AL MVP: Joe Mauer & Everyone Else
I wasn’t surprised when Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer was announced as the 2009 AL MVP. I was surprised when he received only 27 of the 28 first place votes. When a catcher pairs gold glove defense with a bat that led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, he’s the MVP. There isn’t even any question about it.
Yankee teammates Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter came in second and third while Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and LA’s Kendry Morales rounded out the top 5. Six through ten were Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, Ben Zobrist, Ichiro and Alex Rodriguez.
Other than Mauer winning the award, I don’t agree with anything in this year’s result. I realize that pitchers have their “own” award in the form of the Cy Young, but you can’t truthfully tell me that Placido Polanco is more valuable than Felix Hernandez. Or that Cy Young winner Zack Greinke was the 17th most valuable player in the American League.
Here’s my AL MVP ballot.
1. Joe Mauer, MIN
Even having missed the first month of the season, Joe Mauer’s season was the single most impressive offensive campaign this year. He led the league in all triple slash categories. Mauer’s season was not simply good or great. It was historically great and there’s no one that was close to him this year.
2. Derek Jeter, NYY
Teixeira finished ahead of Jeter in the actual balloting, but not a soul who knows the Yankees would say that Mark Teixeira was more valuable to the team than the captain was. Switching from the number two hole to the leadoff spot, Jeter was the sparkplug for the best offense in baseball and had an outstanding year defensively as well.
3. Ben Zobrist, TB
Zobrist not only saved my fantasy team, he kept the Rays afloat despite predicted regression after their World Series run. He ranked fourth in OPS and third in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP).
4. Zack Greinke, KC
Pitchers get a short straw in this voting, mainly because they only play every fifth game. But, Greinke faced 915 batters this year. By comparison, the AL leader in at bats was Aaron Hill with 734. The amount of runs he prevented probably stacks up well with the amount that any hitter created.
5. Mark Teixeira, NYY
Teixeira bats third and plays first base for the game’s best offense. He’s expected to put up great offensive numbers and does. But players like him are fairly common. He led the league in homers and RBIs, and that’s probably why he fared so well in the actual vote.
6. Felix Hernandez, SEA
Same argument as with Greinke. Hernandez’s value to his team is very high and very real. A pitcher is nearly guaranteed to shut down the opponent every time he throws is of immense value to any team.
7. Roy Halladay, TOR
Halladay’s value is increased because of the fact that nine times out of ten he rests the bullpen. Plus, he’s one of the greatest pitchers in the game and performed like it despite dealing with circling trade rumors.
8. Kevin Youkilis, BOS
And here begins the run of players much like Mark Teixeira. Youkilis continued his impressive offensive work, improving on last year’s outstanding campaign. But disappeared in the playoffs (1-for-12).
9. Kendry Morales, LAA
Morales flew under the radar much of the season, but ended up nearly equally the production of the man he replaced in Anaheim.
10. Miguel Cabrera, DET
There’s no doubt that Cabrera’s on-field production throughout most of the year was incredible. But when his team needed him the most, he was out late, drunk and fighting his wife.