Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com spoke with 17 of the 30 AL MVP voters and got their rationale for who they picked for the award. It’s a great effort by Gonzalez to collect all of these opinions. It’s pretty illuminating too.
The most illuminating thing about it: how many of the voters cite team performance when it comes down to casting their MVP vote. This despite the fact that the MVP ballot itself states that “The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” Of course it also says “there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means,” so that’s the out.
And for the record, here’s Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. He’s the guy who voted Mike Trout an astounding 7th:
I am a strict constructionist re: “valuable”. If the award were Player of the Year, Trout would get my vote. I’m of the school that in order to have “value” you have to help your team be good, at least to the point of contending. The Angels didn’t truly contend. To fully develop that logic, players from non-contenders should not be listed on the ballot at all, but the BBWAA insists that we fill out all 10 slots, so I did, even though I did not think there were 10 worthy candidates from contending teams.
Again: no “clear cut definition” so if he wants to read “on a contending team” into the criteria, he can. And he did. To a pretty extreme degree, I think everyone can agree.