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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

Is Joe Mauer the Best Player in Major League Baseball ?

I recently took a written beating for saying that I thought Joe Mauer was helped greatly by being a catcher, in his recent naming as the American League’s Most Valuable Player for 2009.

With that being said, is Mauer not only the best catcher in the game, is he also the best player in MLB? Let’s not throw pitchers in this mix, I would like to be able to compare “apples with apples.”

First order of business, let’s look at what competition he actually has, at least in my opinion. Forget steroid talk, age of the player, futuristic possibilities, etc. These will appear in no particular order in the following list:

A) Albert Pujols

B) Miguel Cabrera

C) Alex Rodriguez

D) Mark Teixeira

E) Hanley Ramirez

F) Ryan Howard

G) Ichiro Suzuki

H) Chase Utley

These are the only contenders in my view. If you disagree, you are cordially invited to toss someone else in the mix.

These statistics reflect averages for 162 games:

Joe Mauer 97 196 17 92 .327 .408 .483 136 .347
Albert Pujols 124 199 42 129 .334 .427 .628 172 .345
Miguel Cabrera 98 190 33 117 .311 .383 .542 140 .318
Alex Rodriguez 126 189 44 128 .305 .390 .576 147 .301
Mark Teixeira 102 178 37 122 .290 .378 .545 136 .314
Hanley Ramirez 123 202 27 82 .316 .386 .531 138 .305
Ryan Howard 103 166 49 142 .279 .376 .586 142 .278
Ichiro Suzuki
111 231 10 59 .333 .378 .434 118 .340
Chase Utley 109 178 29 106 .295 .379 .523 129 .291

I believe that if you were just relying on statistics, Pujols would win this contest in walk-off fashion. He leads the pack in four of the nine categories.

Now we all know that stats only show us so much of the player’s ability. Many B/R readers believe that 1B is the easiest to play and C is the hardest. Therefore, according to some, an intangible factor would need to be invented to sway things the way of the catcher.

It is interesting to note that of the nine players I chose, four play 1B, one 2B, one SS, one C, one 3B and one OF.

I am not a mathematician, nor do I play one on TV, and therefore could not come up with a numerical factor to represent the different positions. So it would seem justifiable to come to the conclusion that Albert Pujols is the best player in the game today.

OK, I am ready. Let’s hear it.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.

Joe Mauer: Is the Twins’ Catcher’s Position the Main Reason He Won MVP?

In a showdown of American League’s “best,” it probably comes as a surprise to very few (living outside of New York) that Joe Mauer won the Most Valuable Player Award walking away. The only other first-place vote went to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

Catchers seem to have a bone tossed their way on a regular basis, don’t they?

What’s that? You disagree, you say?

We must look no further than last season (2008) when Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto won the National League Rookie of the Year Award (running away) from should-have-been winner Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

Doubt me if you must, but just check the numbers. Votto batted .297 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. Soto’s numbers were similar but inferior: .285, 23 HR, 86 RBI. Surely you will show me more respect than to attempt to say those two RBI assured him passage on such a runaway train.

I don’t wish to digress from the purpose of this piece; I was just offering up a recent example of “behind the plate” preferences. I could go on, but then what is the point?

Am I attempting to diminish Mauer’s great year and his first MVP trophy, not to mention that incredible .365 average? No, not at all.

Should it have been one of the New York Yankees since they did win the World Series—say, perhaps, Mark Teixeira or Derek Jeter? Yes, I think Tex should have been the winner, and let me tell you why.


Teixeira won two legs of the Triple Crown, tied with Carlos Pena for the league lead in homers with 39, and was the league leader in RBI with 122. The only remaining leg of the Crown was won in convincing fashion by Mauer with an incredible .365 batting average. Mauer did lead the league in OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS.

Both men are Gold Glove winners, but if there is another first basemen with the defensive skills of Tex, I wish someone would bring him to the forefront so we could lay hands on him. He also tied for the league lead in total bases with Cabrera, at 344.

Miguel Cabrera

The best “overall” year at the plate of anyone in the American League was crafted by Cabrera. It is still hard for me to believe he is only 26 years old. Let us get out our pencils and compare apples to apples—that is to say Cabrera and Mauer. Cabrera’s vital signs were .324 with 34 homers and 103 RBI. The Tigers first baseman had more runs (96-94), hits (198-191), doubles (34-30), home runs (34-28), RBI (103-96), and total bases (344-307) than Mauer.

As is the case nearly every year, there are disputes in many of the categories voted on by those slick-talking sages (baseball writers) who are oozing with acumen.

Condensing a long story into a “Reader’s Digest” format, do I think Joe Mauer is undeserving of the award? No, of course not; I just think Mark Teixeira is a tad more deserving.

What’s your story?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.