Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIIJuly 31, 2008


“And the hero from last night’s homerun derby, Josh Hamilton.”


-Joe Buck, while introducing the center fielders for the

2008 All-Star Game


If you had not watched the 2008 Homerun Derby the night before, you would have concluded that Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton had won, and had continued to write another amazing chapter of his re-written life.


“From the Minnesota Twins, Justin Morneau.”


                                                                           -Joe Buck, while introducing

                                                                            the AL reserves for the 2008

                                                                            All-Star Game


If you had not watched the 2008 Homerun Derby the night before, you would have concluded that Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau had not won, or even competed for that matter.


Justin Morneau is used to this by now. Being underrated, that is. Never given enough credit, and consistently under the radar. Heck, this is the guy who scored the winning run in the All-Star Game, but didn’t receive any acclamation for it.


And Morneau loves it.


Morneau was added on Sunday for the Derby on Monday. A sure underdog, Morneau was easily overlooked in a field that consisted of Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla, Chase Utley, Grady Sizemore, Lance Berkman, Evan Longoria; each one serious a power threat.


But what about Morneau? Why should he win? I mean, this is the guy who stole the MVP from Derek Jeter in 2006. Every newspaper had to bring it up. Every headline read “Jeter Loses MVP To Morneau.”


Every sports analyst in the country declared it an injustice to Jeter. “The Yankees wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for Jeter. He was the only Yankee to perform this year. Morneau isn’t even the MVP of his team, let alone the whole American League.”


So who was the MVP for the Twins in 2006? Was it AL Cy Young Winner Johan Santana, the unanimous selection who won his second Cy Young award in three years, as well as pitching’s Triple Crown? Or was it Joe Mauer, who “stole” the AL Batting Title from Derek Jeter, becoming the first catcher in the modern era to win a Batting Title? Or was it Torii Hunter, the Gold Glove winning centerfielder, who saved games and robbed hits, and became only the second Twin to hit 30 homeruns since 1987?


Or should it have been Morneau, who became the first Twin since 1987 to hit 30 home runs in a season, who had 130 RBI, hit .321, and led the Twins one of the most amazing pennant runs in league history, clinching the AL Central on the last day of the regular season.


Currently, Morneau is leading AL first basemen in hits (130), average (.320), RBIs (83), total bases (214), slugging percentage (.527), is tied for third with 17 homeruns, has become one of the most clutch hitters in the league (hitting .374 w/RISP), and has his Twins .5 game back in the AL Central.


And so the question remains: Why is Morneau constantly cast as the underdog? Besides leading the Twins to a championship, which he is in the process of doing, what else can this Canadian conqueror do to earn a little respect?