Who the hell is the American League MVP this year?

Tomorrow it will be late August, and the NL MVP is all but sewn up.

Albert Pujols leads the league in homers, is second in RBI, 4th in batting average, has the leagues highest on base percentage and in slugging percentage. And you don’t need to be a sabermatrician to know that means he leads the league in OPS. And he has done all of this without protection the first half of the season and has the Cardinals with the biggest lead in the NL.

No matter what your criteria is, Albert is the man.

Now the AL is a little trickier.

There is no cut and dry candidate running away with it like Albert… so with a little more than a month to go, let’s figure out who the candidates are based on the different criteria.

The “I like Average, Homers, RBI” candidate is


He’s batting .334 with 24 homers and 72 RBI for the first place Tigers. And Cabrera is doing it all with Magglio Ordonez struggling.
I originally had Justin Morneau here, but he might be missing some time with that ear infection thingee and no doubt Cabrera will pass his power numbers.
The “OPS and VORP make it a scientific process” candidate is

He could set the highest batting average ever for a big league catcher. But forget batting average. He has the highest OPS in the league as well. And according to Baseball Prospectus, he is the only American Leaguer in the top 6 of VORP.
Now I still have no clue how VORP is or how it is calculated… but it sounds impressive.
Granted Mauer missed the first month of the season and the Twins are fading fast… but that evidently isn’t calculated into VORP. Or maybe it is. I am confused.

The “Hey, he’s never won it before and this is as good a chance as any” candidate is

For all the talk of New York bias in the press, it is amazing to think that Jeter has never won it. He was robbed in 2006 by Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (who after Joe Mauer and Johan Santana was only the 3rd most valuable player on his own team.)
Jeter’s average is up, he is a lock to hit 20 homers for the first time since 2004 and the Yankees are the best team in baseball.
That has to reflect well on the Captain!
The “When he heated up the team heated up” candidate is

On May 12, Teixeira was hitting .191 with an OPS of .747.
The Yankees had a losing record and were 6 1/2 game behind Toronto.

Since then his batting average is up to .283. His OPS is .934. He is among the leaders in homers and RBI.
And oh yeah… the Yankees are 60-28 since then.

Granted that was also around the time A-Rod came back, but there is no way A-Rod is winning it this year.

The “Who would have guessed this team would be contending” candidate is

He moved to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. And along the way is batting .320 with a .900 OPS. And the 5 time All Star has the Rangers as of this writing tied for a playoff spot in mid August. I bet you didn’t see THAT coming!
The “I don’t care if they aren’t every day players” candidate is
Yeah I’ll say it… Rivera is having an MVP caliber season as a closer.
He should have won the Cy Young AND the MVP in 2005. But there are still nitwits out there who believe the following three things:
1. A Pitcher can not be more important than an every day player.
2. The Closer position is easy and can be filled by anyone
3. Mariano Rivera is overrated
The Yankees have put Rivera into 36 save opportunities and save for the Jason Bay homer, he has converted them all. His ERA is sub 2.00. His WHIP is sub 1.00 and his BAA is around .200.
And he has 57 strikeouts in 51 innings and have walked only 8 all year.
I think Papelbon walked 8 YESTERDAY!
So chances are the MVP will come from this crop of players.
And before anyone can accuse me of being such a Red Sox homer that I can never tip my cap to the Yankees, please note… I have 3, count em, THREE Yankees as MVP candidates and zero Red Sox.
I don’t have a vote. But I should.

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Red Birds Lurking

Isn’t it strange how little love the St. Louis Cardinals are getting?

Maybe it is because the Dodgers got off to such a fast start… or the Phillies made the key acquisition of Cliff Lee… or the Yankees have been on such a roll… or the Angels bats seem to be clicking all at once…

But the team that at this point might have the biggest shot to win the World Series is St. Louis.

Call me a Red Sox centric fan, but until this morning, I didn’t realize they had the biggest division lead in the National League.
I thought there was a race going on… as recently as July 30th, the Cardinals were in second place.
As recently as August 5, they were tied with the Cubs with the Brewers and Astros in striking distance.
They have been 9-2 since while rest of the division has been sub .500.
Suddenly they have opened up a 6 game lead and are sneaking up on the Phillies to get home field advantage in the Division Series.
Seriously, did you know that?
As of now, who would WANT to face the Cards in a short series?
They have Albert Pujols, who could sit out September and still win the NL MVP.
They have Matt Holliday hitting behind him.
They have as good a 1-2-3 punch in their rotation with Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Piñeiro.
And the way Dave Duncan can turn broken down pitchers into playoff heros (see Weaver, Jeff) then watch John Smoltz regain his Hall of Fame stuff when he signs with them.
And oh yeah, they have the genius manager I don’t like.
What I am saying is the Cardinals could sneak under the radar, like they did  in 2006.
And if they do, let’s take a look at their decade…
2000 – NLCS
2001 – Division Series (and one of the best ones ever against Arizona)
2002 – NLCS
2003 – No playoffs
2004 – NL Champion
2005 – NLCS (With the Pujols homer)
2006 – World Champion
2007 – No Playoffs
2008 – No Playoffs
2009 – ???
Everyone says the Yankees and Red Sox have dominated this decade.
The Red Sox have 2 World Series titles… the Yankees 1 and the Cardinals have 1.
The Red Sox have 4 trips to the LCS… the Yankees also have 4… the Cardinals have 5.
If the Cardinals win the World Series… wouldn’t THEY be the team of the Decade?
Look out for those pesky red birds… they might just be having a dynasty.

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45 is the only number Red Sox fans should be thinking about.
The Red Sox and Rangers are tied.
They don’t play each other again for the rest of the regular season.
There are 44 games left for the Red Sox.
There are 44 games left for the Rangers.
So this is the season… these 44 games. 
Any combination of Red Sox wins and Rangers losses that equal 45 means they go to the playoffs… and the sweep by the Yankees and injuries and the slumps are all forgotten.
Don’t worry about the Yankees except in head to head games.
Just worry about the Rangers.
And I’ll dare say it… root for the Yankees to beat the Rangers.
I’m not saying cheer on the Yankees. But clap while looking conflicted, like Helen Hunt when she was giving Elia Kazan a standing ovation at the Oscars.
The goal is to make it to the playoffs.
Nothing else matters.
Ugly wins are still wins.
Hard luck losses are still losses.
No style points anymore… it’s too late for that.
It’s time to count down from 45!
Buchholz starts tomorrow against Roy Halladay. No pressure.
Meanwhile the Twins and Scott Baker play the Rangers and Kevin Millwood.
Those are the only two games that matter.
Concentrate on 45.
As in Colt
As in Pedro
As in VJ-Day

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