault, as he hit .358 with one-fourth of his homers in September.

Curtis Granderson was second on my ballot, one spot ahead of Michael Young and two ahead of Verlander. Jose Bautista was fifth.

More are probably interested in why I didn’t vote Verlander first than why I had Ellsbury atop my ballot and Young third.

Verlander was the MVP on a Detroit team that had five All-Stars and walked away with the AL Central title. He finished first in all the major pitching categories.

But Verlander’s season wasn’t as dominating as others by starting pitchers who didn’t win past MVP awards. Jered Weaver could have won the ERA title had he not been scratched from his final start of the season.

For all the folks who say that Verlander saved the bullpen time and time again, especially down the stretch, Doug Fister played as big a role late in the Tigers’ season as Verlander.

Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 70 1/3 innings after being acquired from Seattle at the July 31 trade deadline. Verlander, while 9-0 in 10 starts, had a 2.83 ERA in 70 innings.

Granderson’s iffy September kept him from first place in my eyes, but as the best player on the best team he deserved to be voted high.

Young was the MVP for the team that won the AL West by 10 games. He hit a career-best .338 with a career-high 106 RBIs, played all four infield positions and filled in admirably when Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre were injured.

As Rangers fans know, Young didn’t let his unsettled off-season have a negative affect on the team. That was pretty valuable.

My ballot: 1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Boston Red Sox; 2. Curtis Granderson, CF, New York Yankees; 3. Michael Young, Utility, Texas Rangers; 4. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers; 5. Jose Bautista, 3B/RF, Toronto Blue Jays; 6. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers; 7. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston Red Sox; 8. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees; 9. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians; 10. Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox.

-- Jeff Wilson


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Knowing what you know now about the postseason, what about Mike Napoli?

The guy was a beast all season long when Wash let him step on the field having his best season ever and he was definitely MVP of the postseason.

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