Kevin Youkilis an MVP Candidate?

Evan BrunellFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2008

It’s not inconceivable to think that Kevin Youkilis could be the winner of the American League MVP award.

Youkilis, fourth in the A.L. in OPS with a line of .319/.387/.570, has so far avoided his second-half slump and has slid into the cleanup role rather nicely. He doesn’t have the eye-popping home run numbers, but hangs around the top 10 in all the categories significant to voters.

Of course, Josh Hamilton’s sensational story and 112 RBI will merit serious consideration. But voters tend to give the award to those players who get their team into the playoffs or just barely miss out.

With the Rangers’ highly volatile pitching staff, there’s only so much Hamilton and teammates Milton Bradley and Ian Kinsler can do. They are all MVP candidates in their own regard.

On the other hand, Carlos Quentin of the White Sox looks like an excellent candidate. With his league-leading 33 home runs and .289/.391/.574 line, he has been a huge reason why the White Sox are jockeying for the playoffs.

Youkilis’ case can rest in his ability to play first and third and do so with defensive aplomb. He is willing to bat in any order in the lineup (has batted one through six this year), something that brings Terry Francona peace of mind.

J.D. Drew may steal some votes from Youkilis due to being fifth behind Youk in OPS, but the Rangers will all split votes among themselves, leaving the field free and clear for Carlos Quentin and Alex Rodriguez.

Is Youk worthy of an MVP award? You bet he is.

My own personal prediction has Quentin taking home the hardware with Youk coming in second. What say you?