He's MVB (Most Valuable Beltre), but is he MVP?

September, 17, 2010
BOSTON -- So, who wins the American League Most Valuable Player Award now that it is clear that Texas Rangers center-fielder Josh Hamilton, the odds-on favorite, has been sidelined by bruised ribs that could cost him most of September?

My ESPN colleague Jayson Stark recently noted that no position player in history has won an MVP in a nonstrike year without playing at least 10 games from Sept. 1 on. And only one, Dick Groat, played fewer than 15 games.

Hamilton could still win the award, given that the Rangers had such a comfortable lead entering the season’s final month -- 8 games, the same edge they had held three weeks earlier. He leads the league in hitting and OPS (on-base plus slugging), is second in on-base average and is fourth in home runs.

But it’s hardly an open-and-shut decision, and cases have been made for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, who leads the majors with 47 home runs, also has been mentioned as belonging on the ballot, as has Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who hasn’t hit home runs like he did last season but is third in the league in hitting and on-base average.

There’s another player who definitely has earned a place in the conversation, and, depending on whether the Red Sox make an improbable last-gasp run at a playoff spot in their final 16 games, he could fight his way toward the top of the ballot for the 28 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who will be casting votes. (For the record: I have an MVP vote this season).

And if it was based on which candidate had the best finishing kick, Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre and Konerko would be neck-and-neck for the award.

Beltre goes into Friday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays batting .385 in September, with 5 home runs and 9 RBIs. His OPS is 1.225, which was leading all contenders until Konerko homered again Thursday night, lifting his OPS to 1.247.

Read more on Edes' case for Beltre as MVP HERE.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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