The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has announced the winners of three major awards following the 2009 season. The last remaining award is the most valuable player in each league.
Although Tigers Tracks was not able to cast an official ballot in the first three polls, I will be submitting my MVP vote for the American League. Much thanks to Joe Dexter from Motor City Bengals for making this happen.
As per voting guidelines, I will only be voting in the league that I cover, so this is an AL only ballot. Voting will be finished by Monday, October 26, and the winners will be announced via press release on Tuesday, October 27. You can find more information about the BBA by heading over to their website, you can view a complete list of winners and ballots here.
10- Bobby Abreu (RF, LAA)- Abreu had a fantastic season in 2009. He combined his usual solid average (.293) with another fine OBP (.390). His defense in the outfield was solidly below average in right field, but better than he has been in the past. Abreu knocked in better than 100 runs while stealing 30 bags in 38 tries.
9- Marlon Byrd (CF, TEX)- Byrd was asked to pick up the slack left in the wake of Josh Hamilton’s injuries and he did just that. He posted career highs in hits, doubles (43), home runs (20), RBI (89) and slugging (.479) while batting cleanup for much of the season.
8- Micheal Cuddyer (RF/1B, MIN)- Cuddyer was having a good offensive season entering September and the Twins were hanging around .500 in third place. When Justin Morneau was lost for the year with a back injury, Cuddyer stepped into both Morneau’s defensive spot, and his role as the team’s main power source. He had 10 home runs over the final five weeks of the year and 32 for the season, along with an OPS of .862.
7- Mark Teixeira (1B, NYY)- Tex had a below average season with the glove in 2009, but he made up for it at the plate. His 39 homers and 122 RBI both lead the AL and he had an OPS of .948. It’s just a shame he didn’t hit for the first month of the year, who knows where his numbers may have been.
6- Ben Zobrist (UT, TB)- The SABR community will likely place him higher than sixth, but I have trouble doing so because he played on a third place team. Zobrist had a huge season for the Rays and filled many holes for them. He belted 27 homers with 91 RBI while carrying a .948 OPS. He was also outstanding defensively at both second base and in right field.
5- Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B, BOS)- Youkilis missed 26 games for the Sox or he would have placed much higher. He had a great year at the plate with 27 homers and 94 RBI. His OBP of .413 was second best in the AL as was hi .961 OPS. Defensively his versatility helped the Sox at first base, but he was below average at third.
4- Derek Jeter (SS, NYY)- No, this has nothing to do with some hair-brained “lifetime achievement” award. Jeter was amazing in 2009. He moved into the lead off spot in the order and responded with his best season in years. He had 212 hits, scored more than 100 runs and hit 18 long balls while batting .334, third best in the league. His .871 OPS was his highest since 2006 and fourth best mark of his career. He committed only eight errors all season, and while his range has suffered a bit as he has aged, he is still an above average defender.
3- Kendry Morales (1B, LAA)- Morales had a tremendous season in his first full year in the big leagues. He had a .924 OPS with 34 homers and 108 RBI for the division winning Angels. He helped to offset the loss of production of Vladimir Guerrero by hitting .315 and slugging .631 with RISP. Defensively he was very solid at first base and only figures to get better.
2- Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET)- Cabrera’s second season in the AL and second at first base was a marked improvement over a very good 2008. He has improved so much with the defensively that he may have a gold glove in his future, but is already an above average defender at first. His .324 average was good for fourth in the league, his .396 OBP was sixth best and his .942 OPS ranked fifth. He carried the offensively challenged Tigers to 86 wins despite having little to no protection in the order. Cabrera’s 34 home runs and 103 RBI made him one of only two AL players with a .300/30/100 season.
1- Joe Mauer (C, MIN)- Mauer had what can only be described as a Pujols-ian season, if Pujols was a good defensive catcher, anyway. If you look at the leaders in almost any offensive category in the AL, you find Mauer’s name at or near the top, and he did it all while catching the majority of the Twins’ games and leading them to a division title. Mauer missed the first 22 games with a bad back, but even with the missed time, he still had careers highs in homers (28) and RBI (96). He lead the league in average (.365), OBP (.444), slugging (.587), and OPS (1.031). No AL catcher had ever won a batting title until Mauer came along, 2009 was his third time leading the league in hitting. Catchers just don’t do what he does.