Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 15, 2006

More on this later, but this year's AL MVP race looks wide open; Joe Sheehan (subscription only) breaks things down at Baseball Prospectus. Who is your pick and why? Vote and explain. (For now, I'm with Joe Mauer narrowly over Big Papi. You just don't everyday get a catcher leading the league in batting and OBP, throwing well, running well, staying healthy and handling a rotation with a rookie ERA leader for a contending team. No catcher has won a batting title since Ernie Lombardi. Of course, Big Papi is still unearthly in the clutch, but when you line him up against Manny, Hafner and Thome you can't say he's unambiguously the best hitter in the league this year, which is my baseline requirement for giving the MVP to a DH.)

Who should be the 2006 AL MVP if you had to vote today?
David Ortiz
Derek Jeter
Joe Mauer
Manny Ramirez
Jim Thome
Travis Hafner
Carlos Guillen
Grady Sizemore
Jonathan Papelbon
Curtis Granderson
Vernon Wells
Johan Santana
Someone else
Free polls from

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:27 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)

Couldn't a case be made for Justin Morneau, from Mauer's team? I won't say that I wouldn't vote for Mauer, but Morneau has been much more *PRODUCTIVE* vis-a-vis run production, which is the most important thing for a batter.

Statistically speaking, Freddy Sanchez is the mirror of Mauer - meaning his versatility as a premium catcher is the deciding factor since no one is suggesting that Sanchez is even the MVP of the Pirates. Still, 64 RBI isn't all that earth shattering for someone with that many at-bats.

Personally, I'd probably go with Jeter - thus doing something that I loathe, which is aligning with ESPN - because his season has been simply too good to ignore, especially when taking into account that they've missed Matsui & Sheffield for most of the season.

Fantasy wise, baseball's MVP is Soriano.

Posted by: RW at August 15, 2006 11:59 AM

I think in the end it all comes down to how they finish in the standings. If the Twins get in, then Mauer will make it. Although I think the voters would love to show they "get it" by voting for a catcher, much less a non-Yankee, Jeter is popular enough, and frankly has enough body of work to make it OK to give him the award he probably deserved in 1999.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at August 15, 2006 12:52 PM

Based on the numbers it seems that either Mauer or Hafner's the MVP. Of course they'll never give it to a player on a losing team, but Travis has been great.

For all Ortiz's clutchness, once again it's Manny, not Papi, that's the Sox most productive player. But the gy got stiffed for the MVP when he drove in 165, so I know he'll never win it.

I'd love to include Johan The Great in the discussion, but not enough innings.

Finally, loath though I am to admit it, I might vote Jeter number 3 or 4. He's had a helluva season.

Posted by: Mike at August 15, 2006 1:14 PM

To me the MVP is the player his team could not do without. That being said you can make the arguement for Papi, Mauer, Manny, Jeter and everyone else on the list, but where wold the Red Sox be without Papelbon? Barring a trade for a closer, there is not another candidate on the team. Granted, there is a lot of season left and Papelbon could still go down the tubes, but as of right now, without him the Sox are fighting to stay above .500 instead of being 2 games back with a chance to win the division. That is an MVP.

Posted by: maddirishman at August 15, 2006 3:18 PM

Daryl & Mike: it's debatable whether Jeter or Manny deserved the 1999 MVP - at the time I argued that Pedro deserved it, followed by Jeter and Manny - but it seems quite clear, as it did at the time, that they gave the award to the sixth best player in the league when there were several other qualified candidates.

Posted by: The Crank at August 15, 2006 4:09 PM

When I play baseball in the back yard with my 6 year old, the player he most often pretends to be is Big Papi. With all due respect to the endless categories of quantitative baseball claptrap, (to which my son is still immune), and in support of the pure excitement and qualitative love of the game, I vote for Mr. Ortiz.

Posted by: Doug at August 15, 2006 4:18 PM

I've been making the case for Papi, but after watching a lot of Twins over the last week or two, Mauer is an interesting alternative.

I don't want to hear about Jeter's carrying the Yankees through their "adversity". He still has had Giambi and A-Rod (both MVPs) in the lineup with him.

