The St. Paul-native captured the American League Most Valuable Player award today, receiving 27 of 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Claiming the award that forever eluded St. Paul luminaries & hardball Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield will no doubt prove a leviathan bargaining chip in the catcher's contract negotiations. His present contract, which will pay him $12.5 million this season, expires after the year.
In winning the award, Mauer becomes just the second Minnesota-born ballplayer to be named MVP since the accolade's inception in 1911. The first was Roger Maris, the 1960 and 1961 AL MVP, who was born in Hibbing and moved to Fargo, N.D. at the age of 10.Despite missing the first month of the season via injury, Mauer concluded '09 with what many baseball historians consider to be the finest offensive season ever for a catcher. Along with owning the A.L.'s highest slugging (.587) and on-base percentage (.444), Mauer won his third batting title in four years, becoming the first catcher in the history of hardball to thrice claim a batting crown. Adding to the accolades, Mauer's .365 batting clip ousted Mike Piazza's .362 mark of 1997 to stand as the highest batting average ever attainted by a player at his position. His 28 home runs more than doubled his previous career high of 13 from 2006.
The achievement makes Mauer the fifth Twin to win the award, following the accomplishments of Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969), Rod Carew (1977) and former Mauer roomie Justin Morneau (2006). Earlier this offseason, Mauer also won his third Silver Slugger Award and second Gold Glove. His contract calls for a $100,000 bonus for winning the MVP.