Kepner: A most valuable player with an invaluable platform

From Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on November 14, 2013, with mention of SABR members Mark Armour and Dave Dombrowski:

By the end, they had all left the postseason stage: Brandon Phillips and Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp and Justin Upton, David Price and Andrew McCutchen, Carl Crawford and Prince Fielder. The World Series arrived, and all the African-American stars in the playoff field were gone.

When the Boston Red Sox played the St. Louis Cardinals, not a single African-American threw a pitch or took a turn at bat. Quintin Berry, whose father is black, stole a base as a pinch-runner for Boston in Game 4. There were no other African-Americans on the rosters.

On Thursday, McCutchen won the National League’s top prize, taking the Most Valuable Player award in a runaway. McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ center fielder, had 28 of 30 first-place votes, with St. Louis’s Yadier Molina getting the other two. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt placed second over all.

In the American League, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won his second M.V.P. in a row, with 23 first-place votes. The Angels’ Mike Trout had five, and Baltimore’s Chris Davis and Oakland’s Josh Donaldson had one each.

Cabrera is already a symbol of Major League Baseball, winning the Triple Crown last season and slowly crossing over into the national consciousness; he has a Chevrolet commercial.

As a newly minted M.V.P., McCutchen, 27, will have his own platform. He is the first African-American player to win an M.V.P. award since Jimmy Rollins in 2007, and he has a chance to make a positive impact in an area of increasing concern to baseball.


Black players from the United States made up 8.5 percent of opening day rosters this season, down from a peak of 19 percent in 1986, according to a study by Mark Armour from the Society of American Baseball Research.

Read the full article here:

Related link: Read “Baseball Demographics, 1947-2013,” by Mark Armour and Daniel R. Levitt

Originally published: November 15, 2013. Last Updated: November 15, 2013.