Sunday, August 30, 2009

MLB MVP Races Enter Final Month

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-Digger's Daily-

Pennant fever is in full swing. Each year a handful of players turn it on during baseball's final month. Determining MVP winners brings about many philosophical considerations and one never knows how a votes will be cast. What does MVP mean has been subject of many debates. Will the player with best statistics win? Will the award go to a player who helps his team win the most games? How will personal popularity (or negativity) figure into things? Ted Williams once lost out on MVP honors due to a sportswriter from his home town refusing to vote for him. Talk about being spiteful.

Here's my short list of National League candidates heading into baseball's final month. All have their merits.

Pablo Sandoval (SF) - Sandoval has carried San Francisco's offense this season. .336 BA, 37 2B, 21 HR, 75 RBI, .953 OPS. Not too shabby for a player with only 41 Major League games on his resume before this season started. He's a major reason why SF is challenging for the playoffs. Sandoval's career is off to a tremendous beginning.

Hanley Ramirez (FLA) - Marlins biggest star is enjoying another fine season. They seem to win when he hits. This year he's batting 3rd as opposed to prior years leading off. Stats: NL leading .359 BA, 37 2B, 19 HR, 85 RBI, .984 OPS, 24 SB. This guy does it all and is one of baseball's elite shortstops. Imagine how incredible he'd be with a stronger supporting cast.

Ryan Howard (PHI) - Philadelphia began separating themselves from NL East foes as soon as Howard started pouring it on. One of the games most feared power hitters has been batting at a .300 clip since the All Star break. Overall, .271 BA, 37 RH, 111 RBI, .921 OPS. He strikes out way too many times for my liking (155) leaving runners stranded and negates opposing managers issuing intentional walks (3). He could walk away with MVP with a red hot September.

Albert Pujols (STL) - Pujols is undoubtably one of the greatest hitters baseball has ever seen. This 9 year vet has belted over 30 HR, 100 RBI, .300+ BA every single year. His 2009 line reads: .320 BA, 102 R, 41 HR, 111 RBI, 1.112 OPS and he's far from finished. Pujols has been a one man wrecking crew for St. Louis. Check out these stats when the bases are loaded. 8-12 (.667), 5 HR, 27 RBI. NL's most complete and feared hitter.

As of this moment, these four represent my odds on favorites. If voting was held today, my pick for MVP goes to Albert Pujols. Other candidates worth keeping an eye on throughout September are: Prince Fielder (MIL), Andre Ethier (LAD), Matt Kemp (LAD) & Ryan Zimmerman (WAS).

Stay tuned this week for my AL MVP & Cy Young candidates. Final selections will be made once the 2009 season has completed.

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