Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
There is a lot of talk around the country today on whether or not New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter got robbed in the American League Most Valuable Player voting.
Do I think Jeter should have won? Yeah, probably, but I am totally biased as a lifelong Yankees fan. Looking at Justin Morneau's numbers, though, you can't argue with the voters giving him the edge.
I don't get to see Morneau everyday, but was he any more important to the Twins than Joe Mauer or Cy Young winner Johan Santana? If he was so vital to their success, then how come the other two finished in the top-10 in voting?
If you check out some of the Twins' fan message boards, even they are shocked that Morneau won the award. According to most of them, if any Minnesota player deserved the MVP it was Mauer, who led the league in both batting average and on-base percentage, while playing a far more demanding position at catcher.
Morneau was hitting only .236 with 11 homers and 38 RBI in early June, when the Twins were eight games below .500 at 25-33. He went on a tear from there, the Twins took off, and obviously he got a lot of credit for the teams' turnaround.
But what else happened in Minnesota around that time? Santana started pitching like a Cy Young winner and Francisco Liriano was moved into the starting rotation. So was it all Morneau, or was it a combination of a lot of things that led to Minnesota's success?
There is no doubt in my mind that Jeter was the most important player on the Yankees this season. I know the big argument against Jeter is that he plays with a bunch of superstars, but the Twins had three players who all could have made MVP cases. What player on the Yankees, other than Jeter, could make that argument this season?
Let me put it this way. If you switched out Morneau for another first baseman who hit .300/30/100 (say Paul Konerko) and another shortstop for the Yankees who hit .300/10/100 for Jeter, would the Yankees still be as good as they are? You may have had a case in recent years, but last season there is no doubt in my mind the Yankees would not have been as good without Jeter.
Even with all those superstars, who is the one guy in that lineup you don't want to see with the game on the line? If you are an opposing pitcher, do you want to face Alex Rodriguez or Jeter with the bases loaded in the ninth?
I know there is no stat for intangibles, but they are what separates Jeter from the rest. I guess you have to watch him play day in and day out to fully appreciate what he brings to the table. Does Morneau do those little things? If anyone on that team can make the intangible argument, it is Mauer.
However, Morneau edging Jeter out is not the worst thing that has ever happened. You can probably argue that Albert Pujols had a better case at winning over Ryan Howard than Jeter had in beating Morneau. But that is neither here nor there.
The big problem I have with all this is the fact that Chicago Sun Times writer Joe Cowley voted Jeter sixth on his ballot.
Ok, I understand why people would not choose him first or even second. But sixth? I don't care how much you dislike New York or the Yankees, you cannot say that Jeter was the sixth-most valuable player in the American League this season. That's ridiculous.
This isn't the first time that Cowley has been at the center of an MVP controversy, either. While working for the Daily Southtown in 2003, Cowley left Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells off his ballot altogether. Delgado finished second that year to Rodriguez after hitting .302 with 42 homers and a league-leading 145 RBI. Cowley also voted Rodriguez fifth that season.
Cowley was suspended the following year from voting by Chicago chapter chairman Paul Sullivan, who felt he did not take the voting seriously and "embarrassed" the Chicago chapter.
In a year that his Yankees were bounced in the first round of the playoffs, I am sure Jeter could care less about winning something that rewards one person rather than the whole team.
Even if he had won, I am sure Jeter would have traded an MVP award for another World Series title. Plus MVP awards lately are for guys that don't win rings anyway. Don't believe me? Take a look at some of the recent winners in both leagues and count how many World Series titles they have between them.
So while Morneau and Howard polish up their trophies this Christmas season, Jeter can shine his four world series rings. And oh by the way, Jessica Biel will be by his side when he is doing it.
So you tell me, who is the real winner here?