Even in 2011, when Justin Verlander took home the AL MVP, something Pedro was never able to do. Not surprisingly, Pedro has a problem with that. He went on Boston sports radio station WEEI and discussed it.
"I was kind of pissed off at first, but then I went to realize that they [the voters] are going to have to live with that label on their back. If anyone calls them prejudice or racist for not voting for me, everyone will have to understand that it’s their responsibility for not voting for me at that time ... Now, after, what, 11 years, I see that they finally voted for another pitcher. Guess what: That pitcher is American. I was a Dominican-born player. That made me feel kind of awkward about it. If you compare my numbers to Justin’s, not taking anything from what he did, my numbers were way better. It would have been a lot easier for the voters to just do it. Do it. Just like that, do it."
Pretty heavy stuff, and I'm not entirely sure that there's racism behind the vote, but Pedro most definitely has a point. When you look at his numbers, both compared to Verlander and his peers back in his prime.
This was my initial problem when looking at the AL MVP options this year. Based solely on who was most valuable to their team, there's no doubt that Verlander was the obvious choice. However, based on the precedent of seeing Pedro get snubbed, especially in 1999, the requirements were shifted.
For me, it's no longer a case of whether or not a pitcher is truly the most valuable player in the league. After 1999, it became a case of "was this guy more dominant than Pedro was, back in 1999?"
In Verlander's case, he simply wasn't. He was without a doubt the best pitcher in the AL. He was without a doubt the most valuable player in the AL. He deservedly won the MVP. But there's no way anyone can look me in the eye and honestly make the case that he was better than Pedro Martinez, circa 1999.
|Verlander 2011||Martinez 1999|
You can make the call. Personally, I'll take Pedro. The most ridiculous number is that 243 ERA+. Believe it or not, his 2000 season was arguably better. I never thought I'd say this, but Napoleon Dynamite had it right this time.
It's a little late for Pedro to start chirping about it now, but he definitely has a valid point. Whether it's racism or not, he got robbed. But as he said, perhaps this will pave the way for future pitchers to get recognized appropriately.