My National League MVP ballot rests before me on the table. There are 10 slots to fill and — as the BBWAA has stressed in its e-mail — none of them should be considered a “throwaway.”
The top two spots are practically gimmes — Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. But in what order? Don’t laugh. Although most folks might assume (as, I confess, I did at first) that Pujols was a sure-thing at No. 1, Ramirez can make a strong case for the honor. The more I studied their stats, the more impressed I was by Ramirez.
Pujols leads the league in runs (120), homers (47), RBI (128), walks (109), OBP (.447), slugging percentage (.681), OPS (1.128), intentional walks (43) and total bases (358). He’s made 651 plate appearances
Ramirez has made 609 plate apps and owns a league-high 190 hits and the league’s best batting average (.352). He’s also up there in runs (95), homers (23), RBI (100), OBP (.416), slugging (.556) and OPS (.972).
Since midseason, Pujols has had Matt Holliday for protection in the batting order. Ramirez has Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu.
— One guy who definitely will be somewhere on my ballot, although he often plays in obscurity because he’s on a losing team, is Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. That leaves seven spots for … Ryan Howard? Prince Fielder? Chris Carpenter? Hmm … decisions, decisions.
— I read today on Pete Abraham’s blog that outfielder Xavier Nady has rejoined the Yankees and will stay with them the rest of the season as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. Nady hopes to be back on the field sometime during spring training.
— One ex-Bucco takes a step back toward the majors, another gets hurt. Freddy Sanchez twisted his left knee Monday night during the Giants’ game against the D’backs. It’s the same knee that was bothering Sanchez around the time the Pirates traded him away.
— A cautionary tale: Over the final three months of the 1990 season, a span of 79 games, Kevin Maas mashed 21 homers for the Yankees. It was one of the most electrifying performances by a rookie in major league history. But in 1992, he was still fighting his way out of the minors. In ’94, the Yanks released him. By ’96, Maas was playing in Japan.
Last night, rookie Garrett Jones hit his 20th home run and is challenging Maas’ mark. But before we label Jones a legend, let’s see what he can do over the course of an entire season.