Mauer Power

Pop quiz, hot shot: There’s a catcher who wins the Gold Glove, the batting title and leads the league in on base and slugging percentage. What do you call him?


That is, unless you’re the (presumably) Detroit-area voter who put Miguel Cabrera in front of Mauer in first place, costing him the unanimous MVP.

Same dude who voted Verlander over Greinke for the Cy Young award? If so, is it time to investigate whether this city-by-city system is the best way to go?

UPDATE: Ken Davidoff Tweets that it was Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News, based in Seattle, who voted Miguel Cabrera first. I can think of no worldly justification for voting Cabrera ahead of either Mauer or Jeter for that matter, so I eagerly await Mr. Konishi’s explanation.

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  1. ecp said...

    “He was an inspirational horse.  Nobody was tougher with the season on the line.”

    Oh wait, that was Justin Verlander.  Cabrera is the guy who stayed out all night, got drunk with members of the opposing team, had an altercation with his wife, and tanked the last weekend of the season, thereby helping to ensure that the Tigers missed the playoffs.

  2. dbhammel said...

    Although I dont diagree with ecp, Miggy did hit a pretty huge HR in the play-in game while being deraded with alcohol related chants from a metrodome crowd.  That homerun shut them up pretty quick, trust me, I was there.

  3. MJ said...

    From fangraphs Dave Cameron

    For Jon Heyman and the rest of the reactionary “Keith Law should lose his ballot” crowd, I present the following comparison between Joe Mauer and Miguel Cabrera.

    Singles: Mauer +2
    Doubles: Cabrera +4
    Triples: Mauer +1
    Home Runs: Cabrera +6
    Runs: Cabrera +2
    RBI: Cabrera +7
    Walks: Mauer +8
    Outs: Cabrera +87

    In terms of raw production, you’d be hard pressed to find two guys who had more similar years than Mauer and Cabrera. The differences in practically all of the counting stats is single digits, making those numbers a virtual tie. The only counting stat where there is much in the way of differentiation is outs. Essentially, the difference in playing time was entirely consumed by the equivalent of Cabrera enduring the worst slump baseball has ever seen.

    If Mauer had played through his back problem in April without reaching base once, going zero for the month, then Cabrera and Mauer would have had approximately equal offensive seasons.

    Seriously, there is no argument for a first place vote for Miguel Cabrera. Mauer’s team made the playoffs, beating out Cabrera’s team for the last spot. Mauer hit better. Mauer fielded better. Mauer played a more important position.

    None of those facts are disputable. A vote for Cabrera being more valuable in 2009 is like a vote for the sum of two and two being five. It’s not an opinion – it’s a lack of understanding.

  4. ecp said...

    @dbhammel – More to the point, though, is that if Cabrera had shown up for the final series against the White Sox, there’s a good chance no play-in game would have been necessary.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    According to many reports, because of that 1st place vote, Miggy ranked 4th in the MVP voting, thereby earning him $200K.  Someone better watch the bank wires.

    Not for nothing, but what does “deraded” mean?

  6. sansho1 said...

    The right guy won.  I’ll never understand the quest for unanimity in these things.  What principle is being upheld, and whose honor defended?

    Bill Simmons bugs me sometimes, but I agree with him about one thing—baseball is becoming a sport about which you’re not allowed to have opinions anymore.

  7. Craig Calcaterra said...

    You can have opinions, sansho. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that those opinions be (a) informed; and (b) defended if they are considerably detached from the mainstream.

    Carpenter v. Lincecum v. Wainwright: it’s fairly close. Go ahead and have your opinions, and if you’re Keith Law or Will Carroll or Ron Rollins—all people whose opinions I generally respsect—we can argue all day long without anyone truly able to say that they’re right with a captial R.

    But Cabrera over Mauer?  Sorry, show your work or I can’t take you seriously.

  8. Kevin said...

    A quick glance at the Kyodo News Sports sections shows like 10 articles on International volleyball and only one story even remotely related to the MLB. They don’t even have Mauer’s MVP as a story. Why does this guy have a vote?