Posted by: Mr Furious at August 15, 2006 5:25 PM

If ARod isn't playing up to his paycheck, that isn't Jeter's fault. But I still favor Ortiz. He may not tower above the other big sticks in the league, but I do still think he's been the most productive hitter. And the game-winning homers should count extra, as well.

Ortiz pretty much trumps the guys like Haffner and Morneau and Manny, whose claims are similar but not quite as good. So that really leaves Ortiz, Mauer, and Jeter - and I tend to think Ortiz ought to have the edge. Of course, the season's not over yet - if the Sox don't make it, I don't think Papi will, either.

Posted by: Jerry at August 15, 2006 7:37 PM

I define MVP as the player that is most important to the success of a given team. Thus I submit that Jason Varitek should be the MVP.

The Sox were a game up on the Yankees and ahead in the wild card (give their record - dispite leading the east.) They have lost 4 games in the wild card and 3 to the Yankees since Varitek went down.

The pitching staff had a 4.6 ERA in July and a 4.46 ERA in June. So far in August, without Varitek, they have a 5.24 ERA, the worst in the American League. (KC has a 7.04 but do we have to count them?)

The Red Sox, with Papi, Manny and Paplebon, are not a playoff team without Varitek.

Granted he does not have the stats for the MVP, he is just the most valuable person on the Red Sox squad.

Posted by: Rob M at August 15, 2006 8:19 PM

The MVY for the AL this year is clearly Jeter, he's got the intangibles=the stats this year that makes him a productive Varitek.

By the way if anyone wants to join a Fantasy Football League go over to the "Memorial" game thread at Search for Smitty's post....

Posted by: 4Seam at August 15, 2006 9:41 PM

Crank, while the rules allow it, I personally would not vote for a pitcher to br MVP as they have their own award. Just me of course. Pedro in 1999 must have been like watching Grove iin '31, or Johnson, it did remind me of Koufax.

One thing at least, among the winners, it is likely to be Mauer, Jeter or Ortiz. Pretty good years all.

And the Red Sox are in trouble. Yes Varitek is important. However, I've heard several people last week say they need Mirabelli to produce when he returned. Let's face it, you lose Mantle, you wait for him to return. Your season depends on Mirabelli, you aren't going anywhere.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at August 15, 2006 9:58 PM

Jerry said "Ortiz pretty much trumps the guys like Haffner and Morneau and Manny, whose claims are similar but not quite as good. "

Not to beat on Jerry (or Ortiz who is having a pretty good season) but that is a ridiculous comment. I won't argue that Hafner is MVP since the Indians are having a losing season, but there is nothing about Ortiz' stats that clearly trumps Hafner (or the other two) other than homers. Consider the OPS of the various players discussed plus a couple not mentioned.
Hafner 1.062
Thome 1.052
Manny 1.050
Dye 1.023
Ortiz 1.013
Mauer 0.965
Morneau 0.958
Jeter 0.902

Ortiz is having a very good year but he is not well above the other players. He is in the mix and this race won't be clear until the last week of the season if it is even clear then. The only thing clear right now is Ortiz isn't MVP of his own team. Ramirez batting behind him changes how pitchers approach Ortiz he is seeing more strikes because pitcher don't want to walk him ahead of Ramirez.

Posted by: LargeBill at August 16, 2006 12:37 PM


Re 1999, I agree that Pudge shouldn't have won, even though he did have a helluva season.

We've mentioned Jeter, Manny, & Pedro. Plus, Pudge won & Alomar also had a stellar year. Who's the 6th guy? I could go look it up on baseball ref, but I'm trying to think of it first.

Posted by: Mike at August 16, 2006 3:54 PM

Ahhhh. Nomar. Missed a lot of time, but man, did he he hit.

Posted by: Mike at August 16, 2006 3:57 PM

ESPN is handing this thing to David Ortiz.

If they could, they'd just give the Yankees and Red Sox the AL MVP to share.

At this point, my vote goes to Hafner. That could change by the time 162 games have been played.

