Is the Minnesota Twins' Michael Cuddyer an MVP Sleeper?

Matt CastonguayContributor IOctober 6, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 11:  Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins bats  against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on June 11, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Twins are on the threshold of an unexpected berth in the postseason, and it may have more to do with someone other than the guy you'll be thinking about for MVP.

Yes, yes.  Joe Mauer has been spectacular this year, putting up huge numbers while playing the most physically demanding position in the game, and missing the first month of the season.  A .364 batting average, 28 dingers and 96 RBI are stellar, but there may be someone more deserving in that lineup.

When Justin Morneau went down early last month with a back injury, losing 30 HR and 100 RBI from their lineup, people were ready to bury them.

Enter Michael Cuddyer, the Twins former everyday third base man, right-fielder and reserve extraordinaire.

Cuddyer's 2009 season has been a memorable one.  His breakout year.  After 162 games, he had career-highs in average and homers, with a .274 BA and 32 homers.  His 94 RBI was the second most he's amassed in a season.

Those numbers only tell half the story.

Since Morneau hit the bench, Cuddyer has been hotter than almost anyone in the game.  Since Sep. 10, he has hit eight homers and driven in 22, including the go-ahead jack in Saturday's win over Kansas City, which propelled the Twins to a tie atop the division.

While this kind of productivity is expected from Joe Mauer and former MVP Justin Morneau, these numbers are all sort of surprising from Cuddyer.  The 30-year-old former top prospect is finally paying the dividends they thought he would 10 years ago.

Obviously, no one is going to give Cuddyer a single vote, and that is sad.  Without Cuddyer's late-season heroics, its pretty safe to say, the Twinkies probably wouldn't have made it this far.

And it all comes down to tonight.  Tigers vs. Twins, 5 p.m. EDT, from Minnesota.