Jose Bautista: Should He Have Been the AL MVP?

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Jose Bautista: Should He Have Been the AL MVP?
Matthew Manor/Getty Images
Jose Bautista is a Big Ball Smasha!

The list of candidates for the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player was a rather different bunch than in previous years.  Which, perhaps, made the voters default to the old thinking of “pick the best player on a playoff team”. But, taking another look, was 2010 a season where that didn’t apply?

There was an incredibly talented player on an incredibly poor team, in Miguel Cabrera. A player that overcame addiction problems to make a triumphant return, in Josh Hamilton. Jose Bautista was the first player to cross 50 home runs in the post-steroid era. And, Robinson Cano, who is, well, a token Yankee.

In the end, of course, Hamilton was pegged as the man.  Was it the right choice?

Of these four men, who could truly lay claim to the award, only Josh Hamilton’s Texas Rangers won their division. Point for Hamilton! He led the charge for Ranger post-season excitement. No, wait, he didn’t.  See, Hamilton was injured for most of September, and the Rangers won at a higher clip. Point rescinded! But, the Rangers had an 8-game lead when he went down. Point returned! The real point is this shows how weak that division is.

Hamilton’s slash stats benefited from the injury layoff. His line of .359/.411/.633 are great, but averages almost always go down. Now when you look at his totals of 133 GP, 95 runs, 186 hits, 32 homers, 100 RBI, 43 BB, they are all well short of the other candidates.

Robinson Cano had a terrific season and proved that he could be consistently productive.  He finished in the top ten in a lot of categories, and 200 hits is big time. He even made the playoffs. But, the reality is it’s questionable he’s even his team’s MVP.  His teammates out-do him in runs, walks, homers and rbi. He deserved some recognition but rightly got zero first place votes.

Now for Miguel Cabrera. Oh, Miggy, what do we do with you? No matter how much you smashed the ball all over the field you couldn’t get your team past .500. This might have been okay if we didn’t expect so much from the Detroit Tigers. But, they were a giant let down. They couldn’t buy a road win. They were only four games over .500 in their own division. Miggy, you realize you were playing the Royals and Indians, right? A lot, right?

Miggy, we wanted you to get it.  We really did. All those numbers. All those stats. But, your team was garbage, so you got no love.

This leaves us with Jose Bautista. The man with the one glaring excuse to not vote for him. That .260 average. Is that fair? The writers thought so, he only got one first place vote. But using that as an excuse is a true disservice.

Bautista made up for it by walking a whole bunch. He was one of only three players to crack 100 BB and IBB. While Hamilton’s OBP was much higher, it was so in many fewer games. Bautista makes up for it with the massive home run total. His lead in this category is so huge that it should count for more than just a category lead. He also had 24 more RBI than Hamilton, and was only two off the league lead.  Bautista was all over the stat sheet and in historic proportions.

In 2010 Jose Bautista hit more than 50 homers, 35 doubles, walked more than 100 times, drove in more than 120, scored more than 100 times and stole more than five bases. Only one other player in Major League history to do that was George Herman Ruth.

Did you hear that? A season that compares with only Babe Ruth. If that can’t get you an MVP, what will?

For a bonus, his Blue Jays team won upwards of twenty games more than expected. In large part because of Jose Bautista. He led his team to 85 wins in the toughest division in baseball. They would have been, unquestionably, worse off without him.

If you plunk the Jays in the AL West, the Rangers don’t even make the playoffs let alone the World Series. And, J-Bau is the MVP. Undoubtedly.

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