Handicapping the Awards – AL MVP Version

Every single baseball season from the end of April to last day of the season debates over who the MVPs, Cy Young’s, and Rookies of the Years of each league should be arise. Over the next few days we’ll take a look at the rest of season projections and attempt to handicap each race.

Starting with the American League MVP race in which there seems to be a clear favorite, 2 or 3 on the next tier and a few guys who could push themselves into the mix.

The Favorite:

Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins (4.1 WAR)

Even after missing a month of the season, Mauer has put together a historically good 1st half and supplanted all other challengers as the leader in the clubhouse for his first MVP. With his typical high OBP and the added power Mauer has compiled a line of .373/.447/.622/187+ and an American League best .451 OBA all while being a catcher. It’s hard to think that Mauer can sustain this level of dominance for the 2nd half of the season as his career numbers show a dip of .115 points in OPS from 1st half to second half. ZIPS projections have Mauer finishing at .350/.431/.556 with a .425 WOBA. If that line doesn’t bring Mauer home his first of hopefully many MVP’s I would be surprised to say the least.

The 2nd Tier:

Evan Longoria – 3B – Tamp Bay Rays (3.8 WAR)

The super sophomore of the young talented Tampa Bay Rays has lived up to all expectations and is on his way to posting an MVP worthy season. Posting a line of .285/.362/.535 and a Woba of .380 which is first among AL 3B. Although Longoria has made a name for himself with his powerful bat it’s his glove that separates him from the pack. After posting a 14.9 UZR in 2008, Longoria has followed it up with an 8.7 UZR through 78 games. ZIPS has Longoria finishing the season at .279/.357/.521 with 30 homeruns and 111 RBI numbers that when attached to the young superstars glove will get his name on many of the writers ballots.

Kevin Youkilis – 1B – Boston Red Sox (3.1 WAR)

Some might read this and think Youkilis isn’t even the best MVP candidate on his own when Jason Bay leads the league in RBI (the fallacies in those thoughts would need to be explained some other time). However it is now impossible to ignore how good Youkilis has come love him or loath him, the Greek God of Walks has continued his dominance at the plate with a line of .298/.419/.566 and .421 Woba. With a projected final line of .294/.408/.535 and .410 Woba and playing in that lineup its hard to picture any more worthy MVP player from the Boston Red Sox in ’09.

The Upstart and the Written off Short Stop

Ben Zobrist – Utility – Tampa Bay Rays (4.6 WAR)

No, I did not forget to put Zobrist and his American League leading 4.6 WAR in ’09 as the favorite for this award and yes I intentionally left him behind his own team mate. Baseball award voting is a fickle thing to say the least, every person has a different definition of most valuable and as a result I find it hard to believe that unless Zobrist replicates his first half and Mauer slows down that he will have much of a shot at landing this award.

None the less while posting a line .297/.414/.598 with 17 home runs and 11 SB and playing 10.0 UZR defense all over the field, Ben Zobrist is having a season to remember and one that should garner support on the final ballot. However what really puts Zobrist this far down the ballot is his rest of the year projections of .263/.365/.462 leading to a final line of .283/.394/.542. Better numbers then Longoria at the end of the year but as most educated baseball fans know it’s not always the guy with the better slash statistics who takes home the award.

Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees (3.5 WAR)

Just a year ago it seemed as if we had seen the beginning of the downward slope of Derek Jeters career and perhaps those signs will show up once again in the second half of the 2009 season but for now the SS who has been almost .30 OPS points better in the 2nd half for his career is a real threat to finish near the top of the MVP ballot once again. Posting a first half line of .321/.396/.461 has been the best short stop in the American league through the all-star break on a team that seems headed for a 90+ win season. Neither of those last facts should have any bearing on the MVP race but as with the problems with voting for Zobrist we know these factors could help Jeter. Second half projects of .307/.377/.428 leading a final line of .314/.387/.445 and a .374 Woba and homeruns approaching 20 and stolen bases around 30 along should keep Jeter in the minds of voters come the final day of the season.

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2 Comments on “Handicapping the Awards – AL MVP Version”

  1. Disco Says:

    As much as I love Mauer, I am pulling for Zobrist to keep up the production and take home the MVP (although knowing the voters, he may not even be top 10) even at the cost of the Yanks.

    Also, how about Marco fucking Scutaro? Not fantastic offense, but great OBP with his walks and great defense at SS. His 3.6 WAR is 4th in the AL and SB at RLYW has him above and beyond all AL SS in terms of TRAR.

    • trecker987 Says:

      I didn’t include Scutaro because has no track record of hitting like this before and had a horrendous June although he’s turned it around a bit. That and I know the Blue Jays are finishing 4th and the voters are not going to give him the time of day.

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