Purple Row Awards: AL Most Valuable Player

Three of the six Purple Row Awards garnered a unanimous winner, and this - the AL MVP - is the second. Good thing too, because after the season this fellow had, I would ban the entire staff if the votes turned up any differently.

I always figured a Triple Crown winner would yield a unanimous MVP.  And so it makes sense...what, there was no Triple Crown winner? Okay, so Yaz is still the latest to win the traditional Triple Crown.  However...winning the slash stat Triple Crown is more impressive to me anyway, and our winner not only did so, but he trounced the American League competition in all three categories.

Below is a table of those slash stats showing Purple Row's chosen MVP against his three closest followers (who should be noted are embodied by different hitters in all three stats).  To appease the SABR crowd as well, I have included Runs Above Replacement and wOBA, in which our golden boy proves to be a god among men.

Avg

OBP

SLG

RAR

wOBA

PR AL MVP

.365

.444

.587

56.0

.438

AL #2

.352

.413

.569

43.8

.413

AL #3

.334

.406

.565

40.9

.408

AL #4

.324

.405

.562

40.2

.405

It is abundantly clear one slugger outclassed the rest of the league, leaving other incredible talents in the dust.  He hit .417 in the playoffs and was involved in arguably the most talked about play in the ALDS.  He was one of five AL hitters to walk more than he struck out.  Seriously, is there any way our choice for MVP could be any more impressive?

....

Well...he could be a catcher...

1.  Joe Mauer

#7 / Catcher / Minnesota Twins

6-5

225

L

R

Apr 19, 1983

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Joe Mauer 138 523 94 191 30 1 28 96 76 63 4 1 .365 .444 .587

The three-time batting champion really should be (though he might not be) the unanimous choice for the actual award.  Check his Baseball-Reference page and marvel at all the stats he finished first.  For a 26-year-old catcher (coming off a Gold Glove year) to accomplish that in a league with a DH while calling a strong pitcher's park home...I'm speechless.  Even though he missed all of April, his fantastic year led Dave Cameron to write "This very well could go down as the best season any catcher has ever had."  I can't argue with that.

****

The staff made up for their consensus number one by submitting very different ballots 2 though 5, including six different second place votes.  As a staff, we gave in so much to the East Coast Bias that we managed to fit five AL East hitters into the final four slots:

2.  Mark Teixeira

#25 / First Base / New York Yankees

6-3

220

B

R

Apr 11, 1980

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Mark Teixeira 156 609 103 178 43 3 39 122 81 114 2 0 .292 .383 .565

Teixeira was the only other player who appeared on all six ballots.  He actually managed to finish with 0.1 more runs  created (wRC on Fangraphs) than Mauer for first in the American League, though Mauer still leads in B-R's calculations.  He is clearly the best hitter on MLB's best team, as he led the American League in both home runs and RBI.

 

t-3.  Kevin Youkilis

#20 / Third Base / Boston Red Sox

6-1

220

R

R

Mar 15, 1979

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Kevin Youkilis 136 491 99 150 36 1 27 94 77 125 7 2 .305 .413 .548

Youk was second in the AL in OBP, fifth in slugging and second in wOBA, trailing only Mauer.  He gave Terry Francona flexibility by providing plus defense at both first and third combined with much needed production in the middle of the order to counteract the MIA bat of Big Papi.

 

t-3.  Evan Longoria

#3 / Third Base / Tampa Bay Rays

6-2

210

R

R

Oct 07, 1985

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Evan Longoria 157 584 100 164 44 0 33 113 72 140 9 0 .281 .364 .526

I personally don't think Longoria was the best hitter on his own team, though he certainly is an elite hitter.  He finished fourth in the AL in RBI, eighth in HR and first in GIDP.  The former Dirtbag did manage to finish 4th in the league in WAR, greatly due to his defense:  he saved more runs (RAR) than any full-time infielder in the majors.

 

t-5.  Ben Zobrist

#18 / Second Base / Tampa Bay Rays

6-3

200

B

R

May 26, 1981

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Ben Zobrist 152 501 91 149 28 7 27 91 91 104 17 6 .297 .405 .543

Zobrist really?  Don't laugh.  Unless it's about his name or mug shot.  Zobrist finished the season with 8.5 WAR - more than Mauer, more than Utley, more than even Pujols, more than any MLB player in 2009.  How?  He played seven defensive positions and was above average at nearly all.  UZR loved Zobrist more than it hated Dexter Fowler, but given his small sample sizes all over the place, the legitimacy of those numbers (and thusly his WAR) could certainly be questioned.  But you can't question his .405 wOBA, which was good for third in the AL.  Hitting at that level while fielding well at seven positions spells value to me.

 

t-5.  Derek Jeter

#2 / Short Stop / New York Yankees

6-3

195

R

R

Jun 26, 1974

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Derek Jeter 153 634 107 212 27 1 18 66 72 90 30 5 .334 .406 .465

Derek Jeter has graded out as a below average defensive shortstop for years, yet this season he has a very solid UZR, helping him to the third best WAR in the AL.  He also finished fourth in runs created, third in OBP and ninth in wOBA and is the captain of the best regular season team in the majors.

 

Here's your ammunition to personally refute any individual writer:

AL MVP

RMN

PF

togb

Russ

Silverblood

Jabbs

1

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

2

Kevin Youkilis

Ben Zobrist

Kendry Morales

Evan Longoria

Mark Teixeira

Zach Greinke

3

Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

Derek Jeter

Ichiro

Evan Longoria

4

Ben Zobrist

Kevin Youkilis

Derek Jeter

Mark Teixeira

Kevin Youkilis

Mark Teixeira

5

Miguel Cabrera

Derek Jeter

Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera

Evan Longoria

Justin Verlander

 

The ballots were weighted on a 50-40-30-20-10 scale, yielding the following total rankings:

1 - Joe Mauer (300)
2 - Mark Teixeira (170)
3 - Kevin Youkilis (80)
3 - Evan Longoria (80)
5 - Ben Zobrist (60)
5 - Derek Jeter (60)
7 - Kendry Morales (40)
7 - Zach Greinke (40)
9 - Miguel Cabrera (30)
9 - Ichiro (30)
11 - Justin Verlander (10)

 

Tomorrow, Silverblood will wrap up the Purple Row Awards series by revealing our controversial choice for the National League MVP.

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