Saturday, September 24, 2011

Shame on Justin Verlander for Overshadowing Other MVP Candidates

Awwwwwwww...
I don’t care much for Ken Rosenthal.

Why does Ken bother me? After all, the guy was voted Maryland Sportswriter of the Year five separate times. He’s been Fox’s lead field reporter for baseball games for nearly a decade. He seems like a nice enough guy. He’s involved with raising awareness for several charities.

No, I just don’t like Ken because when he talks, I don’t believe a word he says. He sounds fake and forced to me. Like a used car salesman…that’s hiding a body in the trunk of one of the cars he’s selling. And when he smiles, it’s creepy and phony.

Also, I don’t trust any man wearing a bow tie. From Pee-Wee Herman to Tucker Carlson to the shady waiter at a wedding reception…something about the bow tie makes me uneasy and apprehensive. I’m weird, I know.

And in Ken’s new piece at Fox Sports on Justin Verlander and the MVP race, to me he gives me more reasons not to trust him.

And this annoys me.


I’m sensing a groundswell for Justin Verlander as American League MVP.

Me, too. I like it.

And I don’t like it.

Sigh. Of course not. Needs more YANKS AND SAWX, right?

That’s not to say I won’t vote for Verlander — I just might (and, yes, I am one of the 28 voters for the award).

I wish Bud Selig could do something about this. There HAS to be a better way to give out these important awards that mean so much to the players and their careers. 28 writers, with little to no supervision, all with agendas, are deciding the major awards in baseball. And Bud, work on the Hall of Fame selection nonsense, too. It’s even worse.

And the whole “just might” thing. Really, Ken? With less than a week to go in the season, you don’t know who you’ll be voting for? Are you waiting for someone like Robinson Cano to hit homers in his last twenty at bats?

I can appreciate waiting until the season is over before making their decision public. But I refuse to believe that Ken Rosenthal or any of the other 27 voters aren’t positive on who they plan on naming as their choice for MVP. Unless they’re waiting for a bribe or something.

But all the talk of Verlander is masking the legitimate candidacies of others, most notably Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Poor, poor Jacoby Ellsbury. Give me a break.

So, let’s get this straight. All these writers in the country noticing how unstoppable Justin Verlander has been this season is bad because it is overshadowing the years of other players? Wow. Sounds like the Verlander guy should win the MVP.

If I’m going to vote for a starting pitcher for MVP, I want his case to be as clear-cut as possible. And Verlander’s is not.

Define clear-cut. Saturday, JV will aim to become the first 25 game winner in baseball since, I believe, Bob Welch won 27 in 1990. He leads the AL in wins, ERA, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, WAR, ERA+, and WHIP. He threw one no-hitter and narrowly missed a second. He led his team to the playoffs, has won his last 12 starts down the stretch, and hasn’t lost a game since July 15th.

In fact, if JV wins on Saturday, he'll be the first guy in 62 years to win 13 straight starts. (via Albom who finally came in handy)

Sorry, Justin. You forgot to cure AIDS somewhere along the way, I guess.

The race continues this weekend as Ellsbury and another strong MVP candidate, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, meet at Yankee Stadium (MLB on FOX, 4 p.m. ET Saturday).

Way to interrupt your column to plug that, no doubt, epic YANKS/SAWX matchup! Not like we don’t already see them play 25 or so times every year. Die in a tar pit, Ken.

Spare me the argument of East Coast bias,

YANKS AND SAWX! Wait ‘til you see the bow tie I have picked out for the occasion! If you squint at it, you can make out little A-Rod’s all over it!

anti-Tigers bias or any other bias.

I find it hilarious that the big-name reporters from Fox and ESPN always seem to scoff at the East Coast bias that people complain about. Fact is, it’s true. When you force-feed everyone New York and Boston all the time, of course they’re going to think that’s what you care about! It’s all you TALK about, for crissakes. Tony Kornheiser thought the Tigers had been contracted from the league until two weeks ago when Wilbon mentioned in passing how the White Sox got swept by them, I think.

