Jose Altuve or Aaron Judge will win the American League MVP tonight, which is fine. The seasons produced by each had ample highlights, mind-bending statistical excellence, and each even got play for a ‘winner’ under the playoff lights.
Over in the National League, though, the outcome of the senior circuit MVP is a little murkier. One of Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, or Joey Votto will get a plaque, two fanbases (or more) yelling at them, and some nifty black-type on their Baseball Reference page, yet none of the three appears to have run away with purported voting to date.
Awards season is easily my least favorite part of the baseball zeitgeist. I think, in part, that’s a byproduct of my age and the era of baseball that I watched during my formative years. I watched Roger Clemens win six thousand Cy Young Awards, more than anyone else in history. I watched Barry Bonds win a jillion MVP Awards, too - also more than anyon else who has ever played. I’ve also watched as the same organization that doted those awards on those two players has chose to not award them entrance into baseball’s Hall of Fame, which is as clear an admission that awards themselves are silly as there can possibly be.
For me, arbitrary awards no longer tell the story, nice and shiny as they may look on trophy cases. The numbers tell the stories, the whens, the hows, the whys, the wheres of what actually went down in the games played. And while Stanton mashing 59 dingers in a season in which dingers were mauled at a record-breaking rate is something still special in its own right, when I see numbers put into context in this way, they’re the kind I’ll remember long after I forget who actually won the 2017 NL MVP award.
This season, Votto was the only player in the Major Leagues to hit at least 26 homers and record 100 RBIs while hitting at least .300/.400/.500. And besides Babe Ruth and Williams, he is the only player in Major League history to produce at least 179 hits, 36 homers, 134 walks and 83 or fewer strikeouts in a single season.
Three players, including two of the three greatest left-handed hitters who have ever played the game - and Joey Votto. Not to mention, Votto didn’t exactly accomplish those feats in an era when walk rates are skyrocketing while strikeout rates plummet.
Would I love to see Votto win another award? Of course, since he’s deserving of it. I’m not going to lose a wink of sleep over it if he doesn’t, though, since whichever player who gets interviewed on MLB Network tonight while holding a nice plaque won’t change one iota about the remarkable season that Joey had.
(Ruth, for the record, somehow only won one MVP award, too.)
The AL and NL MVP Awards will be announced on MLB Network tonight, with coverage and lots of talking heads blabbing on endlessly beginning at 6 PM ET. Heck, you might even be able to watch it on mlb.com, though I’ve not looked anything up to verify that.