Last week, I gave my picks for both the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young awards, and today I'll finish it out by awarding my (obvious) MVP votes.
As I said, these picks are pretty obvious and therefore don't need a lot of explaining...
If you're wondering who the best player in baseball is, it's without a doubt Albert Pujols. For those of you not taking advantage of watching as much of him as possible, you're truly missing out. Baring injury, Pujols may go down as one of the two or three best hitters to ever play this game, which is saying quite a bit considering he's never been connected to performance-enhancing drugs in an era littered with controversy.
This season, Pujols had one month in which he didn't have an OPS of 1.000. He didn't hit for nearly as much power in the second half of the season, but he finished the year with 47 home runs, which still lead the majors.
Some were worried about Pujols' surgically-repaired elbow giving him fits heading into the season, but that obviously proved to not be the case.
Pujols has already won the MVP award twice in his career and unless something unthinkable happens, this should be his third MVP award in the past eight years.
Runner-Up: Prince Fielder - 1B - Milwaukee Brewers
Who'll Likely Win: Albert Pujols - 1B - St. Louis Cardinals
Pre-Season Pick: Manny Ramirez - LF - Los Angeles Dodgers
Again, no surprise here. I'd like to say I predicted this, but I honestly can't say I did.
Joe Mauer put up unreal numbers this season. Many doubted his ability to hit for power and actually held a grudge against him for not being able to, and how did he respond? He went to the Home Run Derby for the first time in his career. And although he didn't win, he did pretty good for a guy with a career-high 13 home runs heading into the season.
And just to show the type of season Mauer had, he nearly matched his career-high in home runs (13) in his first month of the season by hitting 11. He more-than doubled his career high in home runs with 28 on the season, which also helped him drive in a career high 96 RBI, despite missing the entire month of April.
What Mauer did offensively is oustanding, and when you factor in that he won his third batting title in four seasons, it makes it all the more impressive. Mauer flirted with .400 for much of the first half, but ultimately had to settle for a career-best .368 average.
Maybe I jumped the gun by saying that Pujols is the best player in baseball, because I don't know how much better you can get than Mauer. While Pujols may go down as one of the best hitters in the history of the game, Mauer may go down as the best catcher ever. And what's even more impressive is that Mauer has accomplished this much before even turning 27 years old. The best of Mauer may be coming, which should scare opposing pitchers.
Runner-Up: Mark Teixeira - 1B - New York Yankees
Who'll Likely Win: Joe Mauer - C - Minnesota Twins
Pre-Season Pick: Josh Hamilton - OF - Texas Rangers