Top 10 AL MVP Candidates
For this slideshow, I'm going to try and take the meaning of MVP (Most Valuable Player) as literally as possible.
Yes, some guys may have better stats that the top ones on this list, but I have ordered my top 10 based on how much the player's team would be hurt if he was taken off of it.
Let's get the discussion started.
10 - Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis is getting on base over 40 percent of the time and is also slugging a cool .576 for the Red Sox this season.
His 18 home runs, 57 RBI, and 68 runs get the attention of most baseball fans and all of his peripheral stats back up the claim that he is one of the top hitters in the American League this season.
Boston's first baseman is in the discussion for MVP because of how he has helped keep his offense afloat while it has been riddled with injuries. He certainly has been very valuable.
9 - Jered Weaver
Weaver is the only pitcher on my list, which may be surprising to some people, but if you look at his stats it becomes clear how valuable he has really been.
His 3.16 ERA isn't shockingly good, but he has struck out 142 batters in 128 innings so far this year (20 starts) and is giving the Angels the best chance to win every time he steps on the mound.
This year has been a bit of a struggle for the Halos, but without Weaver, they would probably be buried in the AL West race.
8 - Alex Rios
With the White Sox looking to sell most of their top players and start rebuilding only a month ago, it is very surprising to see them at the top of the AL Central as we speak.
A main reason for their standing in the division is Alex Rios. Without his bat in the middle of their lineup, I don't see them making a run to get the division lead back.
The stats speak for themselves. A .304 average to go along with a not too shabby .867 OPS and great defense in center field makes him the most valuable player on his team and one of the most valuable players in baseball.
7 - Vladimir Guerrero
Although it may be odd to see a designated hitter in the top 10 for the MVP, Vladimir Guerrero has been that important to the Texas Rangers this season.
It was a great plus for the Rangers that he left the Angels this off-season just because of the fact that they wouldn't have had to face him as much anymore. Now that he has joined their side, he is that much more valuable to his new team.
Vlad is hitting .325 while hitting 20 homeruns and 76 RBI in the cleanup spot for Texas this year. What a great comeback year for "The Impaler."
6 - Adrian Beltre
Beltre has been another guy (along with Youkilis) who has been carrying the Red Sox offense while it has been riddled with injuries.
The 31-year old has had a bounce back offensive season in 2010, putting up a .332/.371/.546 line in 86 games this season. Most Red Sox fans would have been happy with a .750-.800 OPS from Beltre this season, but instead they got one above .900.
Add those offensive numbers to what he gives you on defense and Beltre has been extremely valuable this season.
5 - Carl Crawford
The Rays are currently the Wild Card team in the AL and they can thank Carl Crawford for that on the offensive side of the ball.
With players like Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton struggling to hit the ball consistently this year, the steady bat of Crawford has been an enormous lift for the Rays.
While putting up those impressive hitting numbers (.322/.380/.519), Crawford has also stolen 31 bases and scored 70 runs, putting him in the top five in both categories.
Don't forget about his defense, which is among the top in the league at any position. Crawford does it all and deserves a lot of votes when the ballots are tallied this off-season.
4 - Robinson Cano
The Yankees are sporting the best record in Major League Baseball and the engine that is keeping that team at the top is none other than Robinson Cano.
While it's hard to call any player on a team full of All-Stars an MVP-type, Cano is doing his best to convince everyone he can be that guy.
His average has been hovering around .340 for the whole season and sits at .335 as we speak. He also has 17 home runs, 62 runs scored, 59 RBI, and is playing very good defense at second base.
3 - Josh Hamilton
While his teammate Vladimir Guerrero is getting a lot of talk for comeback player of the year, Josh Hamilton is having an even better season after struggling with injuries last year.
With his batting average sitting around .260 at the end of May, most Rangers fans were pleased with what he had done to that point in the season.
All he has done since then is hit around .430 in his last 40 games to bump his average up to .347 while sporting a 1.019 OPS. Without Hamilton doing what he has been doing, I don't see this Texas team making the playoffs.
2 - Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau is consistently the most dominant player that no one talks about. Can you believe that he is putting up a .345/.437/.618 line this season? He hasn't got the credit he deserves this season.
Without this former MVP playing at first base for their team, they would probably have a below average offense and would be fading from the playoff picture.
Morneau just landed on the DL, so we will see how important he really is to this Minnesota Twins team.
1 - Miguel Cabrera
Finally, I present my first half MVP, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.
It should tell you enough when I say that Cabrera was the only offensive player on the Tigers to make the All-Star team and his team is still in the hunt in the division.
Cabrera has put together a league-leading 1.072 OPS this season and is by far the most productive player in his lineup.
Without him, the Tigers would not be in the race because of their average pitching rotation. With him, the whole lineup is improved and the Tigers are able to stay in most of the games they play.