Baseball BeatOctober 02, 2006
Baseball Analysts - Most Valuable Players
By Rich Lederer

With the regular season behind us, it is time to focus on the playoffs. I will have a preview of the ALDS and NLDS on Tuesday. In the meantime, I wanted to fill out my (make believe) ballot for each league's Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year. We will start with the MVP today, move to the CYA on Wednesday, and finish with the ROY on Friday.



1. Albert Pujols, 1B, STL: He beat his closest statistical challenger, Ryan Howard, in AVG/OBP/SLG. They both play first base - Pujols like a Gold Glove winner; Howard like a DH. Albert hit RHP and LHP. Albert hit at home and away. He led the league in OPS (1102). In short, Pujols was the best player in the league (again).

Back in February, I wrote "You can write down what Albert Pujols is going to do now. When it's all said and done, he's going to be right around .330/.420/.620 with 40 HR and 125 R and RBI." Well, I was close. But Pujols actually exceeded all three rate stats, as well as my HR and RBI projections - despite spending 15 days on the DL in June.

 2. Carlos Beltran, CF, NYM - .275/.388/.594, 38 2B, 41 HR, 127 R, 116 RBI, 95 BB, 18 SB
 3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, FLA - .339/.430/.568, 50 2B, 26 HR, 112 R, 114 RBI
 4. Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI - .313/.425/.659, 58 HR, 149 RBI, 108 BB
 5. Lance Berkman, 1B, HOU - .315/.420/.621, 45 HR, 136 RBI, 98 BB
 6. Chase Utley, 2B, PHI - .309/.379/.527, 40 2B, 32 HR, 131 R, 102 RBI, 15 SB
 7. David Wright, 3B, NYM - .311/.381/.531, 40 2B, 26 HR, 116 RBI, 20 SB
 8. Jose Reyes, SS, NYM - .300/.354/.487, 30 2B, 17 3B, 19 HR, 122 R, 64 SB
 9. Rafael Furcal, SS, LA - .300/.369/.445, 32 2B, 9 3B, 15 HR, 113 R, 37 SB
10. Mike Cameron, CF, SD - .268/.355/.482, 34 2B, 9 3B, 22 HR, 25 SB

Just missed: Brian McCann, C, ATL - .333/.388/.572, 34 2B, 24 HR, 93 RBI

I feel good about having representatives from all playoff teams. The fact that no pitchers are included leaves me with an empty feeling. But how do you differentiate among Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, and Chris Carpenter to include one and not the others? Billy Wagner was also a consideration. However, if I wasn't willing to give the closer my Cy Young vote, how could I leapfrog him over the other three?

Most voters won't have Rafael Furcal or Mike Cameron in their top tens. Instead, they will favor someone like Alfonso Soriano, who has gaudier stats. That's fine. Soriano had a fantastic season. I'm just partial toward up-the-middle defensive players. In the case of Furcal and Cameron, I believe they were the MVPs of teams going to the playoffs.


1. Derek Jeter, SS, NYY: The Yankees captain had a terrific season. He was 2nd in the AL in AVG (.343) and 4th in OBP (.417). Jeter was also 2nd in R (118), 3rd in H (214), and 7th in SB (34 with only 5 CS). Derek played in 154 games and did a little bit lot of this and a little bit lot of that. Did I mention that he hit .388/.489/.592 with runners in scoring position?

Like it or not but Jeter will probably win his third consecutive Gold Glove, too [corrected version]. Add it all up and you have a player who hit, ran the bases, and played defense for a team that had the biggest margin of victory over its division opponents.

