Can we now retroactively give Pedro Martinez his MVP award?

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Justin Verlander’s deserved MVP nod on Monday ended an 18-year drought in which only position players had been awarded the game’s ultimate single-season honor. No pitcher had won an MVP award since A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992. No starter had won since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986.

Now that the BBWAA is again showing a willingness to vote for pitchers — at least if no position player on a first-place team truly stands out — let’s correct a couple of wrongs from the last 20 years.

– Roger Clemens – 1997 Blue Jays

Clemens went 21-7, led the AL in ERA at 2.05, strikeouts with 292, innings pitched with 264 and complete games with nine, yet he finished a mere 10th in the MVP balloting. Randy Myers, who pitched 59 2/3 innings with a WHIP worse than Clemens’, came in fourth. At least the voters did pick the right position player this year, as Ken Griffey Jr. got the nod.

– Pedro Martinez – 1999 Red Sox

After finishing 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts, Martinez got eight first-place votes, but he was also left off a couple of ballots and finished second in the balloting to Ivan Rodriguez, who was probably the league’s fourth or fifth best position player. Martinez was even better the following year in 2000, when he went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA, but he came in fifth that year.

– Greg Maddux – 1995 Braves

In the 144-game strike-shortened season, Maddux was a remarkable 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP in 209 2/3 innings. All of those marks led the NL, of course, and Maddux was pretty obviously the league’s most valuable player. Still, he finished third behind Barry Larkin and Coors Field-aided Dante Bichette in the balloting.

– Johan Santana – 2004 Twins

The American League in 2004 had five guys drive in at least 120 runs. Not coincidentally, those five guys finished first-through-fifth in the MVP voting. Santana was sixth after going 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. There was a case for actual winner Vladimir Guerrero over him, but Santana should have finished second at worst.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.