In the American League, Mike Trout continues doing things that have never before been done. He was recognized for this with his second career MVP award on Thursday night, though Trout should have five under his belt by now. As long as Trout’s around, it’s really just a competition among the rest of the players for second best.
The Orioles had a couple of players in the running for that competition. When the MVP votes were counted and released, third baseman Manny Machado sat in fifth and even closer Zach Britton got a few votes to place in eleventh.
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out. Machado had a 6.5 Fangraphs WAR, which was good for fifth place in the American League. He placed fifth in the MVP voting, behind the four players who were ahead of him in fWAR. You don’t win anything for finishing fifth, but it’s a nice bit of recognition for a fine season. It’s also Machado’s second-consecutive top five MVP finish.
That’s about what’s deserved after Machado’s season, where he batted .294/.343/.533 and probably missed out on a Gold Glove because he was asked to fill in at shortstop for the extended absence of J.J. Hardy. Trout was transcendent, as ever, and Mookie Betts, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Altuve also had excellent seasons contributing at the plate and in the field.
Machado was one of six players to appear on all 30 ballots. He received votes as high as fourth place, where he was on five ballots, though his largest total was for sixth place, where he was on nine ballots.
That added up to 150 points for Machado under the BBWAA’s voting system, where a vote for first is good for 14 points, a vote for second is worth nine points, a vote for third is worth eight, and so on, down to one point for a tenth place vote. That proved to be just enough for Machado to edge the retiring Vandal, David Ortiz, who scored 147 points.
One writer voted for Ortiz in first place for inexplicable reasons. A different writer voted for Ortiz in second place. The BBWAA has not released the individual ballots or voters names as of this writing. Like Machado, Ortiz appeared on a number of ballots in the 4th-7th range. Machado had enough support to just hold him off.
Does it really matter whether Machado finished ahead of Ortiz in the MVP voting? Of course it doesn’t really matter. But it’s nice when the official award confirms what we already know.
Britton, sitting in 11th place, was essentially the first of the also-rans. Tenth place finisher Miguel Cabrera had 56 points, while Britton had only 11 points. His highest vote was for eight place, where he was on one ballot, and he also received three ninth place votes and two tenth place votes.
Let’s be honest, that’s about as high as any closer belongs. Interestingly, after Britton placed fourth in the Cy Young voting, he was the highest-placed pitcher in the MVP balloting. The starting pitchers who finished ahead of Britton - Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber, and Rick Porcello - combined for two votes and three points. Porcello, the Cy winner, received no MVP votes at all.
As long as Trout is still doing Trout things, the Orioles probably aren’t going to have an MVP winner next year either. But maybe Machado or somebody else can creep up closer to the top than fifth. If that happens, it would likely mean the 2017 season was a good one for the team as a whole.