As for an anti-Tigers bias, we all know that it’s just the MLB umpires that practice that.

The question is whether Verlander, as a starting pitcher, has separated himself enough to edge middle-of-the-diamond players such as Ellsbury and Granderson — the kind of candidates I prefer —

Red Sox and Yankee players?

not to mention corner sluggers such as Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Indeed, there are many fine candidates for MVP this year. I do not dispute that. With apologies to Jason Whitlock (who is a moron…read this dogshit by him hating on stat-people and try not to scream), let’s take a look at the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for each guy you’ve named.

Verlander: 8.5
Bautista: 8.5
Ellsbury: 7.1
Gonzalez: 6.9
Cabrera: 6.3
Granderson: 5.5

Should WAR be the only thing taken in to account for the MVP? Of course not. But it’s not like I can compare JV and the position players by OPS or WHIP. And the fact that Verlander ranks as high as he does in WAR should tell you there’s a reason this “groundswell” is happening and you shouldn’t take a dump all over it.

At least four national baseball writers have indicated they are leaning toward Verlander for the award, though it is not known whether all are voters.

Huh? Only four? And this bothers you enough to write a piece saying the talk of JV for MVP is hurting the other people? Over four baseball writers? That may or not be voters? I’m at a loss here…do you have money riding on someone else?

Several writers, including FOXSports.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, have made the important point that under the criteria listed by the Baseball Writers Association of America, a starting pitcher indeed merits consideration.

Good thing Tracy (nice cheap plug for your fellow Fox-writer, Ken…YANKS/SAWX, too!!!) was around to spell out the MVP voting rules that everyone was already aware of. Wonder if Tracy knows that 23 pitchers have won the MVP before and we should quit treating the idea of JV winning it like it’s the discovery of life on Mars?

But in the rush to justify Verlander, I fear he is being anointed.

1. Who is RUSHING to JUSTIFY Verlander? Many writers have seen the awesome season Verlander has had and have written they consider him the MVP. Are you telling me that no one has done the same for Ellsbury, Granderson, or Bautista anywhere?

2. Anointed? You fear people have made up their minds at the end of the season and proclaimed Verlander the winner? Is that what this means here? Are you afraid people will vote for JV because articles have been written saying he should be in the MVP consideration? I’m confused and annoyed…like when I watch MTV nowadays.

3. Fox sucks. I hope Joe Buck gets cremated alive.

As I’ve written before, the criteria are so subjective that a voter can pretty much do as he or she pleases.

Not true. If it were, every moron sportswriter’s favorite player, David Eckstein, would be a ten-time MVP.

Verlander will be on my ballot somewhere, probably in the top three. I’m just not sure he will be No. 1.

B.S. You know by now, Ken. You’re a liar. Anyone that trusts you here is more na├»ve than a 5 year old.

The principal argument for Verlander — the Tigers would not have won the AL Central without him — is all but irrefutable.

THAT is the principal argument? Says who? In that case, JV should share the MVP with Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, and maybe Jhonny Peralta. They don’t win it without any of those guys either.

MVP is Most Valuable Player. Not most valuable WINNING player. Not most valuable POSITION player. Why in the world is this so hard for people to grasp?

I also agree that the value of a top starter is not just the day he pitches but the day before, when his manager can empty his bullpen, and the day after, when the bullpen is rested. Three days out of five.

And to be fair, I applaud you for writing that. Because most sportswriters seem to not notice that, so bravo, Ken.

But here is why I like Ellsbury:

1. Plays for Boston.
2. Scrappy.
3. Pedroia-esque
4. Nice to Fox reporters
5. Has yet to make homophobic joke about bow ties

• He has appeared in 152 of the Red Sox’s 156 games.

• He is an elite defender in center, markedly better than Granderson, according to advanced metrics.

Austin Jackson has played in 149 of the Tigers 157 games now. His defensive WAR is just 0.2 behind Ellsbury, but he plays in a much larger ballpark and between two worse defenders. Is he an MVP candidate?

