Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts got robbed of the American League MVP award.
I wouldn't call it highway robbery, but it’s more like he was a victim of the MJ syndrome. This season, Betts was Dominique vs. Jordan in the NBA Slam Dunk contest. He was going against royalty in his first bid at an MVP.
His stats were butter.
He won games with his legs (26 steals), he's a Gold Glove mitt-maestro and he's a multi-faceted hitter in a major baseball market with high fan expectations. Unfortunately, Mike Trout impeded Betts' shot to become the first African-American to win an AL MVP award since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997.
At 25 years old, Trout is a living baseball legend and though Betts’ performance was for a first-place team and MVP worthy -- maybe even more than Trout who had another statistically stupid season for an Angels squad that didn’t win anything -- Trout has cache. And any season in which Miguel Cabrera is not in MVP contention, Trout is next up.
While Betts was the best player on a Red Sox team that went from worst to first and made Big Papi’s final season a memorable one, Trout’s Angels tanked even with the Sabermetrics Man doing his usual stat-stuffing.
However, once Trout produced a typical season in 2016 and his competition was a New Jack superstar in Betts, who hasn’t earned the trust of the Baseball Writers Association of America voters yet, the MVP was decided.
Just the fifth player in history to win an MVP Award while playing for a sub-.500 team, joining Hall of Famers Ernie Banks (1958-59), Andre Dawson (1987), Cal Ripken Jr. (1991) and Alex Rodriguez (2003), Trout is a valued member of baseball’s marketing machine. He was a tough opponent for Betts, who hit .318, nearly went for a 30-30 and led the AL in total bases.
Trout, who led the AL with a .441 on-base percentage, 123 runs and 116 walks, received 19 of 30 first-place votes and finished in front of Betts 356-311.
Betts, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson, and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado held down the four spots behind Trout in AL balloting.
It was really over before it started for Mookie, who was trying to box with a baseball god. Maybe next season.
I have no beef with the National League MVP winner, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. From Day 1 of the 162-game season, everyone pretty much predicted that if the Cubs put themselves in a position to reach the promised land, that would mean that Bryant had a monster sophomore season and assumed his rightful place as a face of the game.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America voted the 24-year-old World Series champion MVP on Thursday night by a landslide. Bryant garnered 29 of 30 first place votes.
Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals finished a distant second.
Finishing close behind him was 22-year-old Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who placed third, and 25-year-old Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, in fifth place.
Bryant is one of a handful of players who was anointed to be a power player in MLB MVP races for years to come before he ever hit the field. His rapid rise to MVP in just his second season is right on target with the colossal expectations that followed him into the majors.
He not only hit the ground running, slugging 26 homers and driving in 99 runs in his Rookie of the Year season in 2015, but he followed that up with 39 homers and 126 RBI, while significantly raising his batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and cutting down on K’s.
The cherry on top was when the Cubs won Northside Chicago’s first World Series since 1908. It was a streak of ineptitude that became part of the fabric and twisted magnificence of baseball. The ability to be able to endure such treacherous luck for over a century speaks to the heart of Chicago and the resilient, loyal and often nonsensical nature of fans from the Windy City.