Justin Verlander for MVP Dilemma? the Answer Is a New Award
The debate has raged this off-season about whether a pitcher deserves to win an MVP award. Justin Verlander had an incredible season and was voted "Player of the Year" by his peers.
However, there are some in the BBWA (Baseball Writers Association of America), within the game (Jim Leyland, Tigers manager), commentators and many fans who don't believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP. After all, pitchers have the Cy Young, so position players should have the MVP.
I have a major problem with this logic. MVP stands for "most valuable player", its not the MVPP (most valuable position player). Pitchers are players. A relief pitcher may throw 65 games in a season. Give the Tigers a league-average pitcher and they might not win the AL central, much less the divisional series.
The Tigers aren't in a position to add Doug Fister, who was huge for them down the stretch, because they aren't in the race at the deadline.
The answer is to create a new award to reward the best position player. I would call the award the Ted Williams award. Williams is the last player to hit .400 and was an excellent offensive player for his entire career. A really good argument could also be made for Willie Mays, who had a storied and incredible career.
"The Splendid Splinter" was an 18 time all-star and a two time AL MVP. Williams is fifth on the all-time list for career average at .344, hit 521 home runs, 1839 runs batted in, an OBP of .482, 2019 walks against only 709 strike outs, .634 SLG and an OPS of 1.115. His OPS and SLG are second all-time.
Should Major League baseball add another award to recognize the best position player?
Williams missed several years due to WWII; this would be a chance to also honor veterans and athletes who have stepped away from professional athletics to serve their country.
Another equally qualified player to have this new offensive award named after is Willie Mays. "The Say Hey Kid" put up amazing numbers in his major league career. He was a 20 time all-star, a two-time NL MVP, and two-time all-star MVP. He hit .302, with 660 home runs, 1903 runs batted in, 338 steals, . 557 SLG, and an OPS of .941.
Mays also won the Golden Glove Award and was considered a very good defender.
There are some other players who would have been considered for this new award had they not had other "issues" affecting their eligibility. First, if Pete Rose was not banned from baseball, this would be the Rose award, period. Rose was one of the best offensive players of all time and it's too bad he chose to bet on baseball.
Ty Cobb would be another option. Cobb was a great offensive player. He is the all-time career average leader at .367, second on career hits and had nearly 900 steals. However, "The Georgia Peach" was an outspoken racist which is not something MLB would want associated with a trophy.
Finally, consider Barry Bonds. Bonds has the most career home runs, walks and MVP trophies (seven). He had over 500 career steals and over 1990 runs batted in. The scandal regarding steroids and his use (knowingly or not) put a cloud over his hall of fame candidacy. His image is not the image MLB wants.
In the end, Ted Williams or Willie Mays makes sense. Both were great players, both left the game the right way and either would be an excellent choice. I give the edge to Williams in part because he missed three seasons due to serving during WWII during the prime of his career.
If you average the two years before and after his military service, Williams would have added 107 home runs, 370 RBI's, and 546 hits. Adding those numbers to his career totals, would leave Williams with over 620 home runs, 2200 RBI's, and 3200 hits.
The winner of the MVP should be Justin Verlander. The winner of the brand new Ted Williams award is Jacoby Ellsbury.
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