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Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez placed fourth (!) in the balloting for NL MVP.
AP

Watching Manny Ramirez can be equal parts fascinating and frustrating for one simple reason: There's no telling what he's capable of. Drive a pitch at his shoetops to previously uncharted regions of a ballpark? Sure. Laugh at his latest misadventures as a fielder, even as it costs his team runs? Why not? High-five a fan in the middle of a play? But of course.

If there's a simple way to define the oddity of Manny Being Manny, it's that he represents the magic of the impossible. So perhaps Monday's NL MVP voting shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. If someone told you that a man who played just two months in the National League finished fourth -- fourth! -- in that league's MVP race, you would simply say two things:

1. "Was it Manny?"
2. "Figures."

But his vote count is less a reflection of his penchant for being at the center of the unique than it is a testament to his stunning ability at the plate and the transformative impact Ramirez had on his team. From his arrival in Los Angeles on August 1, Manny paced the National League in batting average (.396), on-base percentage (.489), slugging percentage (.743), RBIs (53) and finished second in hits (74) and home runs (17). What's more, the Dodgers went from being a .500 team that was on the outside of the playoff chase to a legitimate championship contender that won the NL West and swept the heavily favored Cubs in the Divison Series for their first postseason series win since 1988.

In other words, Ramirez earned every one of the 138 points he received on Monday. And because he's established himself as one of the game's most valuable players, he'll also earn every last dollar this winter of what's sure to be one of the most valuable contracts ever handed out. It's just Manny being Manny.

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