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AL MVP: Can Mauer beat the Bronx bullies?

Nov 23, 2009, 2:24 AM EDT

Zack Greinke proved that the little guys from small markets can get it done, correctly earning the AL Cy Young award when voters overlooked his relative lack of wins (16) and focused instead on his sheer dominance over the course of this season, giving him the award over big names like CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay.

Now it’s Joe Mauer’s turn to find out if he can beat out the big-market superstars when the AL MVP award is announced Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

The Twins’ star catcher has got to be the favorite to win the award after hitting a career-high .365 this season to earn his third batting title in the last four seasons.

But he could face a stiff challenge from a pair of high-profile and championship-celebrating New York Yankees in Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers should also get some consideration, but is a long shot to take home the award.

Mauer fans can take some solace in Greinke winning the Cy Young. If the ace of a terrible Kansas City Royals team can come out on top in what can often be a popularity contest, then why not a Minnesota Twin who led his team to the playoffs?

More hope for Mauer: If this ESPN poll is any indication, he’ll take it easily.

In a poll of 22 of ESPN’s so-called experts, 20 selected Mauer, while anchor Steve Berthiaume chose Teixeira and broadcaster Jon Miller took Jeter.

Here are the key stats on the main candidates. Feel free to state your case below:

Joe Mauer: .365 avg., 28 HR, 96 RBI, 1.031 OPS
Mark Teixeira: .292 avg., 39 HR, 122 RBI
Derek Jeter: .334 avg., 18 HR, 107 runs, 30 SB
Miguel Cabrera: .324 avg., 34 HR, 103 RBI

Meanwhile, if you have some time while awaiting the balloting results, check out Joe Posnanski’s Least Valuable awards.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

  1. Bernie - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:10 PM

    One other thing about some stats. If you believe blindly in statistics, then you believe that going to strip clubs will make you middle aged and bald.

  2. oswegosteve - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    Couldn’t agree with you more AJ Gallo……typical media hype painting the Yankees as the bad guys. Mauer probably will win MVP if only because the sports writers that vote are in love with anyone that competes against Yankees. That’s fine…when he’s hoisting his MVP plaque, the Yanks will be selecting the style rings they will be receiving.
    Why don’t people realize that it takes more than money to get a championship? There are so many factors: injuries, team chemistry, work ethic…..that come into play. In the past 20 yrs, the NFL – the league everyone uses as an example of parity – has had 13 different champions…… MLB has had 14………..
    ….and when are people going to stop calling the twin cities area a “small market”…….?

  3. Bernie - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    Just curious. Why are you using the WAR stat. I know it’s harder to replace a great catcher than a great first baseman. But Martinez I think you said had the second best WAR for catchers and he’s a liability behind the plate. That’s why I think the Red Sox will win the Mauer sweepstakes. Move V. Martinez to first & Yuke back to 3rd.

  4. Michael Capone - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    First for the posters, MVP is not based on stats alone. If it was there would be a formula you could plug the stats in to for each candidate to tell you a definitive MVP.
    Second for the ‘author’ of this article (and I use that term loosely), please explain how Jeter and Teixeira are considered bullies?

  5. jonny5 - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    Well, let’s look at other leadoff men. Such as Jimmy Rollins. He has 77 RBI’s with .250 avg. RBI’s win games. End of story. Yes getting on base is part of it, but stranded runners happen more often than not unless you have someone like Tex to drive them in. Jeter only drove in 66 runs, that’s weak ,so weak the author left it out of his post! If he should have gotten it it would have been in 2006 imo with nearly 100 RBI’s, this season it would be a gross travesty to see Jeter get it.

  6. bh0673 - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    You missed the Brewers who the Twins played twice and Astros who were both sub .500 teams, the Pirates who were a sub .400 team, the Cubs and Cardinals. As well as the Phillies, Braves and Mets who the Yankees played twice before the Mets totally fell apart and Marlins and Nationals (ok the Nationals and the Pirates cancel each other out). Also as far as Mauer missing a month you could argue Texiera was pitched around until A-Rod came back as well. My point still is if players don’t face an equal opponent the same number of times as other players can we really compare them?

