As people marvel over Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and all the other hitters who are bashing homeruns left and right, I think some NL MVP consideration should be given to Albert Pujols.
Although I am a diehard Mets fan (and will hate the Cardinals, especially Yadier Molina for the rest of my life) I am a quiet fan of Al. Votes for NL MVP are usually given to players with those homers, and not to players who really are the best at what they do.
Pujols WILL be the 2nd half beast of the NL, and he has already begun to state his case for the MVP award with his blazing hot play in the last couple of games starting on July 26th. In an extra-innings game (14 total) he went 5-8 which included the game-winning homer in the top of the 14th. He also had 3 RBI in that game.
He followed that performance up when he went 2-4 with a homer in the next game against the Mets. Than on Sunday (the only game of the last 4 he has started in which he HASN'T hit a homer) Pujols went 1-2 with a double, 3 RBI and 2 walks.
Yesterday, he went 2-3 with a double, a homer and a walk. In all 4 games he struckout ONCE, he went a combined 10-15, with 3 homers, 8 RBI and 3 walks.
Some of you might be saying "But that's just his last 4, what about his whole season?". For the season Al is hitting .355, with 21 homers and 64 RBI. Screw the power numbers, a .355 average for a SLUGGER? Most sluggers who bash homers hit below .250 (Ryan Howard has a .237 average with 30 homers and Adam Dunn has a .238 average with 30 homers)!
His .355 average and .462 OBP are both second in the NL only to Chipper Jones who went on the DL. His SLG% is also second, but to Lance Berkman. OPS? Tops in the NL, 1.077.
But the next stat I'm going to list is one that I personally saw today, and was STUNNED. How many times has Al struckout? 35 times this season! How many times has he struckout twice or more? 3! Among players in the NL with over 300 at-bats, where does Al rank? T-4th to LAST. Who have less Ks than Al? Jason Kendall, and Bengie and Yadier Molina. Rollins also has 35 Ks.
But, offense is not the only part of the game. But, fear not, because Al is tied for the 2nd highest FP% among all NL 1B. He has the 2nd best range factor, and is easily one of the best defensive first basemen in the NL. He has a gold glove to his name from the '06 season, and because probably the only 1B who is better defensively than Pujols (Mark Texiera) has been traded, I don't see how Al isn't a lock to win the award.
Still don't think that Al is deserving of the MVP? Look at his team, the Cards. In arguably the tightest playoff race, they are only 4 back of the Cubs in the NL Central, and only 1 back of the Brew Crew in the wildcard.
Although Al hasn't been carrying this team to it's amazing run by himself, he is definitely the best, and most important player on this team. The sexy pick for NL MVP would probably be someone like a CHase Utley, but the best pick? Al HANDS DOWN.
I'll be DAMNED if Al ends this season with 35-40 homers, 125+ RBI and a .350+ BAA and DOESN'T win the award.