Now that the season has officially come to an end, I’ve got a prediction for everyone. I don’t see how the AL MVP isn’t going to come from the Detroit Tigers. Justin Verlander has been great. There is no question about that. He’s got the Cy Young award wrapped in a nice little bow. I was thinking more Miguel Cabrera for MVP though.
This has nothing to do with the whole “pitchers shouldn’t win the award” argument. Verlander has pitched well enough to be considered the most valuable player on the Tigers. I understand this example may not stand up in court, but switch JV with a .500 pitcher. So instead of 24-5, you have 15-14. Guess what, the Tigers are still in the playoffs.
I’m not going to pretend there aren’t a lot of benefits to having an ace like Justin, but consider this. Take Miguel Cabrera off of first base and put in an average replacement there. Say, for example, someone who hits .275, with 15 homers, and 75 RBI. Considering as of this moment Cabrera is at .345, 30 homers, and 100+ RBI, what kind of win differential would that cause?
You can’t argue the importance of each player to the Tigers. Though Verlander plays every 5th game, usually that means the bullpen will have the night off, keeping them fresher for the rest of the rotation. Cabrera makes every player around him better, or at least see better pitches, because you don’t want to have to pitch to him with men on base. Plus, if he’s on (which he was a third of the time, not counting walks) it’s more difficult for pitchers to pitch to the next batters in the line-up. Basically, the value past looking at the individual is clearly evened up.
Let’s get past Verlander versus Cabrera and take a look at Cabrera versus the rest of the AL. Every Tigers’ broadcast they flash a list of three other candidates for AL MVP. I think Miguel has them all.
First, there is Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox. Cabrera and Gonzalez offensive statistics look nearly identical. Yet there is one edge Cabrera clearly has…September. Adrian is hitting .314 this month with 4 homers and 14 RBI (before last night’s action). In addition, the Red Sox have swooned themselves right out of the playoffs. Cabrera on the other hand is hitting .425 this month (again, before Wednesday’s finale). He’s put 6 balls over the wall and knocked in 21. Most importantly, the Tiger’s have put a clamp on their division. I know it’s not the Most Valuable Player in the month of September award, but Cabrera breaks the tie with his month.
I knock Curtis Granderson out of the mix based on average alone. He plays at that launching pad that’s Yankee Stadium, which will inflate anyone’s home run numbers. Hitting 41 dingers is very impressive, but his average is only .262. Plus, on a team that has Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, how does any one player get the MVP award?
Jose Bautista is an interesting argument. It’s not supposed to be the most valuable player on a playoff team. It’s just the most valuable player award. So take Bautista off of an 81-81 team, and they may win 70 games. Also, consider that’s 81-81 in the AL East. He’ll receive extra credit for that for sure. His numbers are solid, hitting over 40 homers AND hitting over .300. But the problem for Bautista is that every MVP has made the playoffs since 2003, when Alex Rodriguez won the award while in Texas. Oddly enough, the Rangers were last that season in the West.
So that brings us back to JV and Miggy. I don’t know how fair this is, but I don’t see Miggy winning it because of Justin Verlander. The questions (and eyes) have all been on the ace. I think voters will say “how can Cabrera win it when he’s not even the best player on his team.” I don’t agree with that statement, but when voters are looking at stats, following the buzz, looking at the cover of SI, those are the types of ideas that creep up. Can an MVP back door his way into the award? Miguel Cabrera just might. Either way, I’m glad Justin doesn’t have to pitch to him.