Last season Joe Mauer won his third silver slugger award and his second in two years. There was a lot of talk going around that he might win a third consecutive and fourth overall this season but unfortunately for everyone who picked him to win it, he is only batting .325 right now. It feels weird saying someone is batting only .325, but that is because everyone expects Mauer to hit .350 or better every year it seems.
That is, to be frank, a tad on the absurd side. There are only two players in the history of Major League Baseball to have a career batting average over .350. Ty Cobb, who hit an astounding .367, and Rogers Hornsby, whose lifetime mark was .358.
But I digress from the matter at hand.
If you look at all the likely candidates for the AL MVP this year you have Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, and Paul Konerko to name a few.
For the sake of this argument I am only going to compare Mauer to the players on that list who are on teams that are playoff bound, because I believe that you can't have an MVP if his team doesn't make the playoffs. That leaves us comparing Cano, Hamilton and Mauer.
Of the three Mauer's batting average is second, but in the other big three categories, runs, runs batted in, and home runs, he is sitting third in all three. He leads the three in walks and has the fewest strikeouts, which is a big positive in my book because it means he is drawing a lot of pitches and wearing pitchers down and helping his team see more pitches, which in turn typically means to a higher team batting average against that pitcher.
After looking at those big numbers this year let's compare his numbers to the ones he put up last year, when he did win the AL MVP award.
Last year he had more runs (although he still has a good shot at eclipsing that mark this season), more runs batted in, more home runs and a much higher batting average.
Most people would say that factor will keep him from winning his second MVP award. I say look again.
The key to the argument is this; when Minnesota Twins former MVP first basemen Justin Morneau went down with a concussion on July 8th Mauer was hitting .297. Since then he has risen his batting average to where it stands at .325 and he has been the smooth defending, clutch hitting player that Minnesotans like to refer to as "Baby Jesus" as he is considered the savior of a Twins team that had been struggling before he was drafted.
On July 8th the Twins were also 2 games back in the AL Central division and they now sit at a fairly comfortable 6 game lead. Why you ask? Because apparently Joe Mauer decided it was time for the Twins to show why everyone had them picked during spring training as the team to win the division.
Is Mauer going to win the AL MVP? Probably not this year. Should he get some serious consideration? You better believe it. The best player on one of Major League baseballs best teams always deserves a look. Although there is one problem with that statement, and his name is Delmon Young. But that is a discussion for another day!