One of the hot topics in the Yankees series was the American League’s MVP candidates, since three of them were playing in front of the New York media. A similarly hot topic was whether a bias towards Yankees and Red Sox exist, in large part because a certain worldwide sports network is located in Connecticut. Are the Twins (or White Sox, for that matter) being short-changed? Let’s try and put homerism aside and take a look at the two groups of candidates this year:
They don’t bring much to the party defensively, but they also bring bats big enough to make piñatas wish they could give up their candy prematurely. Here are their numbers (as of 9/5), with the leaders highlighted:
If there’s a clear winner on this list, I don’t see him. Travis Hafner has the highest on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), but the Indians could probably have finished in fourth place with or without him. Manny Ramirez is never mentioned as a candidate, but he leads the league in slugging. Jermaine Dye has had a tremendous year, but only leads in batting average.
Lots of folks discount RBI as a performance metric, but to some extent it shows a player who is taking advantage of his opportunities. That also fits David Ortiz’s reputation, and he still leads the league, despite his recent absence. Justin Morneau doesn’t lead in anything, but certainly belongs in the debate. He’s definitely a notch below the rest in power.
You can flip a coin between these guys, and fortunately, there are still three weeks left for the race to be decided. Currently, I’d place Big Papi ahead of the field by a nose, just because the Red Sox would never have been in the playoff race without him. Morneau, Dye and Manny would be next, with Morneau having a slight lead, just because he doesn’t have as much help in the lineup, and is probably more valuable to his team. But there’s another group of players that also deserve consideration.
These guys are valuable because of what they contribute both offensively and defensively. The list is a little shorter, but no less impressive:
If the race really was between Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter, it might as well be a dead heat, depending on what you think of Jeter’s defensive value. In my mind, it’s a race for second place, because Vernon Wells is having more of an impact than either Mauer or Jeter, while playing center field for the Blue Jays, who have been on the fringes of the playoff race for most of the year.
There’s room for disagreement, even if there were not three weeks left. As of now, there is no clear cut winner, and it would be hard to claim that any player is being disrespected by not being handed the award prematurely. In fact, the only disservice that can be done at this point is not including all of these players in the debate.
On The Hill
Detroit: Wilfredo Ledezma (2-2, 2.38 ERA)
- 2005: 2-4, 49.2 IP, 30 K, 7.07 ERA
- 2006: 41.2 IP, 34 H, 29K, 17 BB, HR
- Detroit’s playing match-ups with their last spot in the rotation, and Ledezma gets the draw versus Minnesota because he’s left-handed. You gotta love Leyland.
Friday: Matt Garza (1-4, 5.88 ERA)