Last week, a couple of erstwhile ESPN scribes launched a broadside against Blue Jays nation that will forever be known as the "Man in White Incident". While that article was ridiculed quickly and sharply by Blue Jays fans, management and players, the authors of the ESPN story were quite defensive towards the Jays Nation's reaction, and seemed puzzled that Jays fans would react with such venom against the accusations tossed about by a bunch of anonymous "#clowns" (Hey Chicago - How is Alex Rios doing? ZING!)
Fast forward to today, Friday August 19th, when I had the misfortune of reading a "blog" on possible AL/NL Contenders for MVP. My eyes bulged when I saw they listed Jose Bautista in the 5th sport for AL MVP. Once again Blue Jays fans see Jose Bautista beaten out of contention for MVP by a myriad of Red Sox and Yankees, all of whom the author of the blog went on about at length and praising them because "they play on winning teams", without considering that their efforts are less worthy than Bautista's because they have a supporting cast of fellow Co-MVP's! Meanwhile, Bautista has put forth what is known in Toronto as "Beastmode Numbers" and all with the likes of Mr. Juan Rivera behind him and Corey Patterson in front of him. This makes his numbers stand out. In fact, they stand out so much it makes me wonder what Jose Bautista has to do to convince MLB writers and fans that he is the real deal!
Think about it for a second... Curtis Granderson is having his name tossed around for MVP very strongly right now, but he plays with Mark Teixera and Robinson Cano (who also appear on the ESPN MVP list.) With the exception of RBI's, Granderson's numbers are inferior to Bautista's, including his batting average, which at .281 entering today is only .20 points higher than Bautista' average in 2010 (.260). The reason I mention batting average is that at the time of deliberation for the 2010 AL MVP, Bautista's .260 average was held against him despite his heroic 54 homeruns and leading the Blue Jays to a much-stronger than expected season. Moving on, other stats besides batting average, such as OPS or WAR, are more useful in order to better gauge a players contribution to their team. Guess what? Bautista betters not only Granderson, but every single other player on the American League AND the National League MVP-candidate lists so far in 2011 in terms of .OPS and WAR.
Adrian Gonzales, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia all find themselves in the top echelons of this MVP list despite that one would tend to think that the prevalence of so many other star players on a single roster cheapens the numbers each of them produce to merit a single MVP amongst them (even though they are100 percent having great seasons.) Sure, the Red Sox are winning but they are a mega franchise that has paid hundreds of millions of dollars for top tier talent. This doesn't factor into the author's decision-making process whatsoever. Meanwhile the Jays, led by Bautista, chug along like the Little Engine that Could, earning little to no merit.
Weighing the Blue Jays season so far, it appears that Jose Bautista is one of the primary reasons the 2011 Jays will not live up to the 100 loss season that ESPN was predicting in the off-season. Despite Bautista's heroic play in 2011, it was only a matter of time before ESPN implied via the "White Man incident" that Bautista was having success due to tipped pitches, a slight that Jose Bautista did not deserve and for which ESPN has yet to issue an apology. More recently, they have suggested that despite leading the MLB in practically every major Offensive category that he is only the #5 candidate in the American League for the MVP, when in reality he is the best performing MLB offensive player.
To me, his personal success combined with the Blue Jays stronger than expected showing this season clearly indicate he is a deserving and worthwhile candidate for MVP that needs to be taken much more seriously by various Baseball writers... That Jose Bautista continues to face these slights is a disturbing trend that this Jays fan hopes to see less of...