Nothing can top the end to the 2011 MLB Regular Season, where the Boston Red Sox capped off their season in fine form, falling to Baltimore, while Tampa Bay squeaked its way into the post-season. Though 2012 was dramatic, with Oakland and Baltimore both entering the post-season – against all expectations – it was a 3/10 on the 2011 drama-meter. Overall, 2011 was another excellent year of baseball, with some big-name, big-money teams (Philly and Boston) falling, and some small-market teams climbing (Pittsburgh for the first 3/4 of the season and Seattle following the all-star break). Though several players emerged as a candidates for the AL and NL most and least valuable players, here are my picks:
Most Valuable: DEREK JETER
Most of you will say that Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout deserve this award (and that’s definitely true), but Jeter propelled the Yankees to the AL East crown, while posting a batting average over .300, over 200 hits and who knows how much leadership in the clubhouse. The Yankees battled the injury bug this year, and at times, they didn’t look the part of an AL East contender; however, Jeter helped keep things afloat. He was the marquee player on a marquee team in 2012.
Least Valuable: RICKY ROMERO
The Jays assembled an impressive line-up at the outset of 2012, but saw their season fall apart as the months dragged on. With countless injuries and the rise of Baltimore and Tampa in the standings, the Jays plummeted – particularly after the all-star break – with lacklustre pitching among the leading causes. Romero is one of the best pitches in all of baseball, which makes his shaky 2012 campaign harder to swallow.
Most Valuable: GIO GONZALEZ
“BUT HE’S A PITCHER!!!” Yeah, I know, but Justin Verlander won in 2011, and Gonzalez had a season to remember in 2012. All throughout the year, ESPN cried Harper, Harper, Harper… which then switched to Strasburg, Strasburg, Strasburg. Despite the incessant media coverage, Gio flew under the radar, compiling over 20 wins and one of the lowest ERAs in the Majors. He should earn NL Cy Young (narrowly, over R.A. Dickey) and NL MVP.
Least Valuable: ALBERT PUJOLS
Once again, St. Louis qualified for the post-season by an inch, and then took out Atlanta in a mess of a game at Turner Field. But WHERE WAS ALBERT PUJOLS VERSUS ATLANTA? Apparently, he was sitting somewhere in Los Angeles, California, watching baseball on Fox while resting his legs from the gruelling 162-game season. Indeed, Pujols was the NL’s least valuable player, doing little – if nothing – to pace the Cardinals to the NL’s Wildcard spot.