 2. Johan Santana, SP, MIN - Led MLB in W (19), ERA (2.77), and K (245)
 3. Joe Mauer, C, MIN - .347/.429/.507 (first catcher to lead MLB in AVG)
 4. Grady Sizemore, CF, CLE - .290/.375/.533, 53 2B, 11 3B, 28 HR, 22 SB in 162 G
 5. Jermaine Dye, RF, CWS - .315/.385/.622, 44 HR, 120 RBI
 6. David Ortiz, DH, BOS - .287/.413/.636, 54 HR, 137 RBI, 119 BB (led AL in WPA)
 7. Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN - .321/.375/.559, 34 HR, 130 RBI
 8. Carlos Guillen, SS, DET - .320/.400/.519, 41 2B, 19 HR, 100 R, 20 SB
 9. Roy Halladay, SP, TOR - 16-5, 3.19 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
10. Travis Hafner, DH, CLE - .308/.439/.659, 42 HR, 117 RBI, 100 BB

Just missed: Frank Thomas, DH, OAK - .270/.381/.545, 39 HR, 114 RBI

I would not wince at all if Johan Santana won the MVP. Unfortunately, I don't think the best pitcher in baseball stands much of a chance and, in fact, would be surprised if he finishes in the top five. Sad but true.

You know the competition is fierce when I can't find room on my ballot for Manny Ramirez (.321/.439/.619, 35 HR, 102 RBI, 100 BB), Jim Thome (.288/.416/.598, 42 HR, 109 RBI, 107 BB), and Jason Giambi (.253/.413/.558, 37 HR, 113 RBI, 110 BB). Just goes to show how valuable C, SS, 2B, and CF are, especially in the AL where there are 14 DHs competing with all the position players for batting stats. Or how about Alex Rodriguez? He had one of the best seasons ever for someone so ridiculed in the press. A third baseman on the best team in baseball, putting up a .290/.392/.523 line along with 35 HR and 121 RBI would normally be in the discussion for league MVP. Not this year.


Derek Jeter for MVP? Pffft. What is he, like the 4th best hitter on that team? His sabermetrics don't say he deserves to win a Gold Glove. I don't see how people can hand out on MVP to a guy who is on a virtual All-Star lineup. If Jeter is out, do the Yankees miss the playoffs? Hardly.

I think people just eat up this bull**** Jeter mystique played up by the media. I'd like to see how much of a "winner" Jeter would be on the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals. It's kind of funny all we hear about on the blogs are the typical stats you'd expect to, OPS, etc. But when we talk about Jeter, huzzah! We get to throw OPS out the window. If people applied the Jeter exception to the NL MVP race, you'd have to throw out Albert Pujols of, who, Jose Reyes? Sure why not. But I forgot. We're constantly bending the rules to figure out the ways to kiss Jeter's ass, but by then we judge every other award by different standards. Forget the MVP Award, let's just call it the Most Media Hype Award.

Someone look at the metrics and tell me Derek Jeter deserves the Gold Glove over Michael Young with a straight face.

Rich, you really went out of your element on this one. Since when do you give a damn about stats like " Jeter was also 2nd in R (118), 3rd in H (214)." That's the kind of talk I'd expect to hear from some baseball novice telling me why Tony Batista had a great year in 2004 with 32 home runs or 110 RBIs. Runs? Give me a break. Ichiro scored more runs in 2003 than he did in 2004, gee, I guess Ichiro was better in 2003.

It doesn't matter how much importance you put on it. Mentioning runs scored is 100% bogus all the time.

There is no rational explanation anyone can give for Jeter over Mauer. None. Zero. Mauer plays a tougher position, he's in charge of the pitching staff, he's great in the clutch, he's the first AL batting champ catcher, he's been marvelous.

When it's all said and done, Jeter's rate components are scarcely better than Robinson Cano's. We're talking about a team that has how many MVPs and All-Stars on it? To pretend like one of them stands out as "Most Valuable" in the make-or-break kind of way that Lance Berkman or Albert Pujols mean to their respective teams is a joke to me.

Hafner is ridiculously low on your list: despite missing a month, he's still leads all AL pitchers & position players in VORP.

Also, I'd say this year is Pujols 1st MVP year. Bonds deserved all the hardware he received, and Derrek Lee was the superior player in 2005.

