In last night’s Orioles-Red Sox game Robert Andino hit an inside the park homer. Big play. Probably the biggest of the game. It was a ball that looked like Jacoby Ellsbury was going to catch, but he didn’t. Here’s the play. It was a great job getting to it, but yeah, you want to see him squeeze that with so much on the line.
But was it more than just an unfortunate play for the Red Sox? Was it the sort of play that changes the character of Ellsbury’s season? That seems ridiculous, but in a world where people think that his one home run on Sunday night against the Yankees was enough to give him the MVP, it’s inevitable that someone will seize on this one play and make a sweeping pronouncement about it too.
An inevitability borne out on CSNNewEngland last night by Steve Buckley and Lou Merloni, who think that Ellsbury’s failure to catch that ball meant the world. “Good outfielders make those plays in late September,” Buckley said. “An All-Star-caliber, American League MVP makes that play,” added Merloni. Here’s the video.
Note that each of them then agree that, yeah, if the Red Sox make the playoffs, Ellsbury is still their guy.
Call me crazy, but the only thing sillier than saying that the MVP award is contingent on how your team does is saying that it’s contingent on one play among thousands in a six-month-long major league season. If you subscribe to that notion you’re not giving out an MVP award. You’re giving out a “highlight of the year” award.
It’s a long season. The full season — not just its best and worst moments — matters. On the basis of the full season an MVP vote for Jacoby Ellsbury is completely defensible. Depending on how much you value his defense compared to Jose Bautista’s, it may actually be compelled. But it’s certainly not something that one play can or should bestow or take away from the guy.