Justin Morneau won the 2006 American League MVP award today, beating out the Yankees' Derek Jeter by 14 points. David Ortiz finished a distant third, with Frank Thomas and Jermaine Dye finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Morneau definitely deserved the award. He hit 34 homers and 130 RBI for the AL Central champion Twins. As the regular season went on, Morneau's numbers got stronger and stronger, and he was a big reason Minnesota came back from a mediocre start to win the division. I made a "tragic" mistake in one of my fantasy league teams by dropping him when he slumped in late April. Oh well...
Jeter nearly won a third award he didn't deserve to win. He won a third consecutive Gold Glove at SS, when Michael Young was clearly the best at the position this season. He also won the Hank Aaron Award as the AL's best overall hitter, when David Ortiz or Morneau clearly should have won it. Jeter of course had an excellent season, hitting 13 HRs and a .344 batting average, which was second in the league to the Twins' Joe Mauer.
Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for Derek Jeter as a hitter and as a ballplayer. He plays the game the right way, gets a lot of clutch hits and is clearly a future first-ballot Hall of Famer someday. (I believe however, he is clearly overrated as a shortstop, but that is a discussion for another time.) But in mid-season, there seemed to be this "campaign" by the YES network and the New York sportswriters that Jeter should get the MVP award, and the attitude seemed to be that the deserved to get one because "he hadn't won one yet." In many ways, I don't believe that Jeter was even the MVP on his own team, and you can a good argument that it was in reality Johnny Damon. But they seemed to think that this was the Yankee captain's "time."
The writers got it right today. Morneau beat Jeter in first-place votes, 15-12. I was disappointed to see Big Papi finish so far out of it. (He was nearly 130 points behind Morneau.) I think a lot of writers felt that the Red Sox fall out of the AL East race effectively ended his chances to win. So be it.
I was VERY pleased to see Ryan Howard win the NL MVP yesterday over Albert Pujols. As you know I've lost a respect for Pujols over the petty little BS he pulled in the NLCS against the Mets. Howard had a monster September, hitting 57 homers in helping the Phillies put on a late charge and just miss the playoffs. My dad was happy for him, as he met Ryan in Spring Training when he worked for the Phillies a few years ago in Clearwater. He always calls Ryan "a nice kid."
Congratulations Ryan, you deserved the award.
As did Justin Morneau.