Why Albert Pujols Will Not Win Another MVP
The Most Valuable Player award is supposed to go to the player who had the best season. Now we know that doesn’t always happen. For example, every Red Sox fan knows, even if they won’t admit it because thats just the way they are, there is no way Dustin Pedroia should have won the MVP in 2008. He didn’t even have the best numbers on his own team! But this isn’t about the past. There will be plenty of time to hammer everyone’s least favorite team. This is about this year. Who will be the new NL MVP?
Now the point of this exercise is not for me to pick who I want to be the MVP but who I predict will win. Naming a winner is not a clear cut case of who had the best season. It should be, but its not. Too much emphasis is put on how the team as a whole does. Instead of the best player winning the award it becomes the best player on the best team wins the award. So, what I am saying is that other factors need to be considered besides who has the best numbers.
Let’s start with the obvious, last year’s winner Joey Votto. He is far from a household name but for fans of the NL Central Votto is a player we watched grow up the last few years and his winning the award was not much of a surprise. We knew he had the talent. I don’t think he has much of a shot of repeating this year because he is not going to sneak up on anyone. He is no longer going to be underestimated by the other pitchers and coaches in the league. That lineup is not strong enough that teams won’t be able to pitch around him.
Atlanta has gotten a little better this offseason but the favorite to come out of the East is the Phillies. Because they will be the favorite we need to mention some of their top players. Ryan Howard has been one of the more consistent power hitters in league over the last five years and should put up good numbers again this year. Although he had very good numbers last season his home run and rbi totals were the lowest they have been since he was a rookie. He’s 31 now and it might seem that he is on the downward side of his career. Chase Utley is usually in the discussion but with him out for who knows how long with his mystery knee injury he seems unlikely to be a factor in the race.
When he is healthy, Troy Tulowitzki will always be in the conversation because he is one of the few five tool, game changing shortstops left in baseball. He’s got power, speed, a great glove, and he hits for a high average when healthy. He has been sitting right on the cusp of super-stardom and its about time he crossed over.
If Hanley Ramirez had any kind of work ethic I would mention him, too. But he doesn’t, so I won’t.
Albert Pujols is the perennial front runner of course but it doesn’t matter. He is too much of sensitive bastard to not let all this contract talk get to him. He thinks much too highly of himself to let the negative talk run off his back. He’s doesn’t have that “I don’t care what you think” air that Bonds had. Pujols has spent his entire career carefully crafting this holier than thou image and now that its finally coming to light what a selfish ass he is he is going to crack and his game is going to suffer. I have a feeling that Matt Holliday is going to have better numbers at the end of season because he is going to be the beneficiary of all the spineless pitchers who are going to throw around Pujols.
A possible dark horse candidate, in my opinion, is Andre Ethier of the Dodgers. He is a true five tool player and I have feeling the Dodgers are going to be quite a bit better than many people are anticipating. Billingsley has his contract so he is happy at the top of the rotation and the supporting cast of Kemp and Furcal are going to have bounce back years around him. If the Dodgers do well Ethier may be the benefit with an MVP statue.
These are some of the top candidates but who do I think is going to actually win the thing? While it hurts me deeply to say it, I think the honor is going to go to the Brewer’s Ryan Braun. I think he should pass Pujols as the most feared hitter in the NL. He has gotten better every year and now the cast around him is the strongest its even been. This is a team that has a great chance to get to the World Series and Braun is its leader and I think that its his year to bask in the firelight.