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Seeing as there’s less than a month left to the season, we can begin to predict what the award winners are going to look like. The one I’d like to take a look at is the AL MVP race, and this is because it will divide old school baseball fans and more sabermetrically-inclined fans for who should win. Positional valuation fun will be ALL over this one. I will list the Top 5 candidates, in the order that I foresee the writers voting for them. Also, at the end, I will list a few other candidates I see receiving votes. (I should note, when I mention leading the league in any rate stats, it’s for qualified players only).
Yes, there’s just too many traditional minded writers who get the right to vote still. Not to discount at all what Teixeira has done. He’s second in the league in HRs as of now and since Carlos Pena is done for the season, he has a good chance of leading the league at the end of the season. He will be one of the top players in RBI thanks to the lineup around him and he’ll have over 100 runs scored as well, for that very reason. He plays a very solid first base and voters will remember his defensive reputation from seasons past, even if he looks poor in the last few weeks. With the Yankees on pace to win over 100 games, it’s going to be too hard for these voters not to pencil him in.
Isn’t it amazing what Mauer has done? He leads the league in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage (and therefore OPS). If he didn’t miss any time from the season, there’s a good chance he’d be in the top 5 in runs scored and RBIs and have over 30 home runs. Defensively, his arm is, at worst, average if not slightly above average (I had to eyeball the numbers from The Hardball Times as I couldn’t find anywhere to compare CS% for catchers, fielding-wise). He’s far above what any other catcher is doing offensively. Simply put, he’s the reason why the Twins still have a minute chance of catching the Tigers in the AL Central.
This might be the first time I can truly say that Jeter deserves MVP consideration. Jeter is going to have around 200 hits (and break Gehrig’s record for the all time hits for a Yankees player), score over 100 runs, steal around 25 bases (and be successful over 80% of the time while he’s at it), and is actually playing MUCH improved defense from seasons past. He’s far and away the best SS in the league, he’s a name not one writer can ever find a bad thing to say about him and his team is likely on the way to making the playoffs and winning over 100 games. He’ll siphon a few votes away from Teixeira from people who realize that relative to their positions, Jeter is having a more impressive season than Teixeira.
On a team that has not really had much stand out besides Justin Verlander’s return to pitching well, Miguel Cabrera having a good season again will stick out to the voters. He’s hitting for a .336 average, will likely end up with over 30 HRs, and over 90 runs scored and 90 RBIs and a nice on base percentage and slugging percentage (he’ll probably have an OPS above Teixeira’s). His pretty numbers will convince enough voters to list him high enough.
The Angels offense has been the second best in the league and Kendry’s maturation into what everyone believed he could be is a key reason. Thought to just be the equivalent of a paper weight as the Angels pursued Teixeira this offseason, Kendry Morales has 30 home runs and leads his team in RBI. He also has the second highest slugging percentage in the AL, and his team is going to the playoffs despite barely having a starting rotation much of this year.
Others receiving votes: Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, Nelson Cruz
There’s a possibility some of this could change, if say, the Rangers overtake the Red Sox for the wild card, or the Rays make a miracle run. Also, the writers could view Carlos Pena’s broken fingers as the reason the Rays fell out if they don’t make the playoffs. However, I’m confident in my Top 3, unless I wake up in a bizarro world.