I apologize for missing out on yesterday's NL Cy Young announcement. The winner, you ask? Congratulations to Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies AND Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That's right, they had a picture-perfect tie for the finish, which I find to be an awesome feat to accomplish.
Today, we'll discuss the SB Nation selection for American League MVP. The race looked tho be all but over after the first half ended, but a relatively cool stretch by the leader along with hot finishes by a variety of other very worthy candidates made this one too close to call. Who got the nod according to the baseball bloggers of SB Nation?
Congratulations to Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays for winning the SB Nation AL MVP.Bautista had a truly deserving season at the plate. After his monstrous first half, many were flirting with the idea that he would end the year with one of the best offensive seasons of all time. Unfortunately for him, after finishing the first half with an incredible .334/.468/.702 batting line, he finished the season batting "just" .257/.419/.477, a valuable but not "once-in-a-lifetime" batting line. Still, his season line was still worth a .441 wOBA and a 181 wRC+. Since 2002 (going back ten years), that 181 wRC+ ranks as the ninth most prolific offensive campaign, trailing only seasons put up by Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and the 2002 versions of Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. That is some healthy company to be in.
Bautista's 8.3 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) was quite a feat, but it was actually outdone by Jacoby Ellsbury, if you buy into UZR's opinion of his 2011 defense. On the back of a career-best .321/.376/.552 line (.402 wOBA, 150 wRC+) and 15 runs better than average on defense according to UZR, Ellsbury put up a 9.4 fWAR season. Other systems disagreed to varying extents about Ellsbury's defense however, and it was enough to sway voters to the side of reliable offensive performance.
Among the other names that received recognition were Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and SB Nation AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. Verlander had a lot of steam behind his MVP argument during the regular season, so it is no surprise three first-place votes -- the third most in the balloting.
Congratulations again to Jose Bautista for winning the SB Nation AL MVP award for a fantastic 2011 season.