The 2010 American League MVP race had one clear favorite: Josh Hamilton. His status was confirmed when the Texas Rangers' outfielder received 22 out of 26 first-place votes to take home the trophy.
The 2011 race could not be more different. The race is wide open, as no fewer than five players have received considerable recognition for the award.
Here are the five big names, the pros and cons for their case, and the chance each man brings home the trophy.
Pros: Jose Bautista's statistics pop out at you. He has cooled off some in the second half, but still leads the majors with 42 homers, an impressive .304 batting average, and an even 100 RBI. Bautista has kept his team competitive in the Major League's best division, as they have turned some heads by staying above .500 all season. The Blue Jays are a team on the rise, and a lot of the credit goes to "Joey Bats."
Cons: His team is in fourth place in the division, and is not in playoff contention. Though his 100 RBI are impressive, he currently sits in seventh place in the AL, behind a number of his competitors.
Chances Bautista wins: 30 percent
Pros: We should just skip the voting and give Justin Verlander the AL Cy Young Award. Verlander leads the league in virtually every statistical category for starting pitchers: Wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and innings pitched. Oh, and he hasn't lost since July 15th.
Cons: He is a starting pitcher, and only effects one out of every five games. The last starter to be named MVP was Roger Clemens in 1986.
Chances Verlander wins: 25 percent
Pros: Curtis Granderson has been the best and most consistent performer for the best team in the American League. Granderson is second in the majors in homers with 41, and first in RBI with 115. He plays a great centerfield, and just for good measure, has 24 stolen bases.
Cons: His low batting average (.268) and high strikeout total (161) will turn off some voters. He will also lose a few tallies to teammates Mark Texiera and Robinson Cano.
Chances Granderson wins: 25 percent
Pros: Miguel Cabrera has been the best offensive option for a team that coasted to the division win. He has been a complete performer with a .331 batting average, an OBP of .440 (both second in the league), 26 home runs, and 97 RBI.
Cons: Justin Verlander will certainly get some of his votes. Cabrera's power numbers do not jump at you like Bautista or Granderson, either.
Chance Cabrera wins: 15 percent
Pros: Adrian Gonzalez may have the best all-around offensive statistics of the bunch. He leads the majors with a .338 batting average, and is second with 113 RBI. His 26 homers aren't too shabby, either.
Cons: The Boston Red Sox' late-season swoon will turn a lot of voters off of any MVP candidates from Boston. Gonzalez' name was one you heard a lot before Boston's late-season swoon. A few more losses would end their playoff hopes, as well as their new first basemen's chances of taking the trophy home.
Chances Gonzales wins: 5 percent