Every MLB Team's MVP Through First 40 Games
One quarter of the 2012 Major League Baseball season is officially in the books.
There have been some surprise teams and players, which always seems to be the case, coupled with fantastic drama surrounding the greatest game.
It feels like an appropriate time to take a look at where teams stand and who is leading the charge for their clubs as we head into the second quarter of the season.
While many Diamondbacks fans were not necessarily fond of the idea of signing Jason Kubel, the decision to do so has paid off for the snakes.
With a batting average of .303, Kubel currently leads all regular D'backs starters outside of Lyle Overbay, who has appeared in just 23 games this season (to Kubel's 37).
He is second in RBI with 17 (Miguel Montero has 21) and leads the team in doubles (11) and hits (40).
His 14 extra-base hits lead all D'backs as well.
This was a tough call. The Atlanta Braves are playing great baseball this season, and the first-quarter MVP could easily fall to a number of players.
One could make a solid case for Chipper Jones, Michael Bourne or even Brandon Beachy.
That being said, I think Martin Prado deserves the recognition.
Prado leads the team in doubles with 13, he has contributed 17 runs and driven in 21 RBI and he's also stolen four bases (being caught once) on the heels of a .318 batting average, .393 OBP and .490 slugging percentage, giving him him a team-high .883 OPS.
Adam Jones is turning into what Orioles fans had hoped Nick Markakis would eventually become—a superstar.
Jones is leading a resurgent Orioles team in runs (32), hits (52), home runs (14) and RBI (29), while maintaining a solid .310/.356/.619/.975 batting line that outperforms the rest of his team as well.
Needless to say, his 23 extra-base hits make him a force to be reckoned with.
It is worth noting that Jones' 14 long balls have him second in all of baseball behind Josh Hamilton, and his 52 runs have him tied for sixth.
Boston Red Sox
The Big Papi of 2012 looks like the Big Papi of 2003.
He is in the top five in all major statistical batting categories in the American League, and top 10 in all of Major League Baseball.
While he isn't topping the charts in home runs this season, Ortiz is tied for second in all of MLB with 15 doubles.
Those same 15 doubles is why he leads all of baseball in extra-base hits. Yes, even ahead of Josh Hamilton.
The easy pick here would have been to go with Starlin Castro.
Don't get me wrong, Castro has had a very nice season for himself in Chicago. However, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer must have seen something very promising in Bryan LaHair to avoid breaking the bank to bring in an Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.
LaHair has been a bit of fresh air for Cubs fans. He is a lefty that is proving himself to be the best pure hitter on the team.
Currently, he leads the Cubs in home runs with 10, which ties him for fourth overall in the National League standings.
Furthermore, his batting line is beautiful—.311/.406/.631/1.037.
Chicago White Sox
Paul Konerko is another player that must have discovered the fountain of youth.
This season, Konerko is ripping the cover off the ball with his .367 batting average and has driven in 23 runs off a team-best 51 hits.
Those 51 hits tie him for fifth overall in the American League.
His .367 batting average is second only to Josh Hamilton. However, Konerko leads all AL batters in OBP with his .453.
I am comfortable labeling Asdrubal Cabrera as the best all-around shortstop in the American League, and arguably in all of Major League Baseball.
He currently leads the Indians in batting across the board.
His .316/.408/.515/.922 batting line also has him leading the pack among his peers at short.
There's no surprise here.
Joey Votto got his payday and is playing like the top-tier first baseman he is.
Votto is currently batting .308/.456/.594/1.050—which leads all NL first basemen—and leads the Reds in OBP, SLG and OPS. However, he is closely tailed by Jay Bruce in home runs, RBI, hits and runs.
That's a nice tandem to have.
Carlos Gonzalez is playing pretty solid baseball this season for the Rockies.
Typically, the presumption would be that Troy Tulowitzki would be leading the charge for the Rox, but this season, Car-Go has it locked down.
He is currently leading Colorado in batting with a .294/.369/.517/.886 line and has driven in a team-best 30 RBI. He has scored a team-best 28 runs, he leads the charge in hits with 42 and has added seven home runs.
In Detroit, the Tigers have several team-MVP-caliber players.
