Justin Verlander won the American League MVP Award yesterday, and it came at painful expense of a member of the Red Sox.
But not Jacoby Ellsbury, who finished second in the voting. No, the real loser in this deal was Pedro Martinez.
Verlander, who led the Tigers to the AL Central title by going 24-5 with a 2.07 ERA and 250 strikeouts, became the first starting pitcher to win the award since Roger Clemens did it for the Red Sox in 1986.
But if Clemens in 1986 and Verlander in 2010 proved anything, it’s that Martinez was truly robbed of the award in 1999.
Of the three seasons, Martinez’s was arguably the best, particularly in a steroids era at its syringiest. Pedro went 23-4, posted the same 2.07 ERA as Verlander (who pitched in a far more spacious home ballpark) and blew both Verlander and Clemens (238) away in strikeouts with 313.
Yet, Martinez lost the MVP award to Pudge Rodriguez because two Baseball Writers Association of America voters left him completely off their 10-man ballots. (Verlander was left off one ballot Monday.)
Verlander finished with 280 points in balloting, with 13 first-place votes. Ellsbury, with four first-place votes, finished second with 242 points. Dustin Pedroia, the 2008 winner, was ninth.
Ellsbury made a solid bid for MVP, and may have been the final casualty of the September collapse. Coming off an injury devastated 2010 season, Ellsbury hit .321 in 2011 and became the first 30-30 man in Red Sox history with 32 homers and 39 stolen bases. He had 105 RBI and was third in the American League with 119 runs scored.
But unlike Verlander, Ellsbury’s team did not make the postseason, which may have tipped the scale in Verlander’s favor.