Someway, somehow, Michael Young received a first place vote for the 2011 American League MVP award. And no, this isn't a joke either, as Evan Grant has already admitted to putting Young first in the balloting.
Young had an excellent season, certainly as good of a season as anybody could have expected him to have: he hit .338/.380/.474, belted 41 doubles and 11 home runs, and appeared in games at 2B, 3B, 1B and even made an appearance at SS, all the while serving as Texas' designated hitter / super utility player.
That said, Young wasn't even the best player at designated hitter this year, and certainly wasn't even close to being the best player in the American League.
Boston Red Sox designated hitter, and now free agent, David Ortiz was the better hitter this year, hitting .309/.398/.554, with 29 homers and 40 doubles to boot. Ortiz had over 100 fewer at bats than Young as well, despite outslugging him.
Further, Young wasn't even the most valuable hitter on his own team. Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Hamilton all posted higher wOBA's than Young, while providing much more defensive value as well, with Kinsler and Beltre being exceptional with the glove.
While WAR is not the be all, end all, it's certainly a good reference point to how well a player has performed to date. Young's WAR in 2011, per FanGraphs, was 3.8. By contrast, Jacoby Ellsbury led the American League in WAR this year, with a staggering 9.4.
The following hitters posted a higher WAR than Young this year: Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Alex Gordon, Ben Zobrist, Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Howie Kendrick, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Brett Gardner, Alexei Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Elvis Andrus, Peter Bourjos, Yunel Escobar, Matt Wieters, Melky Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz, B.J. Upton and Erick Aybar.
Young's 'versatility' cannot be taken into account as a positive, either. Young was a liability in the field at every single position he played in 2011, posting a negative DRS at each position -- even in his eight innings at shortstop.
As I said, WAR is not the be all end all. It's a good starting point. But there is just absolutely no way that Young had a better season than anybody in at least the top half of that list. Young receiving a first place vote is simply inexcusable.