World Series 2011: Ranking the 6 Most Likely Series MVPs
Nelson Cruz etched his name in the record books by slugging six home runs and driving in 13 during his torrid hot streak in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.
Now that his Texas Rangers prepare to meet the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, here's a look at the six most likely candidates to win the World Series Most Valuable Player honor...
6. Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre hit three home runs in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, and his offensive explosion in that contest made us wonder whether he would extend that game into a hot streak as his Rangers went into the ALCS.
While that hasn't happened, as Beltre has cooled off considerably with just a .238 postseason batting average thus far, don't count out No. 29, who hit 32 homers and drove in 105 during the regular season.
5. Chris Carpenter
Some may have thought Chris Carpenter's time in the sun had passed, with Carpenter's fantastic three-year stretch from 2004-2006, during which he went 51-18, followed by a steady decline ever since.
But Carpenter proved he's still a big-game pitcher, shutting down the mighty Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS to get his team to the National League Championship Series.
Carpenter is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA so far this postseason, and if he continues to step up when it counts for St. Louis, could be a candidate for World Series MVP.
4. Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton may not yet have a postseason home run in 2011, but that doesn't mean the 2010 American League and American League Championship Series MVP doesn't have some offensive fireworks to display in the World Series.
3. Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz lit the baseball world on fire with his amazing performance in the ALCS, and if he keeps swinging the bat the way he has been for the past week or so, Cardinal pitchers will have their work cut out for them.
2. David Freese
David Freese, the second-year man for the St. Louis Cardinals who has lit up the scoreboard for the Red Birds this postseason, is a great candidate for MVP of the World Series should he continue his hot streak.
While Nelson Cruz set playoff series records in the ALCS with six homers and 13 RBI, Freese is hitting nearly 200 points higher in batting average than Cruz (.425 to .243) and has more RBI (14 to Cruz's 13).
Freese won the NLCS MVP award, and could add another piece of hardware to his trophy shelf before all is said and done in 2011.
1. Albert Pujols
The most likely candidate to be the World Series MVP in 2011 is none other than Albert Pujols.
Why Pujols over other well-positioned and viable prospects for the award? Simply because Albert Pujols is the best all-around hitter in this series, and has the best career playoff numbers.
This October alone, Pujols is hitting .419 with nine extra-base hits, 10 RBI and a 1.211 OPS.
For his career, Pujols is hitting .339 with 15 home runs, 46 RBI and a 1.044 OPS in seven playoff series.