Monday, August 14, 2006

Is Joe Mauer a legitimate MVP Candidate?


We all know the story. He's been hyped up in magazines and websites like this all across the sports world. Mostly because he's a 23 year-old catcher leading the world in batting average.

But is he a legitimate MVP candidate?

Or rather, since David Ortiz probably has the award all but locked up at this point, should he be? Fortunately for me, as I only discovered after I started writing this, Joe Sheehan wrote about the AL MVP race as a whole, which was nice because that cuts down some of my research.

Anyway, when I say David Ortiz has this race all but locked up, IMO, isn't because I think he's the best player in the AL. I wrote once upon a time that Travis Hafner is the best hitter in the American League, and I still hold true to that belief. But I think Ortiz is percieved as being such a clutch god that he'll be voted the MVP. Which I wouldn't necessarily say is a bad thing, but not something I agree with.

So anyway, as I see it, the MVP candidates: Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Grady Sizemore, and Vernon Wells. Guys like Jim Thome, Justin Morneau, Johan Santana, and even Roy Halladay are tough omissions, but I think those guys mentioned are the top 7. Here's the more "traditional" stats for the 7 (AVG/OBP/SLG):

Travis Hafner: 303/428/640
David Ortiz: 287/399/624
Manny Ramirez: 323/432/625
Derek Jeter: 341/419/476
Joe Mauer: 361/441/522
Grady Sizemore: 304/384/537
Vernon Wells: 320/378/585

It's safe to say that things are pretty even all-around, especially when you consider that the guys at the top in hitting contribute little to nothing defensively. Ortiz and Hafner are full-time DHs, and Ramirez is average at best in LF. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer is a very good defensive catcher, Grady Sizemore and Vernon Wells are both very solid defensive CFs, and even Derek Jeter has improved his range enough to be pretty decent defensively at SS.

Looking specifically at Mauer, one of the only negatives about his game right now is that he doesn't hit many HRs. Which is true. However, he makes up for that, at least IMO, with his great batting average, good number of walks (which contribute for his league-leading OBP), and a good amount of doubles. For all of the talk about the lack of power, Mauer's still in the top 15 in SLG in the AL, which is pretty darn good.

As far as VORP goes, Travis Hafner leads the MLB in it even without playing defense. He actually has a pretty substantial lead, with teammate Grady Sizemore second, followed by Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, and then David Ortiz.

Looking at EQA, Manny Ramirez has the slight lead. When we look at WARP1, Joe Mauer has a slight lead over Grady Sizemore.

So what does all that mean? Probably nothing. Or just that this year more than ever there are a lot of qualified candidates in the American League for the MVP award. For what it's worth, here's what my list would look like at this point:

1) Travis Hafner
2) Manny Ramirez
3) Joe Mauer
4) David Ortiz
5) Derek Jeter

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey not to be a downer but... how's that AJ trade looking now?

TBird41 said...

Well, considering that the Twins still got Joe Nathan (a top 5 closer in mlb) out of it and Boof Bonser is at least having some good starts, I'd have to say that it's still a ridiculously good trade for the Twins. Oh, and Liriano might be back by early to mid September.

teddy higuera said...

Was anonymous trying to imply that with liriano going down it was a bad trade for the Twins?
Really?

Good post, by the way.

Billy said...

Pierzinski for a bucket of steam would still be a good trade for the twins. Liriano, Bonser, and Nathan are just convenient additions.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Twins fan but I think Mauer is an excellent MVP candidate. Jeter is getting all kinds of MVP support (from that Sheehan article, no less), yet Mauer has significanly better AVG/OBP/SLG numbers than him. And, he plays the tougher defensive position, and plays better defense at that tougher position. Mauer's EQA is .325 compared to Jeter's .313 (and Ortiz's .327). I think Hafner gets my vote, but having Jeter mentioned above Mauer is ridiculous to me.

twins15 said...

" Hey not to be a downer but... how's that AJ trade looking now?"

Well as the others mentioned, still pretty darn good. Nathan's been ridiculously good all year, Bonser could still develop into a solid back-end starter, and hopefully this Liriano injury is a short-term thing and won't have long-term effects. Heck, even if Liriano had never been involved in the trade, it'd be looking pretty darn good.

Todd said...

I had a discussion about this same subject last week on my blog and determined that Mauer is the #1 MVP candidate.

In it I didn't even consider Jeter because he is a bad SS and the only offensive categories he beats Mauer in are team dependent stats like RBIs and runs.

Anonymous said...

It's absurd that Derek Jeter is considered a MVP candidate. His OBP is good, but besides that there's nothing. His team is packed full of stars. Giambi's OBP is nearly as high with a much better slugging. Even A-ROD, who's having a terrible season, has the same OPS, more runs, more RBIs, more HRs. Jeter is a good player. But this is a product of media hype and selective memory.

Nick N. said...

I don't even know if it's worth putting Hafner in the discussion because he doesn't play for a contending team. The guy gets no respect in the first place (he has yet to make an All-Star roster despite being the league's best hitter for three years and running), but I can't imagine any MVP votes going to a guy on a fourth-place team this year.

I also don't see how you can omit Morneau... Mauer is a better hitter, but I'd venture to say that Morneau has been a more valuable offensive player this year, depending on how you want to define valuable. Mauer's walks and singles are nice, but Morneau is the guy who changes the complexion of a ball-game with one swing of the bat.

twins15 said...

I love what Morneau is doing, but I just have a hard time putting him above Mauer. Has he been a more valuable hitter? That's certainly debatable, and I'd give it a big "maybe." Has he hit huge HR for the Twins? Yes, without a doubt. But I just think Mauer is so valuable because he's so great at getting on base, working the pitch count, and he's got a little bit of power as well. Plus the value from being a good defensive catcher as compared to a good defensive 1B.

As far as Hafner, I agree, he's got no shot at all to win the MVP award because the voters aren't going to vote for him. This was more just my votes, and IMO, Hafner's been the best player in the AL this year.

Anonymous said...

derek jeter, however, is doing all of this out of the two-hole and will probably steal around 35 bases

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