Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Joe Mauer: The AL MVP

As I was watching Sunday Night Baseball this past weekend eating Chinese food, not entirely focused on the television, Joe Morgan almost forced me to choke on my dinner. "I know who I'm voting for. Mark Teixeira first, Jeter second." Suddenly, I realized why I missed FireJoeMorgan so much. Not only did he leave Mauer completely out of his top TWO AL MVP spots, he didn't even both to explain why.

Look, I understand Joe Mauer is the odds on favorite to win the MVP Award, and Joe Morgan's opinion isn't going to change what seems like a virtual certainty. However, in this day and age, it baffles me that someone can screw up the MVP vote so badly, and it happens every year. The year Justin Morneau won the MVP, both Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter were more deserving. Kevin Youkilis was far more deserving than Dustin Pedroia last year, yet Pedroia won it. Those recent examples are the biggest reason I don't care much what 30-something sportswriters think, and rather use common sense to determine the AL and NL MVP Awards. The reason I got so worked up is because Joe Mauer is having one of the single greatest seasons in baseball history and Joe Morgan has the nerve to say he isn't going to even place him in the top two? It's mind-boggling.

Let's pretend, for a minute, that Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira play the same position. Here are there hitting stats as of today:

Joe Mauer: 130 G, .371 AVG, .444 OBP, .602 SLG, 1.047 OPS, 28 HR, 181 OPS+

Mark Teixeira: 151 G, .294 AVG, .384 OBP, .568 SLG, .952 OPS, 38 HR, 146 OPS+

Mauer's batting average is almost as high as Teixeira's on base percentage, while Mauer has a higher slugging? How are their seasons even comparable? Teixeira is having a very good season, but compared to what he did last season he's been a disappointment. If you want to punish Mauer's case because he missed the first month of the season, feel free, but if we want to make this 'most valuable' and not simply 'most outstanding' I think it's worth noting the Twins were just 11-11 without Mauer and are 71-65 with him. Not a huge improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

When you factor in that Joe Mauer is putting together arguably the greatest season by a catcher in the history of baseball, it's ridiculous someone else not named Albert Pujols would take any votes from him for MVP.

With the Twins 2 games down and 5 to go, their odds at making the post-season are slim. However, the team at least continues to control their own destiny, as back-to-back wins in Detroit today and tomorrow would give them a share of the division lead heading into the last weekend of the season. The Twins hold the advantage in both pitching matchups, and if they can win both the games they likely will be the favorites to win the division as they get Kansas City at home while the Tigers get to play the White Sox. Mauer is likely the AL MVP even if the Twins fail to make the playoffs, but if they somehow find a way to win the division, Mauer should be the unanimous MVP. Hell, he should get every first, second and third place vote.


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