• He ranks third in the AL in slugging since the All-Star Game — an unusual achievement for a leadoff man and a major separator from Bautista, who has declined markedly in the second half.

For one, it’s not just second half numbers that count. It’s the whole season. And another, Jacoby Ellsbury is surrounded by All-Stars in the Red Sox linep. Bautista is protected in the lineup by a guy that was working at Target last week, I think.

• He is more than simply a Fenway creation: Ellsbury’s OPS-plus — that is, his OPS adjusted to his league and ballpark — ranks seventh in the AL, just behind Granderson.

7th highest in the AL? Sounds like an MVP to me!

By the way, the “declining” Jose Baustita’s OPS+ is an amazing 184, tops in the AL. He also leads the league in homers, walks, OBP, SLG, OPS, and intentional walks. With NO protection. (Ya know, Adam Lind’s okay. Sorry, Adam.) But why am I the only person that notices this? Bautista plays AGAINST the Yanks and Sawx…shouldn’t that get him some attention?

• And, finally, he is the only AL player this season with 100 runs, 90 RBI, 25 homers and 30 stolen bases and one of only 22 players in history to reach those marks. The Brewers' Ryan Braun and Dodgers' Matt Kemp have done it in the NL. Granderson is six stolen bases short.

You can cherry pick any group of stats together to make “first in 20 years” claims for lots of players, I'm sure. Or more likely, some anonymous researcher did so for you.

Runs and RBI rely too much on teammates around you. Bautista is obviously handicapped here compared to the other candidates, yet he still has 104 runs and 101 RBI. His 42 homers are tops in the league, as I mentioned. And stolen bases? Come on…you can’t be deciding the MVP based on how fast the guy is.

Look. Ellsbury is a heck of a player, don’t get me wrong. But if you’re not voting for Verlander, anyone but Jose Bautista for MVP is a travesty. The man has had an insane year at the dish.

In fact, many of the arguments for Ellsbury also ring true for Granderson, with Ellsbury’s superior defense the major difference between them.

Curtis just finally got his batting average up to .270 after being below there for much of the year. At .319, Ellsbury is 49 points higher, though their OBP are nearly identical. But lots of people still love batting average, so I thought I would throw it out there.

(Bautista is the best overall offensive player, but, yes, I’m bothered that he plays for a non-contender. Look at what Ellsbury is experiencing now; the level of intensity is just different.)

No, no, NO!

This “no non-contender for MVP” garbage pisses me off to the point where I want to slaughter a bag full of newborn kittens.

How is it Jose Bautista’s fault that the Blue Jays at 79-77 are not in the playoff race? Should Jose be punished because 4 of the 5 members of the Toronto rotation have ERA’s over 4.55? Is it Bautista’s fault that the average fan couldn’t pick another Blue Jay hitter out of police lineup? Fuck and no, it isn’t. It's a minor miracle that the Jays have won 79 games at all! Bautista for Pope!

As for the “intensity” part, who do you think Jose Bautista is facing out there? He’s playing the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays most of the time. That’s three teams, with traditionally good pitching, that are all in the playoff hunt. The lack of respect Bautista gets is amazing to me.

Also, the Red Sox have stunk down the stretch. Tampa almost caught them. They’re going to finish second in their division and limp into the playoffs as a Wild Card. Is that Ellsbury’s fault? Of course not. But if you’re going to give Ellsbury verbal blow jobs for this whole column and then discredit Bautista because his teammates are a group of Don Kellys, at least be fair about it.

The Sawx are going to barely make the playoffs. If Tampa had won a few more games during the season and overtook Boston, leaving the Sox out of the postseason, would that make Ellsbury a worse candidate? It shouldn’t. But by your logic, Ken, it would. And that would be dumber than a haiku poem written by Snooki.

Granderson, who once struggled against lefties, actually has hit them better than righties this season; his 16 home runs off lefties are the most by a left-handed hitter since Ryan Howard had 16 in 2007. Granderson's other splits — home/road, pre/post All-Star Game — are virtually identical, a testament to his consistency.

