The Race For National League MVP: Can Albert Pujols Be Unseated?
If Joe Mauer was a lock for the American League MVP, then Albert Pujols is a lock, deadbolt, and steel reinforced wall to win the National League honors.
Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes, nearly taking the award unanimously, and I think Pujols will complete the clean sweep of the senior circuit.
Tomorrow afternoon the voting results will be handed down and there's just no way you can give a first-place vote to anyone other than the Machine based upon the body of work he compiled in 2009.
If he wins his second consecutive MVP, he will be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds in 2003-2004.
Just watching Pujols work at the plate is something to behold.
The way he stays so perfectly balanced and calmly bends at the knees while timing the pitch is purity at it's finest.
He is a workhorse and a consummate teammate, and Pujols carried a mediocre St. Louis Cardinals' lineup until the arrival of Matt Holliday.
With the ridiculous numbers Pujols posted this season, I contemplated not even breaking down the other potential MVP candidates.
Then I realized that someone has to come in second, right?
Let's take a look at how the voting will shakeout:
He had another unreal season and will be adding his third MVP trophy in the last five years to his display case.
The only knock that can be made on the Machine is the power outage he experienced down the stretch run.
In some respects, that makes the impressive numbers he accumulated for the season even more powerful, because they were almost done being tallied by the beginning of September.
With the inevitable Pujols crowning in mind, I thought it would be interesting to explore who will battle for the remaining share of votes.
Runner Up: Prince Fielder (.299/46/141)
Much like Miguel Cabrera in the American League, Fielder quietly put together an excellent offensive season.
Fielder played in all 162 games this season, and his OPS (1.014) was third in all of baseball behind only Pujols and Mauer.
And who can forget the walk-off home run celebration when Fielder "shook the Earth" and sent his teammates to the ground at home plate?
Third Place: Hanley Ramirez (.342/24/106/27 SB)
This kid is flat out phenomenal.
The 2006 Rookie of the Year had huge expectations placed upon him entering the season, and he certainly came through with a big time season at the plate.
Although he saw a dip in home runs, Ramirez increased his RBI total from 67 to 106 while his average skyrocketed from .301 in 2008 to a league leading .342 in 2009.
Fourth Place: Andre Ethier (.272/31/106)
"Mr. Miracle" mounted a career year in home runs and RBI on the most winning team in the National League.
He established a new level of clutch hitting in the late innings during the regular season, socking four walk-off home runs and six walk-off hits total in 2009.
In the ninth inning or later, he hit .317 with four home runs 17 RBI.
Honestly, I don't think any of the other three candidates have the slightest chance to knock off the incumbent Pujols.
Each player had a top-notch season, but Pujols was otherworldly in all aspects of the game and he deserves to win.
Not only is he the premier power hitter in all of baseball, but he also offers top-line glove work at first base.
Combine that with the fact he stole 16 bases this season, something you wouldn't expect from a hulking slugger, and it's obvious that Pujols is the runaway favorite to take home his third MVP award.
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