3 of Rob Neyer's 4 options are first basemen Miguel Cabrera (.334/.400/.551), Mark Teixeira (.283/.381/.557), and Justin Morneau (.298/.386/.555). I think the critique that Tex and Morneau too close to distinguish themselves is valid. If the Tigers win the Central, Cabrera moves up a tier because he's undoubtably the best player on his team.
Yesterday, Joe Posnanski wrote that Derek Jeter should be the Yankee competitor, though Pos supports Joe Mauer so strongly that he's giving daily updates on his website. It's hard not to choose Mauer, .380/.448/.648, but who was the last MVP to win the award despite missing a month on the DL?
While I said a while ago that I thought Jeter wasn't getting the respect his numbers and improved defense should earn him this season, I didn't think of him as a viable MVP candidate.
Jeter's string of 3 hit games was snapped last night (he only went 2-4). His line stands .331/.395/.471. For the record, that breaks down .319/.392/.496 at home, .340/.396/.448 on the road.
Take it away, Poz:
He's on pace for 218 hits, 109 runs, 21 homers. 27 stolen bases. He's having a great offensive season, quite similar to the season last year's MVP, Boston's Dustin Pedroia, had.
And -- this is weird -- those advanced statistics that have so universally mocked his defense now show him to be, well, darned good defensively. The Dewan Plus/Minus system -- a video system where they plot every ball hit in play -- had long shown him to consistently be the worst shortstop in baseball. Now, it has him as a plus-7 shortstop, a top-10 shortstop.
Jeter or Mauer. We had this debate in 2006, and Morneau inexplicably won the award.
Let's be honest. Mauer has never won an MVP despite breezing toward his third batting crown in four years. And this year he's slugging 150 points above his career average coming into the season. He's got 25 homers and 77 RBI in only 95 games. If you can get past the losing team, and the short season, Mauer's production is MVP worthy. But I can't get past the missed time.
For Jeter to win, things have to break down this way: the White Sox overtake the Tigers to win the division, destroying Cabrera's chances; the Rangers either lose the Wild Card or no one notices Michael Young (I think Pudge catching should just about wreck their dreams); Mauer slumps a little down the stretch, winning the batting title but sluggishly; Jeter stays hot as the Yanks run away with the division.
2 out of 3 in Boston would be a very good start.