Of the 28 overall votes for American League MVP, Twins catcher, Joe Mauer stole 27 of them to wrap up the first award of his career. Mauer also added his third batting title of his career after batting .365 this season.
Mauer was up against a duel of Yankees this season. 1B Mark Teixiera and SS Derek Jeter came in at second and third respectively, with Detroits Miguel Cabrera, Anaheims Kendry Morales and Bostons Kevin Youkilis to follow.
Mauer also lead the league in OBP and SLG and recorded career highes in home runs, batting average, hits and runs batted in.
This was a well deserved award for Mauer who has had the award stolen from him nearly every year. Teixiera and Jeter made it a difficult case, but Mauer has finally run away with one of the most deserved and most overdue awards in major league history.
We are now just one day away from the ALCS opening game between the Yankees and the Angels. The game will take place in Yankee Stadium and will likely be Sabathia for the Yankees and Lacky for the Angels. It could be held up by rain, but lets hope it won’t be. Here are the top 5 questions I am looking foward to to learning the answers to as the series progresses.
1. If necessary, will Sabathia be able to pitch effectively on 3 days rest?
Girardi’s plan is simple; stupid, but simple. He will go with a 3-man rotation that looks like this: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte^, Sabathia^, Burnett^*, Pettitte*, Sabathia* (^=away, *=if necessary). As we know, Giardi is not a fan of pushing his starters. So, his brilliant plan to protect C.C., is to hope that one of the games gets rained out. Good job Giardi. Assuming that he will, in fact, need to start on 3 games rest, it will be interesting to see if he can come through. As you remember last year, C.C. went consistently on 3 games rest and carried the Brewers on his back into the playoffs. Sabathia has pitched four games on 3 games rest and has a 1.01 ERA in those starts. But, in 2 starts in the ALCS, he has a 10.45 ERA in 10.1 innings.
2. Which first baseman will perform better: Teixeira or Morales?
If you saw my entry yesterday, you saw that these two players have very, very similar numbers. In the regular season they had almost an identical BA, OBP, SLG, HR and RBI. They both hit better against righties and have similar numbers against lefties and will both face 2 righties and 2 lefties (assuming a 4 man rotation.) For both of them as well, this is their first appearance in the ALCS.
3. Will A-Rod continue his “clutchness”?
In the ALDS against the Twins, A-Rod hit .455 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, which are all career bests for him in any postseason series. I think its fair to say that without A-Rod, the Yankees might not have won that series. If he continues to play like this, this series will be A LOT easier. He has 67 home runs against LA, his best against any team, so that may help.
4. Can the Yankees overcome their Anaheim Hex?
Although the season series was even at 5 this year for these teams, there is no doubt that the Yankees have had some struggles against this team, especially on Anaheim’s turf. They had 2 series in LA this year. They got swept in one and won their first series since May of 2004 in the other. If the Yankees are going to win this series, they will need to end the hex.
5. Will Hughes pitch well?
Hughes was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball this year, with a 1.40 ERA and 65 SO in 51.1 innings. In his second postseason series in his career, it was a different story. He pitched 2 innings and gave up 2 runs and 5 hits. Although the Yankees swept, it would have been a lot easier if Hughes had pitched like he did during the regular season. I think its fair to say that this series could very well come down to how well Hughes pitches.
Poll of the Day:
- Swing Early: This season, opposing hitters are hitting .316 on the first pitch against Weaver.
- Fourth Times a Charm: Opposing hitters are hitting .301 in the fourth inning this season off Weaver. That’s the best of any inning.
- Double Positive: When Napoli is catching for Weaver, opposing hitters are hitting .306, as opposed to .215 with other catchers. If he doesn’t play, then the best opposing hitter against Chamberlain on the Angels will not be hitting. So either way, the Yankees get something positive.