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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

  New England's Most Wanted: Evan Grant

A mere 24 hours ago, he was completely unknown to me and, probably, almost everyone else in New England. This morning, he is the villain. The invader who rapes and pillages. The outlaw in the black Stetson who rides into town to take down the sheriff in a shootout. The mafioso who leaves broken kneecaps in his wake.

Evan Grant, a baseball writer for the Dallas Morning News, was alone among BBWAA MVP voters who left Dustin Pedroia off his ballot entirely. It isn't simply that he thought Pedroia wasn't the #1 most valuable player. Grant didn't put him in the top ten.

The Most Valuable Player ballot has 10 slots for the voter to rank his or her candidates. Twenty-eight writers get to vote. What happened this year is that 27 of those voters put Pedroia at fourth place or better on their ballots. The 28th, Evan Grant, didn't list him at all. Here are the players Grant felt were more deserving of a spot on his ballot than Pedroia was:

  1. Kevin Youkilis
  2. Francisco Rodriguez
  3. Justin Morneau
  4. Josh Hamilton
  5. Carlos Quentin
  6. Alex Rodriguez
  7. Cliff Lee
  8. Joe Mauer
  9. Grady Sizemore
  10. Carlos Peña

Now, ordinarily these things don't get to me. Since there are so many statistics to consider in selecting candidates, it isn't surprising that there will be some disagreement. What stands out in this situation, though, is that Grant's view of Pedroia was so dramatically different from everyone else's.

For his part, Grant seems to have recognized the error of his ways while still quasi-defending his reasoning.

But I will have you know that Pedroia was 18th in OPS, 27th in RBIs, 30th in batting average with runners in scoring position and 53rd in on-base percentage with runners in scoring percentage. I am aware he tied for the league lead in hits, led in runs scored and was second in batting average. But in the stats that to me suggest production and clutch hitting, he was dwarfed by the other players on the list.

I choose to believe that his choice of the word "dwarfed" was no reference to Pedroia's stature...

But I digress. Yesterday afternoon, Glen Ordway of WEEI's Big Show hunted down Grant, got him on the radio, and basically grilled him for 20 minutes. I heard it live, and the guys were brutal. Frankly, I'm surprised Grant hung around and tried to defend himself as long as he did.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

  MVPedroia!

WHAT? More than three months without a post? I admit it — I'm a baaaaad blogger. Sorry.

Could there be a better time to resurrect this blog than to announce...

2007 Rookie of the Year — check!

2008 Gold Glove — check!

2008 Silver Slugger — check!

And now... (drum roll, please)...

Dustin Pedroia 2008 AL MVP

AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER DUSTIN PEDROIA!

The Major League Baseball web site had for weeks listed Francisco Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton as "the favorites," with Pedroia and teammate Kevin Youkilis as "contenders." As of this afternoon, probably due to a strong "WTF?!?" backlash, they listed the favorites as (in this order) Pedroia, Twins infielder Justin Morneau, and Angels' closer K-Rod. Hamilton was moved to the "contender" list, with Youkilis and Chicago's Carlos Quentin termed "the dark horses."

Frankly, I have no idea how anyone who was paying attention could have seriously considered anyone but Pedroia. He did everything and did it well — offense, defense, attitude, excitement — and he did it consistently throughout the season. Rodriguez had a much lesser impact on his team, pitching only an inning or so per game and not even every game. Not that I think a pitcher can't be MVP — on the contrary, it's a travesty that some writers refuse to even consider a pitcher for the award. But his impact couldn't compare to Pedroia's. Morneau was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster Twins lineup, but put him on a stronger team and he'd be just another player. Hamilton? Hey, I like the comeback stories as much as the next gal, but if he wasn't an ex-addict working his way back into the game, I doubt he would have been a serious candidate.

Well, it's done. For a guy entering only his third year of major league service, Pedroia already has a World Series ring and a mantle full of awards. Not bad for someone barely taller than I am.

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