Images courtesy of Keith Allison
With deserved Purple gridiron hopes and the unveiling of a grand college football stadium taking over post-Labor Day sporting headlines, the Twins and their season-long flirtation with .500 have become an afterthought for some.
Yet for those still invested, the fact that seven games remain with Central-leading Detroit stand as a bastion of hope; concurrently, Joe Mauer's genuine shot at his first MVP also continues to feed the faithful. With 20+ ballgames still remaining, here's my handicap for the AL MVP race:
Derek Jeter (Judd says: 3-to-1 odds)
At 35, Jeter is having one of the finest seasons in his illustrious career. As the Yanks
continue to grab deserved ink for dominating baseball since a 12-10 April, Jeter's own legend grew this week as he tied Lou Gehrig for all-time hits in Pinstripes
. Jeter enters today among the AL top-10 in myriad offense categories, including: batting, runs, hits, and on-base percentage. He's also 11th in steals. Defensively, he ranks second amidst AL shortstops in fielding percentage and first in zone rating. He's never won the award before, and would become the oldest non-pitcher ever
to capture AL MVP. That's since 1911. While he was passed over for MVP by Morneau in 2006, only a complete face-plant can keep Jeter from losing out to a Twin again.
Joe Mauer (8-to-1)
Our boy is having one of the greatest offensive seasons for a cather in hardball history. He leads the AL in batting, slugging, and on-base percentage. Hitting at .363 after today's 3-2 loss at Toronto, Mauer is striving for
his third batting title in a four-year span. Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (a two-time batting champ himself) presently lurks at .357. While Mauer would become just the second AL catcher to win the award since 1976, the odds are more powerfully heightened by the fact that the Twins have 21 fewer wins than Jeter's Yanks and (albeit more diminutively) because Joe most likely won't be accepting a positional Gold Glove as did last year. Mauer presently sports a Caught Stealing clip of 27 percent combined with seven Passed Balls - both serving as career worst's.
Mark Teixiera (12-to-1)
With Tampa Carlos Pena lost for the season, Teixiera - with 35 HR's - has a fine opportunity
to usurp Pena's inert 39 bombs for the AL homer crown
. Said bomb clout, combined with the Yank first baseman's hold on the league RBI lead, make Teixiera a sure contender. He too will benefit in this race via New York's MLB-best mark of 91-50; and his candidacy is further buoyed by his glove. A two-time Gold Glover, Teixiera continues to impress with the leather, ranking in the AL top-3 for first base fielding percentage and zone rating.
Miguel Cabrera (18-to-1)
This dude can just plain club. A career .312 batter with nearly 1,200 hits at the age of 26,
Tiger first baseman Cabrera is having another stellar season at the dish, ranking in the AL's top-4
in batting, slugging, and on-base percentage. His Tigers remain in first, which furthers his chances herein; however, for what he holds on Teixiera in batting (55 points higher as of this writing), he falls short in HR's, RBI, and is far out shadowed by the Yankee first baseman's exceptional defense.