The MLB MVP winners were revealed on Thursday with Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger taking home the honours, but former Blue Jay evin Pillar also had a vote in the NL race.
I’ll admit that I can generally take or leave award races like the MVP or the Cy Young, but this year I was pretty intrigued. That was mostly because the results weren’t as clear-cut as they often are, with late-season injuries playing a significant factor. In the end, that might have cost Christian Yelich his chance to win the NL MVP award that went to Cody Bellinger, but it didn’t hurt Mike Trout, who edged out the rest of the AL with his third time receiving the honour.
If that wasn’t enough to keep you interested, there was a little nugget for Blue Jays fans to enjoy as well. No, I’m not talking about one of our own receiving awards in the AL race, but rather a former player who was traded to the Sr. circuit to join the San Francisco Giants, and he ended up having a pretty solid year.
Folks, Kevin Pillar received a vote for the NL MVP.
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“Superman” was pretty solid in his first year in the Bay, but he really wasn’t all that different than the player he’d been during his days in Toronto. He finished the season with a slash line of .259/.287/.432, and continued to see his bWAR value drop, finishing with a mark of just 1.0 in 2019, down from 2.5 in 2018, and a high of 4.9 in 2015.
To me, Pillar was also the poster child for the evidence that the baseball was “juiced” during the 2019 campaign. Don’t believe me? Pillar’s career-high in the homer-happy Rogers Centre was the 16 he hit in 2017. With the move to the much more difficult hitter’s ballpark with the Giants, Pillar produced 21 long bombs, and quickly endeared himself to the San Francisco fan base, especially early on with some timely hitting.
There’s a temptation to overreact to seeing Pillar getting a vote. No doubt there are some relatively uninformed fans out there screaming, “we traded away an MVP calibre player for nothing!”, but that’s not exactly the case. I don’t mean to make this about hating on Pillar by any means, but the reality is, he was better in Toronto in 2018, and that wasn’t an MVP performance by any stretch of the imagination.
Sometimes the bottom of those ballots can have some pretty entertaining and biased results, and with all due respect to Pillar, I’d say that was likely the case here. A down ballot vote wasn’t going to make or break the race between Yelich and Bellinger, so if I had a vote, I might give a tip of a cap to a blue collar player like Pillar as well. His style of play is endearing, and I don’t mind seeing him rewarded for his hard work with a little resume builder like this.
But make no mistake about it Blue Jays fans, he’s no more an MVP candidate now than he ever was in Toronto. Still, it’s kinda cool to see his name on the list.