Handicapping the Awards – NL MVP Version

There are certain players that come around seemingly once a generation that have the ability to command the MVP award every single season. Unfortunately for every other player in the National League we are currently in the prime years of one of those players. That man of course, Albert Pujols, 1st baseman of the St. Louis Cardinals.

That doesn’t mean the 2009 National League MVP vote is guaranteed after 90 games but Prince Albert certainly seems to be running away with the award. None the less here is a breakdown with a review of the 1st half and 2nd half projections.

The Man, the Future Legend, and the MVP Favorite:

Albert Pujols – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals (5.1 WAR)

As stated above the 2009 NL MVP is seemingly Albert Pujols to lose after a little more than half the season. It no longer seems like a question of Pujols being the MVP favorite but rather if he can actually win the Triple Crown. Posting a line of .332/.456/.723 with a major league leading 32 home runs and 87 RBI lead people to believe he can accomplish this feat. More amazing though is that ZIPS projects an almost equally good 2nd half leading to a final line of .332/.450/.690 with 51 home runs and 144 RBI. Regardless is Albert delivers the fans of St. Louis a division title that stat line would almost assuredly bring home his third NL MVP.

2nd Tier…Those in contention if Albert Falters

Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies (4.8 WAR)

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes”…Chase Utley being the best 2nd baseman in baseball and not getting the MVP recognition come the end of September is close to adding itself to that short list. With a line of .312/.429/.572 his usual stellar defense (albeit with only a 1.6 UZR to this point in the season) Utley has once again been the best player on a very good Phillies team. If he can match the ZIPS projections for the rest of the season of .300/.395/.587 to finish at .307/.413/.562 with 35 homeruns and 114 RBI there is no doubt he will once again deserve to win an MVP but it’s almost as certain that he will finish behind his own not so deserving team mates.

Prince Fielder – 1B – Milwaukee Brewers (4.0 WAR)

When it comes to the MVP vote the BBWAA whether right or wrong wants to attach team success to an individual award and in the case of Prince Fielder along with our remaining nominees MVP hopes could sink or float with the success or failures of their team. In almost any other year a 4.0 WAR with a line of .315/.444/.621 would have any 1B in MVP contention (but with Pujols in the league it’s not like every other year). A final projection of .304/.426/.605 with 43 Homeruns and 140+ RBI and a Milwaukee division title or wild card spot could vault the big man up many voters’ ballots.

Hanley Ramirez – SS – Florida Marlins (3.9 WAR)

The young short stop of the Marlins seems destined to compete with Mauer as the best post Pujols player in a few years but his performance in 2009 should not be discounted. With improved defense and his annual electrifying offensive production Hanley Ramirez should once again be in the mix for NL MVP at season’s end. With a first half of .346/.408/.562 and 61 RBI, Ramirez like Fielder and Utley would be serious MVP threats in almost any other season. If the Marlins centerpiece can increase that 65% stolen base percentage to a more respectable level and continue to improve his defense along with matching his final line projection of .333/.402/.553 he could be the most serious threat to Pujols for the MVP and stand in his way of the triple crown by winning the NL batting title.

The Long Shot

Pablo Sandoval – 1B/3B – San Francisco Giants (3.1 WAR)

Every baseball season a team seemingly comes out of nowhere to make a charge for the playoffs. In the 2009 National League it is the pitching heavy San Francisco Giants. Luckily for Sandoval the media could fall in love with the loveable ‘Kung Fu Panda’ whom if he could match his first half of .333/.385/.578      15 home runs and 55 RBI and lead the anemic Giants offense to a wild card spot his name could be that out of nowhere candidate we seem to find every October. Sandoval’s 2nd half ZIPS projections of .298/.333/.488 don’t indicate that we’re in for an MVP run but weirder things have happened.

Predictions

I realize that I left off the Dodgers superstar CF Matt Kemp, but almost half his value is in his defense (10.2 UZR) and I would be surprised if he maintained his Andruw Jones like defensive performance for the entire season. As for Raul Ibanez he has been magnificent but with Utley and Ryan Howard destined for another big Homerun and RBI second half I can’t find the way he actually wins the NL MVP 2009. With all that said, I have to go with the most boring route possible. Unless something dramatic happens Albert Pujols is going to win his 3rd National League MVP and officially supplant himself as one of the true legends of the game.

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One Comment on “Handicapping the Awards – NL MVP Version”

  1. Disco Says:

    Joe Torre bats Matt Kemp 8th.

    Not surprising.


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