The Internet Baseball Writers Association (IBBWA) named their 2011 AL MVP pick a few days ago: Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees. And while Granderson has had a terrific season (.552 SLG, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB, league-leading 136 runs), he’s not the MVP. Not even close.
First of all, Granderson struck out 169 times in 691 plate appearances, a 24.5% K rate. While his big-time power helped take the sting out of that stat, Jose Bautista hit two more homers while striking out nearly 60 fewer times. What’s more, Bautista whooped Granderson in on-base percentage (.447 to .364), batting average (.302 to .262), and slugging percentage (.608 to .552).
But you say you only want guys who made the playoffs to be considered? Fine. How about Justin Verlander, then? He leads the Baseball Reference WAR standings, and is equal to Granderson on FanGraphs (where CC Sabathia outdoes both of them). He had an unbelievably dominant season for the Tigers by traditional metrics (24-5, 2.40 ERA, league-leader in IP with 251 and K with 250) as well as advanced ones (led league in WHIP at 0.920, ERA+ at 170).
You’re not into pitchers for MVP? Fine. Granderson isn’t even in the top 10 position players for WAR in the American League standings on Baseball Reference. Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera AND Mike Napoli are all ahead of him. (Kinsler is the only one to beat him on FanGraphs.)
So in summary: Curtis Granderson had a great year, but he is no way, no how, the AL MVP. Flame me in the comments.