23 November 2009
I have to admit, even I didn't foresee the overwhelming victory for Joe Mauer that came this afternoon. I predicted that Mauer would receive 21 of the 28 first-place votes, with a few voters hung up on RBI, home runs, and the fact that the New York Yankees had more wins during the season than Mauer's Minnesota Twins.
Mauer ended up receiving 27 of the 28 first-place votes, with just one obscure Seattle reporter voting instead for Miguel Cabrera. When word of Keizo Konishi's vote surfaced, the baseball world almost imploded. "How could Cabrera be considered the best player in the league?" "What did Mauer ever do to Konishi?" "How does this guy have a vote?"
I had been expecting four to seven first-place votes for either Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira. Had that been the case, such a huge fuss wouldn't have been made, and we would have filed the results in our memory banks under "traditional MVP voters." Had the guys whom we expected the BBWAA voters to favor been awarded a few first-place votes, we would have accepted Mauer's title in stride and move on with our day.
But Miguel Cabrera? Is the state of sports journalism really so sad?
In a word: no. Cabrera received one first-place vote from one journalist who thought he had a better year than every other player in the American League. I can argue statistics and logic all day, but in the end, the MVP Award is entirely arbitrary in nature. There is no set system for selecting the best player in the league, and the writers we read and listen to every day are tasked with the responsibility of weighing a plethora of variables to determine the most worthy player in the league.
Will everyone's ballot be the same? Of course not. Should MLB and the BBWAA adopt a system for objectively selecting players worthy of their various awards? Maybe, but a system would never be universally agreed upon. There will always be debate and discussion regarding who is the best player in baseball. Besides being able to claim to have an MVP on your roster, this discussion is what makes the MVP award so important.
There will always be people who disagree, but I remain convinced that Joe Mauer is the best player in the American League. And I've got a shiny new trophy to back me up.
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