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Justin Morneau’s monster year is earning calls by local sportswriters and sports talk show hosts to recognize him as the Twins’ Most Valuable Player this year. Or is it?
These pleas almost all start by chastising the overwhelming attention paid to Joe Mauer. It becomes apparent that praising Morneau is popular in part because it’s a great angle for a story, made more so because it allows commentators to gently jab our hometown sports idolatry.
That’s a shame, because the question of which player is more valuable can open up a bevy of great baseball debates. The most obvious is the relative merits of getting on base versus power. Debating that might lead us to recognize great angles for additional stories, such as the realization that Morneau is also getting on base (.370 on-base percentage) while Mauer is also hitting for power (.522 slugging percentage).
Or, one could question how valuable RBI statistics really are. Or, one might explore the impact of fielding when comparing the value of a catcher to a first baseman. Or, one might ask why opposing teams have been so much more willing to intentionally walk Mauer (15 IBB) than Morneau (5 IBB).
But maybe most importantly, it could become a launching point for a national campaign to have both players recognized for the incredible years that they’re having. And maybe lead to some American League MVP award chatter.