Did East Coast Bias Help Dustin Pedroia Win The AL MVP Award?

Claudio 21Contributor INovember 19, 2008


Earlier this week, Red Sox second basemen Dustin Pedroia was awarded with the AL Most Valuable Player Award. Once news of the selection was made, sports writers and radio personalities across the country, mostly from Boston and Minnesota, began chiming in.

There were those who staunchly defended the pick, those who couldn't believe a Dallas Morning News writer left Pedroia completely off his ballot, and those who felt Justin Morneau was robbed of his second American League MVP Award.

Pedroia, in his third year, was the backbone of the Boston Red Sox through their struggles, the Manny saga, and towards the end of the season. He was the table setter for the lineup and was a clutch performer throughout. But, looking at the statistics, the total games played, and the rosters on both teams, as much as Pedroia was "worthy" of this award—he surely didn't "deserve" it.

If you compare the statistics of Pedroia to those of  his teammate, Kevin Youkilis, they aren't even comparable. Granted, Pedroia is a leadoff hitter and will never produce the type of numbers a third or fourth hitter like Youkilis will.

But they both played close to a full season and you wonder why Youkillis, who had to step up his game more than anyone considering Manny's absence, wasn't considered for the award more than Pedroia.

But the individual who was really overlooked in this whole process and should've been named MVP was Twins 1B, Justin Morneau.

Here are their statistics:


Games: 163

Average: .300

HR: 23

RBI: 129


Games: 157

Average: .326

HR: 17

RBI: 83

If you're looking at it from a purely statistical standpoint, the voters got it wrong. If you're looking at it around playoff contention, Pedroia made it to the ALCS and Morneau came one game away from playing in the postseason. But the postseason holds no significance because votes are in before it begins.

But, contention does hold weight and this is why I believe Morneau deserves the award. If you replaced Dustin Pedroia with an average second basemen, the Red Sox would probably still make the playoffs.  But if you replace Justin Morneau with an average first basemen, the Twins would've never played a 163rd game.

I can wager that they wouldn't have even been playing an important game into their 120th.

You also have to take into account that the Twins were projected to finished fourth in a division where the Tigers, White Sox, and Indians all looked markedly better. The AL Central was being called the best division in baseball before the season started.

We must also remember that the Twins lost their star pitcher (Santana), the backbone of their organization for so many years (Hunter), didn't really make any splash acquisitions, and still managed to battle within a game of the playoffs without their stud young pitcher, Francisco Liriano.

With this MVP vote, the Baseball Writers of America made a decision based on popularity and not on facts. They made the trendy pick—the pick they see the most on TV. Looking at a previous MVP vote including Morneau, everyone remembers how close the 2006 voting was between he and Jeter, when it really wasn't even a question that Morneau deserved the award outright that year.

East Coast Bias was a factor then and it also is now.

Major League Baseball has stripped any enthusiasm surrounding the award already by officially announcing it a month after the playoffs end. Now, you have sports-writers who seem to go into the voting booths and vote for who their fellow sports-writers are voting for, and not who they think deserves the award.