The AL MVP was announced earlier this week, and that it is Alex Rodriguez came as a surprise to very few. He led the majors in home runs (54), RBI (156) and runs (143), becoming only the fifth player in the past 75 seasons to have completed that feat (the others: Ted Williams, Johnny Mize, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris).
But upon closer inspection, there was a rather odd outcome within the voting: Magglio Ordonez, who finished second, received two first place votes. Did he deserve even one first place vote? Short answer, probably not. Where did those votes come from? Reader Sean K. from New Jersey points out that it was Jim Hawkins and Tom Gage, two writers from…Detroit newspapers. Homerism? You decide.
In an email to The Detroit Free Press, The Oakland (MI) Press and RealClearSports, Sean argued:
“[T]his year, there is no question. AROD had by far the best numbers, AND was most indispensable to a winning team. Magglio had a great year, no doubt. But for a team that went to the World Series the year before, with a terrific pitching staff, how the heck does he get a 1st place vote over AROD when his team doesn't even make the playoffs? It's ridiculous.”
Your witness, Mr. Hawkins:
“’I have no quarrel with the people who voted for Alex Rodriguez, but I think he had a better supporting cast in New York,’ Hawkins said. ‘It's quite possible the Yankees would have made the playoffs even without him having that type of year, but I know the Tigers would not have been close without Magglio.’”
OK, well, Hawkins might have a point there, since Rodriguez did play on a team that slugged .463 as a group. But saying that the Yankees would have made the playoffs without him is absurd. According to The Hardball Times, AROD led the league with a 39 win-share, or, roughly speaking, was worth 39 wins to the Yankees all by himself.
Sean K. continues to ask, “Don't you find it interesting that no other writer or baseball expert agreed with you? Doesn't that give you some sort of clue that you seriously butchered your ballots?”
Maybe Sean was being a bit harsh on them there. Maybe. After all, Ordonez did have a great year – .363/.434/.595 (BA/OBP/SLG), but the numbers Rodriguez put up were, for lack of a better word, historical.