  9. Jonathan Fellows said...

    “Why does this guy [from Kyodo News] have a vote?”

    A lot of newspapers are following the Washington Post’s practice of forbidding their writers from voting on annual awards on “conflict of interest” grounds—especially now that lots of players have financial incentives based upon those awards.  It might be that the Seattle-area papers are among those that do so.  That might be the same reason Law and Carroll got votes.

  10. kardo said...

    Probably the vote was political. Mauer was an absolute certainty for the MVP, so why not push you’re own personal favorite by making him 1st in your ballot. It would have been fun if more writers argued like that, and made Mauer lose the MVP.

    Also, how can Rivera get more votes then Greinke?

  11. Steve C said...

    I noticed Rivera being placed higher on the ballot than Grineke, really strange.  I think there are too many ballot spots for the MVP and too few for the Cy Young. 

    Most teams employ 10-11 pitchers on their 25 man roster.  So for a population of players that is 2/5ths of the league has a voting system that only has 3 lines to write names into.  This makes no sense, it should at least be 2/5ths the size of the MVP ballot (4).

  12. lookatthosetwins said...


    Explain to me how that makes any difference in how valuable the players are.  Thanks in advance.

  13. Ron said...

    What I don’t understand is how did Albert Pujols not even recieve any votes? 

    C’mon, he played in American League parks during interleague play, and we all know he’s the best player in the game. And there is no rule prohibiting writers for voting for a National League player for the American League MVP.

    This is just another example of these young, upstart junior league writers not showing the proper respect for their established senior league counterparts. And the anti-Cardinal bias? Don’t get me started.

    If this isn’t a conspiracy, then what is?  Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me Lee Harvey actually shot JFK, Neil Armstrong really walked on the moon, and the govermentment had nothing to do with 9/11?

  14. Michael said...

    I don’t think Cabrera was necessarily the “most valuable”, but I can understand why someone might select him.

    Just take one look at the Twins leaderboards offensively in HRs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS and you’ll see three different players. Take a look at the Tigers and you’ll see one player.

    The Twins had five players with an .800 or higher OPS with at least 500 at bats. Tigers had one, two if you do 500 plate appearances.

    Twins had two players with 100 RBIs, neither of which were Mauer, and four players with 90 RBIs. Tigers had one, Cabrera.

    Twins weren’t exactly the Yankees offensively, but the Tigers were basically Cabrera. They had three players with 500+ PA’s with an OPS over .730. The Twins, had five.

  15. bk said...

    i agree that Mauer should have been unanimous MVP, but you shouldn’t make comments even if you add the words presumably, when you’re not talking about theory. all you had to do was spend a few mins searching for it, and you’d find who was the guy who didn’t vote for Mauer.
    in the end it just reflects badly on yourself that you weren’t bothered to check the facts.

  16. Michael said...


    It means the Twins had more support around Mauer. Yes, he had great numbers, but he did also have more support around him than Cabrera did. If Miguel Cabrera isn’t on the Tigers, the Tigers are well out of the race, given their offense would have been equivalent to the Kansas City Royals. The Twins, if they didn’t have Mauer, would still have a pretty solid trio in Morneau (he did play for all but the last two weeks), Kubel, and Cuddyer.

    Both players had great seasons, Mauers’ was much better.

    I also found it interesting how nobody really viewed the month missed by Mauer as a “negative”, while Pujols lost his MVP in 2006 to Howard because of being on the DL for a couple weeks, despite also putting up ridiculous numbers.

    Seems hypocritical to me, especially hypocritical to call for Mauer to deserve the unanimous vote.

  17. lookatthosetwins said...

    I still don’t understand what that has to do with anything.  Did the support around him make his contributions less valuable?  Absolutely not.  In fact, his high on base percentage was MORE valuable, because he had guys to drive him in.  From a statistical viewpoint, a high OBP guy is always more valuable in a better lineup, especially when he’s hitting before the good players.

    Having a good lineup may have affected his runs scored and RBIS, etc.  but using those to decide an MVP is downright silly anyway. 

