Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You Can Be My Wingman Anytime

With the NFL underway, I had forgotten about baseball for a little bit. But with only 18 games remaining in the season, there are quite a few races that will go down to the wire - the NL West, NL Wild Card, AL Central, and AL Wild Card are still up for grabs. Among the individual awards, the most compelling right now is the AL MVP. The competition for AL MVP right now is so tight, it will likely be the final team standings that determine who wins the award. While I did send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the MLB offices requesting a vote for the MVP, I have not yet received my ballot. If I were to receive one in the mail and had to make my vote today, I think it would go like this:

1) Derek Jeter. The Yankees season started with Randy Johnson struggling and people wondering if he had completely lost his stuff. Then Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui went down with long-term injuries. A-Rod has struggled by his own statistical standards, and has not been dependable in clutch situations. The one constant throughout the season has been Derek Jeter. He's been a leader on and off the field, played his best baseball during the pivotal five game sweep of the Red Sox, and has crawled deep inside David Ortiz head. His stats may not be that gaudy, but he could very well win the batting title and a gold glove to add to his resume. If Jeter wins, it will be comparable to win Kirk Gibson won in 1988 despite other players having better numbers.

2) Johan Santana. Normally, I'm of the mindset that a pitcher shouldn't be an MVP candidate since they only play once every five games. But Santana is just having a special season that can't be ignored. Anytime Santana pitches, you can chalk up a W for the Twins...literally. Santana HASN'T LOST since the All-Star break, and the Twins are 22-0 at home with Santana on the hill since August of last year. That's just incomprehendably dominant. Consider this: since Santana guarantees them a win when he starts, the Twins only need to be a .500 team in all of the other games in which he isn't pitching, and they would be a .600 team overall. That takes a lot of pressure off the team. And that's quite valuable. Now that Francisco Liriano is out for the season, Santana's stock goes up even further if he's able to carry the Twins into the playoffs.

3) Jermaine Dye. In any other season, Dye would be a no-brainer lock for the MVP by sheer numbers alone. Using just the conventional stats, he's posting .322/41/112. It may be a fluke, but it's freakin' incredible. Unfortunately, the White Sox are on the outside looking in right now, and that really hurts Dye's chances. If the White Sox are able to make one last push and pass either Minnesota or Detroit, then Dye has a chance to leapfrog Santana and Jeter.

4) David Ortiz. His numbers are great, but he loses any chance of a vote for the way he sold out his teammates this week when trying to campaign for the MVP award. I kept waiting for him to say that he was misquoted or his words were taken out of context, but either I missed it, or the report is accurate. (Ortiz, sorta cleared the air today, but not really.) Sorry, Papi- you've had a great year, and the Red Sox would probably be sub-.500 without you. But the Red Sox have a $150+ million payroll and aren't going to sniff the playoffs. There's no way he's winning it.

5) Justin Morneau. .324/33/120. Morneau has been the best hitter in the Twins lineup this season, but I've never really seen a time when it felt like he was carrying the team. This has always been a collaborative hitting team buoyed by great pitching. Morneau's a very good player, and any team would be glad to have him; but an MVP isn't in the cards for him this year.

Also receiving votes: Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, Jason Giambi.

It's going to be a great final three weeks of the season..if anyone is able to pull away from the 7 days a week football coverage, that is.


At Thu Sep 14, 05:42:00 AM PDT , Anonymous jetsgrumbler said...

jeter will win in a landslide. santana and ortiz may equal jeter in terms of importance to their own teams, but the 5 game sweep put jeter over the top. plus, he has that never won an oscar sentiment going for him. jeter is probably the best player to not have won an MVP.

maybe jeter prefers aging sorority girls to supermodels? think he can do a bit better...

At Sat Sep 16, 12:21:00 AM PDT , Anonymous twins15 said...

2 Twins in the top 5... melikes! Yeah, I think Jeter is definitely the favorite, but if the Sox can sneak into the playoffs, all this Jermaine Dye makes me think he could definitely win this thing.

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