Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Offseason Report: Free Agent Hitters

Though not as deep as in years past, there are several free agent hitters looking for new homes next season. The ugly truth is that many teams don't have money to pay the high salaries they demand. When all is said and done, it will be interesting to see where the 2010 free agent class lands.

After listening to MVP talk for the last month on ESPN, I noticed that one of the all-time greats is in the running. He has never won the award despite being one of the most consistent position players over the past two decades. This 10-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, former AL Rookie of the Year, and World Series MVP is the most deserving of any candidate.

I realize that there are several other candidates making their case for MVP. For instance, the Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer. Without a doubt the best catcher in the game today, he is hitting .366 with 28 home runs and 93 RBI. These are surely MVP numbers, but will the Twins make the playoffs? No. Is the most valuable player in the league truly valuable if that team doesn't have a shot to win it all?

Many would argue the case for another Yankee, Mark Teixeira. His current stats look like this: .294 BA, 39 HR, and 121 RBI. These are unquestionably MVP-type numbers. While this is a solid season, much of the reasoning behind his candidacy is what he did for the team while Alex Rodriguez was serving his suspension for testing positive under the MLB testing policy. People keep talking about how he handled the pressure of a big contract with great poise while playing on one of the biggest stages in baseball. I argue otherwise.

This New York Yankee has played as well as anybody in the running. After posting his seventh 200+ hit season, Jeter is hitting .335 with 18 home runs and 66 RBI. If it seems like I am dwelling on past achievements, I'm not. He has done all of this while playing impeccable defense, acting as glue for a team filled with controversy and young talent, and maintaining a flawless public image. It doesn't hurt that his team looks to be a front runner in the American League playoffs.

While I am not eligible to vote Derek Jeter as the AL MVP, I sure hope the people who do recognize his achievements as one of the most consistent, unselfish shortstops in the game.

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