The Minnesota Twins, now 72-72, learned yesterday that first baseman Justin Morneau will miss the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his lower back. Third baseman Joe Crede is finished with a bad back.
The Twins have 18 games left, 10 of them on the road. They have to play the Tigers seven more times and the White Sox three times.
Let’s say the Twins finish 81-81 and in third place, nine game out. Could that impact how voters view Joe Mauer’s Most Valuable Player candidacy? What if they finish 79-83? Or worse?
A few things to keep in mind:
• There is no clear definition of “most valuable” on the ballot. It’s up to every individual voter to decide that. Some people may not considering being a great player on a third-place worthy of the award. Others may exclude any player on a losing team.
• Mauer is leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. But he will not lead the league in home runs or RBI or runs scored and some old-school batters like seeing those sort of numbers for whatever reason.
• Baseball has a lifetime achievement award, it’s called the Hall of Fame. But there will be voters out there who will consider Jeter for the MVP simply because he hasn’t won it before.
• Jeter passing Lou Gehrig for the franchise hits record received an inordinate amount of media attention.
• The Yankees are on pace to win 103 games and score 932 runs. Jeter is generally seen as the spark plug for this fearsome offense. I also think most voters will put him ahead of Mark Teixeira on their ballots.
Again, I’m not predicting this will happen or saying this is how I personally plan to vote. I’m just saying these are factors that will play in the minds of some voters, especially those less inclined to look at advanced statistics. If over the next three weeks, the Yankees keep rolling and Mauer slips a bit, don’t be surprised if Jeter edges him out.
I have one of the 28 votes and I’ve compiled a list of 15 players and will narrow it down to 10 in the next 10 days. Then I’ll work on ordering those 10.
It’s hard figuring where the Tampa Bay players fit in and who is their most valuable player. You can make a case for Ben Zobrist or Jason Bartlett.