Posted by: jake at August 21, 2006 4:14 PM

To me it comes down to two MVP voters, you got Joe Maur, and a guy samed Derek Jeter, last year since Ortiz didn't make it putting up nearly the same numbers this time. I don't think he will even though he is a fan favourite. The thing i like most about Maur and Jeter is that they work well in ALL aspects of the game to help thier team win as much as they can. That being sad, my first choice, Joe Maur, then Jeter. I think that the voters may see it the same way too.

Posted by: Jack at August 23, 2006 6:19 PM

Is everyone here forgetting Jermaine Dye? If the Sox make the playoffs, it's hard to overlook a guy who'll likely end the season with 40+ HRs, 120+ RBIs, and an average of over .320. He's been a pleasent surprise this year for the Sox, and even though guys like Thome and Konerko have similar numbers, Dye is the one that is REALLY getting it done.

If the Sox miss the playoffs, I'd have to go with Ortiz, because of his ridiculous numbers and clutch performance.

If the RED Sox miss the playoffs, the only team left that will make it is the Twins, so I'd have to go with Morneau. Mauer is awesome, but I just can't see giving the MVP to a guy with 15 HR, when there are guys with so much more real offensive production out there.

Posted by: jason at August 24, 2006 2:14 PM


Posted by: batchski at August 27, 2006 9:01 PM

Derek Jeter is the 2006 AL MVP. Along with great numbers he exhibits leadership and produces in the clutch. He has hit close to .400 w/ RISP. In a year in which the Yanks' big name stars have either gone down with injuries or have been a flop, He has been consistent & solid as the Captain. His defense has been clutch as well. He brings to his team qualities that don't show up in the box score or in the stats. His "lead by example" mentality has rubbed off on the younger players who have had to step in due to injuries. The Yanks are in 1st place & will win the East because Jeter is the MVP.

Posted by: C.G. at August 28, 2006 12:53 AM

Derek Jeter should be the MVP but I kind of hope he doesnt get it. Statistically and historically the man who wins MVP's team doesn't ever win the world series. Yes I know they don't find out who the MVP is til after the world series. But still...
But if I had to choose the person right now who deserves it the most. It is none other than Derek Jeter. This will be just another feather to put in his cap of a long lasting hall of fame career

Posted by: Axl Rose at August 28, 2006 4:00 PM

wat about jermaine dye? if the sox make the playoffs dont u have to put him on that list?

Posted by: pete at August 30, 2006 2:25 AM

Derek jeter should be this years AL MVP he has a career year going with more rbi's then ever before. Also he helps win games for the yankees with his starling say that jeter is not the mvp is just ridiculous

Posted by: steven at August 30, 2006 10:09 PM

Derek Jeter is the MVP. He has mad feilding stats is clutch, steal a hell of a lot of bases. produces so much RBI's in clutch situations, and is a great team leader, and fan favourite, he has to win it this year. The DH only put up home runs and rbi's like
Ortiz and Hafner, this is ridiculas that only people with power have won it in the past years, Jeter has to get it this year, maybe maur finishing 2nd. But no one wants to see a pure power hitter win again it just gets old. Jeter MVP 2006.

Posted by: Johm at September 2, 2006 2:07 PM

i wonder if jeter was playing in any other city if people would still think hes the obvious mvp canidate because the espn east coast bais makes it look like he should be the obvious choice and they dont even mention jermaine dye so it changes peoples way of thinking

Posted by: batchski at September 12, 2006 4:11 PM

What Doug said on 8/15. My 7-year-old grandson wears his Ortiz shirt at every opportunity, and thinks David is the best. (This is the same grandson who could say "Nomar" before he was 1-1/2.) Never an attitude, always a hard worker; watch him hug Jeter this weekend. If the Sox had pitching, we'd have done it, and it would be David, no question.

Posted by: Gram at September 12, 2006 6:41 PM

I would like to make the case for Justin Morneau. He is fifth in batting, 10th in homers and 2nd in RBIs. No other player is as complete as Morneau. David Ortiz has more HRs and more RBIs, but has a .282 average. The BoSox are out of playoff contention. So despite what he has done the team has not proven anything. The Twins have the best record in baseball since the all-star break, and its no coincidence that Morneau is second in hitting to Vlad, and third in RBIs to Frank Thomas and Michael Cuddyer. Big papi is the man, but the Sox are really struggling.

