As of 1:00 CT, Joe Mauer officially became the 2009 AL MVP. But let’s be honest — this thing was over before it even began. I am thrilled that he won, but it felt like such a lock that I was more relieved than excited when the announcement came down. It appears that Mauer took in a whopping 27 of 28 first place votes. For once, then, the baseball journos and the stat-heads were pretty much in agreement. It is perhaps that fact that serves notice as to just how special a season Mauer had. You can look at his 2009 season from virtually any angle and still arrive at the conclusion that he deserved to be MVP.
I know (because I read far too many comments on MVP-related internet stories in the last few days) that there are arguments to be had in favor of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. But when a player has a truly special season, one of the best (and arguably the very best) ever put together by a player at his position, and manages to lead his team into post-season play, he has a pretty solid claim to the award. There will undoubtedly be Yankee die-hards who will claim that Jeter wuz robbed by another Twin. In 2006, I was receptive to the argument. In 2009, it just seems silly.
Now, the Twins need to figure out how to sign Mauer long term. Buster Olney has an interesting article up today comparing Mauer to Todd Helton circa 2003. It’s an interesting article, and I recommend it to any ESPN insider who is interested in the question of whether the Twins should re-sign Mauer knowing that he’ll eat up a huge portion of their salary. I’ve felt all along that Mauer’s value to the Twins (especially as a catcher) is simply so high compared to any possible replacement that even breaking the bank is a wise investment, so long as the team develops minor league talent (something they’ve done well with in the past) to complement him. Hopefully, by the time Spring Training rolls around, we’ll be worrying about what the 2011 budget will look like given Mauer’s huge contract extension . . .
PS: I had hoped to get the final AFL post up today, but it’s not happening. Expect it tomorrow or Wednesday. Until then, just reminisce about Mauer’s season-that-was, and dream ahead to the opening of Target Field in April.