Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Although there is still about a month and half left in the season, it is time to start up the MVP debate in the American League. Last season Dustin Pedroia struck a blow for all short people when he took home the trophy (even though he has a little difficulty with the high-inside fastball). This season the list of candidates has been whittled down by injury, ineffectiveness, and the like, but let's make a list anyways, because, let's face it, lists are fun.
Team must be in legitimate playoff contention. Player needs to be having a good all-around year, and cannot be just a DH. One player per team.
Texas-Michael Young, 3rd Baseman
Getting a .320 average with 20 home runs and 55 RBI's from a corner infielder is usually a good thing, but it is even better when you realize that Young had to switch positions to accommodate the promotion of Elvis Andrus. He has had only 7 errors at the hot corner this year, so he has not been as big a liability in the field as many thought. If Texas can keep it together and make the playoffs, he deserves some recognition.
LA Angels-Kendry Morales, 1st Baseman
So that's why Bill Stoneman refused to trade Morales for all those years? Morales has the power numbers (26 homers 79 RBI's) a decent average (.303) and a solid glove (.994 fielding percentage in 937 innings played). With the Andre Dawson-like decline of Vlad Guerrero (thanks Olympic Stadium turf), Morales and Bobby Abreu have been anchoring the Angels line-up since the injury to Torii Hunter. I give the nod to Morales here, as he has been able to fill in quite capably for the departed Mark Teixeira (more on him later).
Detroit Tigers-Miguel Cabrera, 1st Baseman
In a line-up that's been as anemic as Tiki Barber, Cabrera has done everything the Tigers are paying him to do (somewhere JD Drew is laughing heartily). A .334 average, 24 homeruns and 72 RBI's with virtually no protection gives him a good lead, and he has improved his play at first base since making the switch across the diamond, posting a .993 fielding percentage with 7 errors. If Detroit makes the playoffs, I have to give the MVP award to Miggy, striking a blow for fat guys everywhere.
Chicago White Sox- Take Your Pick
Minnesota Twins-Joe Mauer
This is what I find interesting. The Minnesota Twins, currently 5 games back in the Central, have a legitimate candidate in Joe Mauer, who is among the league leaders in everything offensive, plus he catches, but they just cannot seem to get untracked (2 wins against Texas not withstanding). The White Sox, who have been back and forth with the Tigers for the last few weeks (and with Jake Peavy primed to enter the rotation), don't have one guy you can single out. Jermain Dye has the home runs, but the batting average isn't that high. AJ Pierzynski has good numbers, but does anyone want to vote that guy as the MVP of anything?(Jim Rome is raising his hand and screaming "Yes, I will vote for him!!! It will make a great correspondent piece for Jim Rome is Burning!!!") It will be interesting to see if anyone emerges from the ChiSox in the final month, as they could be a team that gives everyone else fits in the playoffs, assuming they make it, and they may not have a top 5 in the MVP voting.
Boston Red Sox-Kevin Youkilis, 1st base and 3rd base (and a forgettable stretch in left)
If the Red Sox make the playoffs and Youkilis isn't in the top 3 of the voting, there should be a congressional investigation that would make Rafael Palmeiro hide under a table. He has hit .310 with 20 home runs and 66 RBI's, all the while changing sides of the diamond nightly to accommodate team needs. He has been the most consistent bat on the Red Sox this season, and I shudder to think where they would be without his ability to play third in light of Mike Lowell's hip issues.
New York Yankees-Derek Jeter, Shortstop
Somewhere followers of Bill James and believers in Zone rating are googling my name and heading to my house with pitchforks and torches, but hear me out. First off the reason I don't have Mark Teixeira as the Yankee rep is simple, when A-Rod wasn't in the lineup, he was not able to carry this team. Jeter has been consistent since the season started, and his defense, much maligned by the stat gang, is actually not that bad this year. This from "Gritty and Clutch"-
Statistically-inclined analysts get a lot of flack for their abuse of the quintessential Yankee regarding his defense, so when the chance comes to acquiesce, we should probably take it. G&C predominately uses UZR as it's defensive measurement, but Dewan plus/minus agrees on this point as well: Derek Jeter has steadily improved at defense the last two years and is now playing the best of his career.
Jeter has 6 errors and an fp of .986. Not sterling (John or otherwise), but still better than shortstops Orlando Cabrera (18 errors) Jason Bartlett (12 errors) and Adam Everett (12 errors) all three of whom are consistently mentioned by fans as shortstops with good gloves. Oh, and add in the fact he has been the Yankees lead-off hitter this year, his .330 average, 15 homers, and 20 stolen bases, and baseball scribes could have a chance to write the wrong of 2006, when Justin Morneau beat out the more deserving Jeter.
Tampa Bay Rays-Carl Crawford, Outfielder
Another team that just cannot find any consistency, and seems to be suffering the after-effects of a season where everything went right. After a down year last season, Crawford has come back with a .322 average, 12 homers, 58 RBI's, and 54 stolen bases. He has 3 errors and 5 assists from the outfield, but his speed can help keep balls out of the gap and keep doubles from being triples and singles from being doubles (it also covers up BJ Upton lolly-gagging in the outfield, but I digress). He would be an outside the box selection, but if Tampa went on a late season run, Crawford would have to get some consideration.
Those are my thoughts, and I know many are going to be angry about the Teixeira slight, who would YOU pick as the AL MVP?