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A Look Back: The 2000 American League MVP Award

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The year 2000 was a very special year in baseball for Jason Giambi.  

It was his fifth full season in the big leagues and he lead the Oakland Athletics to their first division title in eight years.  On a personal note he set career highs in home runs (43), batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.647) and OPS+ (188).  His efforts were strong enough to win him the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Since Giambi admitted to using steroids many baseball fans have called his winning the 2000 A.L. MVP Award into question.  Some believe Giambi should be stripped of the award given the fact he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs, that he simply does not deserve such an honor.

While stripping Giambi of the award would be just plain silly, I don't necessarily believe he was the most deserving player to win it at the time.

The year 2000 was also a very special year in baseball for Pedro Martinez.

While his Boston Red Sox would not reach the postseason, Martinez had a very good season.  Better yet, he had a historically good season.

We'll get into the historical aspect of Martinez' season a bit later; let's first take a look at things on the surface.  

Martinez went 18-6 for the Red Sox that season, but more importantly posted a microscopic 1.74 ERA in 217.0 innings.  He struck out 284 batters that year and received every single first place vote for the A.L. Cy Young Award winning it for the second time in his career.

There was no question Martinez was the clear favorite to win the Cy Young Award and he did so completely eliminating the competition.  

But was his 2000 season MVP worthy?  Let's take a look at how the voting shaped out.  Below is a list of the finishers in the race for the 2000 A.L. MVP Award along with their respective WARP's that season.  Giambi of course tops the list because he won the award:

Martinez finished fifth at the voting polls that year, but from a WARP perspective you couldn't find to many players that could hold a candle to his production outside of Alex Rodriguez.

Pedro's WARP of 14.3 wins tops the list and is the highest single season mark he has accumulated over his illustrious career.

Let's take things a step further.  Pedro's season in 2000 was truly special for a few reasons; let's take a look at them:

*His adjusted ERA+ of 285 that season was the second highest single season mark ever posted in baseball history.

*His RA+ of 293 was the highest single season mark ever posted by a pitcher with at least 150 innings pitched. (Hat Tip:  Mind Game/Jay Jaffe).

*His Runs Prevented mark of 84.7 runs is the fourth highest single season total ever accumulated.  (Hat Tip:  Mind Game/Jay Jaffe).

To put in simple terms, Martinez' 2000 season might have been the great single season ever pitched in baseball history.  That's definitely something you could argue, but there's plenty of evidence supporting this one was one of the great ones.

For such an outstanding season, I would argue Pedro wasn't only the league's most valuable pitcher, he was also the league's most valuable player.

I've gotten into detail about such cases in which a pitcher might be the most deserving MVP candidate, but he of course comes up empty.

In cases such as Clemens' 1997 season and Martinez' 2000 season, biases against pitchers winning the MVP award need to be ignored.

Pedro Martinez might be the greatest pitcher ever.  Maybe not the most valuable, but in terms of greatness we might not ever see a pitcher of his kind for quite a while.  It's a shame he's never won an MVP award, especially given the historically outstanding season he had back in 2000.