Thursday, August 17, 2006

No Power Mauer

Joe Mauer is getting some buzz in the AL MVP race despite some pretty weak power numbers. Yes, he does have a slugging percentage .516, but that is being propped up by his abnormally high batting average of .359 (abnormal because that .382 BAPIP isn’t sustainable). Mauer’s Isolated Power number is a much more modest .159, good enough for 45th in the American League, sandwiched between Curtis Granderson and Michael Young.

Mauer has been getting a recent MVP push from the Baseball Prospectus crowd, first in an article by Joe Sheehan, and then in a chat with Rany Jazayerli. Now, I didn’t read BP back in 2001, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this same group criticized Ichiro’s MVP award that was won under similar circumstances.

Sheehan also wrote in his article:

The least-interesting factor in this discussion, yet the one likely to move at least some names on some ballots come late September, is team performance. I think it’s interesting that the Tigers, the best team in the AL, have no one in the discussion. The A’s and White Sox, who could both make the postseason, lack MVP candidates as well.
Talk about no respect. Dye was leading the league in slugging at the time this article was written and Dye and Thome are two of only six players with an OPS of over 1.000 in the American League. I don't think either one is a favorite but I would call them both legitimate MVP candidates.

But back to Mauer . When you take a closer look, Mauer just doesn’t stack up against some of the other contenders in the MVP race:


I could see giving an edge to Mauer in a close race because of his defense behind the plate, but I just don’t think the race is that close. His powers numbers are dwarfed by Hafner, Dye, Ortiz and Ramirez and I don't think you should be able to single your way into an MVP award.

Mauer does play a very important defensive position. But defense in baseball is more of a commodity than offense and should be rewarded as such. I’m sure the Henry Blanco fan club will be disappointed.

I can see Mauer winning an MVP award once he gets his “man muscles”, but not this year. Don’t feel too bad for him, he has another trophy waiting for him after the season ends.

And yes, I know by writing this Mauer is going to hit at least three home runs this weekend against the Sox.