At the end of September, Manny Ramirez will have played about 50 games for the Los Angeles Dodges, assuming he stays healthy.
Now lets play the what-if game.
What if the Dodgers, in their remaining games, finish 28-18 and are in first place by say four games? What if Manny Ramirez continues to rip the cover off the ball and finishes with .380 batting average, 16 home runs, 40 RBI, an OPS over one, and numerous clutch hits and walk-off home runs? Should Manny Ramirez be considered a National League MVP favorite?
The answer should be yes.
Now the Dodgers are still a game under .500 since the Ramirez trade at a record of 4-5, but during that time Ramirez is batting a robust .459 with four home runs and 11 RBI.
In three of Los Angeles's four wins since the trade, Ramirez has homered.
If Ramirez continues to dominate the senior circuit, the wins should eventually start to come for the Dodgers. There's enough talent on that team and a lack of talent in the NL West that the Dodgers could easily roll through the remaining seven weeks with an impressive record.
Manny Ramirez is in this position because the candidates for National League MVP are pretty weak. There are a lot of players having outstanding, career years, but few have been dominate for a dominate team.
The only real team that's been playing .600 ball all summer is Chicago, but the Cubbies don't have one player you can really pinpoint as an MVP caliber player.
When you go to the Phillies, you have three candidates: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell, but all three have their flaws.
Utley can't hit a lick with runners in scoring position. He's been absolutely awful when there's men on base. Since his torrid start through May, Utley has regressed and seen his average drop below .300.
Howard on the other hand has been belting the ball with RISP. He's hung around the league lead in RBIs and home runs basically all year, but he too has some major issues. He's still batting below .250 despite his nearly .300 BA the last two months. He's also on pace to shatter his own strike out record of 199.
Pat Burrell wasn't even an all-star, but has 27 home runs and is near the league lead in walks and OPS. A recent 0-14 slump has dropped his average below .270.
So how about an MVP candidate from the Mets? David Wright? Carlos Delgado?
Wright's got his fair share of big hits and overall solid performances, but he hasn't produced an MVP quality season.
Delgado has been crushing homers since the Mets turn-around behind new manager Jerry Manuel, but it certainly hasn't been MVP quality.
With Marlins, you get the same problem.
Hanley Ramirez was pretty mediocre over the last month when his team needed him the most. He has very good numbers overall, but they aren't absolutely spectacular.
Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, and Mike Jacobs—pretty huge numbers, but again not MVP quality.
In the Central Divison, Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols would probably finish one-two in the MVP vote with whoever's team nabs the Wild Card wins the MVP.
Ryan Braun has hit a tremendous amount of huge home runs during Milwaukee's run to get within a few games of the Cubs.
Albert Pujols has just hit, continues to hit, and will hit for the rest the year to a tune of a .350 batting average and an OPS well over one.
So while those two seem like great candidates, there's a real danger they both won't make the playoffs if two NL East team's get their acts completely together and overtake them.
Two of the players having the best seasons statistically in the National League are on a team under .500 with no chance to sniff playoffs, and one is now essentially out for the year.
Lance Berkman had at one point emerged as a triple crown threat, but has tailed off as his Astros make a run to get back to .500.
His teammate, Carlos Lee has fueled that run, but just broke a bone in his hand and will be stuck at his totals of 28 home runs and 100 RBI for at least six weeks.
So that leaves Manny Ramirez. A man who will play just 50 some games in the National League. A man that is probably the most feared hitter of the last decade. A man, who if he leads his team to the playoffs behind redonkulous numbers, should be the National League MVP.
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