Posted by: Luke Olson at September 21, 2006 12:00 PM

Jeter's main qualifcation is the undisputed adoration of the media. He has never yet led the league in any meaningful statistical category, yet he has the chance to do on a larger scale this year what he has done in Gold Glove balloting the last two years: win an elected award due to voting scaled in his favor.
Jeter has had a good season. That said, Jeter is #15 in the league in OPS (#13 in the league among players on winning teams). He is only #3 in OPS on his own team.
The arguments supporting his candidacy are reminiscent of Bush’s arguments to invade Iraq. Do you think Bush gave a crap if attacking Iraq had anything to do with WMDs? Come on. Bush wanted to attack Iraq, because Bush wanted to attack Iraq.
The media wants their boy Jeter and since on a tweaked scale they can almost justify it, that’s exactly who they will choose.

Lets review some of the arguments his PR team (i.e. the mainstream media) has developed.

#1 : He has been the iron man of the team and he carried the team back in May after the Yanks lost Matsui and Sheffield.

While its true that he has been mostly injury free this year (though ARod has actually played more games), it was actually the much maligned Mr. Rodriguez who carried the Yanks (1300 + OPS) in May, while Giambi and Jeter (with his worst month of the year) did little to help a beleaguered offense.

#2 He deserves a modified scale because he plays a key defensive position.

Unfortunately this is an essential flaw to that line of reasoning. For beyond not being the best shortstop on his team (something that was particularly relevant this year as Jeter’s unwillingness to step aside at short has left ARod, a superior defensive shortstop, to struggle at third) Jeter has not even been the best shortstop in the American League. Carlos Guillen of the central leading Detroit Tigers outpaces Jeter in OPS by a substantial margin (.35 points). Furthermore while Jeter plays on a stacked team with a bevy of MVP caliber offensive performers, on the hitting challenged Tigers Guillen not only leads his team in OPS, he leads his team by over .100 points (among qualified teammates). This is by far the largest differential between the first and second best hitters on any contending team. Add to this Guillen’s .997 OPS since the All-Star break (Jeter is .100 points behind) and his major league leading .1260 OPS (with a .400 average) in September (Jeter is #41 in the league at .831) and it is pretty obvious that the “because he’s a shortstop” argument could only lead to Guillen, not Jeter being named MVP.
The argument that players who field “important” positions don’t have to produce as much offensively also forgets Joe Mauer of the Twins. Mauer has been strong defensively in a very important position, catcher. Lets not forget that he has done this for the Minnesota Twins a team that has relied on pitching and his handling of a young staff to propel them to the playoffs. Offensively, Mauer like Guillen , outpaces Jeter by almost .40 points of OPS. This of course, is without even touching on Jeter’s defensive decline this season ( he has reverted to pre-2004 form, leaving him yet again in contention for last in both zone rating and range factor.)

Jeter cannot compete with the Dyes, Mourneau and Ortiz’s of the league in hitting. He further pales in comparison to other key position players on other contending teams. Unlike, players like Guillen, he also can’t compete in terms of stretch run performance. Despite this, when your Derek Jeter you compete on a scale; a scale that makes your “improved defensive performance” gold glove caliber and your “pretty good season” a lock for the MVP award.


Posted by: kaz at September 25, 2006 2:06 AM

Early in the year the Twins were 26-35, look at the season they've had, almost pulling out the AL Central title (arguably the toughest division in pro ball), and look who's done it for them. You can pick any of these three, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau or Johan Santana and you wouldn't be wrong. But Mauer has led the majors almost all year in hitting, Jeter was in 1st for like a week, and Mauer is a much better defensive player. Mauer all the way!!

Posted by: Bob Carlson at September 30, 2006 8:58 PM

how can u think howard will win the MVP. PUjols leads him in everything except rbi, home runs, walks. Pujols has no supporting cast. Howard has rollins and utley. Pujols has more game winning rbi. He has a better batting average, on base percentage, slugging, less errors runs, stolen bases doubles less strikeouts and better OPS. He also has a better batting average with runners with scoring percentage.

