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Is Joe Mauer the Best Player in Major League Baseball?

Cliff Eastham@RedsToTheBoneSenior Writer IINovember 28, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

I recently took a written beating for saying that I thought Joe Mauer was helped greatly by being a catcher, in his recent naming as the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2009.

With that being said, is Mauer not only the best catcher in the game, is he also the best player in MLB? Let's not throw pitchers in this mix, I would like to be able to compare "apples with apples."

First order of business, let's look at what competition he actually has, at least in my opinion. Forget steroid talk, age of the player, futuristic possibilities, etc. These will appear in no particular order in the following list:

1) Albert Pujols

2) Miguel Cabrera

3) Alex Rodriguez

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4) Mark Teixeira

5) Hanley Ramirez

6) Ryan Howard

7) Ichiro Suzuki

8) Chase Utley

These are the only contenders in my view. If you disagree, you are cordially invited to toss someone else in the mix.

These statistics reflect averages for 162 games:

PLAYER

R

H

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS+

RISP

Mauer

97

196

17

92

.327

.408

.483

136

.347

Pujols

124

199

42

129

.334

.427

.628

172

.345

Cabrera

98

190

33

117

.311

.383

.542

140

.318

Rodriguez

126

189

44

128

.305

.390

.576

147

.301

Teixeira

102

178

37

122

.290

.378

.545

136

.314

Ramirez

123

202

27

82

.316

.386

.531

138

.305

Howard

103

166

49

142

.279

.376

.586

142

.278

Ichiro

111

231

10

59

.333

.378

.434

118

.340

Utley

109

178

29

106

.295

.379

.523

129

.291

I believe that if you were just relying on statistics, Pujols would win this contest in walk-off fashion. He leads the pack in four of the nine categories.

Now we all know that stats only show us so much of the player's ability. Many B/R readers believe that 1B is the easies to play and C is the hardest. Therefore, according to some, an intangible factor would need to be invented to sway things the way of the catcher.

It is interesting to note that of the nine players I chose, four play 1B, one 2B, one SS, one C, one 3B and one OF.

I am not a mathematician, nor do I play one on TV, and therefore could not come up with a numerical factor to represent the different positions. So it would seem justifiable to come to the conclusion that Albert Pujols is the best player in the game today.

OK, I am ready. Let's hear it.


Cliff Eastham is a B/R Featured Columnist for the Cincinnati Reds

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