IT?S DONALDSON, JOSH DONALDSON
Sound judgment and fidelity to stats-based data prevailed this time as the Bringer of Rain would not be denied
Do you feel that Mike Trout deserved to win the American League MVP Award ?? Neither do I.? For those who disagree, well, you?re entitled to your flawed opinion.
Not that the outcome of this race should have ever been in doubt, but in the lead-up to the official announcement, I was getting the distinct feeling that the American media was playing up Trout?s credentials and bolstering his chances.? Without any doubt, I was bracing for an upset given that Major League Baseball has built up a spotty track record of picking the most deserving player for the league?s top hardware.
1990 comes to mind. ?This was when Cecil Fielder somehow got overlooked and the AL MVP Award that season ended up going to Rickey Henderson.? Jimmy Rollins inexplicably edged out Matt Holliday in 2007 for the NL MVP; the knock on Holliday was that his stats were Rocky Mountain-inflated.? In 1989, Ruben Sierra got robbed when they gave the MVP to Robin Yount, who put up notably less impressive numbers.? I remain unpersuaded.? These and other less-than-convincing picks in past seasons come to mind when baseball fans were made to ask whether Olympic figure skating judges have somehow become involved in the process of picking baseball?s league MVP winners.
There had only been one MVP in the 38-year history of the Blue Jays franchise and it came all the way back in 1987 when George Bell deservedly beat out Alan Trammell for the top individual prize.? Since then, nothing.? Jose Bautista and Carlos Delgado once came close, but never close enough to be called MVP.
What I found most disconcerting as this debate played out was how the newfound approach to calibrating metrics to measure the true ? supposedly hidden ? value of players revolved around downplaying the importance of traditional numbers like RBIs, home runs, runs scored, slugging percentage, etc., and instead trumped up these newfangled, highfalutin stats with questionable meaning.
Besides, stats are not the only way to appraise a player?s value. When you consider that Donaldson hit three walk-off home runs in 2015, something very hard to pull off in one season, you begin to appreciate more fully his value in high-leverage situations.? Also, there were 27 times when a Donaldson home run either tied the game or gave the Blue Jays the lead.? Getting it done in crucial moments is just another reason why Donaldson?s star really did shine more brightly than Trout?s in 2015.? Sorry Mike.
In the end, there would be no head-scratching moment this time around.? In fact, there was little drama as Donaldson pulled away rather easily from his competition in the final voting, receiving 23 of 30 first place votes and securing not necessarily the holiest grail but nevertheless a crown jewel of personal accomplishment from a very memorable season for Toronto baseball fans.? And I suppose it?s a good thing he did win because I don?t think I would have taken the news well had an upset taken place.? I?m not saying I would?ve done anything crazy, but I was prepared to travel to the most active volcano in the western hemisphere and dive right into the center of it if such an injustice had been committed by the Baseball Writers Association of America.