I have absolutely nothing against the voters who selected Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer as the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player. Yes, there was that weird rogue first-place vote coming out of Seattle for Miguel Cabrera, but overall, all appearances are that they got the right man.
It doesn’t mean the selection doesn’t raise serious questions when viewed in the context of the still-controversial National League Cy Young Award vote, however.
Mauer logged 28 home runs and 96 RBI for Minnesota while posting the highest-ever batting average for a catcher at .365. He helped power the Twins’ late-season surge to the AL Central crown while playing a very physically-demanding position.
So, what’s not to like?
Well, Mauer didn’t play the entire season, the very same explanation used in part by the infamous pair of voters who not only didn’t select Chris Carpenter first in the NL Cy vote, they left the St. Louis Cardinals’ ace off their top-three ballots completely.
There is also no telling how many of the 21 other voters who placed Carpenter second or third did so for the same reason. His time out was a commonly-offered explanation by some of those who went with Tim Lincecum or Adam Wainwright instead.
Why the double-standard?
- Just as Carpenter excelled in rate stats measurements and still accrued enough innings to qualify as the NL earned run average leader, so did Mauer gain enough at-bats to win the AL batting title.
- Just as Carpenter fell short of the other Cy candidates in the counting stats of strikeouts and wins viewed by many voters to be so important, so did Mauer in home runs and RBI.
The Twins catcher finished tied for 17th in the AL in home runs and deadlocked for 16th in RBI. The Cardinals starter was second in the NL in wins and 27th in strikeouts.
- Just as Carp missed about five weeks of the season due to injury, Mauer was sidelined during the entire month of April.
The Cardinals’ ace sat out exactly 30 games of his team’s season after pitching in game nine of the Cardinals’ season and returning to the mound in game 40. Mauer made his first appearance in game 23 on May 1.
Carpenter’s time out appeared to be a fatal blow to his NL Cy Young Award chances while Mauer’s seemed insignificant to the writers that named him the AL MVP in a virtual landslide, giving him 27 of 28 first-place votes.
How could that one additional week out of action matter so much to so many?