We are just over halfway through baseball season and already, several candidates have emerged as MVP favorites and contenders. But for the first time in recent memory, some of the team's these players play for are anything but that. At the season's half-way point (a little belated, albeit) my MVP candidates are either in difficult playoff races or so far out that they might as well be booking vacations for October. For today, here are three candidates from each league who currently find themselves in this situation. We'll start in the AL this morning and the NL this afternoon.
Slowly but surely, Mags has emerged as the best player on the Detroit Tigers (aside: remember about 5 years ago when the best player on the Tigers was pretty much any other player in the league? My, how things have changed). After several decent years with the White Sox, Detroit scooped up Ordonez and he was almost immediately bitten by the injury bug - he didn't even get half a season of games in in 2005. Now? He's batting .360 for the Tigers and has come up big in almost every situation where they've needed him. The Tigers will probably find themselves in many more of those situations as they fight off the Cleveland Indians in what should be the best playoff race of the year.
Last year, the Indian's backstop finally had his breakout year that Tribe fans (ahem, JTBI and Seaward) had been craving. This time around? He's playing playing even better. Martinez is on pace to shatter his personal best in each important statistic (runs, RBIs, doubles, HRs and OPS) and is among the league leaders in most of those statistics. Oh yeah, and he also has only two errors in his 92 appearances at catcher and first base all year. The Tribe will need him to go the distance if they want to claim an MVP award and a division title.
Alex RodriguezA-Rod is loudly having the best year in pinstripes he's had yet. He leads the AL in HRs and RBIs, on a pace that will have him demolishing his numbers from last year. Not only is he having a productive year, but he's finally being productive when the disappointing Yanks need it. Unlike last year when he was famous for hitting big HRs when the game mattered little, A-Rod is now winning games with Big Papi-like mojo. Currently 7-games out of first in the AL East and more out of the Wild Card, New York desperately needs this pace to continue for A-Rod and more than that, they need it to rub-off on the rest of the club. Otherwiswe this AL MVP may find himself in new digs next season.
Check back for the NL later this afternoon.