  7. t-will - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Bernie,
    I’m using WAR because it is a statistic that allows us to better compare players who play different positions. Looking at normal statistics can be deceiving. For example, hitting .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBI would be considered a good season, but when it comes from a catcher, it is much more valuable because catchers don’t hit .300/30/100. Mauer was close this year at .395/28/96, but four different first basemen hit that mark this year, five if you add in Prince Fielder’s .299 average. Thus, a catcher who hits .300/30/100 is more valuable than a first baseman who hits .300/30/100 because it is significantly easier to find the latter than the former.
    |
    I also use WAR because it is a counting statistic. If I relied solely on OPS or other average statistics, somebody could make the argument that, because Mauer missed a month, his average statistics are less valuable. Using a cumulative statistics shows that, despite missing April, Mauer was still able to accumulate more wins above replacement level; meaning that he did more than Tex or Jeter in less time.
    |
    As far as Martinez’s defense is concerned, I did comment that WAR does not take catchers’ defense into account and his offense was very good for a catcher.
    |
    As far as basing MVP only on stats (and this wasn’t your comment), I believe statistics should be the principal measure for the MVP because they are an objective measure of value. Looking at “intangibles” or anything else is fine, but basing your decision principally on subjective measures devalues the award. Just look at the Heisman. Nobody thinks the Heisman winner is actually the best player in the country. The award just goes to the best QB or the best RB on one of the best teams.

  8. Mr.Sideburns - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    So your telling me the guy thats won 3 or last 4 batting crowns, having his best year, shouldn’t win the MVP? AND hes a catcher!! LOL. Jeter is a hall of fame leader, no doubt. However his stats didn’t match his leadership. If he didn’t have the supporting cast you wouldn’t see the high number of runs at all. Mauer means more to the Twins leadership wise AND put up the numbers. As for the arguement of weak schedual…..the AL Cy Young winner was from that “weak” pitching division.

  9. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Nov 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    Just curious. Why are you using the WAR stat. I know it’s harder to replace a great catcher than a great first baseman. But Martinez I think you said had the second best WAR for catchers and he’s a liability behind the plate. That’s why I think the Red Sox will win the Mauer sweepstakes. Move V. Martinez to first & Yuke back to 3rd.

    IIRC WAR is a counting stat, so Martinez benefits from playing in 155 games compared to Posada only playing 111. It’s just another benefit to show how good Mauer is, that he’s second in WAR amongst AL Batters while missing all that time.
    @jonny5

    Well, let’s look at other leadoff men. Such as Jimmy Rollins. He has 77 RBI’s with .250 avg. RBI’s win games. End of story.

    Just stop with the RBI’s. As I mentioned in the other thread you posted this, RBI’s are a function of the team, not the individual player. If 1/10 times David Eckstein came to bat, he had the bases loaded so his slow rolling single through the infield brought home two runs, he’d have a ridiculously inflated RBI total. But striking out in those other 9 at bats would mean the meaningful stats are terrible, but RBI #’s are inflated.
    And oh yeah, wOBA/WAR/UZ/150
    JRoll – .316/2.4/2.9
    Jeter – .390/7.4/8.4
    Rollins was no where close to Jeter this year, in any facet of the game.

  10. t-will - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    You are vastly overstating the difference in quality between pitching staffs, on average. The average ERA for the Yankees’ interleague opponents was 4.33 (counting the Mets twice). The average ERA for the Twins’ interleague opponents was 4.39 (counting the Brewers twice). That .06 difference is roughly equivalent to one run every 17 games. So in the entirety of interleague play last season (18 games), the Twins’ opponents allowed about one more run than did the Yankees’ opponents.
    |
    As far as Teixeira being pitched around, yes, he was pitched around, just as Mauer was during Sept. when Morneau was injured.
    |
    Unfortunately, there is no statistic that I know of that provides detailed statistics on opponent pitching, but the fact is that you are vastly overstating the difference between team’s schedules, at least as far as ERA is concerned. Unless you’re facing the Nationals, Pirates, Indians, and Orioles 19 times each, there is unlikely to be a statistically significant difference between the quality of pitching a batter faces. And I would suggest that you drop that line of thinking given that I have provided you with evidence that, at least this year, there was NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE, between the pitching staffs that the Yankees and Twins faced, at least based on the aggregate.

