If Dan Johnson and Nolan Reimold both struck out last night in the bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox would be in the playoffs.
And if they were in the playoffs, Jacoby Ellsbury, who led the American League in total bases, hit .321, had an OPS of .928 out of the lead off spot, had an OPS+ of 146, hit 32 homers, drove in 105 runs, stole 39 bases, had a 7.2 WAR and hit key homers down the stretch, would be the AL MVP.
But they are not in the playoffs. Dan Johnson and Nolan Reimold did NOT swing and miss.
And now it should go to Justin Verlander.
No one player had the impact that he did. The Tigers did not go on a prolonged losing streak after April. The Tigers had a solid bullpen and were consistent each month after April.
And the biggest reason is they knew every 5 days they had a win and the bullpen essentially had a night off. He won 13 of his last 15 starts including 12 in a row, giving the Tigers 7 or more innings in all but 2 of them.
Even the nights where he didn’t have his best stuff, he made sure the bullpen wasn’t taxed. And the line up didn’t have to score a ton to pull out a win.
And he led the league in wins, winning percentage, starts, innings, strikeouts, ERA, ERA+, fewest hits for 9 innings and fewest baserunners over 9 innings.
And he threw a no hitter.
His value impacted the games before and after he pitched, so don’t give me the nonsense that he only played in 34 games.
He also faced 969 batters.
Did any every day player have 969 plate appearances?
Didn’t think so.
Give it to Verlander… although with two missed swings it would have been Ellsbury.