In response to APing, BP has Jeter with a 9.3 warp1, and Mauer with an 8.9.

Here's how the rest of the AL fare in that cumulative stat, with Johan clearly leading the way:

10.6 Santana
9.3 Jeter
8.9 Mauer
8.7 Dye
8.5 Sizemore
8.4 Tejada
8.4 Halladay
7.8 Hafner
7.8 Ortiz
7.1 Morneau
7.1 Wang
6.7 Thome
6.4 Guillen (rated very poorly in the field)
6.3 Manny
6.3 Vlad
5.9 Vernon Wells
4.4 Thomas

Glad you put in the A-Rod comment. He really did take an amazing amount of abuse. His range at 3rd has cut down the amount of 'past the diving Jeter' calls on radio and tv.

I am curious what are your criteria for MVP (or the other awards). You present stats, but different ones for different players. Sometimes you mention Slugging, sometimes not, sometimes steals, sometimes not and so on. Of course, the nature of players' contributions vary according to their role, but the point of presenting stats is to find some common criteria against which to place all the candidates.

I think APing overdoes his critique, but the thrust of his point is legitimate. Why Jeter over Mauer? You say Jeter is second in BA-but Mauer is first. You say Jeter is 4th in OBP-but Mauer is higher. You mention Mauer's slugging %, not mentioning that Jeter's is 24 points lower. You comment on Jeter's fielding, not noting that Mauer plays a position at least as vital, and does so better than Jeter plays his.

Given that Jeter had a terrific year, but what is the criteria by which he is placed first-the comparative superiority in other words? I do not expect a similar analysis for 2-10, but the same issue applies. Why are Dye, Morneau, Hafner and Ortiz placed where they are? Looking at their stats does not provide an answer, so there needs to be some overall criteria to make such a decision or it is simply arbitrary.

I'm a Yankee fan and I still have to agree with Bob R. Not your best, Rich.

I love the Jeter-hate. How can APing even mention the word "sabermetrics" and argue Jeter ISN'T the MVP? As a matter of fact, the only players with an argument are Travis Hafner and Johan Santana. If you concede that the major candidates for MVP in the AL are Jeter, Mauer, Morneau, Dye, and Thomas, Jeter is clearly the best. He has the most Runs Created, the most Runs Created per game, most Win Shares, and the highest VORP. His VORP is amazing when you consider the 6 names he's sandwiched between... Pujols, Howard, Hafner, JETER, Cabrera, Ortiz, and Berkman. Of course that doesn't even take into account his base stealing and hitting with RISP. Of all the MVP candidates in both leagues, only Pujols has a better BA-RISP than Jeter.

The acquisition of Abreu and the return to health of other players have caused an early season amnesia for some people. The ONLY constant in the Yankees' everyday lineup has been Derek Jeter and to a lesser extent, Jorge Posada. For an extended period of time, the Yankees OF consisted of a combination of a banged up Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Bernie Williams, Terrence Long, Aaron Guiel, Kevin Thompson, and the immortal Bubba Crosby. Cano missed an entire month, Giambi alternated near MVP performance with ice cold stretches, and A-Rod had as bad a .290, 35 HR,120 RBI season as a player can have. Jeter was the only one with consistent performance.

Just a guess, but is Mauer's VORP hurt by his playing 14 fewer games than Jeter? This probably isn't correct, but per 150 games the VORPs are 9.5 for Mauer and 9.1 for Jeter.

Eeek, what a weak passage.

Jeter over Mauer? Hafner 10th on the list?


Boy, nothing like the mention of MVP and Jeter to get people's ire up this morning.

Let me try to scroll through the comments and address as many retorts as possible...

First of all, when it comes to Jeter, the guy can't win for losing (in some people's minds) and can't lose for winning (in others). I'm in neither camp. I don't like or dislike him. I just call 'em as I see 'em.