  11. mick-7-1961 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    The award won’t even be close. Joey Mauer in a landslide.
    I’m a true-blue Yankee fan, but there isn’t a Bronx Slugger
    that had a better year than Mauer.
    That being said, he’d make a great Yankee :>)

  12. Mike - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:30 PM

    I don’t get what your talking about comparing Rollins to Jeter.?? So your saying its more productive to hit .250 and drive in 100+ runs than to hit .334 and drive in 66 as a leadoff man? Your also implying that the only person that is productive is a power hitter that smashes the ball out of the park. Look at Ichiro, he only had 46 RBI’s. Is he also worthless? As for 2006 He wasn’t a leadoff man, hence he actually had a chance to drive someone in. If you are actually trying to imply Jeter can’t pull through when it’s needed your out of your mind and haven’t watched any yankee games. Take a look at the guys postseason stats. THE ONES THAT MATTER. 138 games, 99 runs, 175 hits, 20 hr, 55 rbi’s, .313 avg, .383 obp. He shines when many people crumble. I do agree however though that for this single season award Mauer does deserve it.

  13. Bernie - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    Rollins had 77 rbis. subtract his home runs from that and add in his runs scored. he has 156, jeter has 155 wow, what a difference, case not closed. The runs you generate win games. Both are great players, ones on the upswing, one on the down but right now for one year, I’d take Jeter.

  14. Bernard - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I agree. Mauer will win and probably deservedly so but Tex had a great year. Most years if you lead 2 out of 3 on the triple crown will win mvp but it’s still fun to argue.

  15. mick-7-1961 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    Yes, Tex did have a monster year…one of the main reasons the Bombers won it all, however, the voters (at least in recent years), tend to look away from New York and focus their energy on new blood. Joe Mauer was THE reason the Twins made the playoffs.
    I would look for Mark to finish second in the voting….a distant second.

  16. Paul - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM HE’S OURS AND IS WAY TO COOL TO BE A YANKEE!!!

  17. mick-7-1961 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    Money talks
    Coolness walks :>)

  18. EvilEmpirE2009 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Derek Jeter just called from St.Barts, HE IS HAVING A EXCITING AND WONDERFUL TIME WITH THE WORLD SERIES TROPHY AND MINKA KELLY.
    HE IS ALREADY THE MOST VALUABLE – PLAYA………….HOLLA AT YA BOY
    THE YANKEES ARE CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL…………….AGAIN!!!!!

  19. EvilEmpirE2009 - Nov 23, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    WELL HE WILL NEVER WIN ANYTHING IF HE LISTENS TO YOU…………
    DUDE, WHAT SIZE RING DO YOU WHERE, YOU WILL LQQK Cool IN PINSTRIPES
    IT AMAZES ME THAT FANS CAN GET CRAzY ABOUT INDIVIDUAL AWARDS AND THEN HATE ON THE YANKEES WHEN WE WIN THE 27TH WORLD SERIES TROPHY..
    LOSERS……..

  20. t-will - Nov 23, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    And it’s official: 27 of 28 first-place votes go to JOE MAUER.

  21. KingCorran - Nov 23, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    Derek Jeter – every year’s MVP? Only if MVP stands for Most overValued Player. (Okay, that’s overstating it, at least this year. But most years, that’s an accurate assesment)
    Face facts, Yankees fans. Derek may be a classy guy (on the field, at least), and a solid contributor. He may even have MVP-worthy seasons (even if he doesn’t have the MOST valuable season). But the MVP award isn’t a lifetime achievement award, and shouldn’t be.
    Joe Mauer is a deserving MVP this year. Jeter’s season – solid as it was – ranks about third or fourth at best

  22. Ed in Pa - Nov 23, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    Stupid title for this article. “Bronx bullies” implies Jeter and Teixeira are bad guys and thugs which from a distance I believe to be far from the truth. Jeter proves how valuable he is to the team year in and year out. If you believe Grienke was chosen because voters overlooked his lack of wins, then you have to look passed Teixeira’s good looking stats and weigh in the games he won for the Yanks with his marvelous defense. I have always been someone who appreciated ballplayers for their hitting stats, but this year was completely amazed by what he did with the glove. I’d like to see Jeter win for all the great years he provided, BUT (and this is a big but!) Teixeira deserves it for being the complete package.

  23. Brian - Nov 23, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    You are absolutely right!

  24. HudsonBreeze - Nov 23, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Is there still a Player of the Year award? I think there was a Hicock Belt at one time given for the award. As for MVP, how can it really be determined who is “most valuable” to his team?

  25. Bernie - Nov 23, 2009 at 3:16 PM

    Who’s the ahole that didn’t vote for him :-)

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