There are five players in the American League that seem to be running away with the MVP race. Four of those five players are on teams fighting for playoff spots.
All stats and standings are before the games on September 3rd, 2008.
Alex Rodriguez - 3B, New York Yankees
Key Stats: .311 AVG, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 16 SB, 31 2B, 93 R, .398 OBP, .586 SLG
The knocks on A-Rod this season are his lack of clutch hits and the fact that the Yankees are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
Over the last 10 games, he has batted .333, with two HR and nine RBI.
Rodriguez, a first ballot Hall-of-Famer for sure, is putting up typical numbers. He has now hit 30+ HR in 12 seasons. Hank Aaron holds the record with 15 seasons.
I think the Yanks missing the playoffs (though I won't believe they can't make it until they are officially eliminated) will keep A-Rod from collecting his fourth MVP award.
Carlos Quentin - LF, Chicago White Sox
Key Stats: .288 AVG, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 7 SB, 26 2B, 96 R, .394 OBP, .571 SLG
Quentin's numbers are slightly better than A-Rod's, plus the White Sox are tied for the lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.
Carlos started off the season hot, with a .302 AVG, seven HR, and 21 RBI in the month of April. In May and June, his average dipped a bit, but his power was still there. In July, his average started coming back up. In August, he caught fire again, posting a .322 AVG, eight HR and 17 RBI.
He has been mired in a slump over the last 10 games or so, but that may be due to a sore forearm.
Ozzie Guillen is taking precaution with Quentin to make sure he doesn't further injure the arm and possibly miss the postseason.
Justin Morneau - 1B, Minnesota Twins
Key Stats:.311 AVG, 21 HR, 109 RBI, 0 SB, 39 2B, 84 R, .387 OBP, .517 SLG
OK, so Morneau is no speedster, but his other numbers make up for it. He has only batted under .300 in two months of the season, the lowest being .277 in April. His lowest RBI total for a month this season was 20 in May.
Unlike his division rival, Quentin, Morneau has been tearing the cover off the ball the last 10 games, batting .372 with two HR and 11 RBI.
Josh Hamilton - CF, Texas Rangers
Key Stats:.301 AVG, 31 HR, 121 RBI, 8 SB, 30 2B, 86 R, .363 OBP, .517 SLG
Hamilton's story has been well documented this season. We all know about he's battled back from drug addiction to turn his life around, and on a less-important level, his career.
If Hamilton won the MVP, it would certainly make a nice chapter to his story.
In April, Hamilton batted .333 with six HR and 32 RBI. He stayed pretty consistent until he had a drop off in August, recording his lowest stats in average, home runs, and RBI.
However, in the last 10 games, Hamilton seems to be finding his swing again, batting .287 with 2 HR and 6 RBI.
Dustin Pedroia - 2B, Boston Red Sox
Key Stats: .333 AVG, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 17 SB, 44 2B, 110 R, .378 OBP, 505 SLG
Dustin Pedroia is the first player in Red Sox history to record a five-hit, five-run, and five-RBI game in the same season.
Since he has been hitting cleanup, he has a .643 AVG. He is leading the American League in runs scored, hits, and average. Pedroia is third in two baggers.
Maybe his power numbers are low, but you don't expect a lot of power from a second baseman anyway. He makes up for his lack of power with good base running, having been caught stealing once in 18 attempts and extra-base hits.
Pedroia has been amazingly consistent this season, batting under .300 for a month only once, when he hit .260 in May. In June, he batted .356, and in August, he batted .374.
Over his last 10 games, he has been sick, going 22-for-43 (.512 AVG), with four HR and 15 RBI.
Just a quick update: Hall-of-Fame writer, Peter Gammons, was on Mike and Mikethis morning (9/5/2008) and he said "if I were to pick the MVP today, it would be Pedroia."
As I mentioned earlier, I think A-Rod is out of the running, with the Yankees struggling to make the playoffs.
Hamilton and his Texas Rangers are 14.5 GB in the wild-card race and 17 GB of the Angels in the West and won't make the playoffs. This will probably exclude him from consideration as well.
Morneau and Quentin may cancel each other out, being in the same division.
This leaves Pedroia as the front-runner.
Several people have told me that Pedroia won't win it because he doesn't have 100+ RBI on the season. Well the season isn't over yet and he's not that far away, so he still may reach that total.
The 100+ RBI plateau is not a requirement for MVP though.
Ichiro won the A.L. MVP in 2001 with only 69 RBI.
More recently Jimmy Rollins won the N.L. MVP, just last year with only 94 RBI.
If you think I left someone off this list, or you think I should replace someone, please let me know.