Yesterday I touched on the NL MVP Race, and with things not nearly as clear cut over the AL, I thought it would be beneficial to present my thoughts for the top-10 players in the Junior Circuit for your perusal.
Like yesterday, I want to let you know that I won’t be listing any pitchers here, they already have their own season ending trophy.
10 – Bobby Abreu
Got no respect at all on the free agent market so he was forced to take a 1-year deal with the Angels. No one in Southern California is complaining now as Abreu hit .293-15-103-96-30 in a terrific all-around campaign that was his seventh straight year that he has scored at least 96 runs, while knocking in 100 and stealing 22 or more bases.
9 – Evan Longoria
The Rays fell on hard time in 2009 but second year third baseman Evan Longoria wasn’t to blame as he led AL third basemen in homers (33) and RBI (113) while finishing second in runs with 100 (Chone Figgins had 114). Still, it was a bit of a disappointing effort for Longoria since he had 13 homers and 55 RBI in his first 51 games this season.
8 – Adam Lind
Who saw this coming? Dude was flat out stud-like hitting .305 with 35 homers and 114 RBI. Lind also scored 93 times and produced a .932 OPS even if no one noticed because he plays for the Blue Jays.
7 – Kendry Morales
The best power hitter on the best team in the AL West, Morales came out of relative obscurity to blast his way to a .306-34-108 line as he remained a steady power bat despite injuries to Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter.
6 – Jason Bay
May not get the publicity of some of the other guys on this list but he was second in the league with 119 RBI as he also scored 103 times while going deep 36 times. Add into the mix a .921 OPS and you have a guy who will break the bank in free agency this offseason.
5 – Ichiro Suzuki
Once again led the league in hits with 225 as he hit .350 (actually .352) for the fourth time. Did lose his 8-year run of .300 with 100 runs and 200 hits though as the terrible offense around him plated him only 88 times despite the fact that he posted an OBP of .386, eight points above his career mark. Still he had a marvelous season doing what he does best – and he did it better than anyone else yet again.
4 – Miguel Cabrera
Was an embarrassment late in the year – you can read all about it in Around the Horn – but he still posted tremendous numbers over the course of the season as he used 198 hits to bat .324 with a .396 OBP and a .942 OPS as he slugged 34 homers, drove in 103 runs and scored 96 times for the Tigers.
3 – Mark Teixeira
It helps that he is a Yankee, but he also tied for the AL lead in homers with 39 (Carlos Pena) and led the league with 122 RBI. When you add on to that a .292 average and a .948 OPS you have yourself one hell of a season in his first year in pinstripes.
2 – Derek Jeter
Jeter scored his customary 100-runs with 107, and he was third in the league with a .334 batting average while producing 212 hits, 18 homers, 66 RBI and 30 steals. He also played much better defense than you may have thought
1 – Joe Mauer
When you set an all-time single season record for batting average by a catcher (.365), a mark that leads the league, and you also pace the circuit in OBP (.444), SLG (.587) and OPS (1.031), it’s an easy call for MVP even if you missed a month of the season with a bad back.
By Ray Flowers