The American League named Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau the AL MVP for 2006 today, beating out Derek Jeter and a distant third Sox DH David Ortiz.
Let's look at some numbers within the context of the recognition that shortstop is a much more valued defensive position than first base, although Morneau fielded well and had a solid range factor. Although Jeter won the Gold Glove, many observers would rate him defensively behind a number of AL shortstops defensively, including Alex Gonzalez, Juan Uribe, and arguably Miguel Tejada.
Jeter .343/.417/.483/.900 118 runs, 14 homers, 97 RBI
Morneau .321/.375/.559/.934 97 runs, 34 homers, 130 RBI
Ortiz .287/.413/.636/1.049 115 runs, 54 homers, 137 RBI
Jeter proponents may argue the 'lifetime achievement' award factor, that he deserves recognition for the entire body of work for his career. Because the award does not include the playoffs, no issue arises there. Morneau had a solid but unspectacular stretch run (.879 OPS August, .889 OPS September), so that can't be argued. If last year A-Rod got the nod as a position player and New York tailwind, maybe this year Morneau got selected on some anti-Yankee sentiment. Hard to imagine that in this day and age, right?
Some say, "statistics are for losers," but recognizing individual achievement has a place in professional sports. Frankly, I would have guessed that Jeter would have been a lock for the award, but perhaps voters felt that Morneau simply meant more to his team during a pennant race than Jeter did during the Yankees cakewalk over the remnants of the Sox.
I doubt we'll see any Faith Hill moments over Morneau's MVP...and we can only hope that Michael Richards doesn't feel compelled to comment on this one.