And Your 2009 AL MVP IS…
I have to say, when I left for Miami, Florida two weeks ago, I was leaving behind one of the dullest pennant chases of my soon to be 26-year life.
What in the don’t-cry-for-me-Argentina happened to my boring MLB season?
The Giants and Twins. That’s what.
For some strange reason the Giants decided to close in on the Colorado Rockies for the NL Wild Card and the Minnesota Twins have come from literally nowhere, to close within two games (as of this writing) of Detroit. Seriously. Phippsburg, Maine is closer to somewhere than where the Twins came from.
Which brings us to this: With the Central chase heating up, does it bring any solidity to the Joe Mauer for MVP argument? The race for AL MVP is even better than the Central Division title and NL Wild Card fun.
Let’s go to the judges for a refresher course on our major candidates…
Derek Jeter, SS, New York Ya…
I couldn’t even finish typing Jeter’s team name. That’s how sick of hearing about his case I am.
Plus I loathe them.
Jeter’s never won an MVP (true), he should have won in 2006 (probably true), he is the team captain (doesn’t matter), he is the single reason the Yanks are where they are (wait… what???), his numbers back him up (ehhh, I guess… but you’re pushing your luck with that one), he is a winner (true… wait, I think it’s true, he does have a handful of rings after all… why does this matter again?).
Just for giggles, let’s take a look at Jeter’s numbers: .329-AVG, .863-OPS, 17-HR, 103-R, 68-RBI, 26-SB
Here’s the deal. Writers like Jeter for all of those reasons in that mind-numbing paragraph earlier, but he’s also a sexy pick because of his stolen base total. Do you know what stolen bases are? A fantasy baseball stat. Unless you are a guy like Carl Crawford who steals around 70 bags each year, in the grand scheme of things, swipes don’t make a big difference in the win-column.
Sure, to some extent they matter. Aggression on the paths may throw a pitcher off his game a little, sometimes ending with him grooving one to the next guy, or losing control altogether and walking a player. They also can take away the double play, which is great. It really is.
But the real measuring stick of baserunning is runs. If the player’s aggressive nature helps get him home, fantastic. If not, who cares. For Jeter, it helps that he hits leadoff in a lineup that just mashes and yes, in a tiny, living room sized ball park. All that to say while it’s wonderful Jeter has cashed in 26 times underneath a tag, I’m much more interested in his 103 runs, which ties him for second in the AL with teammate Johnny Damon.
Mark Teixeira is also in the top-10 with 94. As I mentioned, the Bronx lineup is pretty solid.
Jeter has some very good numbers, but MVP? Hmm…
Speaking of Teixeira…
Mark Teixeira, 1B, NewYo…
Wow I must really hate this team. I am showing them zero respect. I am wronging them. I… I don’t really care.
Tex has had a great first season in the city that never sleeps. A welcome change for their top-dollar free agent first basemen.
(Pointing at Jason Giambi.)
Let’s take a look at Teixeira’s numbers to date: .285-AVG, .928-OPS, 35-HR, 94-R, 114-RBI, 2-SB
Now we are getting closer to what MVP numbers are supposed to look like. (He still plays 81 games a year in a softball stadium, but whatever…)
The .285 average doesn’t do him any favors against the rest of the field, but it doesn’t really kill his argument either. A solid, non-Pujolsian OPS, great RBI total (tops in the league) and an impressive home run total (2nd in the AL) thrusts the burly first baseman into the thick of this race.
Still, maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time handing the MVP to any one Yank. Take away any single position player, regardless of his numbers and they still probably finish first in the East. They’ve been that good and the rest haven’t been able to stack up against them.
(Plus they play in a coat closet.)
Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
Because I care — about you and the sanity of this conversation — let’s just get Mauer’s numbers out in the open right off the bat.
.373-AVG, 1.05-OPS, 27-HR, 86-R, 87-RBI, 4-SB
Please, review those numbers once more. The runs and RBI are only so-so, but hitting .373 with an OPS over a thousand, and 27 home runs? All of that power/ consistency becomes even more impressive when Mauer’s 57 strikeouts come into play.
There is only one argument I would listen to, poking holes in Maurer’s candidacy, and since the Twins have closed the gap in the Central, their W/L record has nothing to do with it. You don’t have to win the division to be named MVP, just stay competitive.
Come to think of it, thanks to A-Rod in Texas, your team really doesn’t need to do much of anything at all. Right?
I have to be right. MLB writers wouldn’t be crazy enough to undo that crazy unwritten rule, with no tangible guidelines, by voting for a cellar dweller, only to pretend it never happened and go back to sticking with that rule. They wouldn’t do that, would they?
Either way, it really doesn’t matter anymore, because the Twins are winning.
The one argument I’d at least sit down and listen to would be that Mauer missed all of April with an injury. But since the season starts in the middle of the month, he really only missed two-and-a-half weeks.
Good enough for me.
We have one final dark-horse which no one is talking about…
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
I’m not quite sure I understand why Jeter and Teixeira are continually being pimped but Cabrera isn’t. He plays for a team that has been first in the Central for as long as I can recall and has been their only consistent hitter from April to September.
Let’s gander the specifics shall we: .330-AVG, .951-OPS, 30-HR, 88-R, 91-RBI, 6-SB
Hmm… Jeter + Teixeira / 2 = Cabrera.
A tempting equation to vote for and many other years, he’d have a great case. If Cabby rolls out an unbelievable last two weeks of the season, not only holding off the Twins, but destroying them… then maybe. Of all of Mauer’s competition for the award, Cabrera is the one I’d take most seriously.
AL MVP: JOE MAUER.
End of story.