Jeter leads Mauer in both Win Shares and WARP measures. I didn't really struggle with those two as much as I did with Jeter and Santana. Like I wrote, I wouldn't have any problem at all if Santana won the award. He was the first pitcher in over 20 years to capture the Major League Triple Crown of Pitching and just the eighth in the history of the game.

Re the criteria used and presented, I listed AVG/OBP/SLG for all of the position players (other than in my write-ups on Pujols and Jeter, although I did mention the latter's AVG and OBP). In addition, I mentioned a few counting stats in every case to supplement the rate stats. As I indicated, I value up-the-middle defensive players, especially over DHs and lumbering LF and 1B. Lastly, although I didn't list Win Shares and Wins Above Replacement Player, I value both. I'm also a fan of Win Probability Added.

As it relates to some of the counting numbers that most statheads pan, runs scored are clearly influenced by where a player bats in the lineup and the prowess of his teammates. However, runs scored are also a function of how often a player gets on base as well as his ability to run the bases. Like RBI, I don't place a lot of weight on runs as a standalone stat. But to ignore them completely seems a bit snobbish to me.

With respect to Jeter vs. Cano, playing time does matter. Jeter played in 154 games, Cano in 122. Despite "rate components [that] are scarcely better than Cano's" (as one commenter pointed out), Jeter reached base 295 times, Cano 185. In other words, there is no comparison in the production between these two teammates.

Where to put Hafner was a tough one for me but we're talking about the MVP here, not the best hitter. Give him a Silver Slugger but not the MVP. He doesn't play defense. He doesn't run the bases well. And, let's face it, he missed a month. At best, I could see an argument on his behalf for placing him as high as sixth but would have a problem with anything higher than that.

I value Mauer's season quite a bit and would be surprised if I don't have him listed higher than where he will eventually place in the balloting. However, to suggest that Mauer (.360/.497/.544 with RISP and .288/.419/.452 close and late) is "great in the clutch" without giving Jeter (.388/.489/.592 and .329/.439/.439) his due is disingenuous.

Jeter, Santana, Mauer. Upon reflection, I still feel good about my choices here. If I made any changes at all, it would be Santana, Jeter, Mauer.

My favorite part of APing's screed:

"There is no rational explanation anyone can give for Jeter over Mauer. None. Zero. Mauer... [is] the first AL batting champ catcher..."

Of course I'm cherry-picking -- he said more than that. But talk about irrationality...

There have been plenty of seasons over the years to bitch about Derek Jeter being overrated. 2006 is not one of them. As Rich points out, there is not just a reasonable case to be made, but a decidedly convincing one that he was the AL's MVP this season.

So don't delete the "Jeter's overrated" template just yet - I am sure you may need it next year or the year after that. But not this year - his candidacy is most legitimate.

Just curious, but how do you justify Jeter over Santana? Pitching every fifth day, Santana factored into 932 plate appearances, holding opponents to pre-break Rondell White-like numbers (.213/.258/.360). His pitching runs created FAR outpaced Jeter (155 to 135), and he narrowly beat him in VORP.

ahm makes an excellent point and one that I think is DEFINITELY worth making: While SPs are only out there one out of every 5 days, position players are only up there hitting one out of every 9 ABs (at best), so it's not exactly fair to discount pitchers because because of this.

I will say that I hate the Yankees and think Jeter is ENORMOUSLY overrated in a general sense. But after all the numbers I've looked this year, this season Jeter has a decent case. Now, I'll also say that I think he gets better pitches because of who he hits around (having guys on base in front of you and big hitter behind you can't help but improve your numbers), and that the Yankees would still have won the AL East without him. So while I don't really want to see Jeter win (I like Santana; he's just miles ahead of everyone else), this would be the most appropriate season for him to do so.

