Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. Now speaking on behalf of the Johnny Canuck for MVP campaign is a man that knows a little something about playing first base and winning Most Valuable Player awards in Minnesota — Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew!
Being an MVP takes accountability and dependability. Being the one that everybody turns to when times get tough, when their backs are against the wall isn’t an easy burden, but some are at their best when all the chips are on the table, and Justin Morneau has demonstrated, time and again the necessary results and required qualities of an MVP.
And what is an MVP?
Is it someone that can be counted on to show up every day? Justin Morneau has played each and every game on the schedule this season.
Is it someone that steps up against the best? Justin Morneau is batting .302 (29-for-96) with 18 RBI in 26 contests against the Angels, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Brewers and DEVIL Rays.
Is it someone that comes through against divisional rivals? Justin Morneau has batted .315 (72-for-228) with half of his homers (11) and almost half of his RBI (54) against Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and those Pale Hose that we all loathe so much.
Is it producing when it matters most? Justin Morneau has batted .377 with runners in scoring position and .357 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Justin Morneau has batted .343 with men on base, .297 from the 7th inning on and .438 in extra innings.
Is it being able to adapt and perform under difficult conditions? Justin Morneau has batted .322 on the road with just as many homers as under the Teflon confines (11). And in today’s game, so dominated by bullpens and specialists, Justin Morneau has put together a .343 average against relief pitching.
Is it dealing well with adversity? Justin Morneau doesn’t bat clean-up for a squad of power hitters. Justin Morneau has hit 22 home runs for a club that ranks third from the bottom in all of baseball and has only one teammate with more than 9 home runs. Carlos Quentin plays for a team that boasts of eight with 10 or more home runs and seven with 16 or more. And Justin Morneau has the ability to recognize the strategy of his opponents and thwarts it before it ever takes root, he takes what is given to him and drives in runs anyway. Justin Morneau has 17 more RBI than Carlos Quentin (100) while having hit 14 fewer home runs.
Baseball, at it’s core is about two things — run production and run reduction. Only one player in the American League has a higher combination of runs scored and runs batted in than Justin Morneau’s 205 (Josh Hamilton – 211). So he delivers at the plate and on the base paths, but what about defense? What of that run re-duction? Justin Morneau has a higher fielding percentage and range factor than the defending Gold Glove winner at first base, Boston’s Kevin Youkilis; and he’s done it all with the same amount of errors in 13 more games at the position.
And MVP’s are supposed to make their teams better, to take their teammates to a another level, a loftier perch — and Justin Morneau does that. The Minnesota Twins currently sit two-and-a-half games out in the American League Central behind a much more talented White Sox squad. The Twins are currently third in the league for runs scored despite ranking second to last in homers. Where would Minnesota be without Justin Morneau? Would they be in the heat of a pennant race with 19 games to go? That question can be answered with three simple words: Not. A. Chance.
Ladies and gentlemen, the MVP should be the one man that could not be done without — not a player in a line-up full of sluggers like Carlos Quentin, not a player surrounded by thunder and aces like Dustin Pedroia or even a player having the best year of his career for a second place team that sits 17 games out of first like Josh Hamilton. No, an MVP should be part of a team but such an integral part that if removed, the entire operation would begin to crumble. MVP’s make good teams great. And that, friends, is what Justin Morneau has done and is doing.
There’s something to be said for someone that’s been there before and knows what it takes to succeed as an individual and as a team, and this man has definitely been there before.
It is my great honor to present to you, the loyal and learned B & C reader your candidate for American League MVP in 2008 — Justin Morneau!
Title picture by Bad Motha Fucka.