    I’m sure the main argument is that he was “protected” by those guys, and therefore saw better pitches.  Any research done on the subject has shown no effect to having a better hitter hit behind you.  Even if you disregard that and say that it does happen in some cases, I don’t see how you can say it happened in this case.  Mauer walked in 12.7% of his plate appearances this year, right in line with his career mark of 12.7%.  He had just as many intentional walks (14) as Cabrera.

    Even if he WAS protected somewhat, I’m not sure that that would make him a better hitter.  Joe Mauer doesn’t swing at balls.  If they pitch around him, he’ll just walk.  All that would happen is his walk rate would go up (it didn’t!) and his counting stats would take a slight hit.  Overall, this would most likely raise his OPS.

    As far as his missing time, that really isn’t an issue, because of the huge difference in offensive production.  Look at the counting stats from Mauer and Cabrera for the year (I stole this from Dave at Fangraphs).

    Singles: Mauer +2
    Doubles: Cabrera +4
    Triples: Mauer +1
    Home Runs: Cabrera +6
    Runs: Cabrera +2
    RBI: Cabrera +7
    Walks: Mauer +8
    Outs: Cabrera +87

    So you see, pretty similar seasons.  Cabrera has a few more homeruns, but even despite the missed time, only 6, and only 7 more hits total, with 8 less walks.  All in all, he they were on base basically the exact amount of times despite the fact that Mauer missed a month.  The only real difference here, is that Cabrera has 87(!) more outs than Mauer.  So basically, for their season lines to be the same, instead of missing a month, Mauer would have had to hit 6 more home runs, 4 more doubles, somehow manage to have negative walks, singles, and triples, and make 87 outs.  I think we can safely say that his missing month was not enough to put him on the level of Cabrera.  Not even close.

    Ok, so Even if you ignore ALL of that, and somehow conclude that Cabrera is Mauer’s equal offensively, they STILL aren’t close in terms of overall value.  Cabrera is an average defensive first basemen.  Mauer is a great catcher.  The difference in value there is enormous.  Not only is it really hard to find a guy with the skills to be a good catcher, playing catcher wears down a body enough to make it harder to be productive offensively.  The average 1b hit .272/.369/.470 last year.  The average catcher hit .254/.327/.396.  That’s a pretty gigantic difference.  For reference, Joe Mauer was .111/.117/.191 better than an average catcher.  Cabrera was .52/.27/.77 better than an average first basemen.  Again, not even close.

    You talk about the great players that Mauer has around him, but forget the fact that he’s partially responsible for them being there!  The fact that he can play catcher opens up first and DH for guys like Morneau and Kubel; that’s why him playing catcher is so important.  If Cabrera could play catcher, they could have gotten rid of Laird’s ugly line and played guys like Raburn and Thomas every day, or signed a power hitting first basemen.  The position a player plays cannot be ignored when talking about value.

    Well, I think this has been about long enough. Let’s recap quick, and then I’ll be done.  I promise. Basically, in order for you to even put Cabrera at the same level as Mauer you need to:
    1)assume that lineup protection exists AND is significant, despite the evidence to the contrary
    2)ignore the evidence that Mauer was not “protected” in away
    3)assume that this “protection” somehow makes up for making 87 extra outs while hitting only 6 more hrs
    4)ignore the fact that Mauer plays a position that is extremely more valuable than Cabrera’s, and plays it well
    5)ignore the fact that besides being a valuable position, is also a position that wears on a player’s body, and generally depresses offensive numbers, as shown by the poor batting lines catchers usually hit up.

    If you want to argue with any of those specific points, thats fine.  But in order to vote Cabrera for MVP, you’d have to ignore ALL of them, and that would be patently ridiculous. 

    If anyone made it this far, thanks for indulging me.

  18. lookatthosetwins said...

    Just to show that I’m not an unreasonable guy, I will agree with you that Pujols deserved the MVP in ‘06.

  19. lookatthosetwins said...

    Maybe I did that on purpose.  Maybe the wole point of this exercize was to see if anyone would actually read through a post as obnoxiously long as that one.  You passed!

    Or, maybe, I did forget some zeroes.

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