You can stuff your “pitchers can’t win the MVP Award” nonsense in a sack, mister, because Justin Verlander just won the 2011 MVP Award.
Verlander — the first starting pitcher in 25 years to be named MVP — got 13 of 28 first place votes. He only got 27 of a possible 28 overall votes, however, meaning someone left him off because they want to make their own rules for the MVP and not follow BBWAA guidelines. Which is fun. In other hilarious voting totals, Michael Young got a first place vote. You’ll never guess who cast it. Seems boneheaded to me.
Following Verlander in order: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano.
As we noted last week when he took the Cy Young, Verlander won the AL’s Triple Crown of pitching with 24 wins, a 2.40 earned run average and 250Ks. He also led the AL in winning percentage, innings and opponents’ batting average. His 24 wins is the most for a pitcher since 1990 when Bob Welch won 27 games. Of course Verlander’s season was way better than Welch’s, which tells you all you need to know about wins.
There are going to be people who rant and rave about this. Don’t listen to them. No, Verlander’s season was not historic for a pitcher, but that’s not the standard for making a pitcher an MVP. He was outstanding and each of the position player candidates had a flaw, either in their legitimate candidacy or in the accepted narratives voters tend to like (e.g. they play for a winning team, etc.).
A perfect storm, if you will, blowing the MVP hardware in Justin Verlander’s direction.
Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.
“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”
The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.
Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.
MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.
Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.
Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.