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American League MVP Watch

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A full post later today, on the occasion of Stan Musial's just-passed 89th birthday, but today is the official start of round two in this offseason's sportswriter-narrative boxing-match between Traditional Statistics (apparently wins and losses, exclusively) and the Newfangled (among them FIP, tRA, WAR, strikeouts, innings pitched, batting average et al); Joe Mauer, author of what is arguably the second-best hitting season in tools-of-ignorance history, and Derek Jeter, author of perhaps the second-best season in Derek Jeter history, are squaring off for the AL MVP. 

As sea-changes go the offseason of 2009 has seemed a little forced—Zack Greinke was both astonishingly good and a great story, a combination that has won pitching plaudits since before Cy Young was born, and Tim Lincecum was a repeat champion facing off against two pitchers on the same team who led the league in strikeouts and pitched thirty innings more than his nearest competitor. This will be no different; Joe Mauer hit .365, and would have no real competition, in 1929 or 2009, if the Hall of Fame shortstop on his tail were playing for the New Jersey Yankees.

Certainly 2009 is more welcoming to sabermetrics than 1999 was, but this is a slow and strange process, not an inexorable march toward the terrifying future. Ten years ago the sabermetrically averse were castigating internet fandom for championing the likes of such slugs as Matt Stairs and Jack Cust; today one columnist is worried that seamheads are paying too much attention to defense. 2019 will probably look a lot different when we're sitting in it.