From the usually thoughtful Joel Sherman:
There has been a lot of internet chatter recently about the identity of the AL MVP, mainly centering around the candidacies of Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer. There is still more than six weeks to go, so while it all makes for interesting debate, there is still a lot of games left to swing the vote.
But this, to me, continues to be about the debate between those who believe everything can be defined by statistics vs. those who believe in their eyes (usually scouts, but in this case mainly newspaper writers who are with one team daily). I want to believe that I have a foot in both worlds. I like that the stats give me a guidepost, but I still believe there are intangibles in the game, and also that the stats can often be too one-dimensional and not provide a full picture.
I strongly disagree with Joel on this one. While the debate is between those two groups, it really has nothing to do with a stats vs. eyes question. We see Teixeira every day, but only see Mauer 7 times a season, so our eyes are bound to be skewed towards the hometown player. However, anyone who watched those games against the Twins saw how good Mauer is. Looking at their numbers and even watching them on the field, I am not sure an argument can be made for Tex, IF the games were played in a vacuum, without context. Mauer is having one of the best seasons ever by a catcher, possibly the best. Teixeira is having a nice season for a first baseman, but his numbers are not much better than those of Kevin Youkilis, Justin Mourneau, and Miguel Cabrera.
What is the debate? The game is not played in a vacuum. Teixeira is playing well for a great team and helping them win important games. Mauer is having an amazing season for a mediocre team, one that will likely finish out of the money. While the instructions on the MVP ballot specifically state that the MVP need not be from a contender, many voters feel that it should be limited to those players. Those in the stathead community disagree, and feel that the writers should recognize a historic season by Mauer with an award that he probably could have won at least once before.
How do you feel about it? Can an MVP come from a .500 or below team?
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