MLB Week 21 Sluggers and Slugs: AL and NL MVP Candidates
This week, Sluggers and Slugs will “suicide squeeze” My The Red Sox and White Sox have a big weekend series with Ramirez returning to Boston for the second time this season. In the early part of the week the Red Sox draw the Baltimore Orioles and the White Sox play Cleveland. Both teams should win their first series of the week making the weekend series winner the team still alive in their respective division races.
The Yankees and Rays both have a home series against the Toronto Blue Jays this week. This gives the Jays a chance to play spoiler for their AL East rivals. I believe by week’s end that the Rays will have the division lead.
The Reds get a series against the Milwaukee Brewers before traveling to play their division foe the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards get to play the Houston Astros before the NL Central showdown. I like the Cards to close the gap by two games in the division.
The Atlanta Braves have a great chance to get back on track this week by playing the New York Mets and Florida Marlins. The Phillies have a tougher week of play; they get the Los Angeles Dodgers before returning home to play the Brewers. I like the Braves to increase their lead by one, possibly two games in the NL East.
Minnesota has the toughest schedule of all even though all of their games are at home. They get the Detroit Tigers first, who feel like they still have something to play for and the Texas Rangers who just took three of four from them this past week. I like the White Sox to close the gap in the AL Central.
The Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants have a series against each other that could mean the season for either team. I not sure why, but seems like this time of year every year the Rockies start playing like World Series contenders.
AL MVP Race
The criteria for MVP, by my standards, is the guy who helps his team all season long, gets them out of slumps, wins games, and makes the other players in the line-up exceed their talent level.
If the Red Sox were to make the playoffs I could make a case for Adrian Beltre. The Red Sox have suffered so many injuries this season and Beltre has been the one constant contributor on a team that should have been out of the race weeks ago.
The Tiger’s Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters I’ve seen since Ramirez was in his prime. The problem with Cabrera is the Tigers don’t have enough talent around him for the team to make the playoffs. The injury to Magglio Ordonez hurt the Tigers chances and in return will leave Cabrera the runner-up.
The guy I believe will win MVP in the American league hands down is Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have great lineup, but Hamilton is the player that makes it go. Hamilton leads the league with a .359 batting average and has crushed 31 home runs with 95 RBIs.
Barring a miracle run into the playoffs by the Tigers or Red Sox, Hamilton should win this award for the first time.
NL MVP Race
This race is a little more interesting with two guys who actually have a shot at winning the NL Triple Crown. There is a third player in the mix from the Rockies, OF Carlos Gonzalez. His .326 average may be the only thing to prevent a Triple Crown winner, but Gonzalez has also complimented that with 29 HRs and 90 RBIs.
The winner of the NL MVP is going to come from the NL Central. It’s between Cards 1st baseman Albert Pujols and Reds 1st baseman Joey Votto for the 2010 MVP honors.
Pujols suffers from the unfortunate stigma that he puts up these kinds of numbers every year. Is it his fault that he may finish as the greatest baseball player of all-time? No! Pujols leads the NL in HRs with 35 and RBIs with 95. He trails Gonzalez by only six points in batting average for the rare opportunity of winning the Triple Crown.
Votto is second in all three major offensive categories and set career highs in all three (must maintain average above .322). The year Votto is having at the plate this season is clearly worthy of taking home the NL MVP.
The team that wins the NL Central race will most likely be impacted by one of these two well-respected gentlemen, and in the process yield him the award.
Come back next week as I bring my best stuff to the bump in Week 22 Sluggers and Slugs, and break down the AL and NL Cy Young candidates.