Can Anyone Honestly Give Albert Pujols A Run For His Money In The NL MVP Race?
Albert Pujols, 1B, St Louis Cardinals
It's no secret that Pujols is the clear favorite here. He's leading all of baseball in home runs and RBI, and is 2nd in the NL in batting average. He leads the entire league in slugging percentage by 80 points, and his 1.139 OPS is the highest we've seen since Barry Bonds was in his steroid-induced prime.
Basically, Albert Pujols is the best hitter in baseball. And it's not even close. He's also a solid defensive first baseman, and the unquestionable team leader in St Louis. There's really nothing bad to say about the guy. He's the best player of our time, he's having a career year, and he's a class act to boot. He's also the single biggest reason the Cardinals have a huge lead in their division right now.
He's the runaway favorite here, but let's take a look at some guys who might challenge him...
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins
Why he has a chance: He's leading the NL in batting average, by a solid 27 points. He also fills the stat sheet pretty nicely everywhere else, with 23 HR, 99 RBI and 25 SB. He doesn't dominate anywhere else besides his batting average, but he is a very complete offensive player, and extremely well-rounded.
Why he won't win: His team won't make the playoffs, which will hurt his chances, and he's also just not as good as Pujols. He has the batting average and some stolen bases, but Pujols is miles ahead of him in pretty much every other offensive statistic. Also, Hanley isn't exactly a Gold Glove shortstop, which is the only thing that could have given him a chance. In any other year, I think he has a better shot, but Pujols is just too good this year. Also, Ramirez has had some clubhouse issues that would severely hamper his status as "most valuable".
Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
Why he has a chance: He's tied with Pujols for the league lead with 126 RBI, and he's 3rd in HR with 39. His .998 OPS is also second in the NL.
Why he won't win: The Brewers are a losing team, and Fielder's sup-.300 batting average kills his chances. Not knocking Fielder, but he just doesn't compete with Pujols this year.
Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
Why he has a chance: He's the best player on a very good team, and he does it at a position where you don't normally get the huge numbers that Utley is putting up. He's leading all NL 2B in HR, RBI, OPS and runs. He has been the most consistent player for the 1st-place Phillies, as well.
Why he won't win: His numbers are great for a second baseman, but they don't even compare with Pujols. Anywhere. Not even close.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Reynolds, Pablo Sandoval, Derek Lee
Who do you think is the 2009 NL MVP? Discuss it here.