Lance Berkman and the Top 10 NL MVP Candidates to Watch Down the Stretch

Lake CruiseAnalyst IAugust 1, 2011

Lance Berkman and the Top 10 NL MVP Candidates to Watch Down the Stretch

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    Berkman’s home run Sunday night against the Cubs appeared to spark the Cardinals, but they ended up losing the game.  No problem.  If he keeps it up, the Redbirds will be fine.

    During the game, ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine claimed Berkman was a leading MVP candidate.  I’m a Lance fan, but I’m not sure about Bobby V's observations. 

    Valentine is known to be a bit wacky.  As manager of the NY Mets, he once glued a fake mustache on and returned to the dugout after being tossed from a game. 

    In the game Sunday night after Berkman blasted the three-run homer, the home team’s dugout was visibly inspired.  I was stirred to post my crazy candidates for the NL MVP—a tag along to my post earlier in the season. 

    It’s the meat of the summer season, and the majors are heading into the stretch run.  Enough talk.  Let the following graphics rip and ride through your veins.  Roll slides…

10. Michael Morse: Washington's Morsel of Good News

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    Morse, 29, is languishing on a team almost certain to miss the playoffs this year and next, but he's come out of the dark into the light this season.  Fantasy owners know what I mean. 

    He's posting enough numbers this season through his 96 game played to end up with 30 home runs and close to 100 RBI.  His .312 average is good enough for top 15 in the majors. 

9. Jose Reyes: Speed Helps Win MVPs

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    The speedy shortstop for the Mets, Reyes is leading the NL in batting average.  The Mets probably won’t make the playoffs, and that could hurt his cause. 

    Speed kills though, and he could be in the fast lane on the way to the MVP. 

8. Hunter Pence: Goodbye Houston, Hello Playoffs and Pennant Chase (Utley)

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    Going from a team 38 games under .500 to the NL’s top team in terms of wins and losses, Pence probably feels like one of the luckiest players in the league.  He is. 

    Not many players with his talent and numbers are forced to languish on the worst team in baseball.

    Congratulations to Hunter.  By virtue of batting a lot in Philly’s lineup and the tiny confines of their park, his numbers could improve even more and keep in the hunt for the MVP. 

7. Justin Upton: Heating Up Just About the Right Time

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    Justin has helped keep Arizona at or near the top in the NL West so far this wacky season. 

    Only the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants stand in their way.  Upton has been on a tear lately, and he could help Arizona make a run all the way into the postseason.

6. Joey Votto: Joey MVP

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    Votto won the NL MVP last season, and he could repeat in 2011.  Going into August, the Reds are fading. 

    It's not Votto's fault. 

    He's posting is usual numbers and won the MVP last year maybe because the Reds won a very mediocre NL Central.

    They still have time to win the division, but they'll have to leap over the Cardinals, Pirates and Mets.

5. Andrew McCutchen: Cutting Down the Most Valuable Player Competition

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    With the Pirates fighting to make the playoffs for the first time since Willie Stargell, Omar Moreno, Kent Tekulve, Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner and Dave Parker played it seems, McCutchen is Pittsburgh's leading MVP hope. 

    While batting around .280, Andrew could end up with close to 100 RBI, 100 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.  Numbers don't tell the whole story.  He's simply the best player Pittsburgh has had since...since...

    You fill in the player, but Barry Bonds comes to mind.  By the way, the last time the Pirates made the playoffs was in 1992.  Bonds was on that squad.  They lost on the famous game-winning home plate slide by Atlanta's Sid Bream in game seven of the NLCS.

    Next slide, please...

4. Lance Berkman: Bye Astros, Hello Redbirds and Rallies

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    The Cardinals have one of the best offenses in the NL.  In fact, they have the best numbers in the NL. 

    Time will tell if they can keep it up, but Berkman has been a big reason for the resurgence in St. Louis.  If the season ended after April, then he’d have won the MVP hands down.

    Is it just me, or is there a theme in the NL?  The prevailing tendency is to leave Houston and join a contender.  Pence, Berkman and Michael Bourn (Astros to Atlanta) all did it this season.  I don't believe it's just me.  Wandy Rodriguez is a likely candidate to keep the tendency going.

    The Redbirds hope Berkman continues the trend of mashing the ball.

3. Ryan Braun: One Half of a Brawny Duo

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    Projected as one of the top Fantasy players coming into this season, Ryan Braun has been on point. 

    Providing a part of the most feared one-two punch with pop in the NL Central, Braun and his Brewers are in first place and hoping to make the World Series for the first time since they lost to the Cardinals in 1982.

2. Prince Fielder: Fielding MVP Votes

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    He helped carry the Brewers while Braun was injured this season. 

    When Braun came back, the Brewers were permanent fixtures at the top of the NL Central.  Prince is on pace to hit close to 40 home runs, bat .300 and post 110 to 120 RBI.

    Fielder-Braun, Berkman-Pujols-Holliday coming up...

1. Matt Kemp: Coming in From the Cold

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    Kemp deserves to win the MVP while on a losing team this year.  After being talked about more for his relationship with "singer" Rihanna last season and disappointing his Fantasy owners, Kemp bounced back big time.

    Despite the Dodgers barely making payroll, Matt has been money.  Want home runs?  Pay me.  Want stolen bases?  Pay me.  Want a .317 average?  Pay me...

    Don't forget to pay me no mind, but I hope you check me out next time on this same channel.