Much like Ellsbury, don’t get me wrong here. CJ is an amazing player. And unlike Jacoby, I actually like Granderson. But not for MVP over Bautista or Verlander. This is not a TEAM award, dammit.

There is one Granderson stat, courtesy of the Yankees’ PR department,

Fox or ESPN?

/rimshot

that I just love: He is the first center fielder to record at least 130 runs and 115 RBI in a season since the Braves’ Dale Murphy in 1983 and the first in the AL since Mickey Mantle in 1961.

Means nothing to the MVP race. And once again, runs and RBI depend on teammates almost as much as it does for the individual. Try again.

I know those are counting stats, generated in part by the strength of the Yankees’ offense.

Oh, good. You realize that. Then don’t bring them up.

I know Ellsbury also benefits from being part of the Red Sox’s powerhouse lineup.

Ditto.

But Ellsbury ranks first in Fangraphs’ version of wins above replacement (WAR) and fifth in Baseball-Reference’s version. Verlander is second in Baseball-Reference’s version and only third among pitchers in Fangraphs’.

JV’s actually tied with Bautista for first on baseball-reference.com now. As for Fangraphs, those guys are on meth.

Two of my good friends and respected colleagues, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark and Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan,

Don’t namedrop. It’s unattractive to your readers. You sound like that gash Peter King when you do that. And definitely don’t namedrop when one of them is Passan. He’s an asshat.

have made the point that Verlander’s season is statistically quite comparable to that of the last starting pitcher to win the MVP award, Roger Clemens in 1986.

How nice. Not relevant to the 2011 season.

True enough. But if you go by ERA-plus — ERA adjusted to league and ballpark — Verlander isn’t close to what Greg Maddux did in 1994 and ’95 or what Pedro Martinez did in ’99 and 2000.

Fascinating. Not relevant to the 2011 season.

Neither Maddux nor Martinez won an MVP. Martinez, who in 2000 had the best ERA-plus and lowest WHIP in modern history, finished fifth that year.

Not relevant to the 2011 season. Please stop. Talk about 2011. Every season is different and has different circumstances. Don’t compare apples to dead squirrels.

Listen, we all cherry-pick numbers;

If this were the Olympics, you would win a gold medal in it.

that’s part of the fun. Here’s one more in support of Ellsbury: His offensive statistics are superior to those of teammate Dustin Pedroia in ’08, when Pedroia won the MVP.

NOT RELEVANT TO THE 2011 SEASON. And Pedroia winning in ’08 was a joke. Justin Morneau got fucked like Lindsay Lohan after two Smirnoff Ices.

I don’t want to come off as anti-Verlander;

Way too late for that. Now, if he played in Boston…

/Rosenthal messes pants

I love him as a pitcher and as a competitor. All I’m saying is that the race is extremely close — so close, I’ll probably examine it a dozen more times before making my decision.

What have you been doing so far? Popping zits on your ass? Asking Derek Jeter if you can smell his fingers? What do sportswriters do with their time instead of their jobs? Watch Spongebob with Tim McCarver?

For the record, the DNR MVP voting goes like this:

1. Jose Bautista
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jacoby Ellsbury
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Curtis Granderson

I didn’t examine it a dozen times, I admit. I figured eight was enough. Dick Van Patten taught me that.

Every voter should.

I can’t wait until the regular season is over. This kind of talk is making my brain melt.

Why can’t everyone just think the way I do? It would make everything much easier…

/imagines a world of chaos, violence, and foul language

…well,maybe not.

13 comments:

H2OPoloPunk said...

Mine:
1. Verlander
2. Bautista
3. Cabrera
4. Grandersobn

Oldenglishd said...

Brilliant job.  It drives me crazy too that people discount a player from a bad team for MVP.  People are stupid.

verlander said...

I'd go: Bautista/Verlander/Granderson/Cabrera, myself.Also, Rosenthal is a turd. I can't take a grown man in a bowtie seriously.

kalinecountry said...

