When the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player award winner was announced on Thursday evening, it was understandably unsurprising when Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels was named as the unanimous winner. The Angels outfielder was far and away the best player in the American League for the 2014 season.
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Overall, the top 10 in the BBWAA voting was as follows:
- Mike Trout – 420 Points
- Victor Martinez – 229 Points
- Michael Brantley – 191 Points
- Jose Abreu – 145 Points
- Robinson Cano – 124 Points
- Jose Bautista – 122 Points
- Nelson Cruz – 102 Points
- Josh Donaldson – 96 Points
- Miguel Cabrera – 82 Points
- Felix Hernandez – 48 Points
What was nice to see was the recognition payed to Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who finished sixth in the voting, just two points behind Robinson Cano for fifth. It was a solid bounce-back season for Bautista, who had fought with injuries during each of the previous two seasons only to take up his spot at the head of the table for the Blue Jays in 2014. With a solid slash-line of .286/.403/.524 with 35 home runs, 103 RBI, a 159 wRC+, and a 6.3 WAR, Bautista enjoyed one of his finest seasons to date.
But how did it compare to his previous top-10 finishes in the MVP balloting?
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As you can see, based on WAR and wRC+, 2014 was quite comparable to his break-out 2010 campaign, even if Bautista got to the end results in two very different fashions. Bautista was a much better overall hitter in 2014 than in 2010, but his power numbers were what put him on the map in 2010 and earned him the 4th place finish in the MVP balloting. While one could argue that a 54-home run, 124 RBI season is tough to top, the three guys who finished above him (Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, and Robinson Cano) all enjoyed immensely satisfactory seasons of their own and the vote reflected accurately.
2011 was easily Bautista’s best season of his career, with highs nearly across the board, minus a small drop in home runs and RBI. This time, Bautista pushed what was one of the closest MVP votes in recent seasons, finishing third in the balloting behind the pair of Justin Verlander and Jacoby Ellsbury. While Bautista finished behind Ellsbury, he garnered one more first place vote than the then Red Sox outfielder. However, both were basically doomed to second fiddle behind the juggernaut season that Justin Verlander had in 2011. Had it not been for a little bit of bias against pitchers earning the award, the vote could have been more in Verlander’s favor.
That all said, Jose Bautista’s 2014 season, while not his greatest statistically, showed similar growth to his 2011 season, proving that he can be a complete hitter and provide what the team needs when it needs it. Perhaps that was the benefit of the Kevin Seitzer approach, helping Bautista focus on pounding his pitches and beating the shift when he wasn’t getting the beach balls. That growth showed in his maturity as well, as Bautista exemplified a leader more in 2014 than ever before in years past.
So we’ll take a sixth place finish in the MVP voting every year as long as Jose Bautista continues to do what he did in 2014. The rest of the team will feed off of that eventually.