- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate an issue in major league baseball. This week’s question: Should MVPs come only from teams that make the playoffs?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: Ideally, yes. But it’s not mandatory. In a perfect world, the MVP always would come from a playoff team. But sometimes a player from a noncontender is just head-and-shoulders better than everyone else. That’s the way I felt last year about Albert Pujols. And at the moment, that’s how I feel about Joe Mauer, my likely choice for AL MVP even though the Twins are on the fringe of the pennant race. What other AL player clearly deserves it more than Mauer?

BEN GOESSLING: Mauer is an interesting case because he’s clearly having the best year of anybody in the AL. But with the Twins, there’s always the question of why they can’t do more despite having Mauer and Justin Morneau (the 2006 AL MVP and the runner-up last year). At any rate, I think Mauer deserves it this year because the Twins wouldn’t be in the race without him. If the Twins fall out of the race in September, I think it becomes less certain. To me, the MVP should be on a team that’s contending to the end. If he’s on a mediocre team, it’s tough to say he was more valuable than a candidate (such as Kevin Youkilis or Mark Teixeira) who helped put his team over the top.

MZ: I should know better than to get into a debate with you over anything involving the state of Minnesota… but really, you would vote for someone other than Mauer if the Twins fall out of the race? Youkilis and Teixeira are having nice seasons, but neither is a slam-dunk MVP. Mauer is. The award isn’t supposed to just go to the best player on the best team. It’s supposed to go to the player who had the best season — and in the process helped his team win.

BG: This is where we can debate the definition of “most valuable.” Is it supposed to be the most valuable player in the league or the player most valuable to his team? There’s no doubt Mauer is having the best season in the American League, and the Twins would be lost without him. But if they finish, say, 77-85, what kind of “value” did his contributions really add? He’s having a historic year for a catcher, so he’s practically a lock. I’m just not sure you can argue a player on a mediocre team is the most valuable when his team didn’t get over the top. It’s the same reason you could have made a case for Ryan Howard over Pujols last seas — oops, sore subject.

MZ: You couldn’t make a case for Howard over Pujols last year despite what the entire city of Philadelphia tried to tell me. As for this year, how ‘bout your Twins just stay competitive and make this decision easier for everyone?


Looking at the front-runners for baseball’s season awards. This week: AL Cy Young

Roy Halladay, Blue Jays

This could wind up as the most fascinating race among the postseason awards. Zack Greinke has been the front-runner most of the season, but he’s only 11-8 because the Royals are terrible. Halladay (13-6, 2.78 ERA) gets the nod for now, but watch out for aces from contending teams: New York’s CC Sabathia (15-7, 3.59), Boston’s Josh Beckett (14-5, 3.65) and Detroit’s Justin Verlander (13-7, 3.29).


Rank, Team Record Comment

1. YANKEES 78-46 On such a roll, they’re even beating Boston now.

2. ANGELS 74-48 Kendry Morales at long last rewarding the Angels’ patience.

3. PHILLIES 71-50 Unassisted triple play to end a game? They’re charmed.

4. DODGERS 74-51 Not the best team in the NL anymore. Maybe not the West, either.

5. RED SOX 70-53 Forget about the East; it’s time to focus on the wild card.

6. CARDINALS 72-54 If Smoltz can keep that up, wow, watch out for these guys.

7. ROCKIES 70-54 Best team in the majors since early June.

8. RANGERS 69-54 Marlon Byrd is their cleanup hitter. Marlon Byrd!

9. RAYS 67-56 If they make the playoffs, Ben Zobrist could be the MVP.

10. GIANTS 67-57 Careful, don’t fall too far behind the Rockies.

Records and stats through Sunday

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