That's Debatable: Who should be NL MVP?
THE CASE FOR DAVID WRIGHTWright has driven in 95 runs, behind only Howard and Lee, and he's got the advantage of being immensely more valuable than both of those sluggers defensively and on the bases. For Wright to finish the season as a legitimate candidate, though, two things have to happen: now batting .292, Wright has to push his batting average past .300; the Mets have to beat out the Phillies for first place in the East.
THE CASE FOR ALBERT PUJOLSOnce again, he's the best hitter in the National League. Period. Sure, Lance Berkman's enjoying a lovely season and Chipper Jones flirted with .400 for a few months. But Pujols has the best OPS (1.076) in the league and nobody's close to him. He also plays an outstanding first base and is one of the better baserunners in the league.
THE CASE FOR CHASE UTLEYIf Utley hadn't spent a season on the DL last year, he might well have aced teammate Jimmy Rollins for MVP honors. This year Utley's missed only two games, and is probably going to shatter his personal bests in both home runs and RBI. If the Phillies beat the Mets again this year, Utley's going to get more credit than anybody else.
THE CASE FOR C.C. SABATHIADon't ignore Sabathia. Sure, it's an uphill climb for a starting pitcher, let alone a starting pitcher who didn't join his club until early July. But voters do like shiny objects, and Sabathia's as shiny as anyone. His sterling record (8-0) is impressive enough, but what really gets the writers (including this one) hot and bothered are all those complete games: five in his first nine starts for the Brewers. If Sabathia can finish, say, 15-1 with the Brewers and the Brewers qualify for the playoffs, he's going to get a great deal of support from the voters, just as Rick Sutcliffe (16-1) did with the Cubs in 1984.
THE VERDICTIs "All of the Above" a choice? Or even better, "None of the Above"? Because we've just scratched the surface (no Hanley Ramirez?) and all of the candidates above do have real negatives. Can Wright win this year after finishing fourth last year? Can Pujols win despite finishing the season with fewer homers and RBIs than teammate Ryan Ludwick? Can Utley's Phillies catch the Mets? Can Sabathia continue to pitch brilliantly and avoid running into two or three great pitching performances by his opponents? I'm going with David Wright, because I think the Mets will close out the Phillies and he'll wind up among the league leaders in RBIs. Oh, and also because he was my choice a year ago. But don't be at all surprised if someone we haven't mentioned sneaks into the mix. Who's your favorite?
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