Plenty of options to choose from for AL MVP

Published 3:48 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well baseball fans, we’ve reached that critical juncture in the season where we can begin talking about MVP candidates and Cy Young hopefuls.

The contenders in the AL this year are varied and it appears there’s a strong push to make Dustin Pedroia the AL MVP.

On the other hand there’s still Justin Morneau who has been the offense for the Twins.

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Pedroia is looking like the odds-on favorite right now, but should he be? He’s second in the league in batting average with a .324 average, has 17 home runs, 82 RBI, 208 hits, a .375 on-base percentage and 117 runs. He leads the league with runs scored, hits and doubles.

Morneau has been essential for the Twins this season and leads the league in RBIs, has a .308 batting average, good for eighth in the AL and 185 hits which is third in the league. His slugging percentage ranks 11th and his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) is seventh in the league.

These are two completely different types of players so how do you compare their worth to their team and the impact they make?

One way is to say what would the team be like if they weren’t there. The Twins would be in dire straights as Morneau is the catalyst that drives in the runs. He’s hitting .362 with runners in scoring position, slugging .626 and has an OPS of 1.084. He is clutch to say the least. If you take him away from the Twins lineup you have a big problem with run production.

Pedroia has hit .368 with runners in scoring position and slugging .469 with an OPS of .838. But Pedroia is not a power guy, so his numbers are expected to be lower. What if you take Pedroia away from the Reds Sox, are they the same team? Maybe, only because they have enough players to big up the slack with the bats. Big Papi was injured for a long stretch and so was J.D. Drew, but let’s not forget Jason Bay. Bay has hit .291 since coming over in a trade and gives Boston a powerful bat in the lineup.

But what about all the other stuff Pedroia brings to the table, his effort and ability to go hard on every play — duly noted, but in the end what Pedroia has done this season is tremendous, but not MVP-caliber stuff.

Has Morneau done enough to win the MVP — probably not, but the loss of a bat like his has much more of an impact than Pedroia.

Kevin Youkilis’ name has been thrown into the debate as well and there should be some consideration given to him as well. He has been a key bat for the Red Sox with the absence of Manny, Ortiz and others throughout the season.

As for his numbers, Youkilis has 117 RBIs, has hit .372 and slugged .648 with runners in scoring position. He has a season average of .312 and leads the Sox with 26 home runs and an overall OPS of .944. Youkilis has probably been a more important part to the Red Sox than Pedroia this season.

Then there are people saying Francisco Rodriguez should win the award because of his season and his record number of saves.

It’s not that far-fetched of an argument either. If you want to talk about a player’s worth to team, there’s no better than K-Rod. The Angles have definitely relied on him to close out games with the team not putting up huge numbers offensively.

Who will win the AL MVP, who knows, but it will certainly be one of the closer races in recent memory.

It’s just unfortunate Carlos Quentin had break his wrist. All of this would have been a lot simpler then.