F rosenthal and all foxsports and espn writers/announcers. Once again you are spot on.
I tweeted the bowtie midget 3/4 times yesterday and tore him a new one when I read his swill.

Jay Hathaway said...

"Bautista is protected in the lineup by a guy that was working at Target last week."
Comedy gold.
I think we are all in pretty close agreement with the Bautista-Verlander 1-2 ranking, but I feel the need to share a list of some sort, so hows about my top 5 favorite things (in general) from this awesome Tigers season, in reverse order:

5. Leyland replying to a writer in Oakland, who asked about his thoughts on the AL Central basically being the worthless bastard child of the AL:  "I'll guarantee you one thing: It's not like everybody's lining up to play the Tigers," Leyland said. (This was after they clinched last week).

4. Alex Avila--just everything he's done all year, though he could bring up that Shaves Per Day Average (SPDA) up a bit.

3. Victor Martinez showing the entire league how a classy hitter does it.

2. Leyland impersonating 1st base umps John Farrell and Ed Rapuano's bonehead call-reverse shenanigans, followed by a nice post-ejection pants-shitting.

1. J muthaf'n V.  What a season!  The no-hitter is an obvious highlight, but, for me, the best moment was the psychological bitch-slapping he gave Jared Weaver and the Angels.  Eat a bag of dicks, hippie!  Truly, a season-defining moment.

I'll give honorable mention to the other guys like Jhonny P and AlAl for stepping up and giving us some fun TV to watch this year.

SRogo said...

The Raburn/Cabrera back-to-back walkoff game against Chicago is it for me. Not only was it exciting as all hell, but it was symbolic in a silly way to me about this team this year. One of my favorite baseball moments ever.

Jay Hathaway said...

 Oh hell, you're right, that should be in there.  It slipped my mind because I was camping that weekend and was forced to watch the text-only feed on my phone.  Plus the winning streak, too.  I should have made it a top ten.  Balls.

Jorgepadilla said...

Miguel 4th?  Have you looked at his stats-or did you just go with what Henning and Rod said?  While Cabrera is having a good year, for him it is statistacially his second worst of his 8 year career, so do we just give him an MVP 7 out of 8 years? Good solid year but we devalue the award if it is given to names not performance.  Bautista's second half hurt, and Verlander needed the 25th to distinguish him in the race. Good, maybe Great, but not MVP.  With a week left, gotta go with Curtis, but hopping Miguel goes on a tear (3HR, 7RBI, 8 for 14) and truly puts himself in the conversation. 

SRogo said...

I never listen to Henning or Rod. Stats? Mig is 2nd in OPS, 2nd in avg, 2nd in OBP, 2nd in SLG, 2nd in offensive WAR, 2nd in walks, 2nd in OPS+, and first in games played. As for this being his second worst year, I think you're crazy...it's his 2nd best. Are you only looking at homers?

Jorgepadilla said...

Thanks for responding-love the site!  You're a funny guy.
Homers and RBI's (20th in homers, 12th in RBI), the reason for $100mil contracts. Projected numbers, second worst year, for him, to 2006.  Don't get me wrong, love the guy, but it ain't what it aint.  

David Tokarz said...

Dude, really? HR are nice, but OBP and doubles are just as nice. And lack of RBI is partially V-Mart's fault- he's driving in some of the runs that Mig would have.

Chuck Chessor said...

"Bautista is protected in the lineup by a guy that was working at Target last week."
I'm not sure if they have Target in Canada.....maybe working at Candian Tire or Tim Horton's. Very good point nontheless...Joey Bats is the MVP, just an amazing season. Verlander is a close 2nd, that win on Saturday to get to 25 wins could have made the difference.

Jorgepadilla said...

Call me crazy, but I'll take HR over doubles, especially doubles that don't score runs.  Please remember, we are talking MVP.  I'm not going to argue Miguel is not freaking incredible in a Tigers uniform.  Plus,  look wwhat he did last noght.