MLB: Lance Berkman and the Top 10 Leading 2011 AL and NL MVP Candidates

Lake CruiseAnalyst IMay 7, 2011

MLB: Lance Berkman and the Top 10 Leading 2011 AL and NL MVP Candidates

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    Baseball's 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton was injured the first week of the season. 

    Joey Votto, who won the 2010 National League MVP, is still doing his thing.

    There are other players in both leagues who are off to fast starts and pushing for 2011's top spot. The MVP tracking system will keep you entertained all season long.

    Join me for this edition of the MVP Whisperer... 

American League: If Not Josh Hamilton, Then Who?

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    Hamilton hurt his shoulder sliding head first into home plate, jamming himself and the team; the Texas Rangers proceeded to fall out of first.

    Several players are ready to take his place at the podium, but he should be back this season. Even though they have the jump on him, I wouldn't count him out of the MVP race just yet. Hamilton is that good, although shaky, but there is a long way to go in the season.

    Here are the current AL MVP front-runners.

5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

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    Leading the Yankees with a .305 average, Cano is carrying the first-place Yankees, along with Curtis Granderson's help.

    New York relies on the long ball, and Cano has been providing both homers and RBI. He had an outstanding season in 2010, and we'll be watching to see how he responds.

4. Jeff Francouer, Kansas City Royals

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    Francouer has been the cure for any of Kansas City's offensive woes early this season.  The Royals have been playing well and hovering around the .500 mark.

    I've marked Francouer as one to watch.

3. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

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    Batting .320 and among the league's leaders in hits, home runs, RBI and runs scored, Gordon is leading the Royals on offense.

    The 27-year-old Nebraskan is for real this season.  It's still early, but I've got him on my watch list.

2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

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    Cabrera is having his usual MVP-type season. He had his problems before the year started, but he has been lights out since.

    The Tigers have a losing record, but they swept the first-place Yankees this week. Cabrera is batting around .340 with 27 runs scored, seven home runs and 23 runs driven in.

    Don't try drinking and driving at home. 

1. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

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    He hit, what, 85 home runs last year? 

    Actually, it was closer to 50. 

    It was 54 to be exact. 

    Bautista has nine homers already this year—only two behind the league leader, Alfonso Soriano.  Batting around .360, Bautista has impressed me with his hitting ability this season.

    His 25 runs scored are also good. 

National League: Can Joey Votto Repeat in a Stacked League?

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    Joey Votto took home the MVP hardware last season, and he's in the game this year too, proving he's a legitimate perennial All-Star.

    Of course, Albert Pujols will have something to say about that.

    Here are the other top contenders for the NL MVP.

5. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

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    Votto is leading the Reds in almost every offensive category.

    The defending NL MVP is back in the race this year. If he keeps this up, will people start talking about him as the heir apparent to Albert Pujols?

    Nah. Votto is being watched, though.

4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Braun is a fantasy baseball owner's dream. While playing on a losing team, he is posting MVP-caliber numbers in Wisconsin.

    Already recognized as a fantasy stud, could his peers in the majors—along with the press—start labeling him the best hitter in the NL?

    Nah.  Braun is good, though.

3. Matt Kemp, L.A. Dodgers

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    With 21 runs scored, six home runs and a .352 batting average, Kemp has been the man for the Dodgers.  Add his 20 RBI and 10 steals, and I'm sure you'll agree with a brother.

    His teammate Andre Ethier has the longest hitting streak in the majors so far this season, but his overall production can't match Kemp's.

    I guess dating (and splitting with) entertainer Rihanna did Matt some good.

2. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

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    The third-year Cardinal is leading the league in hitting, and scoring a ton of runs in baseball's best lineup so far.

    Batting behind Colby Rasmus and Albert Pujols and in front of Lance Berkman, Holliday is taking full advantage. We'll be watching to see how long he can bat over .400.

1. Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Berkman is the only player in the league batting in the top 10 in home runs, RBI and average. He's really making the Houston Astros pay for not signing him.

    Berkman went off against Houston in the Cardinals' series win earlier this season. Lance is healthy, motivated and batting in a strong lineup, so there is no reason he can't keep up this pace all year long.