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Has Tex locked up MVP already?

11/20/2009

Is this Tweet from Tyler Kepner for real?

    By the way, this is probably obvious by now, but Mark Teixeira's the AL MVP. No question, as Joe Torre would say.

No question? Honestly? Maybe Kepner just means that Teixeira will win, rather than that he should win.

What inspired this particular post? An essentially meaningless home run, hit well after midnight (back in New York). I mean, I'm sorry, but the Yankees aren't exactly in the middle of a pennant race anymore. They've got a huge lead over the second-place Red Sox. And if the Red Sox should somehow mount a late charge, the Yankees have a huger lead over the Rangers for that other postseason berth.

Look, Teixeira's having a great season. Obviously. But I count, at the moment, four viable MVP candidates: Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, and a couple of Twins.

Granted, if the season ended today, Tex probably would win the award. But if the Tigers or the Twins win the American League Central, don't the voters have to look real hard at the best players on those teams?

Joe Mauer currently leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. I don't suppose anyone's forgotten this yet, but he's a catcher. Teixeira's a first baseman. Are we really supposed to go for a power-hitting first baseman again, even when there's a better-hitting catcher playing for a competitive team?

OK, so Tex has played 22 more games than Mauer. I don't think that should be a deal-breaker; Mauer's added more wins to his team than Tex has, even while playing so many fewer games. But let's grant the premise, and move along.

What about Justin Morneau and Miguel Cabrera? Both of them, like Teixeira, play first base. Both of them have higher on-base percentages than Teixeira, and both are just a touch behind Teixeira in slugging percentage. Morneau has scored and driven in more runs than Teixeira. None of the three -- at least according to Ultimate Zone Rating -- have particularly distinguished themselves with the glove this season.

Speaking of Ultimate Zone Rating, FanGraphs' take on overall value does lift Teixeira slightly above both Morneau and Cabrera. But Mauer's No. 1 ... and there are eight players between Mauer and Teixeira.

Eight!

Maybe Tyler is right. Maybe if the ballots were due today, Teixeira would win. But I'm not quite convinced that's true. And if it is true, I'm not convinced that it's right.

Frankly, I'm worried that the baseball writers are already conspiring to rob Joe Mauer -- for the third time -- of an award that should rightly be his.