Jose Bautista (2011) – Third in AL MVP Voting
In 2011, Bautista was coming off of a breakout season, and he built on that extremely well. Bautista led the league for a second consecutive season in home runs (43), while also leading the league in Slugging Percentage (.608) and OPS (1.056). This was the season that Bautista moved to a more of a steady role in right field and shined as he collected 13 assists in 116 games (he played 25 games at Third Base).
Bautista would finish third in AL MVP voting, but had the second most first place votes. The winner that year was Justin Verlander who finished the season with a 24-5 record and a 2.40 ERA. I am not against a pitcher winning the MVP award and I think Verlander had a remarkable season, but I don’t see it as any more of a typical Cy Young season. Both of Roger Clemens Cy Young seasons for the Blue Jays were better than what Verlander posted, and he wasn’t close to winning the AL MVP.
If you remove Verlander from the list, Jacoby Ellsbury finished just nine points ahead of Bautista in voting points and it would have been a close race between the two for the award. Ellsbury had a nearly 60 more hits, while also having a 30-30 season. However, Bautista did not have the same opportunities that Ellsbury had at the plate as pitchers were just too scared to pitch to the power hitting Bautista. The Boston outfielder hit 19 points higher than Bautista, the big factor was getting on base. Bautista had a .447 on base percentage, compared to .376 by Ellsbury. The Blue Jays right fielder was walked 132 times and for comparison sake, there was only one other American League player to finish with 100+ walks, which was Miguel Cabrera (108). Ellsbury was walked just 52 times (80 less than Bautista).
I think the voting would have been close, but if Verlander was removed, I believe that Bautista would have edged out Ellsbury.
Paul Molitor and John Olerud (1993) Finished Second and Third in AL MVP Voting
When you look back at the numbers from the 1993 season that all the Blue Jays had you have to wonder if this has to be one of the top teams in MLB History. What I find surprising from the voting that season was that Frank Thomas was the unanimous winner for the AL MVP as he received all 28 first place votes.
John Olerud shockingly finished third in voting, despite flirting with a .400 average for most of the season, as he was still hitting above that mark that into August and was even still batting .382 going into September that year. Olerud hit just 24 home runs that season, but collected a league leading 57 doubles, which was included in his 200 hits that led to him leading the league in OPS at 1.072.
Paul Molitor joined the Blue Jays prior to that season to replace Dave Winfield and he was nothing short of amazing. Molitor quickly became a fan favourite, as he led the league in hits with 211 while finishing second in batting average to Olerud. Molitor also had his first career 20-20 season as he finished with 22 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
Frank Thomas had an amazing season, but the only thing that stood out over Olerud was his 41 home runs, while Olerud was clearly better in every other offensive category.
What do you think? Who had the best season that was not named AL-MVP