V-Mart among three finalists for AL MVP
Miguel Cabrera will not have a three-peat as American League Most Valuable Player. Victor Martinez has at least an outside chance to get the Tigers their fourth consecutive MVP.
While the Tigers were shut out among the finalists for most of the major awards, they have one for the award they’ve controlled since 2011. Martinez is one of three finalists for AL MVP honors, joining back-to-back runner-up Mike Trout and Michael Brantley.
Final results of the balloting, conducted at the end of the regular season among members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be announced next Thursday evening on MLB Network. Trout is viewed as the favorite, based on previous results as well as the challenges faced by designated hitters in MVP balloting. Yet for a DH to crack the top three is a testament to Martinez’s season.
No player with as many starts at DH as Martinez (115) has finished among the top three since David Ortiz placed third in 2006. It’s not just a product of traditional views of the DH, but the recent value of advanced metrics that put a premium on defensive positions through Wins Above Replacement.
Indeed, Martinez wasn’t anywhere near the AL leaders in WAR, placing 18th among AL players according to Fangraphs. On pure offensive production, however, there was arguably none better.
Not only did Martinez post career-best numbers at age 35, he put up the kind of numbers few 35-year-olds have ever done. His .335 average fell just short of what would have been his first-ever batting title, but his .974 OPS led the Majors, while his .409 on-base percentage led the American League.
With 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 103 RBIs and a 70-to-42 walk-to-strikeout ratio, Martinez made a strong case as the toughest hitter in the game this season.
Martinez became the first Major Leaguer since Albert Pujols in 2006 to hit 30 or more home runs in a season while striking out 50 times or less. At age 35, he became the oldest hitter to post his first 30-homer season since Edgar Martinez did it at age 37 in 2000.
That production was vital for the Tigers, who traded Prince Fielder last fall yet maintained their offensive production. Martinez moved up to the cleanup spot behind Cabrera and gave Detroit the run producer it desperately needed behind their two-time MVP.
Martinez won Tiger of the Year honors earlier Tuesday, the first player other than Cabrera or Justin Verlander to win it since 2007.