Most indispensable players? Mauer and Lidge 

September, 25, 2008
The Justin Morneau-Dustin Pedroia MVP debate is for another day, as if we haven't been debating the term "valuable" for a half-century. Part of the MVP debates over the years has been whether it's fair to judge value based on a player's surrounding or whether his performance stands alone. So extracting the element of where a team would be without a player leads to this judgment: One can argue that the most indispensable players in each league are Joe Mauer and Brad Lidge.

Ask any observant general manager and he would put Mauer in the top five players in the American League because of his position, his athleticism, his unselfishness and skill, far beyond the possibility of being a two-time batting champion at age 25 and no matter what his home run totals may read. That the Twins are fighting for the playoffs on the final weekend is testament to their organizational philosophy (not to mention that Ron Gardenhire is one of his generation's most underappreciated managers), but it wouldn't have happened without Mauer as the franchise linchpin.

He was on base in front of Morneau in 44 of 45 games until Wednesday, his .862 OPS is extraordinary for a defensive catcher, and his 82-47 walk-strikeout ratio (290-230 lifetime) is remarkable. There are no stats that quantify what Morneau, Pedroia and Grady Sizemore bring to winning teams; two hours after the Red Sox clinched their fifth postseason berth in six years Tuesday, Pedroia's text message read, "It's only about winning championships."