Baer: Why Sebastian Giovinco might be the biggest MVP snub in MLS history

Sebastian Giovinco finished the MLS regular season with 32 combined goals and assists, scoring 17 goals of his own and assisting on 15 others.

Apparently, however, it wasn't enough to be named one of the three most valuable players in MLS, let alone the top spot.

MLS announced on Tuesday that the Toronto FC striker was not named to the shortlist of finalists, as New York City FC's David Villa and New York Red Bulls teammates Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips were.

To start off, let me say that voting for the Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player concluded on October 24, the day after Decision Day. The voting is split up evenly between players, MLS clubs (coaches, technical directors, chief business officers and PR directors) and media members.

As one of the media members, I voted Giovinco No. 1 on my MVP ballot, followed by Wright-Phillips at No. 2.

Giovinco's 32 goals and assists are tied for the fourth-highest total in MLS history, only trailing his own record of 38 last season, Chris Wondolowski's 34 in 2012 and Jason Kreis' 33 in 1999.

Looking back at MLS history, there is no precedent for this kind of omission off the finalists list. Whenever a player has had the most combined goals and assists, and his team reached the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, that player has been named one of the top three. On eight occasions that player has taken home the trophy, including four of the past five seasons. 

The only players' to lead MLS in goals and assists and not be named a finalist were Camilo in 2013 and Sebastien Le Toux in 2010. Neither of those players teams reached the playoffs.

There is no doubt that Villa, Wright-Phillips and Kljestan had outstanding seasons, but their cases are not as strong as Giovinco's.

Villa was the leader of a NYCFC team that had an inspiring turnaround, but his raw numbers (23 g, 4 a) don't come close to Giovinco's. Wright-Phillips and Kljestan both deserve to be in the conversation, but can they really be more valuable than Giovinco when they have each other?

The easy reason to point to Giovinco not being included is that he got hurt at the wrong time, missing five of the last seven games of the season. In reality, it made the Italian's case even stronger. In the five games he missed, Toronto won just once and scored just seven goals. Their winning percentage in their other 27 games was over 44 percent.

Simply put, there is little doubt that Giovinco is not only the best player in MLS, but the most valuable.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Howard's inclusion is egregious

Tim Howard was named one of the finalists for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year along with Philadelphia Union 'keeper Andre Blake and last year's winner Luis Robles. Considering the fact that Howard only played in half of the Colorado Rapids' games, his inclusion is egregious.

The fact that Colorado were actually better without Howard in the lineup (1.5 ppg with, 1.9 ppg without) isn't even the worst thing about this: 

November 1, 2016

It's the fact that the voting public overlooked nine goalkeepers who started 30-plus games this season. The simple fact that they played in that many games should have put them over Howard.

I personally voted San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham No. 1, leading a side that conceded just 40 goals. But you could have made an argument for a number of other goalkeepers including Portland's Jake Gleeson, Seattle's Stefan Frei, LA's Brian Rowe or Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando.

Defender of the Year: Moor over Van Damme

This one was close for me. FC Dallas' Matt Hedges, Colorado Rapids center back Axel Sjoberg and the LA Galaxy's Jelle Van Damme were named the finalists for Defender of the Year. I voted Hedges and Sjoberg at No. 1 and No. 2, so I don't have too much of an argument here.

Toronto FC's Drew Moor should have been included over Van Damme. Both had an outstanding first 20-plus games before dropping off slightly in the stretch run. Both teams gave up 39 goals over the course of the regular season. 

The tiebreaker here is Moor's durability. The 32-year-old stared 32 games for Greg Vanney's club compared to Van Damme's 28. That four-game difference, and the production Moor provided in those four games, should have been enough to push him over Van Damme.