Bias Against Cruz Goes Much Deeper Than His Defensive Limitations
Seeing a forty year old dominate a sport has been a pleasure, especially during a year as unpleasant as 2020 has been. Minnesota's Nelson Cruz has led baseball in nearly every offensive category this season, so he very much deserves to be selected as the American League Most Valuable Player.
Making a valid argument for Cruz winning the honor is Anthony Castrovince, who writes for MLB.com. He provides statistical evidence of why Cruz is the clear choice over All-Stars like Mike Trout of the Angels and Jose Abreu of the White Sox, the former of which has won the award four of the past five seasons.
Trout's team is not going to qualify for the postseason and, as Castrovince points out in the column, he may not even be the most valuable player on the Angels. Last year's National League MVP, third baseman Anthony Rendon, joined Trout in Los Angeles as a free agent just a month after winning the World Series with the Washington Nationals.
Nearly the same can be said of Abreu, whose White Sox have one of the best records in baseball. Although the club's first place standing heightens his chance for the honor, Abreu may not even be the Most Valuable Player on the Southsiders. Shortstop Tim Anderson, who won the batting crown last year, is having even more success this season.
As Castrovince points out in his piece, Cruz himself has a former MVP as a teammate. The only problem is that Josh Donaldson, signed as a free agent by Minnesota over the winter, has appeared in only ten games because of a lengthy stint on the injured list.
Cruz, then, has had to anchor the lineup as its only proven slugger, making him an even easier choice as MVP of the league. His only hurdle, according to the article, is the fact that he is a DH.
No other player who is strictly a batter has ever been chosen as MVP, neither David Ortiz nor Edgar Martinez nor Edwin Encarnacion. Castrovince seems to think that list will remain blank, in spite of Cruz being the most deserving this year.
He is, unfortunately, correct that Cruz will not take MVP honors in 2020, but it will not be because of his absence of a defensive position. The reason is the same one that has kept several deserving players from gaining well-deserved awards, including omission from the Hall of Fame.
Baseball writers, comprising too many stubborn and out of touch traditionalists, will not forgive Cruz for 2013. As a member of the Texas Rangers, he tested positive for steroids and received a 50 game suspension.
As evidenced by the absence of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in Cooperstown, the taint of performance enhancing drugs will keep even the best players from getting enough votes for honors they have earned. Just as Melky Cabrera's steroid suspension caused him to lose a batting title after leading the league with a .346 average in 2013, Cruz will be denied the MVP in 2020.
You see, even in a much altered season like 2020, some things remain the same. In the sport of MLB, the letters PED are far more sinful than the letters DH.