This is a pretty dumb exercise. How’s that for the opening line of a blog post?
Tonight, the year’s final BBWAA Awards are being announced. The Most Valuable Players will be revealed on MLB Network, and we can be fairly certain Robinson Cano’s name will be fairly high on the American League list. He won’t be top three — we know that for sure — but top five doesn’t seem out of the question. With Rookie of the Year and Cy Young, I came up with an All-Yankees ballot. So, naturally, I tried to the same for MVP. It’s horribly depressing and gets pretty pointless by the time you reach No. 2 on the list. It becomes entirely pointless after No. 7 or so.
But, I started this whole thing, so I might as well finish it. Here, then, is my All-Yankees MVP ballot. Yuck.
1. Robinson Cano
Obviously. I don’t think I’m allowed to reveal anything about my actual MVP ballot, but I imagine it’s safe to say that Cano is on it, and he’s the only Yankees player on it. I imagine that will be the case on almost every ballot, unless someone decided to put a ton of emphasis on the final two months and give Alfonso Soriano a bottom-of-the-ballot stamp of approval. As for Cano, he was clearly the Yankees best player last year. Needs no explanation.
2. Brett Gardner
I suppose you could make case for either of the next two names being bumped up to this spot, but I’ve always had a hard time voting a starting pitcher ahead of an everyday player on an MVP ballot. It can certainly happen, but I think the impact has to be overwhelming for a guy who plays every fifth day. In the end, Kuroda wasn’t overwhelming, and Gardner turned in a perfectly strong season at the top of the order. There were only two consistent sources of offense this year, and Gardner was one of them.
3. Hiroki Kuroda
For four months, Kuroda was a Cy Young candidate. He was the Yankees most reliable starter — and he was a dominant starter — until his year went badly off the tracks in the final two months. Even with that ugly finish, though, Kuroda still finished with good numbers across the board, remarkably similar to what he did in 2012. He was awfully good, until he suddenly wasn’t.
4. Alfonso Soriano
Played in 58 games for the Yankess, yet a case could be made that Soriano is too low on this list. He finished second on the team in home runs and tied for fourth in RBI. Until the final two weeks or so, it seemed that the addition of Soriano — along with some guys finally off the disabled list — just might be enough to push the Yankees into the playoffs. He was incredibly valuable. He was just playing in a different city most of the year.
5. Ivan Nova
Remember when I wrote that I have a hard time putting starting pitchers ahead of everyday players on an MVP ballot? Well, here’s where the reality of the 2013 Yankees begins to kick in. It’s awfully hard to put any other position player ahead of Nova, whose positive impact was limited to a window not much bigger than Soriano’s. Nova was terrific in the second half, and helped the Yankees stay in the race until late September.
6. Mariano Rivera
For the record, I think relievers are also a fairly awkward fit on MVP ballots. It’s just hard to compare pitchers against position players — drastically different players with completely opposite methods of production — but Rivera was once again a steady force, bringing dependability in the ninth inning and helping make the Yankees bullpen perhaps their most consistent strength throughout the season. He was great, one last time.
7. Dave Robertson
In a lot of ways, Robertson was just as good or better than Rivera, but Rivera gets the nod for handling that ninth inning. Depending on how the Yankees construct their bullpen next season, it could be interesting to see how the setup role is viewed going forward. Robertson kind of slid into the role quietly, then he took absolute control of it. Now, if Robertson moves into the closer role, is the eighth inning going to feel like an equally difficult job to fill? Rivera’s shoes are impossible to fill, but Robertson’s aren’t exactly easy to fill.
8. Andy Pettitte
Left him off my Cy Young ballot. Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe it wasn’t. Mostly, I suppose, it doesn’t matter one way or the other. For this ballot, I’m putting Pettitte on for being perfectly solid all the way through. He was a good No. 3 starter, which is exactly what he was supposed to be. Nothing fancy, and nothing flashy, at least not the final start of his career when he went all nine innings against the Astros. One of the highlights of the season, for sure.
9. Lyle Overbay
Now we’re getting into the just-pick-a-guy section of the ballot. I’m going to with Overbay for a few reasons. For starters, when the Yankees got off to that strong start and seemed like one of the biggest surprises in baseball, Overbay was a huge part of it. His production far exceeded expectations in the the first half, so much so that the Yankees tried him in right field just to keep his bat in the lineup. Also, I’m putting Overbay on the ballot because he was second on the team in RBI, third in homers and third in doubles. Competition might not have been tough, but he was more productive than most of his teammates. The Yankees needed offense in the worst way, and Overbay supplied at least a little bit.
10. Ichiro Suzuki
Do you realize Ichiro had a positive WAR this season? He was, apparently, better than a replacement-level player. So that’s something. He did have more hits than all of the Yankees except Cano and Gardner, and he did steal some bases, and he was able to fill-in as a center fielder from time time, and he did have a few stretches when he was legitimately productive. But mostly, putting a .262/.297/.342 corner outfielder on a list like this is just dumb. That’s why it’s a dumb exercise. I warned you from the very beginning.
Associated Press photos