Mauer wins AL MVP with 27 of 28 first-place votes

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Only a stray first-place vote for Miguel Cabrera kept Joe Mauer from being a unanimous pick for AL MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Mark Teixeira finished runner-up, with Yankees teammate Derek Jeter placing third, and Cabrera finished fourth while somehow convincing one professional baseball writer that he was the league’s best player.
For a full breakdown of the voting, click here.
Mauer certainly deserved a unanimous selection for putting together one of the greatest seasons by a catcher in the history of baseball. After spending all of April on the disabled list, he hit .365 for the highest mark ever by a catcher and captured his third batting title in four seasons.
He also smacked 28 homers and drew 76 walks to lead the AL in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, becoming the first catcher to ever win the sabermetric triple crown (AVG, OBP, SLG) and the first AL player from any position to do so since George Brett in 1980.
For someone to hit .365/.444/.587 in 606 plate appearances while playing Gold Glove defense over nearly 1,000 innings at the game’s most demanding position is a truly historic season.
Mauer previously finished sixth in 2006 and fourth in 2008 despite deserving more MVP support each time, so adding significant power to his repertoire this season clearly made a huge difference for the voters (everyone but Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News, that is). He’s the first catcher to win AL MVP since Ivan Rodriguez in 1999 and follows Justin Morneau, Zoilo Versalles, Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew as the Twins’ fifth MVP.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.