My IBWAA Ballot: AL MVP
Updated: Nov 18
Note - I didn't have time to update the article as I was at the big Roy White event last night.
It's awards week! Today we continue with the AL MVP and the BBWAA/IBWAA winners!
As is standard with the IBWAA, each voter was allowed a Top-10 vote for the MVP. The 1st place player receives 14 points, 2nd place gets 9 points, 3rd place gets 8 points, 4th place gets 7 points, yadda yadda yadda, down to 1 point for 10th place.
5th Place: Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)
Statistics: 28 Games (28 Games Started), 18-4 Record (.818 WP%), 1.75 ERA (220 ERA+), 175.0 Innings, 116 Hits, 29 Walks, 0.829 WHIP, 185 Strikeouts, 2.49 FIP, +5.9 bWAR/+6.1 fWAR
The winner of my American League Cy Young, Verlander also took home the BBWAA and IBWAA awards as well. It's no surprise when looking at what he did on the mound and the greater story surrounding Verlander. He missed almost 2 complete seasons after coming down with a forearm strain just 2 days after the delayed 2020 Opening Day in July. This quickly turned to him needing Tommy John surgery and his recovery took out all of 2021. An amazing comeback season in its own right, he was the best pitcher by far in the AL this year. You can read more about what I've written about Verlander, here.
4th Place: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
Statistics: 119 Games, .283/.369/.630/.999 (178 OPS+), 124 Hits, 40 Home Runs, 80 RBI's, 54 BB's, 139 K's, -0.3 BsR, +42.4 Off, 937.1 Innings, 0 DRS, -0.7 Def, +6.3 bWAR/+6.0 fWAR
A few years ago, there were serious notions that Mike Trout was going to set records as the best baseball player ever. He's already comfortably secured a spot in the Hall of Fame, heck he did the second he stepped foot on the field in 2020. However, in the past few years, a combination of injuries and shortened seasons have taken Trout away from those "best of all time" projections. Yet, this past season did show a very positive thing for Trout. He hit 40 home runs, which was largely unfollowed thanks to a different player on this list hitting a lot more. He posted the 4th highest bWAR by a position player in the AL even while playing in just under 120 games. Imagine if he had played the extra 35-40 in the season, we could've had an intense home run race. Trout gets the benefit of the doubt here with my vote. I just hope he continues to stay healthy.
3rd Place: Yordan Alvarez (Houston Astros)
Statistics: 135 Games, .306/.406/.613/1.019 (187 OPS+), 144 Hits, 37 Home Runs, 97 RBI's, 78 BB's, 106 K's, -0.6 BsR, +52.8 Off, 467.2 Innings, +5 DRS, -7.5 Def, +6.8 bWAR/+6.6 fWAR
On pure offense alone, Yordan Alvarez was on pace to set records. And then a hand injury kept him out for a couple weeks and didn't allow him enough time to get back to putting up the insane numbers he was hitting to. Pretty much a DH-only player, he still produced to an insane amount of WAR for a player getting hurt by getting no help on defense. There was a period of time during the season where he and Aaron Judge were neck-and-neck in the contest to see who was a better hitter and he held his own.
2nd Place: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels)
Statistics (Hitting): 157 Games, .273/.356/.519/.875 (145 OPS+), 160 Hits, 34 Home Runs, 95 RBI's, 72 BB's, 161 K's, +0.3 BsR, +31.8 Off, 0 Innings, 0 DRS, -16.4 Def, +3.4 bWAR/+3.8 fWAR
Statistics (Pitching): 28 Games (28 Games Started), 15-9 Record (.625 WP%), 2.33 ERA (172 ERA+), 166.0 Innings, 124 Hits, 44 Walks, 1.012 WHIP, 219 Strikeouts, 2.40 FIP, +6.1 bWAR/+5.6 fWAR
I discussed Shohei Ohtani's 2022 season as a pitcher here, if you want to read that.
Ohtani placing 2nd is not voter fatigue, or the fact that he won the 2021 AL MVP, or the fact that I undervalue the production from a DH bat. It is also not underselling his ability to pitch and hit at the same time, nor is it homerism for the Yankee player.
