As a general rule, I don’t like to include pitchers on my MVP – Stan Musial award – ballot. The best pitcher gets the Cy Young, and the best position player gets the MVP. Yes, that means I’m reading my own rules into it. Sue me. In a lot of places it’s tough to do the ordering, and 9-8-7 could pretty much just as easily be 7-9-8 (for example). All of these guys – and many left off – had great seasons.
10. Joe Mauer, C, MIN .327/.402/.469, 136 wRC+, -1 +/-, 5.1 fWAR, 5.6 brWAR After his home run explosion in 2009 (he hit 28), Mauer settled back into the single digits with 9 longballs this year. He’s still a catcher who challenged for a batting title and finished third in the league in that category as well as OBP. Well played, Mauer.* * Sorry, but it’s the first time I got to use that one.
9. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN .345/.437/.618, 187 wRC+, +9.8 UZR, 5.3 fWAR, 5.4 brWAR Mauer’s Minnesota teammate posted a fantastic 5.3 fWAR season (a career high) – and he did it in just 81 games. A concussion ended his season early, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that had he been able to stay on the field, even a very healthy dose of regression would have still left him the favorite for the award.
8. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CLE .300/.401/.484, 147 wRC+, +2.9 UZR, 5.6 fWAR, 7.3 brWAR His 7.3 brWAR was second in the AL among position players. Choo is the player I hoped Nick Markakis would be. That is, awesome.
7. Carl Crawford, LF, TBR .307/.356/.495, 141 wRC+, +18.5 UZR, 6.9 fWAR, 4.8 brWAR Not going to be fun seeing him patrolling left-field for the Yankees or Red Sox next year.
6. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET .328/.420/.622, 172 wRC+, -6.2 UZR, 6.2 fWAR, 6.9 brWAR Second best hitter in the AL this year (among guys who qualified for the batting title). He lapped the field in intentional walks with 32 (second place was 14). Did you know Cabrera’s only 27 years old? Already has 37.3 career fWAR under his belt. 5. Jose Bautista, RF, TOR .260/.378/.617, 169 wRC+, -7.0 UZR, 6.9 fWAR, 5.5 brWAR Really? 54 home runs? Really? He almost doubled his career total! (From 59 HR in 2,038 PA to 113 HR in 2,721 PA.)
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B, BOS .321/.365/.553, 143 wRC+, +11.8 UZR, 7.1 fWAR, 6.1 brWAR Someone made a good decision taking a one-year deal. Amazingly, his 7.1 fWAR is a full three wins below his career year.
3. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY .319/.381/.534, 145 wRC+, -0.6 UZR, 6.4 fWAR, 6.1 brWAR Cano was already good; bumping up his walk rate (even if half the increase was just intentional walks) moves him into the pretty great category. He didn’t quite pull off the BA > BABIP trick though (his BABIP was .326).
2. Evan Longoria, 3B, TBR .294/.372/.507, 140 wRC+, +11.1 UZR, 6.9 fWAR, 7.7 brWAR If you’re going by brWAR, then Longoria was the most valuable (ie, productive) player in the AL this year. He’s at 19.6 career fWAR, in just three seasons. Not a bad start. Fun fact: WAR in age 22, 23, and 24 seasons: Evan Longoria – 5.4, 7.3, 6.9 George Brett – 5.6, 7.2, 7.2 Check out the graphs.
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, TEX .359/.411/.633, 182 wRC+, +7.9 UZR, 8.0 fWAR, 6.0 brWAR He lead the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and (not surprisingly) wOBA (.447) – plus fWAR (by a fair bit) despite missing a bunch of time (he only played in 133 games). Sure he probably won’t repeat a .390 BABIP again, but it was still one heck of a season. No wonder Joe Girardi was afraid to pitch to him.
Quick NL ballot:
5. Troy Tulowitzki
4. Matt Holliday
3. Ryan Zimmerman
2. Joey Votto
1. Albert Pujols