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Justin Verlander Wins American League MVP, Jacoby Ellsbury Second

Justin Verlander has won the American League MVP, beating out Jacoby Ellsbury by a 280-242 margin to become the first pitcher to receive the award in either league since Roger Clemens in 1986. Also placing in the top-10 were Adrian Gonzalez (7th) and Dustin Pedroia (9th).

For Red Sox fans, there are two angles to look at this from.

The first is whether or not Verlander is a deserving or acceptable choice over Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox' main horse in the race. There is the age-old question of pitcher eligibility, but if we ignore that, then the answer is a resounding "yes." Jacoby Ellsbury was, without question, a fantastic candidate. Between a .928 OPS, top defense in center field, and a season that earned him membership in the 30-30 club, there wasn't much that Ellsbury didn't do. He topped Fangraphs' WAR charts by a good amount, and held up well under other systems.

That being said, Justin Verlander was pretty great himself, and had the narrative going for him as well. While Ellsbury was a lone cog in Boston's ridiculous lineup, Verlander stood alone in an otherwise mediocre rotation (pre-Fister), winning 24 games en route to a division win. Alone, it's a compelling tale for traditional voters; add in some dominance in the more "meaty" statistics (2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts, and just 2.04 BB/9, and you've got a very strong candidate indeed. I'm sure everyone will have their own opinion on who deserved it most, but neither choice was really incorrect.

The other angle is a bit of a throwback...all the way to1999, when Pedro Martinez had a more dominant year in a more difficult league and was denied his rightful award because Lavelle Neal didn't like pitchers, and George King didn't like Red Sox (but don't worry, King was in a life-threatening incident that weekend, so he's automatically forgiven). Now that we have some apparently more enlightened voters, perhaps we can get a recount?

Of course, there were also a few oddities here-and-there. Robinson Cano seems to have beaten out Dustin Pedroia because defense is irrelevant and having more homers makes losing out in wOBA unimportant as well. And then you've got fun stuff like Michael Young nabbing a first place vote, Jacoby Ellsbury a 10th, and Verlander being left off the ballot by one voter entirely. Is George King around? If so, that'd better be his.

All-in-all, it's been a solid awards season for the voters by the winners alone, but when you dig a little deeper, things sure do get messy.