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

Leave a comment

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.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

Getty Images
2 Comments

The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.