Mauer so dominant, the real race was for 2nd place

Published Nov. 23, 2009 11:30 p.m. ET

If voters penalized Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter for missing time with an injury in the National League Cy Young Award race, why did Twins catcher Joe Mauer not pay the same price in the American League Most Valuable Player voting?

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The answer is easy, and I voted for both awards.

Carpenter was in a tight battle with teammate Adam Wainwright and the Giants' Tim Lincecum, and his lower-innings total was a legitimate mark against him. I voted Wainwright-Lincecum-Carpenter. Lincecum won the award.

Mauer, on the other hand, was so far above his competition, he easily deserved all 28 first-place votes — and it's a mystery to me why one voter, Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News, had the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera at the top of his ballot. I had Cabrera 10th, and I'll explain why in a moment.

First, Mauer.

He won the AL batting title over Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, .365-.352, the on-base title over Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, .444-.413, the slugging title over Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, .587-.569. And, of course, he did all of that while playing catcher, one of the game's most important defensive positions.

By season's end, the only true intrigue with the ballot was in spots two through 10. I was one of two voters who listed Youkilis second and the one voter who listed Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez as high as third. The rest of my ballot looked like this:

4) Mark Teixeira.

5) Morales.

6) Derek Jeter.

7) Jason Bay.

8) Ben Zobrist.

9) Michael Young.

10) Cabrera.