As expected, Albert Pujols was named the National League MVP by unanimous decision. He’s just the 6th senior circuit player to collect every first place vote, according to the BBWAA, joining the club previously only occupied by Orlando Cepeda, Mike Schmidt, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti, and Barry Bonds.
Perhaps what wasn’t expected was a 4th place finish for Prince Fielder. It figured to be a wide-open contest for second place, but in the end Hanley Ramirez collected nearly half of the second place votes to claim the runner-up spot. Ryan Howard and Fielder duked it out for the bronze, but Howard came out on top, thanks in part to one more second place vote and less low-place votes than Fielder.
If you look at the table posted on the BBWAA’s website, you can see the breakdown. Three people picked Fielder 10th — the last spot on the ballot. One person voted him 9th. Three more placed him 8th, while another placed him just outside the Top 5 with a 6th-place vote.
Am I being a homer here, or is it completely ridiculous to think that there were nine more valuable players than Prince Fielder in 2009? Am I crazy for thinking that without Fielder, not only would the Brewers have not won 80 games, but they’d be fighting off the Pirates for last place in the division? Nothing against Howard, but he had more help in carrying the Phillies to another playoff berth. Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino all made appearances on a couple ballots (finishing 8th, 17th, and 18th, respectively). The only other Brewer to make an appearance was Ryan Braun, who finished 11th with no votes higher than 5th.
So what’s the deal with the three 10th-place votes? Disgruntled Cardinals and Giants writers upset with his untucking and walkoff celebrations? Other writers trying to cram as many of their hometown guys into the ballot as possible?
In the end it probably doesn’t matter. Heck, it might even help the Brewers in negotiations with Scott Boras if they can say he finished 4th instead of 3rd (then again, not likely for an agent who’s been passing around stats to MLB GM’s showing how Johnny Damon has been more productive the past few years than Rickey Henderson was at the same age). After such a disappointing year, though, it would’ve been nice to at least look at Prince’s baseball-reference page a few years from now and see a “MVP-3” at the end of the statline.
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