Justin Verlander and Doug Fister certainly are worthy on the pitching staff. Then, of course, there is Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who have played quite well.
However, Austin Jackson has impressed me the most this season.
His .331 batting average is second only to Cabrera on the team, while his .414 OBP leads all Tigers in that category.
He is only behind Cabrera in SLG, with a .585 versus a .544, but he does lead all teammates who have played in 30 or more games in OPS with a .958.
Among American League centerfielders, his batting line is the best across the board. It is also worth mentioning that Jackson's 17 extra-base hits lead all Tigers.
At just 22 years old, Jose Altuve is the future of the Houston Astros.
He is already proving himself as an extremely talented second baseman defensively and is also leading the offensive charge for the Astros, as he leads the Astros in extra-base hits with 12 and runs with 23.
His team-best batting line of .313/.336/.440/.806 also places him among the top three second basemen in all the NL in each respective category.
Kansas City Royals
Billy Butler has the potential to be a superstar in Major League Baseball. He already is in Kansas City.
Butler currently leads the Royals in batting with a .301/.353/.529/.883 line and also leads the team with 31 RBI, eight home runs and 46 hits.
He spends most of his time out of the DH spot, but if David Ortiz has taught us anything, it's that that does not necessarily diminish a player's value to his team.
Remember the 2004 ALCS? The Yankees do.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels were the best team in baseball on paper heading into the 2012 season.
That hasn't come to fruition yet. But nobody told Jered Weaver that.
Weaver has been incredible. While he doesn't own the lowest ERA in the American League, he is top 10 and tops in the Halos rotation.
He also is tied for first in wins, with six in a five-way tie. In winning percentage, he is only tied with Yu Darvish in the AL.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp is having a monster season.
He is second in the National League in home runs (third in all of baseball) behind only Carlos Beltran.
His impressive .359 batting average is second only to David Wright's .412.
His overall batting line is the best in all of the National League at .359/.446/.726/1.173.
For the Dodgers, obviously, he leads in the aforementioned batting categories, but he also leads in runs while coming in second in RBI and hits to Andre Ethier.
Sometimes, a change in location is all you need to make things right again.
For Carlos Zambrano, that appears to be the case. On a team that is star-studded (and frankly, underperforming), Big Z has been impressive for the Miami Marlins.
His 1.96 ERA not only leads the Marlins, but also is fourth-best in all of Major League Baseball, let alone the National League.
Though he only owns a 2-2 record, that is by no fault of his own. He has a very low ERA and comparable 1.073 WHIP.
Big Z is also second on the Marlins in strikeouts with 41, behind only Anibal Sanchez.
Ryan Braun had a lot to prove heading into the 2012 season after alleged PED usage.
The Hebrew Hammer is following through.
He is leading the Brewers in runs (26), hits (46), home runs (11), RBI (24), stolen bases (eight) and has a .319/.394/.618/1.102 batting line.
Braun leads all NL left fielders in home runs, OBP, SLG and OPS.
The Twins were wise to sign left fielder Josh Willingham this past winter, as he is proving to be their best player right now.
Sure, Joe Mauer has the fans' hearts, but Willingham is getting it done.
As constituted, he leads the Twins in runs with 23, doubles with 13, home runs with eight, RBI with 24 and his batting line of .289/.409/.594/1.003 is the best across the board.
New York Mets
David Wright is red-hot.
He currently owns the best batting average in all of MLB at .412. His .513 OBP, .626 SLG and 1.138 OPS are nothing to sneeze at either.
Wright leads his team in runs with 28, hits with 54, doubles with 14 and RBI with 24.
His resurgence is definitely a huge contributing factor to the hot streak the Mets have been on.
New York Yankees
Once again, a case of a player finding the fountain of youth.
Just when you thought it may be time to write him off, Derek Jeter is once again having a fantastic year.
He is leading the New York Yankees in hits (59), batting average (.359) and a .400 OBP. Jeter leads all of baseball with his 59 hits.
Jeter is also a top-10 player in terms of batting average and OBP in both leagues and top five in the AL.
Oakland has been kind to Josh Reddick.
