So, the results of the Most Valuable Player Awards in both the American and National Leagues were announced on Thursday, and wow, in the NL the top two vote-getters are from losing teams. Amazing.
Yes, yes, Giancarlo Stanton nearly hit 60 homers and everyone’s amazed by that home-run total. It doesn’t change the fact Stanton’s Marlins went 77-85, a whopping 20 games out of first place.
But the more amazing thing is Joey Votto being second – and finishing just two points behind Stanton in the balloting – despite playing for the Reds… a ballclub that lost 94 games to end up dead last in the NL Central.
Really? How valuable can a player be in his entire league if his team loses 94 games and finished last place??
People over the years have questioned how Andre Dawson or Alex Rodriguez won MVPs for last-place clubs.
Nobody, though, has really ever questioned how Cal Ripken – playing for a sixth-place Orioles ballclub out of a seven-team division – was a deserving AL MVP in 1991. Heck, people have wondered how Terry Pendleton – on the first-place Braves – had finished ahead of Barry Bonds in the NL race from that year to capture the only MVP of his career.
Yet nobody has really talked about how Ripken was undeserving. The ’91 Orioles lost 95 games and avoided last place in the AL East only because Cleveland finished with 105 losses. Baltimore’s record, by the way, was the second-worst in the entire AL, as every team in the Western Division finished .500 or above.
That year in the AL, Cecil Fielder hit 44 homers (tied for the league lead with a majors-best 133 RBIs) and helped his Tigers stay in the AL East race in August. Yet he wasn’t the MVP. The Twins and Blue Jays were the division winners, and yet Kirby Puckett (Twins) or Joe Carter (Blue Jays) wasn’t MVP. Even Jose Canseco, who was tied with Fielder with 44 home runs, could have been the MVP with an Oakland team that at least finished above .500 (with 84 wins).
The 2017 NL MVP results… were astonishing, and I believe this may be talked about in future years just like the Dawson/Rodriguez results…
Yet no outcry over Cal Ripken and 1991. I’m sure if people compile lists of undeserving MVPs these days or in the future, the beloved Ripken’s name won’t come up. And that just isn’t right.
Just like Votto nearly winning it in 2017.