The Minnesota Twins have played 149 games and are three games out of first place. Joe Mauer leads the American League in batting average (.374), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.611).
He also has 88 RBI in 124 games and has scored 88 runs. Did I mentioned that he is a catcher?
It seems safe to say at this point that the first decision to make when filling out an MVP ballot is who comes in second.
I’m planning to submit my ballot after the final game of the regular season. The biggest questions in my mind are:
• Which Yankee — Teixeira or Jeter — should be first on the list? Should Mariano Rivera get a vote?
• Where do you figure in Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez?
• The Red Sox have the second-best record in the game at the moment and should be represented. Kevin Youkilis belongs on the list, and fairly high.
It’s an interesting process.
Meanwhile, for those who have asked, I informed BBWAA national secretary Jack O’Connell that I am switching jobs and offered to give up my vote. But he said that since I will have covered the entire regular season for a newspaper in New York, I can continue to be one the two New York voters.
Keep in mind that the MVP covers only those accomplishments of the regular season.
UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: MVP talk always stirs debate and it has again. Jeter has had a terrific season and is worthy of recognition. But Mauer is having an historically significant season and is doing so while playing a premium defensive position.
Jeter is eighth on his own team in OPS and seventh in OPS+. And spare me the “he’s great leader” stuff. Do you think Joe Mauer walks around kicking old ladies and discouraging his teammates from playing well? I’ll check to make sure, but I’m guessing he does not.
Nobody outside of the team — and that includes reporters — can quantify leadership. That is impossible. I personally believe Jeter is a very fine leader. But I can’t say he’s any better at that than Mauer is. How would I know?
I’ve tried to look at every statistic — even those I find fishy — and I’ve talked to a bunch of people to solicit opinions. It keeps coming back to Mauer every time.
It’s not a lifetime achievement award. There’s a nice building in Cooperstown for that. It’s the MVP for 2009.