LOS ANGELES, CA — The Braves right fielder, Ronald Acuña Jr, was everyone’s favorite to win the 2023 NL MVP award. It was a no-brainer for the voters. The Angels DH/RHP, Shohei Ohtani, who won the AL MVP again, was everyone’s favorite to win it this year. In my opinion, I will always have a problem giving an MVP award to a guy who plays for a team that can’t win. Unlike someone like Acuña, the Angels lose with or without Ohtani. MLB needs an award for the best overall season. One award for MLB Player of the Year, pitcher or position player. Acuña would win the NL MVP and be the year’s best player if it existed today.
But now let’s talk about downright snubs in these awards. There is the big one with Nolan Ryan never winning a Cy Young award and, of course, the reason we have the Latino Sports MVP award every year when Julio Pabón said, “Hey, what about Rubén Sierra?” when he was snubbed in 1989. The Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico great was beaten out that year for MVP by Robin Yount, who batted .318 to Sierra’s .306, had the same amount of runs scored at 101, had 195 hits to Sierra’s 194, 103 RBIs to Sierra’s 119 and eight fewer home runs.
But to me, the biggest snub was Juan Marichal, Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. In 1969, he went 21-11, had a 2.10 ERA, a league-leading ERA+ of 168, ahead of eventual Cy Young winner Tom Seaver’s 165, and a league-leading eight shutouts and was not even on the ballot that year. Marichal received votes for the award in just one season, finishing eighth in 1971. Why they put him on the ballot in 1971 is a mystery. He had a record of 18-11 with an ERA of 2.94 with 150 strikeouts in 71. But if you look at his years from 1963-1969, when he led the NL and, in some cases, the Major Leagues in many categories, you have to scratch your head as to why he was not even on the ballot in any of those years!
Baseball has come a long way from not recognizing the achievements of Latinos and people of color in the game today. Hopefully, that always stays the same. The fan base has realized the talent on the field and has flocked to the stadiums by the millions to see these gifted players do their thing, filling the owner’s pockets with money. Owners know what players will make them richer.
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