2009 Major League Baseball MVP Candidates

Scott BirchfieldCorrespondent IMay 3, 2009

BOSTON - APRIL 24: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox hits a game-winning home run in the 11th inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, April 24, 2009, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

GoEven though it is only early May and the season is only a month old, it is never too early for National League and American League MVP rankings. Each month, I will give you the top five candidates in each league. I will also throw in a few honorable mention candidates.

American League MVP rankings

1. Kevin Youkilis .402   5 HRs  18 RBIs

After Manny Ramirez left for the Dodgers and David Ortiz began to slump, the Red Sox knew that someone else had to step up to lead the team. Youkilis is one of the guys that have truly helped this team.

He will probably never lead the league in HRs and RBIs. However, he will be hit for a high average and be the ultimate leader.

2. Evan Longoria .370  7 HRs  30 RBIs

So much for a sophomore slump. Longoria is having an amazing start to the 2009 season. The Rays have struggled to start the season. Just imagine how bad they would be if Longoria and Carlos Pena weren't hitting well.

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3. Ian Kinsler .337  8HRs  23 RBIs  7 SBs

You don't hear much about Kinsler because of where he plays. Kinsler has been solid the last couple seasons. Look for him to continue his monster season.

4. Robinson Cano .363  5 HRs  17 RBIs

Cano is helping the Yankees stay afloat while the team is struggling with injuries and slumps. Canu had a mediocre 2008 campaign. He looks like he is changing that in 2009.

5. Carlos Pena .269  11HRs 27 RBIs

I had a feeling that Pena would have a monster comeback season. Like Cano, he had a mediocre 2008 season as well. He looks like he is over the injuries that have plagued him the last year or so. If the Rays were higher in the standings, Pena would be higher on this list.

Honorable Mention

Nick Markakis, Victor Martinez, Aaron Hill, Nick Swisher, Adam Jones

National League MVP rankings

1. Albert Pujols .356  9 HRs 29 RBIs

Puljols doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Every year, he seems to get better. I know the Cardinals are grateful for the steady production they get from him every season.

2. Chase Utley .347  8 HRs 21 RBIs

With Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard having subpar starts to the season, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez have kept the Phillies in the NL East race. Utley is such a fun player to watch. He never seems to take a play off. Look for his monster year to continue.

3. Manny Ramirez .363  5 HRs 15 RBIs

It's hard to forget about his flakiness. However, once you do, you realize Ramirez is an awesome hitter. He is continuing to be the man for the Dodgers.

4. Jorge Cantu .358  7 HRs 24 RBIs

There were many people in the baseball world that thought that Jorge Cantu's 2008 season was a big fluke. Turns out, they are wrong. Cantu is having a huge season.

With Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla struggling so far this season, Cantu has picked up the slack. The Marlins are happy he has.

5. Adrian Gonzalez  .321  9 HRs 20 RBIs

Gonzalez is the best player no one ever hears about. Because he plays in San Diego at a pitcher's park, Gonzalez does not get the publicity other players get. I think that should change. He is well on his way to his third straight 30+ HR and 100+ RBI season.

Honorable Mention

Raul Ibanez, Carlos Beltran, Orlando Hudson, Joey Votto, Andre Ethier