Shohei Ohtani is going to be a Hall of Famer. I'd argue he won't even need to play 5 more years (god forbid) in the MLB. If something happened, they would give him a pass. He's transcended baseball in a way very few others have while also doing something that nobody else ever has. He's a top-tier bat and a top-tier starting pitcher. He hit 34 home runs and had a sub-2.50 ERA. He'd immediately be any teams #1 or #2 bat and/or pitcher in the league. He's that good. The only thing to take him down would have been an all-time season.
1st Place: Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
Statistics: 157 Games, .311/.425/.686/1.111 (211 OPS+), 177 Hits, 62 Home Runs, 131 RBI's, 111 BB's, 175 K's, +2.1 BsR, +86.1 Off, 1214.1 Innings, +6 DRS, +0.5 Def, +10.6 bWAR/+11.4 fWAR
62 home runs. Over 10 bWAR. Over 11 (!) fWAR. Arguably the best offensive season (not counting Barry Bonds) since the turn of the millennium. A top defender in the league (and a snub from getting any outfield gold glove finalist spots) and the best bat without a doubt.
Single season American League home run king. A title only held by New York Yankees in the past century. A 211 OPS+! There is so much to say about how amazing this season was for Aaron Judge it is almost wrong to try and talk about it in short. It's almost a disgrace to what he did to try and condense it down to a few talking points.
He was the face of the Yankees getting where they did. He took a risk on himself and it paid up HUGE. He's going to get paid. He's become the face of baseball. He was last years best player, by far. Bar none. Story over. (Now I just wonder if it is unanimous or not.)
The Back-End of the MVP Ballot:
6th Place: Andres Gimenez (Cleveland Guardians) - 146 Games, .297/.371/.466 (141 OPS+), 17 HR's
7th Place: Jose Altuve (Houston Astros) - 141 Games, .300/.387/.533 (160 OPS+), 28 HR's
8th Place: Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Guardians) - 157 Games, .280/.355/.514 (148 OPS+), 29 HR's
9th Place: Sean Murphy (Oakland Athletics) - 148 Games, .250/.332/.426 (120 OPS+), 18 HR's
10th Place: Julio Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners) - 132 Games, .284/.345/.509 (147 OPS+), 28 HR's
A quick note on the bottom-5 MVP vote getters in the American League:
Andres Gimenez had a fantastic break-out season with the Cleveland Guardians. He's making the Francisco Lindor trade very worthwhile for Cleveland (in addition to Amed Rosario) as a player with a plus bat and a plus-glove at second base. An all-around talent, he's a big threat for the AL Central.
Jose Altuve is forever going to have my ire. I softened on him a bit this offseason after he looked so poor at the plate, but I have my biases and I will not ignore that. However, I can also not ignore a good seasons performance. Reluctantly, I gave him a 7th place finish. (Though, I can also see arguments where he places Top-3.)
Jose Ramirez is still somehow a dark-horse MVP candidate every year even though he consistently shows a plus bat and glove. With Gimenez (and Rosario), Cleveland has become a powerhouse again. He'll be 30 next year too, so don't expect Top-10 finishes in the MVP race to end soon.
Sean Murphy is my vote for the undervalued player. Arguably the 2nd best defensive catcher in the American League (behind Jose Trevino) and arguably the 2nd best catching bat in the AL (behind Alejandro Kirk), he's a perfect blend of both. Catchers deserve credit for what they do and Murphy was the best overall in the AL last year.
You can read more about Julio Rodriguez, here. He was my AL ROY winner this year and it was for good reason. He was incredible and I just wish he played more. He was deserving of a back-end ballot vote.
MVP Award Winners:
Set to be announced tonight at 6:00 PM (EST) on MLB Network, stick with us as we await and break the news. Here are your BBWAA and IBWAA winners and my thoughts:
American League: ...
National League: ...
American League: Aaron Judge (959 Points), Shohei Ohtani (751), Yordan Alvarez (467)
National League: Paul Goldschmidt (906 Points), Nolan Arenado (582), Manny Machado (523)