Over the years, the Yankees have had some of the best players in baseball. Very often, they are statistically near the top of the league on teams that finish near the very top of the standings. However, despite the amazing seasons, it seems that baseball’s award voters have a bit of a bias against the Yankees.
With DJ LeMaheiu’s past couple of seasons and the Judge/Altuve 2017 debate fresh on everyone’s minds, lets take a look of a few other cases in recent memory.
2006 AL MVP
In 2006, it finally looked like Derek Jeter would win a regular season MVP. After years of star-caliber play, Jeter was in the midst of one of his best seasons slashing .343/.417/.483, 14 homers, 34 stolen bases and 5.6 bWar. Meanwhile, the Yankees finished with the best record in the American League. However, baseball’s MVP voters decided that the Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was more deserving of the award. Morneau had a career year slashing .321/.375/.559, 34 home runs and a 4.3 bWar.
While Morneau had a nice year, he wasn’t even the most valuable player on his team. Johan Santana led the AL in bWar and Joe Mauer also had a higher bWar. David Ortiz, Jermaine Dye and Travis Hafner had higher On-base and Slugging percentages. But what is most frustrating about the votes is that one writer placed Jeter 4th on the list and one placed him 6th.
2003 Rookie of the Year
In 2003, Hideki Matsui took MLB by storm. Godzilla played in every game for the Yankees who won 101 that year. Despite his strong rookie campaign, he would lose the Rookie of the Year vote by four points Angel Berroa. Now in hindsight, Berroa had a slightly higher bWar and was deserving of the award. However, it was the logic of the voters that clearly shows the anti-Yankees bias.
Two voters simply left Matsui off of the ballot. One writer, Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, said that having Matsui on the ballot who played for 10 professional years in Japan was not in the spirit of the award. However, just two years earlier Ichiro won the award after playing nine seasons in Japan. And in 2000, Kazuhiro Sasaki won it after 10 years in Japan. Either all players who have played in foreign professional leagues should be removed from consideration or they should count. Not special rules that exclusively impact the Yankees.
2016 Rookie of the Year
In 2016, Gary Sanchez joined a Yankees team that was 53-53 and hit .299 with 20 home runs over the rest of the season. However, he lost the Rookie of the Year vote to Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer who finished the year 11-7 with a 3.06 era and 132 ks in 159 innings. While Fulmer had a nice season, it wasn’t anything special or historic. Meanwhile, Sanchez would have averaged over 60 home runs if he played a full MLB season.
It seemed that for a while Sanchez could do no wrong and would simply power a ball over the wall in every game, tying the MLB record for fastest to hit 20 homers. But some voters didn’t really consider him for the award because he didn’t play a full season. Three seasons later, Yordan Alvarez ran away with the award despite playing in only 83 games. Using bWar, Alvarez trailed Orioles starter John Means 5 to 3.7. Sanchez trailed Fulmer 5.4 to 3. Again it is a clear Yankees bias that led to the same voters not voting for Sanchez to reward Alvarez three seasons later.
This year, the Yankees have a few players that could walk away with some hardware. It could be DJ LeMahieu or Aaron Judge winning an elusive MVP award. And Kluber and Taillon are both candidates for comeback player of the year. However, if the vote looks like it will be close, it won’t be surprising to see the anti-Yankees bias rear its ugly head once again.