MLB: 10 Serious 2011 National League MVP Candidates Not Named Albert Pujols.
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We are all aware of the greatness that is the Cardinals' first baseman. He's already won three National League MVP Awards, and there are some that would argue that he should have won one or two more.
As he is the perennial favorite for the NL MVP, let's take Albert out of the equation and focus on ten players that have a serious shot of taking home the coveted trophy in 2011.
The projections that I'll be giving for each player are just my own predictions for the coming year. They are based on little more than the combination of my opinion and history.
Also, you will notice that my projections tend to be quite gaudy. Last year was very much a pitching year. In my humble opinion, adjustments will be made to even the playing field, so to speak.
10. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins.
Hanley Ramirez has put up other-worldly numbers, but can he be an MVP?
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It's hard to argue with a guy who is that good. He may just be the most talented player in the game.
The only things that seem to stand in Ramirez's way are his alleged attitude and hustle issues, and the team for which he plays.
It is widely known that a great player on a second division club has less a chance for the MVP award as one that plays for a postseason club.
Will the Florida Marlins make it to the playoffs? Will the economy turn completely around by the end of this fiscal year?
Still, Ramirez is an immensely talented hitter, and is coming off a down year, by his standards, at least. What does that mean?
2011 Projection: .335 BA, 33 HR, 108 R, 112 RBI, 29 SB
9. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants.
Can Posey avoid the sophomore jinx?
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Posey did what very few catchers are able to do. He hit .300 in his rookie year. A well-centered, extremely talented receiver, he definitely has what it takes to avoid the sophomore slump and become the first NL catcher to win the award since Johnny Bench.
Am I being a bit optimistic with Posey? Perhaps. Does he have what it takes? Absolutely. Much will depend on his health and the success of his defending World Series Champion team.
Projection: .314 BA, 22 HR, 76 R, 91 RBI
8. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies.
2006 MVP, Howard, with 2007 MVP, Rollins.
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For any of you that seriously think this guy's on the decline, all I can say is do not sleep on Ryan Howard!
Remember that this guy is one of only four players in history to go for 40 HR and 130 RBI in four consecutive seasons. One down year with three missed weeks should not tarnish his legacy.
Ryan Howard is not the best hitter in baseball, but he is baseball's most powerful hitter. Not too many players out there work on their respective crafts as much as Howard. That comes from having pride in oneself as a player. And it is precisely that pride that will thrust Howard into a different stratosphere after a so called down year.
2001 Projection: .298 BA, 51 HR, 103 R, 155 RBI
7. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds.
Can Votto avoid a letdown after his 2010 campaign?
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His line from last year's MVP season was impressive as Votto broke out and reached a new level offensively. Can he reproduce, or even top last year?
Honestly, it will be difficult to eclipse last year's number, as well as his team's success, but it is certainly plausible.
Votto's production has increased with every year he's added to his resume, but eventually he must top out somewhere. He is the star of a young, talented Reds ballclub, who will contend again this year.
2011 Projection: .331 BA, 31 HR, 109 R, 119 RBI, 21 SB
6. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies.
"Tulo" is at the precipice of superstardom!
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The guy plays one of the most important positions on the field, and plays it well. He also set a career high with a .315 BA last year and had a monster September. Can he keep the momentum rolling?
Troy Tulowitzki certainly has the talent. He could easily become a perennial .300/30/100/100/20 guy, and his impact on his team is unmistakable.
Two questions linger for "Tulo". Question No. 1: Can he sustain his production over a full season without injury or serious slumps? Question No. 2: Can the inconsistent Rockies contend for the NL West?
Both are sincere possibilities.
2011 Projection: .322 BA, 31 HR, 102 R, 111 RBI, 18 SB
5. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers.
Fielder, with 2010 breakout Corey Hart, will look for a huge bounceback year.
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An improved lineup and the addition of ace righthander will make the Brewers serious contenders in 2011.
Can Prince Fielder come back from his borderline dreadful 2010? Remember that this kid is only 27-years-old, and far from regressing.
Fielder is one of the most feared power hitters in the game, and is an on base machine, hitting in the middle of a lineup that features at least four players that could go for 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Fielder, like Howard in Philly, is the big piece of the puzzle.
2011 Projection: .299 BA, 47 HR, 110 R, 126 RBI
4. Carlos Gonzalez, Of, Colorado Rockies.
Was 2010 a sign of great things to come for CarGon?
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This guy put up some seriously studly numbers in 2010, and only seemed to get better as the season progressed. Can he keep it up, or, God-forbid, get better in 2011?
One could have made a compelling argument that he should have beaten out Votto last year, with a .335/34/111/117/26 line. What more could the guy do?
Again, Votto went to the playoffs, and Gonzalez did not. Don't kid yourselves, folks, team success has something to do with the voting.
Gonzalez has never really been known as an "average hitter", but that .335 mark from last year shows that predictions are sometimes just that.
2011 Projection: .297 BA, 29 HR, 121 R, 98 RBI, 23 SB
3. Matt Holiday, Of, Cardinals.
Holiday finished second in 2007. Could 2011 be his year?
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He is often overlooked, probably because he plays with the best hitter on the planet, but there is no way that Matt Holliday should not be on this list.
He was a star player long before he was teamed with Pujols, flirting with the Triple Crown in '07 with the Rockies, and he almost always seems to hit well above .300.
What stands in Holliday's way for the MVP? Did you mean besides that other guy in St. Louis? Unfortunately, it may come down to Adam Wainwright.
With their ace righty out for the year, the Cardinals chances of reaching the postseason were drastically reduced. However, they've won the Central with less in the past, so keep your heads up, St. Louis!
2011 Projection: .341 BA, 33 HR, 112 R, 122 RBI, 21 SB
2. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies.
Will you be so foolish as to write off Chase Utley?
It seems like, after an injury-riddled, down 2010, the popular thing to do these days is to write off the premier second baseman in the game. Do not make the mistake of underestimating one of the hardest playing stars in the game.
Chase Utley is a gamer, a throwback, if you will. However, even people in Philadelphia are predicting that he will not play a full season due to some early spring patellar tendonitis.
Utley has never won an MVP award. Individual accolades mean very little to this consummate team player. He is one of the game's few superstars that will do whatever it takes to advance a runner, get on base, score a run, or prevent one.
And, by the way, he plays for the absolute favorite in the National League, the pitching-laden Phils. Do I think that Utley will surprise everyone in 2011? Yes. Do I think he will have his best season as a pro? Yes. Will it be enough to garner the award? Not quite.
2011 Projection: .344 BA, 37 HR, 125 R, 113 RBI, 22 SB
1. Ryan Braun, Of, Milwaukee Brewers.
Why is Ryan Braun laughing? He knows something that we don'[t about 2011.
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Ryan Braun is one of the elite outfielders in the game today. Last year could even be considered a "down" year, and he still hit .300, scored 100 and knocked in 100.
I do predict team success here for the Brewers, and with their very strong lineup, I predict that this All-Star, still only 28-years-old, will absolutely and without question take it to the next level this year!
2011 Projection: .326, 44 HR, 121 R, 132 RBI, 21 SB ... and the MVP Award!
Okay, everyone. Those are my picks, but I'd like to hear some of yours. Who do you think I missed?