Writing this post is like getting a splinter. It's painful when some of this writer's favorite writers and favorite Twitter follows are fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. Jose Bautista has certainly silenced the critics and the naysayers. Those who called his 2010 season a fluke were sadly mistaken. This writer wasn't one of them. In fact the prediction before the season that Bautista would hit between 40 and 45 homers this season is one of the few correct predictions made here in this spot. But in the end, after looking at everything closely, the MVP here has to go to Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox.
First to get the obvious out of the way. This pick is NOT because Bautista does not play on a contender. Such talk is rubbish from start to finish. If you define the "valuable" in Most Valuable Player, that's what we are talking about. We aren't talking about the Most Valuable Player on a contending team. Yesterday, this writer stated plainly that Matt Kemp is the MVP in the National League even though the Dodgers are going home after Wednesday's game. We are talking about value and which player is the most valuable.
And to get the second obvious thing out of the way, Justin Verlander was considered. And though it can be said that his season was phenomenal, there is disagreement between B-R and Fangraphs on just how valuable it was. The same can be said for Ellsbury whereas Bautista's value is calculated almost same on both sites. And though there is merit to a pitcher winning the MVP, since Verlander is not the leader in WAR on either of the two big WAR sites, then in the end, Verlander was dropped from this discussion.
Ellsbury leads Bautista in fWAR while Bautista leads Ellsbury in rWAR. Just to be totally fair here, Baseball Prospectus also gives Bautista a big edge on their WARP calculations. So two out of three point to Bautista. And indeed, Bautista leads the world in wOBA and wRC+ and also in slugging percentage. He also leads the majors in on base percentage. Ellsbury's big lead in fWAR seems to be all defense. And defense is a troublesome statistic as it is not as clear cut statistic as the offensive ones. Bautista is the leader in the majors for position players and WPA. Ellsbury has Bautista in the clutch statistic as calculated by Fangraphs.
And so the edge in a lot of categories goes to Bautista. But here is the swing vote for Jacoby Ellsbury: When two players are so close in the total value category with different sites disagreeing with the totals, the swing vote for this writer is the second half of the season. Jose Bautista had an amazing first half. But his statistics have sort of coasted since then. Jacoby Ellsbury outplayed him easily in the second half. Here are some numbers:
Second half slash line: Bautista: .261/.420/.493 Ellsbury: .322/.370/.603.
Second half runs, homers, doubles, RBIs: Bautista: 32, 12, 9, 38. Ellsbury: 52, 17, 19, 49
Certainly there are other things to take into consideration. Ellsbury's supporting cast is clearly superior to who Bautista has around him. Bautista's amazing first half does count for something. But in the end, the final decision for this writer came down to the old, "What have you done for me lately." And when their overall values are so close, that's what finally sways the vote for this observer. And there it is. Sorry about that Blue Jays' fans.