- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

If Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista doesn’t deserve the MVP award because his team didn’t make the playoffs, then neither do any of the three Boston Red Sox who were supposed to be better team players.

That leaves the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson and two Detroit Tigers — Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera — as the final MVP candidates. That is, if you hold to the “playoffs standard” for voting.

For most of the season, voters and fans turned a blind eye to Bautista. He was an exciting player, who put up arguably the best statistics in baseball, leading the league with 43 homeruns, while sporting a .302 batting average and 103 RBI. But he played on a bad team, and if he couldn’t elevate the Blue Jays to the playoffs, how was he more valuable than players who were on winning teams?


The focus shifted to three Red SoxAdrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia — who were leading the best team in the American League at the time.

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista led the AL in home runs (43), had 103 RBI and batted .302, but will AL MVP voters be inclined to vote for a player on a losing team? (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista led the AL in home runs (43), ... more >

Gonzalez was the top candidate for much of the season. He finished second in batting average (.338), third in RBI (117), and in the top 20 for homers (27).

Ellsbury got his share of consideration toward the end of the season. He was fifth in batting average (.321), tied for fifth in home runs (32), and tied for sixth in RBI (105).

Pedroia was also in the conversation, although he faded later in the season, finishing with a .307 batting average, 21 home runs, and 91 RBI.

Voters were willing to overlook the fact that maybe, just maybe, their stats weren’t as good as Bautista. They, clearly, were more valuable because they played on a winning team, a team that was all but destined for the playoffs.

So one of those three must be the most valuable, right?

Not anymore.

In the last month of the season, the Red Sox fell apart. After they completed the worst collapse in baseball history Wednesday night, I would argue these three players are now much less deserving than Bautista.

At least Bautista played on a bad team and couldn’t do anything about it. Babe Ruth, himself, couldn’t make the Blue Jays better. One player, no matter how good he is, doesn’t make a team. Maybe in basketball, but not in baseball.

The three Red Sox, on the other hand, played on a great team and, therefore, had plenty of opportunities to seal the deal for their team. They started September as the best team in the American League. Even after a dismal month, they were in position to win and force a one-game playoff last night. But they blew a lead in the eighth inning, and completed the worst collapse in baseball history.

Let’s not forget Bautista was on a bad team and never got a chance to put his team in the playoffs. But all three of these guys had plenty of opportunities and failed time and time again. If there was an award for the opposite of MVP — let’s called it the Least Valuable Player — I would let these three guys split it. Talk about disappointing performances.

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