MVP Snub

by Anita Y. Tsuchiya

This chapter is a free excerpt from Pedro Martinez: A Biography.

Many analysts and journalists believed Martinez should have won the American League MVP for his remarkable pitching performance in 1999. He led the league in strikeouts with 313 SO. This was the second time he’d achieved 300 SO in a season, making him just the eighth pitcher of the modern era (after 1900) to have two 300-SO seasons. He also led the league in wins (23), winning percentage (.852), ERA (2.07), and WHIP (.923).

The MVP is awarded by MLB sportswriters who submit ballots ranking the 10 players they think are most deserving. Sportswriters filling out MVP ballots are supposed to consider five “rules”:


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Many analysts and journalists believed Martinez should have won the American League MVP for his remarkable pitching performance in 1999. He led the league in strikeouts with 313 SO. This was the second time he’d achieved 300 SO in a season, making him just the eighth pitcher of the modern era (after 1900) to have two 300-SO seasons. He also led the league in wins (23), winning percentage (.852), ERA (2.07), and WHIP (.923).

The MVP is awarded by MLB sportswriters who submit ballots ranking the 10 players they think are most deserving. Sportswriters filling out MVP ballots are supposed to consider five “rules”:

  • Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense
  • Number of games played
  • General character, disposition, loyalty and effort
  • Former winners are eligible
  • Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team

Martinez received the most first-place votes but lost to Ivan Rodriguez on total points because two writers left Martinez’ name completely off their ballots. Writers George King and LaVelle Neal argued pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP because they rarely contribute to team offense and appear in such a small percentage of total innings played.

While this debate is a common one among players and fans, voting sportswriters are instructed to, “Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.” King’s excuse was particularly odd, considering the previous year he voted for two pitchers, Rick Helling and David Wells.

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