Joe Mauer, who won an unprecedented third batting championship for a catcher and helped propel the Minnesota Twins to the American League Central title, was elected the AL Most Valuable Player for 2009 in balloting by the BBWAA.
Mauer, the first catcher to lead his league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging (.587) in the same season, was listed first on all but one of the 28 ballots cast by two writers in each league city. He was second on that other ballot to score a total of 387 points, based on a tabulation system rewarding 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one for 10th.
The other first-place vote was cast for Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (.324, 34 HR, 103 RBI), who finished fourth in the overall balloting with 171 points, behind a pair of New York Yankees teammates, first baseman Mark Teixeira (.292, 39 HR, 122 RBI, 103 R) and shortstop Derek Jeter (.334, 18 HR, 107 R, 30 SB).
Teixeira, who led the league in runs batted in and total bases (344) and tied Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena for the lead in home runs, totaled 225 points and Jeter 193. Teixeira’s best previous finish in MVP voting was seventh in 2005 for the Texas Rangers. Jeter also finished third in 1998 and was the runner-up in 2006. Mauer, Teixeira, Jeter and Cabrera were named on every ballot. In all, 27 players gained mention.
Rounding out the top 10 were Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman Kendry Morales (.306, 34 HR, 108 RBI), Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis (.305, 27 HR, 94 RBI), Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay (.267, 36 HR, 119 RBI, 103 R), Tampa Bay Rays second baseman-outfielder Ben Zobrist (.297, 27 HR, 91 RBI), Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (.353, 225 H, 26 SB), Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (.286, 30 HR, 100 RBI) and Angels third baseman Chone Figgins (.298, 114 R, 101 BB, 42 SB).
Mauer, 26, is the only AL catcher to have won a batting title and the only one in either league to have won three of them. His .365 average, the highest by a catcher in major league history, surpassed his prior league-leading figures of .347 in 2006 and .328 in 2008. Mauer posted career-high totals in home runs (28) and runs batted in (96).
He did not start the season until May 1 due to a back injury and helped keep the Twins in contention for the division title following the loss to injury of first baseman Justin Morneau, the 2006 MVP and ’08 runner-up. Mauer batted .378 with two home runs and 14 RBI in the club’s final 21 games of the regular season.
It marked the eighth time a catcher won the award in the AL and the first since the Rangers’ Ivan Rodriguez in 1999. Yogi Berra won three times (1951, ’54-55) with the Yankees. Two other winners were also with the Yankees, Elston Howard in 1963 and Thurman Munson in 1976. The other AL catcher to win was the Tigers’ Mickey Cochrane in 1934.
A catcher has been the MVP in the National League seven times. Ernie Lombardi, the previous record holder for batting titles by a catcher with two (.342 for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938 and .330 for the Boston Braves in 1942), was the 1938 winner. The others were three-time winner Roy Campanella (1951, ’53, ’55), two-time winner Johnny Bench (1970, ’72) and Gabby Hartnett (1935).
Mauer is the fifth Twins player honored, joining Morneau, Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Rod Carew (1977).
The Yankees have the highest number of MVP winners with 20. The finish by Teixeira marked the 21st time a Yankees player ran second. Other Yankees runners-up were Berra (1953, ’56), Jeter (2006), Mickey Mantle (1960, ’61, ’64), Joe DiMaggio (1937, ’48), Lou Gehrig (1931-32), Bill Dickey (1938), Phil Rizzuto (1949), Allie Reynolds (1952), Bob Turley (1958), Bobby Richardson (1962), Ron Guidry (1978), Reggie Jackson (1980), Don Mattingly (1986), Tino Martinez (1997) and Gary Sheffield (2004).
2009 AL MVP
|Joe Mauer, Twins||27||1||387|
|Mark Teixeira, Yankees||15||6||4||1||1||1||225|
|Derek Jeter, Yankees||9||5||3||5||3||1||1||1||193|
|Miguel Cabrera, Tigers||1||1||5||8||4||3||2||1||3||171|
|Kendry Morales, Angels||3||9||10||3||2||170|
|Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox||2||7||3||4||2||2||4||1||150|
|Jason Bay, Red Sox||1||1||4||5||4||5||1||78|
|Ben Zobrist, Rays||1||4||3||1||2||34|
|Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners||2||4||4||3||33|
|Alex Rodriguez, Yankees||1||3||2||1||31|
|Chone Figgins, Angels||3||1||2||3||31|
|Aaron Hill, Blue Jays||1||2||2||3||23|
|Bobby Abreu, Angels||2||1||1||1||4||23|
|Mariano Rivera, Yankees||2||1||1||17|
|Adam Lind, Blue Jays||1||1||2||3||14|
|Michael Young, Rangers||1||1||2||2||13|
|Zack Greinke, Royals||1||1||1||1||12|
|Robinson Cano, Yankees||3||12|
|Evan Longoria, Rays||1||1||1||9|
|Justin Verlander, Tigers||1||1||7|
|CC Sabathia, Yankees||1||4|
|Michael Cuddyer, Twins||1||1||4|
|Martinez, Indians/Red Sox||2||4|
|Jason Kubel, Twins||1||3|
|Placido Polanco, Tigers||1||2|
|Felix Hernandez, Mariners||1||1|
|Ian Kinsler, Rangers||1||1|