Jeter, without people hitting in front of him...somehow managed 98 RBI. Plus, he's setting the table for all those run producers hitting behind him. How good would the Yankees be, if Giambi, Sheffield, and A-Rod didn't have Jeter on base to drive in? I think that's something to consider about Jeter's value. Also, consider he's 4th in the league for Runs Created with 133. No other Yankee created more runs! In fact, the closest Yankee is A-Rod at 117. So all those Jeter haters need to think about that when they discuss who the best Yankee hitter is.

I want to clarify; I am a Yankee fan, and I like Jeter very much. I was simply trying to understand how Rich arrived at his choice when the numbers he presented did not seem to me to make the case clear. I appreciate his clarification, but still am not entirely satisfied. First, I figured the middle of the diamond players rated higher in his estimation than DHs and corners, but Mauer is an up the middle player too, and a good one. Second, I still insist that it is important to establish criteria for comparison up front or it looks like the pick is made first and the numbers are then cherry picked to support the predisposition. (Not that the criteria could not be established to favor one's choice anyway, of course.) After identifying Jeter as the MVP and printing counting stats and some rate stats, Rich later, in response, notes Jeter's Win Shares and WARP. So are those the most important factors? If so, it is relatively easy to decide who earns the prize. Just list them in order of Win Shares and WARP and then account for other factors to some degree. Regardless, let's have a common ground for discussion, and let the evidence proceed from the criteria to lead to the conclusion. There can be no real discussion if one person says that player A deserves it because he has more home runs, RBIs and a higher OPS while another says it is B because he has more win shares.

At the very least, I had to respond to the comment on Alex Rodriguez...

Fact #1: Yes, Alex Rodriguez is a very talented TALENTED as anyone in the game. His apologists always say "look as his stats, you can't tell me he's worthless", but that isn't what his detractors are arguing.

Fact #2: When people mention Alex Rodriguez's ability to hit in the clutch, this isn't a joke or some misperception; he really does suffer in the clutch. I've argued for years that there's a reason for this: he selfishly guns for homers in situations that often call for just getting the bat on the ball, just getting a hit, and drags himself down.

Rodriguez is disliked for poor body language, bad team (and teammate) skills, and a generally selfish style of play. What happened to the rookie who won the batting title years ago? Jason Giambi admitted when he went to the Yankees and subsequently had his BA drop that he was being paid to hit homers, so he sacrificed some of his all around game to do his job. Rodriguez is paid the biggest bucks to be the games BEST player...but he puts up hollow stats by hitting when it doesn't really matter, and falling short when he's really needed. He deserves the criticism, because it's true...and he's no MVP.

As for Jeter and the rest of the field, I try to make a synthesis of people's arguements. To begin, lots of people want an MVP from a "contender", and I think it's fair to (after a quick glance of the favorites) to narrow it down to Dye, Morneau, Santana, and Jeter. Other people like stats...for everyone who likes Jeter, I'll agree that his stats hold up with the rest, even if I don't really feel that way.
From there, being that we have something of a four way tie, I always like the arguement "who was most VALUABLE to his TEAM?". Let's just leave Santana out for simplicity's sake, and take a look. Contrary to what someone said above, Jeter had awesome table setters in front of him, including Damon and often Cano. Morneau and Dye both had excellent OBP guys in front of them, but the 2-3 guys ahead of them were certainly no better, if not actually worse, than the guys in front of Jeter (and he certainly had better guys to drive him in from behind). I think everyone will agree that the Yankees had a far deeper lineup than Chicago's or Minnesota's, and I have to imagine that having a lineup that wears people down like that leads to statistical inflation (which nobody seems to ever mention). Finally, even if you ignore all that, imagine what happens to each team if you remove the respective "most valuable player." Obviously, all the teams will suffer, but who suffers most? For all the love of Jeter, he's more of a Roberto Alomar in Cleveland player...good at getting on base, good at baserunning, and solid at driving in runs, but those skills are more easily replaced than power skills. The Yankees had an especially deep lineup this year...plug Cano into the second spot, put someone like Cairo in at #9, and don't you still have baseball's best lineup?
Dye had a number of clutch hits, and his stats certainly look like those of an MVP. He was in the middle of a 3-4-5 power group, though, and so I don't give him much of a leg over Jeter, if any.
But then there's Morneau...the one true all-around power threat on the Twins. The Twins, with an excellent pitching staff and bullpen, needed all the runs they could get, and for all the good Mauer did at getting on base, you need SOMEONE to drive runs in, and that was constantly Morneau. Like most of these candidates, he was exceptional in the clutch, but he was relied on more in the clutch. It should be noted that Mornaeu has a clear advantage in RBIs in "close and late" situations (all these hitters had similar ABs in those situations). Take Morneau out of that lineup, and Minnesota is screwed, no chance at anything close to the playoffs, and while NY and Chicago would have suffered without their guys, I think their chance at contending would be much higher.
It should be noted that Minn started the year poorly, as did Morneau, and they became a different hitter when he emerged.
It should also be noted that Morneau's sabermetric defensive statistics are surprisingly good, while Jeter's, typically, are nothing special (Rodriguez was one of the 3 clearly worst-fielding third basemen this year).

