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Is Joe Mauer The AL MVP?


Over at one of my favorite sports blogs, Souvenir City, an argument was posted for Joe Mauer not being the AL MVP. SC makes the argument that the MVP should be taken in team context, not an individual award. I think this is pretty shortsighted. To punish Joe Mauer for his teammates is irresponsible. It is like when a pitcher throws 8 innings and gives up 1 run, but still gets the loss because his offense doesn’t score a run for him.

This season Mauer has hit like a designated hitter. Too bad he’s a catcher. Let’s line him up with SC’s pick for the MVP, Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira.

Mauer wOBA: .464

Tex wOBA: .397

Mauer’s wOBA ranks first in all of baseball. Yes, even better than Albert Pujols’s. Teixeira’s is 14th. Mauer’s walk rate is just 1% less than Teixeira’s, but his strikeout rate is 5 percent lower. Mauer has just 5 less homers than Teixeira, even though he doesn’t play in the absolute bandbox that is new Yankee Stadium. And, Mauer is a catcher. I repeat: a fucking catcher! And as good as Teixeira is defensively, Mauer is better defensively at a tougher position.

Mauer has been worth nearly 3 more wins than Teixiera this year, even though WAR assigns no defensive value for catchers. He most certainly would be worth another win if he got that defensive boost.

And, oh yeah, I forgot to mention Mauer missed an entire month of baseball.

Here is the Yankee formula for why Tex deserves the MVP: Yankees have terrible 08 season, Yankees add Teixeira in offseason, Yankees have good 2009 season. That’s all well and good, but that ignores the contributions from Nick Swisher, AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, and also ignores the resurgence of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. I can’t sum up my feelings any better than this quote by Fangraphs and USS Mariner writer Dave Cameron, so here it is:

"Yesterday, I talked a little bit about why I don’t really care who baseball writers vote as the AL MVP, because we pretty much all realize it’s Joe Mauer, and it’s not particularly close. In fact, Mauer’s having such a good season that there’s a pretty good chance it will go down as the best season any catcher has ever had in the history of the game"