Chase Utley: Front Runner for NL MVP

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Chase Utley: Front Runner for NL MVP

Three weeks into the baseball season, one player has already put his foot forward in the Most Valuable Player race.

Chase Utley knocked two balls out of the park against the Mets in a 5-4 victory and now has eight, count them eight home runs in 19 games.

MVPs perform against the best teams. Utley is now 9 for 22 against Mets pitching for sleak .409 BA and four home runs. He notched five hits in 14 AB against the Cubs for a .357 BA.

MVPs continue to hit when teammates struggle. Ryan Howard has four home runs. After that, he's done diddly-squat. Shane Victorino couldn't hit a beach-ball when he was healthy. Eric Bruntlett, Pedro Feliz, and Carlos Ruiz are fighting to stay above the Mendoza Line. The offense as a whole has sputtered.

MVPs pick up slack for the injured. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, the two spark plugs to the Phillies offense both haven't started in over a week. Both are now on the DL. When Victorino was healthy he wasn't hitting and getting on base. Utley has 17 RBIs; if Victorino would have been getting on base ahead of Utley, Chase probably would be over 20 RBI now.

MVPs single-handedly win games. April 4th, Chase Utley hits two home runs to give struggling pitcher Kyle Kendrick a lead to pitch with. The Phillies won 8-4. April 20th, Chase Utley homers twice in the first five innings to give Adam Eaton a 4-0 lead. Utley also battled through a very long at-bat in the third to draw a walk and forced Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey to throw almost 15 extra pitches. In the seventh inning, Utley singled, starting another rally, but the Phillies couldn't cash in on having runners on first and second, one out.

MVPs are leaders.

MVPs are fan favorites.

MVPs hustle out weak ground balls for that one chance to beat them out.

Chase Utley is an MVP.

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If the Phillies are still in the race when both Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins return from injury and Utley is still hammering away, he'll be very far out ahead in the MVP race.

Now there are several other National Leaguers off to hot starts for good teams.

David Wright is batting .344 with four home runs and gold glove defense for a team expected to contend all year.

Derrek Lee entered the day leading the league in home runs, but now finds himself second behind Utley. His 1.133 OPS and gold glove defense for another team that will compete all year puts him in contention for the MVP.

Albert Pujols is quietly punishing pitchers for the second place Cardinals. No one expected this team to contend this year, but Pujols and his .356 BA, four home runs, and 16 walks have the Cards off to a quick 12-7 start.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
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