The race to October has begun, and we are seeing some teams and players falling short and some stepping up. However, In the NL, there is a big push and race to the finish line between the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers - between the Mets, Phillies and Marlins, and between the Dodgers and D-Backs.
Most of these teams are doing an outstanding job of working as a team and getting wins as a team, but there are a few players who stand out, and thus creates my top 4 MVP candidates.
1.) Albert Pujols
Year after year, this guy is in the MVP talk, and he is where I will begin my list. 2nd in the NL in batting average (.356), 28 HR's and 87 RBI's. Those numbers right there should put him in the MVP talk, but a couple of other numbers that push him into the top are his OBP, an astonishing .466 and his slugging .634. He is a machine, he basically gets on base every other time he gets up to the plate, and he has the ability to hit some long balls. But what might push him over the edge is that he is doing this with essentially a broken elbow. Pujols is in need of tommy john surgery, but he decided to play the season and help his team...the AP sucks that **** up. Not to mention Pujols unbelievable ability at first base, in 1177 chances he has only commited 4 errors, leading the NL in FP.
2.) Ryan Braun
The leading bat for the Brewers is batting .302, with 33 HR's and 92 RBI's. Braun also brings an oustanding speed to the table, stealing 11 bases, but also getting 6 triples this year. Braun is 7th in the league in hits, 5th in doubles, and 3rd in homeruns. He is one of the few candidates who is a leader in every single hitting category. Braun just may be the best overall hitter in the game, putting himself up there with Pujols and Chipper. Braun's fielding is also remarkable, he is a clean 1.000 fielding this year (obviously no errors), and has 8 outfield assists, top 5 in LF. Braun is on his way to a gold glove in LF, but can his bat stay hot enough to ease his way into the MVP?
3.) Matt Holliday
The MVP of last year is going under the radar quite a bit. He is putting up some huge numbers this year with 24 HR's and 78 RBI's. That is a dip in numbers from last year but his .341 BA (3rd in the NL) keeps him on the list. Holliday is also 2nd in the NL in hits and has a great OBP of .428. Just like Braun, Holliday brings an ounce of speed to the table stealing 23 bases and only being caught once. Again like Braun, Holliday plays a great LF, with a solid .990 FP and 6 assists to go with his hitting numbers. However, Holliday is on a very average team and wont be getting the looks from voters that he would need. Last year he was getting a lot of attention because of his Rockies 20 game win streak, but this year they are below .500 and he isnt getting the media attention.
4.) Lance Berkman
The big man from Houston started the season on what looked like a sure fire MVP season, however he has since cooled down. Berkman none the less has managed to put up quality numbers, batting .330, good for 4th in the NL, with 26 HR's and 93 RBI's. Berkman however, leads the league in runs and is 4th in the league in hits. The big 1B also can burn it up on the base paths with 13 stolen bases this year, and his OBP is one of the top in the NL at .429. The Astros can hit and so can Berkman, but in my opinion they would need to make it to October or be close for Berkman to get the votes he needs to win MVP, he is in a similar boat Holliday is in, he just isnt getting the attention that Braun and Pujols are getting the race for the wild card.
Still in the running:
Well based on everything said here, and my own opinion. The MVP race is down to 2 people in the NL, Ryan Braun and Pujols. Not just because of their numbers but because they are getting a lot of attention due to the face that they are carrying their teams in a major playoff race. It comes down to who is going to get more face on SportsCenter, and right now those two guys are leading the race. Not to say it isnt about stats and how they play because both of those guys are in the top for hitting and fielding in every category, but it will come down to who the voters hear more of, and right now that is Braun and Pujols.