Since being traded as part of a package that sent Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey to Boston, Josh Reddick has flourished in his role for the A's.
The young outfielder currently leads the team in runs (27), hits (43), is tied for first in doubles with eight and leads the team in HRs (10) and RBI (22) while owning the best slugging percentage and OPS (.522 and .846, respectively).
Reddick has amassed 19 extra-base hits for his new team as well while maintaining a .270 batting average and a .324 OBP.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had a rough year so far.
Like the Angels, on paper, they should be incredible. However, injuries have set in and the pitching staff has become more important than ever before.
Especially their new closer, Jonathan Papelbon.
Pap has been outstanding for the Phils, racking up 12 saves, which is second-best in the NL (fifth overall) while striking out 19 batters in his 16.1 innings of work.
Knowing you have a player like Papelbon who is capable of closing the door on the competition is a huge advantage.
Andrew McCutchen has been an extremely bright spot in the Pirates lineup.
He leads Pittsburgh in runs with 24, hits with 47, home runs with seven, RBI with 20 and has seven stolen bases.
His batting line is also impressive at .346/.405/.566/.971, which places him behind only Matt Kemp across the board among National League center fielders.
San Diego Padres
Chase Headley has been a solid piece to the Padres offense this season.
He leads the team in runs scored with 24, home runs with five and RBI with 20 while posting a .248 batting average.
His .378 OBP, .426 SLG and .803 OPS also lead the team and place him third overall for NL third basemen.
San Francisco Giants
Melky Cabrera has played in every game for the San Francisco Giants this season, which weighed in on my assessment.
He leads the team in runs with 24 and hits with 55, but he also has four triples and 17 RBI on the season. His triple count leads all National League left fielders.
Cabrera owns a .387 batting average and a .382 OBP, both of which lead the Giants, and his .479 SLG and .861 OPS are second on the team.
Cabrera comes across as the most complete player the Giants have at this point, and his durability is a key toward future success.
Kyle Seager, at just 24 years of age, is already turning out to be a solid ball player.
His 26 RBI leads the Mariners, as well as owning a team-best .292 batting average.
Seager also owns a team-high .496 SLG and .806 OPS.
St. Louis Cardinals
Two names in particular stick out on this Cardinals team as being worthy of team-MVP consideration: Lance Lynn and Carlos Beltran. Once again, the position player wins out in my mind.
Beltran has been resurgent in St. Louis.
His 13 home runs lead all NL batters, while his 32 RBI are tied for second behind Andre Ethier's 36.
He leads all NL right fielders in home runs, OBP, SLG and OPS.
In short, Beltran is having an NL MVP-caliber season, let alone a Cardinals MVP-caliber season.
Tampa Bay Rays
Left fielder Matt Joyce has been great for Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.
He leads the team in runs (22), hits (37), triples (three), home runs (eight) and is second with his 23 RBI.
Among teammates that have played in 30 or more games, Joyce owns the best batting line across the board with a .294 batting average, .382 OBP, .563 SLG and .945 OPS.
Basically, he's provided the type of offense the team needs in the absence of Evan Longoria.
Josh Hamilton is the best player in baseball this year, let alone for the Texas Rangers.
He tops pretty much every statistical category offensively. Do I have to give any other reason than that?
Toronto Blue Jays
While some speculated during the winter that the Blue Jays might look to acquire a bat like Prince Fielder, DH Edwin Encanacion has given them just this season.
He currently leads Toronto in doubles with 10, home runs with 13 and RBI with 34. His .271/.337/.587/.924 batting line tops the team as well.
In comparing to other designated hitters, Encanacion has more home runs and RBI than David Ortiz and comes in second to him in all other categories.
That is pretty good company to keep.
One would think that the MVP of the Washington Nationals would come in the form of Ryan Zimmerman or Stephen Strasburg, but Adam LaRoche has proven himself to be more than worthy of the recognition.
LaRoche leads the Nats in home runs (seven) and RBI (30) and is second with his .313 batting average through 36 games.
He also tops the team in .403 OBP, a .560 SLG and .962 OPS.
Those numbers place him in the top three of all National League first basemen, let alone the most important part of his team thus far this season.