With the AL MVP announcement coming up soon, SB Nation's Rob Neyer lists his thought process for the most deserving candidates. He only considers eight guys, including three Sox: Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Here's what he has to say about Ells, his choice for the winner:
I wouldn't give Verlander any chance at all, because some voters just don't like pitchers no matter how good they are. But with Pedroia and Kinsler splitting some votes and Ellsbury and Granderson splitting some votes and Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera splitting some votes and Jose Bautista's second half, maybe this is the year a pitcher can sneak in and win for the first time since 1986.
I don't think that's going to happen. I do think Ellsbury would have won, if the Red Sox hadn't blown that lead. He might still win it. But I'm having a real hard time figuring out if he'll finish first or fifth.
He has Pedroia 4th and Gonzalez 7th, for what it's worth.
I don't get too worked up by individual awards, because you can make viable cases for all these guys. There's also the thorny issue of what "valuable" means. Jacoby certainly had a great year, but I think Neyer is right to speculate that the BBWAA will hold the Sox collapse against him.
Is that fair? Not really. Jacoby had a 1.067 OPS in September, with 43 hits and 22 runs. He outplayed his already superlative 2011 in the final month of the year -- what more could he have done? Something intangible? Should he be penalized for not being enough of a leader? For not taking away the Popeye's box from the dugout?
The same could be said for Gonzalez, who had a .977 OPS for the final month (vs. .957 for the year -- pretty consistent). He had a .455 OBP in September due to an incredible 21 walks. He gets criticized for not hitting enough "big" home runs, as if he only belts them in the middle of the year against the Orioles. He had four in September...but if pitchers aren't throwing the ball over the plate, isn't he smarter to take the base than try to swing for the fences in some ill-fated attempt to hit clutch homers?
I don't know who I'd vote for -- I think I'd probably lean toward Verlander, who put his stamp on the season, without question. Detroit was mostly garbage beyond two elite guys, and nobody dominated the league like Verlander did. I just don't think it's fair to discount Red Sox candidates because they happened to be on a sinking ship.