Monday, November 17, 2008

NL Most Valuable Player: Albert Pujols

While I did not predict him during the original predictions or midseason, I can say that during my postseason predictions, I said it would be him or Ryan Howard. So, for the NL MVP award, I'm 1 for 3 this season. Given the weekend I had, it cheers me up a little bit.

Matthew Leach at MLB:
The National League's best player has also been named its most valuable.

Albert Pujols' magnificent season earned him his second NL Most Valuable Player Award. Pujols finished ahead of Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, who beat him out by a narrow margin to win the 2006 MVP.

Pujols has finished in the top 10 in the voting in every one of his eight Major League seasons, and has been fourth or better seven times. He is the 11th player to win two NL MVP awards.

As baseball waited to hear the results of the ballot, the discussion centered on the definition of "most valuable." Some argued that because Pujols' Cardinals did not make the postseason, he could not be the most valuable player in the league. It was the only possible case against Pujols, who was indisputably his league's best hitter and who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base.

Pujols had already been recognized with virtually every other major individual award for which he was eligible. He was named National League or Major League player of the year by the Sporting News, the MLB Players Association and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as well as NL MVP in Baseball Prospectus' Internet Baseball Awards.

In the end, the Baseball Writers' Association of America joined the chorus, choosing not to penalize Pujols for his team's fourth-place finish. In fact, it's quite possible that quite the opposite happened -- that Pujols was rewarded for the Cardinals' place in the standings.[...]

It was by some measures the slugger's best season. He hit .357, two points shy of his career high, and set new personal bests with a .462 on-base percentage, a 1.115 OPS and 104 walks. He slugged .653, nearly 30 points better than his career average, cranking 37 homers and 44 doubles. Pujols drove in 116 runs, scored 100 and struck out just 54 times.

It was not only a supremely productive season for Pujols, it was a consistent one as well. He never hit lower than .302 in any month, never had an OBP lower than .413 and never slugged below .558. He came on especially strong in the second half, batting .366 and slugging .706 after the All-Star break. Pujols finished seven points behind Chipper Jones in the race for the NL batting title.

Only four players -- Barry Bonds, Roy Campanella and Stan Musial -- have been the NL MVP three or more times. Musial had been the only Cardinal to win the award twice or more.

In the history of the award, 13 Cardinals have won a combined 16 times. In addition to Pujols and Musial, Willie McGee, Keith Hernandez, Joe Torre, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Ken Boyer, Marty Marion, Mort Cooper, Joe Medwick, Dizzy Dean and Frankie Frisch all garnered MVP honors.

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