I'm with Bob. I thought Mauer would benefit from being an exceptional up-the-middle player too, but it doesn't seem like that has been factored. Likewise, is Mauer being punished for his lack of counting stats? Can a catcher ever win MVP is counting stats trump rate stats?

I generally like the lists and the logic, but I think this is more of one fan's ballot rather than yet another MVP discussion. I would have left the stats out of it.

The statements about A-Rod not being clutch are simply untrue. Until the 4th game of the playoff game against Boston in 2004, his post-season performance was excellent. He was a monster against Minnesota that year, and had been excellent in just about every post-season before that. Suddenly, along with every other Yankee, he did poorly. The perception that he is not good in the clutch is media generated nonsense that feeds on itself. People now remember each failure and begin interpreting every movement, every statement, every clubhouse rumor as further evidence to prove what they think they already know.

The A-Rod criticism is amazing.

This is a guy who WON the MVP last year.

And he was the clear favorite, papi sympathizers aside.

They make it sound like he has come into New York and done absolutley nothing but hog up payroll, prevent Yankees from signing Carlos Beltran blah blah. Have people completely forgotten 2005?

As to the point that all his numbers are hollow, that's something that you just have to watch many Yankee games over the course of the season to judge. I just hope people who are arguing for these "empty numbers" actually watch the Yankees play, and are not going by what they read.

Finally, a writer who sees why Albert Pujols, and not Ryan Howard, is the NL MVP. Too many of the pundits have been blinded by Howard's home-run and RBI totals. But Pujols led Howard in runs produced and he was death with a bat in his hand with RISP and especially RISP with two outs. (Note the game-winning RBI.) Howard wasn't close. Pujols carried the Cardinals on his back all year--and would have rivaled or (likely) exceeded Howards totals given an equal number of plate appearances.

"...would have rivaled or (likely) exceeded Howards totals given an equal number of plate appearances."

You can't use arguments like these in a most valuable player debate. I agree with you that Pujols is the NL MVP. But a player is only as valuable as what he has done. You can make this case if you were arguing who was the better hitter, but when deciding which player contributed more to his team, you can't give Alberty Pujols credit for home runs he didn't hit.

"Jason Giambi admitted when he went to the Yankees and subsequently had his BA drop that he was being paid to hit homers, so he sacrificed some of his all around game to do his job."

What a team player that Giambi is. I'm sure it wasn't that he stopped juicing or anything like that. A-Rod was the 2x reigning Gold Glove winner at SS when he was traded to NY, yet he was willing to switch positions to accomodate the ego of a far lesser player. The guy was building a career as The Best SS Ever yet he took a position change for a chance at a championship, and now we have to listen to this crap about his "hollow" numbers and selfish play? Give me a break.

