So, Ellsbury finishes 2nd in the MVP voting to Justin Verlander. Actually, Verlander won pretty handily, considering a starting pitcher hasn't won in either league since 1986.
Did Verlander deserve to win? In my humble opinion, as a fan and student of the game, no. A pitcher who pitches in 35 games per season cannot equal the value of a positional player who steps on the field for 140+ games. Not to mention, pitchers already have their own awards, the Cy Young Award - an award given to the most valuable pitcher in each league. Now, I understand that a discussion can be had for a pitcher giving such value to his club that he out-values positional players, but it would take an extraordinary season, something along the lines of 30-4 with an ERA under 2.00, a WHIP of .75, and 300+ Ks. And, said pitcher would have to single-handedly elevate a below-average club to greatness. I'm sorry, but Verlander's own teammate, its cleanup hitter and first baseman, finished fifth in the voting this year, so Verlander clearly didn't carry a talent-less team to the playoffs. He pitched for a very good ball club. In more than half of the games he won, his team put up greater than five runs. Finally, and here's where my argument can be construed as homer-centric, if Pedro's 1999 and 2000 seasons were not worthy of the MVP Award, then Verlander's 2011 season certainly was not worthy. Pedro's 1999 and 2000 campaigns were statistically better across the board, and he carried a lesser team on his shoulders. The Sox's lineup included Jose Offerman, Darren Lewis, Mike Stanley, etc. This past season, Verlander had Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, and his closer, Valverde, recorded a perfect season and finished fifth in Cy Young voting. In 2000, Pedro had a sub-2.00 ERA and a ridiculous WHIP of .737. So what, he finished with 18 wins. I'm glad voters are moving away from wins and closer to what actually makes a pitcher, but unless they retroactively give Pedro the award for either 1999 or 2000, then Verlander doesn't measure up and doesn't deserve the award.
Did Ellsbury deserve to win? In my humble opinion, as a fan and student of the game, yes. Ellsbury had the greatest overall statistical contribution to a team in the AL during the past season. He even stepped it up when the team was struggling toward the end, putting together a monster September. Bautista's season didn't compare, considering he did it for a team that was generically mediocre, and he plateaued early on, turning in a weak second half. In numerous ways, Granderson and Cano cancelled each other out. Cabrera probably deserved more consideration, but in an odd turn of events, I think Verlander stole most of the attention away from him.
Now, why do I think it's a good thing that Ellsbury lost? Two reasons:
1) Boras won't be able to say "MVP Award winner" during his negotiations for a contract. Laugh, if you will, but just being able to say that would probably earn Ellsbury an extra $15 to $25 million on his contract total.
2) Knowing he came this close and lost to a pitcher (a rare occurrence, indeed), Ellsbury will come out next season and attempt to put together an even better all-around season. Will he? Who knows. But if I were him, I'd have an unquenchable appetite now that I've been so close.