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Jose Bautista Is the AL MVP Right Now, Not Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander has won his last eight straight starts for the Tigers. He’s 20-5 and has a good shot at winning the most games by an American League pitcher since Bob Welch posted 27 victories in 1990. He has thrown a no-hitter and has shut out his opponent on six occasions this season. He leads the Majors in innings pitched, WHIP, strikeouts, and batting average against. Because of his success, pundits have begun talking about him as an MVP candidate this season. That even sparked a debate about whether pitchers should be eligible for MVP. While pitchers should be eligible for MVP, Jose Bautista still deserves the award at this point.

The Blue Jays right fielder has fallen off somewhat since his torrid first two months of the season, but he’s still raking more than any other hitter in baseball. Bautista leads MLB in home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. His current OPS is the highest in the American League since Jim Thome’s 1.122 mark in 2002. Yes, Bautista is posting the best numbers by an American League hitter in nearly 10 years. His level of offensive production cannot be overlooked just because he’s on a .500 club while Verlander pitches for a division leader.

Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and he’s the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. Jered Weaver is also in the mix, but Verlander definitely has the inside track. If Verlander continues to dominate over his next handful of starts he will remain in MVP contention, but Bautista would have to drop off significantly to be surpassed in the MVP race. He’s just been too good this season.


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  • Anonymous

    Granderson is having a better year than Bautista.

  • Gene

    I agree that a pitcher should only have a shot at the MVP if there are no everyday players having great seasons, if even then.   However, Bautusta, Granderson and Adrian Gonzales have to be considered the front runners, not necessarily in that order, and there are several other hitters as well.  I believe the final standings will also affect the balloting, and that it is another argument unto itself.

  • Anonymous

    How bout we go with what really matters…fantasy rankings.
    1. verlander
    2. kemp
    3. granderson
    4. braun
    5. ellsbury
    6. weaver
    7. gonzalez
    8. kershaw
    9. bautista
    10. votto

  • http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/ moleman

    Bautista better not get hosed again.  I feel bad for Cabrera; why even talk about Verlander before talking about Miguel Cabrera?  He seems to be on the outside looking in again.  Granderson and Gonzo deserve some votes as well.  The problem is, all these teams have good players or other MVP candidates.  Ellsbury and Pedroia will steal some votes.   Papi has played well too.  Granderson has Teixeira backing him up as well, in addition to Cano and A-Rod.  Even the Tigers have some bats; Martinez, Avila, and Peralta have all been terrific this season.  Bautista has basically been going it alone on a team that hacks like there is no tomorrow.  He could have won it last year, and deserved to finish higher than 4th.  

  • Gene

    Our dilemma, guys, is that there is not established definition for MVP.  The media changes the selection process often.  Ernie Banks won back to back on second division Cubs teams in the late ’50s.  Ted Williams won two triple crowns, in 1942 and 1947, and di not win the MVP either year.  In 1942 it went to Joe Gordon, second baseman for the Yankees, who won the pennant.  Barry Bonds was disliked by the media as much as Williams and he won seven MVP’s.  Sosa beat McGwire because his team made the playoffs as wild card.  In 1954, when Cleveland won 111 games out of 154, Larry Doby and Al Rosen split votes and Yogi Berra of the second place Yankees won.  Go figure.

    LB, you need to tell us whether the MVP is for best player in the league or best player on a playoff bound team.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Bet your fantasy league doesn’t count OPS

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Cabrera has been having a really good year, but not as dominant of a season as Verlander. Granderson and Gonzo, plus Ellsbury and Pedroia are up there too. I just think Bautista has been the best.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    It’s nice if the best player in the league is on a winning team, but I think it goes to guy having the best year.

  • Anonymous

    As a Tigers fan, I’ll say this…If Verlander continues to dominate into September like he has all year long, he’s the most valuable player in the American League.  24-6 or something close to it is too hard to ignore.  All of his stats beg the voters to hand him the award.  When the game gets close and Verlander needs something extra, he reaches back and finds it.  He saves the bullpen and ends losing streaks.  I normally wouldn’t give it to a starter, but an exception could be made in this instance.  His effect on the rest of the team is to great to ignore.

  • Gene

    I tend to agree with you.  Otherwise, there are no awards for the player having the best season.  Speaking of which, let’s see what will happen to Matt Kemp, who is surely having the best season in the NL, although he is on a losing team.

  • Anonymous

    yea we do.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Hmm, surprised he’s not higher. I guess it’s because he doesn’t steal and his runs/RBI numbers are lower than others. Again, that’s more about his teammates than him.