Posted by: PUJOLS at October 1, 2006 9:25 AM

Justin Morneau is most deserving of the award. He finished with a .321 average, .559 slg %, 130 rbi, and he has probably been the most clutch hitter this year, though he doesn't have the flare that Papi does. He leads in rbi with two outs. He is the reason for the turn around in the Twins season. His average from early June until the end of the season is better than anyone else, and he drove in almost a hundred rbi in that time frame. The Twins were without Hunter for a while, no Stewart almost all year, Liriano went down, Radke destroyed his arm, and the Twins infield wasn't solidified until almost mid-way through the year. Jeter's stats are good, but besides his average, his numbers pale in comparision to Morneau. The argument that Jeter was the "rock" that held the Yankees together, while probably true, still doesn't put him ahead of Morneau. The Twins have had some very big injuries also, and while the Twins' injuries weren't as big named as Sheffield or Matsui, the lesser-named injuries have probably had a bigger impact on the Twins than the bigger-named injuries on the Yankees. Jeter playing on one of the most stacked lineups, maybe, in the history of baseball has definetly helped create the numbers he has. While Morneau has a great supporting cast like Mauer, Santana, Hunter (lately), and Cuddyer, most of the Twins lineup is unknown to most people outside Minnesota. I love Jeter and I think he will probably get the award because he is a fan favorite and a Yankee, but I don't think he is deserving of it this year. To close, all I have to say is "Smell 'Em."

Posted by: Jay at October 1, 2006 10:37 PM

How ANYONE can believe that a designated hitter is a possible MVP is outrageous. They get to sit and rest in the sit resting while fultime players are out in all kind of weather conditions - geting worn out. The MVP standards include defense just as much as offense - read it if you doubt it. So it is EVER so obvious that a DH should NEVER win the MVP. Unless they can hit 100 homers get 250 RBI's, avg .400. NEVER HAPPEN!!! Ortiz an MVP would be a slap in the face to REAL baseball plyers who play offense and defense. BTW if is not OBVIOUS I think its time to end this BS "position". NO MORE DH = PERIOD!
In addition I believe a player MUST be on a team that makes the playoffs - how can you be an MVP if your team can't even make the playoffs?!?!? There maybe a need for a new award "THE BEST PLAYER" - to reward those like a Soriano for INCREDIBLE play. BUT NOT THE MVP!
Therefore I HAVE to say Jeter is the MVP - there are others who do have a claim - BUT NOT ORTIZ. If you don't play baseball (DEFENCE not just offense) you ARE NOT playing baseball. You are just a HAS-BEEN or not worthy of playing the game. Retire or play ball PERIOD!

Posted by: O K at October 2, 2006 11:51 PM


Posted by: A-Dizzle at October 4, 2006 11:11 AM

In all honesty, the chance of a player deserving of an MVP getting it is unlikely, due to both ESPN's large audience and the fact that one can make a claim that ESPN stands for "Eastern Sports Promotional Network." Being a Twins fan, another Yankee MVP would be an insult, considering the turnaround season, going from being 12.5 games behind Detroit, and 11.5 behind Chicago, to winning the AL Central. Mauer was a strong player all year, but Morneau had a stronger impact on turning the team around. Many make a case for Santana, but pitchers have their own award. I say Morneau.

Posted by: Sarah at October 11, 2006 7:39 PM

ok...everyone says that Johan isnt an MVP candidate because he has his Cy Young LOCKED UP and thats the "pitchers award", but doesn't MVP stand for Most Valuable Player? You can NOT say that Johan wasn't valable, he was amazing, the ERA, Strikeouts, Wins, the man was automatic in the Homer Dome...HOMER Dome, that place is a hitters paradise, no wind, 70 degrees all year, and he STILL goes out and delivers every time hes called upon. Santana won't win it because not enough people will read my comment...but everyone that says a pitcher can't win, is a JOKE.

Posted by: Mike at October 24, 2006 11:01 PM
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