The Pirates have their first NL MVP since 1992 after Andrew McCutchen received 28 of the 30 first-place votes on Thursday to easily top Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for the award.
Goldschmidt finished second with 242 points to McCutchen’s 409. He was second on 15 of the 30 ballots. Yadier Molina finished third with 219 points. He got the two first-place votes that didn’t go McCutchen, both coming from St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribes.
After Molina were Matt Carpenter (194), Freddy Freeman (154), Joey Votto (149), Clayton Kershaw (146), Hanley Ramirez (58), Carlos Gomez (43), Jay Bruce (30), Craig Kimbrel (27) and Shin-Soo Choo (23). Goldschmidt and Gomez were the only players in the top 12 not to be part of a playoff team.
Barry Bonds was the Pirates’ previous MVP, winning in 1990 and 1992. Before that, Willie Stargell was co-MVP with Keith Hernandez in 1979 and Dave Parker won the award in 1978.
McCutchen hit .317/.404/.508 with 21 homers, 84 RBI and 27 steals to lead the Pirates’ on their surprising postseason run last season. He had even better numbers in 2012 (.327/.400/.553, 31 HR, 96 RBI), but he settled for one first-place vote and a third-place finish in the MVP balloting then with the Pirates winning 15 fewer games (79-83 to 94-68).
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: