Morneau Tears into September in Search of MVP Encore ; Division Title

Aaron KrauseCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2008

      Justin Morneau is currently what you could call "Red Hot" and it couldn't possibly come at a better time for the Minnesota Twins.  Morneau is hitting .350 (14-40) over his last 10 games with nine runs scored, 16 RBI and 3 home runs.  Meanwhile the Twins, who were cruising in early August, were 13-3 prior to a 14-game, 15-day road trip which saw the club drop 9 games including a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays.  With a 2 1/2 game deficit looming over their heads with just 19 games left on the schedule, the Twins had to get rolling.  While Toronto swept a double-header against the White Sox, Morneau was bolstering his MVP candidacy with a 2-for-4 night which included a big two-run homer in the Twins' rout of Kansas City, 7-2 cutting the lead to just one game. 

      Justin Morneau is batting .311 with 23 HR's and 119 RBI on the season including 41 doubles and a .913 OPS, all of which rank in the top 20 in the AL.  Obviously you look at stats when deciding on your MVP choice, but right now, look at the most notable contenders for the title.

1.) Josh Hamilton, .303 AVG, 31 HR's, 124 RBI                                   
      When Josh Hamilton broke through as the feel-good story of MLB with a historic first half, everyone, including myself, said, "This guy's gonna win the AL MVP in a landslide." Up until the All-Star Break, I thought for sure that he would.  However, since the break he his hitting .289 with 10 HR's and just 29 RBI's.  Hamilton can't win the MVP this year because of two major factors: The Rangers are 16.5 games out of first place, and an MVP has to be consistent throughout the year.

2.) Carlos Quentin, .286 AVG, 36 HR's, 100 RBI
      Not much to say here.  The numbers are good, but Quentin won't play another game this year except for a possible playoff return.  Before the injury, I would have said that he stood a legitimate shot, but you can't win an MVP in just 5 months.

3.) Alex Rodriguez, .310 AVG, 33 HR's, 95 RBI
      I've always loved watching A-Rod play baseball because he is so good in all aspects of the game.  This year has been another excellent season for the slugger, but the Yankees are in fourth place and about to miss the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.  I've always felt that if you will win the award recognizing yourself as the Most Valuable Player in the league, your team's record has to show it.

4.) Magglio Ordonez, .321 AVG, 19 HR's, 88 RBI
      The reigning AL Batting champ is putting together another impressive year.  However, the Tigers aren't keeping pace in the AL Central, and the homerun and RBI totals are way down for Ordonez.  I believe that for Magglio Ordonez to win the title, the Tigers have to pull an '06 Twins on steroids and Ordonez will have to lead them all the way.

Whether Morneau's stats look like an MVP's numbers at the end of the year or not, it just doesn't appear as though anyone else could take it.  If the Twins can keep up, Morneau is almost guaranteed his second career MVP.