The best shortstop in New York (and in all of baseball) now plays 3B.

To those that say Jeter spent the season hitting in the deepest, most talented lineup in all of baseball, I say, you obviously did not watch many Yankee games this season.

To those that say Jeter spent the season hitting in the deepest, most talented lineup in all of baseball, I say, you obviously did not watch many Yankee games this season................

I second that opinion. He wins hands down. Jeter haters aim and fire!!

Jeter's ranking among AL batsmen in Runs Created Above Average adds perspective to the type of season he had this year:


1    Travis Hafner         73
2    David Ortiz           68
3    Manny Ramirez         60
4    Jim Thome             58
5    Derek Jeter           52
T6   Jermaine Dye          48
T6   Grady Sizemore        48
8    Jason Giambi          46
9    Vladimir Guerrero     43
10   Justin Morneau        42

Jeter is surrounded by DHs, corner outfielders, and a first baseman. As a CF, Sizemore jumps out as well. Note that I had him fourth behind what I believe was the Big Three in Jeter, Santana, and Mauer.

"He was the first pitcher in over 20 years to capture the Major League Triple Crown of Pitching and just the eighth in the history of the game."

Not for nothing, the pitching triple crown is wins, ERA, and Ks, correct?

Why is everyone forgetting Roger Clemen's 1998 season:

20 wins, 2.65 ERA and 271 Ks

Because he tied in wins? So did Santana.

Nevermind, MLB triple crown, not AL.

Either way, Clemens had a great season that year.

I loathe the "he's on a great team, so he doesn't matter" argument just as much as the "he's on a terrible team, so really how good could he be? They finished last!" argument. They both suck.

This means that Sizemore and Hafner (and Ortiz) should be part of the debate, and Rich has them in there. Bravo. Hafner missed a month. Had he not... things could've been interesting.

Personally, I would vote for Mauer first, Jeter second, Santana third. What Mauer did, as a catcher, amazes me. I'm a Yankees fan who watched Jeter every day, btw. Jeter's got a legit case, and it won't be any sort of travesty if he wins. Average defense at SS this year, amazing BA/OBP, great stats in the clutch, great baserunning as usual. Obviously he doesn't have the HRs/RBIs so many people drool over. Meh.

I admit, however, that I just don't feel like I know how to compare a pitcher to position players, so I could be undervaluing (or overvaluing, but probably not) Santana. I'm open to being convinced about him.

A number of players have reasonable cases. There were no "Shannon Stewart for MVP" calls here. Joe Mauer, Derek Jeter and Johan Santana all had excellent seasons.

Mauer's and Jeter's offensive seasons are actually remarkably similar. Jeter played more; Mauer arguably offered better defence. You can make plausible arguments for either. Santana seems to have been in the same range of value, as the other two. There really was not a single player who stood head and shoulders above the crowd in 2006 in the AL.

"There were no "Shannon Stewart for MVP" calls here."

I was just thinking that Abreu might fall into that category. .330/.419/.507 after the trade, with that OBP giving the Yanks breathing room in what once was a neck-n-neck division race.

I'm not saying each should receive consideration, but if Stewart's 65-game, .384 OBP attracted votes, shouldn't Bobby's vastly superior one attract them as well?

By the way, this also serves as a response to those Yankee fans here who've claimed Jeter's been a prince amond paupers.

Boy, Jeter sure played like the MVP last night.

Several posters refer to Jeter being surrounded by a "great lineup." How quickly we forget! In June and July, there was no Abreu, no Matsui and no Sheffield. In July, there was no Cano either. Posada missed a couple short stretches, and A-Rod and Giambi struggled with slumps. Without Jeter's bat carrying the team through this period, the Yankees would not have even been buyers at the trade deadline.

The voters will lean to Jeter if the Yankees end up going to the World Series, as opposed to the Athletics sweeping the Twins.

But I'll believe the A's can win a clinching game when I see it.