|Mookie Betts, BOS||28||2||410|
|Mike Trout, LAA||1||24||2||1||2||265|
|Jose Ramirez, CLE||1||10||11||3||208|
|J.D. Martinez, BOS||1||2||8||5||5||198|
|Alex Bregman, HOU||1||4||10||9||192|
So Mookie won by quite a bit, as he should have, as a) Trout had one of his best seasons, but for another mediocre Angels team, and b) Betts was the best player on a great team with other great players, notably J.D. Martinez. (Martinez being voted out of the top-3, replaced by Jose Ramirez, is silly, but that's another blog. I mean, he won 2 Silver Sluggers last year, one at DH [obviously; surprisingly bad year for AL DHs in general] and one in left, where Benintendi is standing right now, his arms high, saying "What the hell?" But that's how eye-popping Martinez's numbers were. I don't think anyone's ever won two SSs at 2 different positions in the same year before.)
Someone, perhaps from L.A., or Anaheim, or wherever the identity crisis identifies itself, voted for Trout, and maybe that's forgivable. But someone else voted for Martinez, and this--though I'm a Sox fan--is provably wrong, and really indefensible.
First, of course, is that Martinez didn't play the field, outside of National League parks. This is for a reason, and it's not just that the Sox outfield is one of the best defensively of all time. It's because Martinez is a defensive liability. Look at baseball-reference.com on his page, and you'll see. I'll provide it for you here. His defense was -1.4 last year, and -7.6 for his career. By any explanation, that's bad. Really bad. Now, I know Martinez hit .330 and drove in 130 runs, but Mookie Betts clearly would have as well, had he batted 3rd and 4th in the lineup, and for the MVP, Martinez's extra homers and RBIs don't compensate for what would've been a horrendous defense had Sox leadership had a stroke and let him play the field for 150 games.
Secondly, and it should be said again, if Mookie Betts hits 3rd or 4th as Martinez had, he would've had Martinez's numbers this year, minus the RBIs, because he wouldn't have had Mookie Betts on base in front of him. Betts's on-base % was higher than Martinez's, and his 30 steals and first-to-third ability far eclipses Martinez's running talent, which is limited. Have you seen how many times Mookie Betts scored from 2nd on infield hits the last few years, a la the last play in the movie Major League? If you haven't, YouTube it, because it's electric and unreal. J.D. Martinez simply can't do it. So baserunning ability, and electricity on the bases, and scoring 129 runs, advantage Betts.
Thirdly, it's not just that Martinez is terrible in the field. It's also that Betts is the best right fielder out there right now. He's got Rickey Henderson's speed (almost) and Dwight Evans's arm. He throws out people at 2nd and 3rd with liners that only Jackie Bradley, Jr. can emulate. Remember his throw nailing Houston's Tony Kemp, who had homered earlier, who tried to go to second in the 8th, down by two, 8-6, with Kimbrel possibly again about to fall apart on the mound? That was the play of the game--and not the catch against the wall (and the fans), because of course the Astros tied the game later, and even had 2 one-run leads. Anyway, Martinez doesn't make those plays. With him out there, Joe West signals homerun. Martinez doesn't make all those diving catches. And in left, where he'd play, he'd never, ever make Benintendi's diving play to save that game (and Kimbrel's ass, since the bases were loaded and they all would've scored to lose the game).
So that one vote for Martinez is a joke. Betts has the same homers and RBIs with another Betts leading off. Betts has the huge advantage in defense, base-running, stolen bases, OBP, electricity on the bases, scoring from second on infield hits, going first-to-third, and distracting the pitcher to the advantage of the next batter. (The pitcher would just ignore J.D. at first base.) That one voter must be old-school sold on homers and RBIs to the exclusion of everything else, and that's frankly, and provably, wrong.
And P.S.--Did you see that Steve Pearce got re-signed for one year at $6.25 million? The same Steve Pearce who was World Series MVP, who hit three homers in the last two games, and who had an awesome playoffs in general? But here's the thing: He had just finished a contract that paid him two years at $12.5 million. Now, I'm no math teacher, but isn't two years at 12.5 the same as one year at 6.25? So Steve Pearce gets a 0% raise after winning World Series MVP and having an electric playoffs--and some great games against the Yanks, including a 3-homer game, during the regular season? I know he probably got a bonus for winning World Series MVP, but his 0% raise still smells like a stinky home-field discount to me. It's cheap.