Monday, August 31, 2009

MLB MVP Races Part II

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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 American League candidates heading into baseball's final month. All have their merits.

Joe Mauer (MIN) - Mauer's one of the main reasons Minnesota still has a shot at qualifying for the playoffs. He's been on fire nearly all season long. Stunning stat line for a catcher - .367 BA, 25 HR, 79 RBI, 1.044 OPS. Not a single month batting below .300 and playing excellent defense. He's lived up to projected star status. MVP profile will increase with a strong September finish.

Miguel Cabrera (DET) - He's been Detroit's biggest offensive weapon all year long. .335, 30 2B, 27 HR, 82 RBI, .962 OPS. A pure hitter who fears no pitcher. Not even as a green rookie facing Roger Clemens in the 2003 World Series. He homered on the very next pitch after a high and tight Clemens brush back pitch. It's been all systems go since. He's a legit MVP candidate. Fate may rest on whether or not Detroit wins AL Central. As of now, Cabrera's my pick based on lack of a supporting cast. All other mentioned candidates have teammates enjoying big seasons at the dish. Not in Tigerland.

Derek Jeter (NYY) - Jeter has been the Yanks catalyst. As soon as he got hot in July, the Yankees started winning. Yanks now own baseball's best record and it coincides with Jeter's performance. He's about to become the Yanks all time leading hitter which speaks volumes of his historic career. .334, 94 R, 25 2B, 17 HR, 23 SB, career best .987 FP. Derek might get hurt in MVP selection by teammates receiving votes (Teixeira, Damon, Cano & Rivera).

Kendry Morales (LAA) - Morales is having a superb first full MLB season. LA has had multiple player injuries and Kendry has been the lineups mainstay. Stat line: .311, 34 2B, 30 HR, 94 RBI, .948 OPS. He's having a huge 2nd half helping LA maintain their AL West lead over Texas (.361, 15 HR, 39 games). He's red hot and if this keeps up in September play then don't be surprised if Morales walks away with MVP hardware.

As of this moment, these four represent my odds on favorites. If voting was held today, my pick for MVP goes to Miguel Cabrera or Derek Jeter (split). Keep an eye on these players too. All are deserving and could improve their chances with strong September results. Michael Young (TEX), Mark Teixeira (NYY), Robinson Cano (NYY), Johnny Damon (NYY), Kevin Youkilis (BOS), Justin Morneau (MIN) and Aaron Hill (TOR).

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

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