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