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June 22 2007

If they move Utley to the pen and blow out his arm I really think they should consider some organizational changes.

Chase Utley has been as expected so far this season.  Maybe even better.  He tore through April, hitting 296/395/582 with five home runs, didn't cool down much in May (301/368/504) and is tearing things up in June to the tune of 373/449/627.  He's been absolutely unstoppable against lefties, hitting 327/445/536.  Through 72 games he's on-pace to hit 27 home runs and drive in 126 runs.

He's in the thick of the race for MVP of the National League.

What does a second baseman have to do to win the NL MVP?  A lot.  Jeff Kent was the last to win the award as a second baseman in 2000.    With the Giants that year he hit 334/424/596 with 33 home runs and 125 RBI. 

Assuming that 2007 isn't the first year since 1968 that the NL MVP is a pitcher, here are the six NL players who could make the best case for the award based on what they've done so far this season:

 

Player AB HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Cabrera 265 16 52 328 398 596 994
Holliday 290 13 58 366 410 617 1.027
Reyes 287 3 32 317 399 453 852
Utley 278 12 56 317 398 561 959
Bonds 173 14 31 283 490 572 1.062
Fielder 270 26 59 289 379 641 1.020

Utley or Reyes would have to get a significant credit for their defensive contributions to get consideration at the top of this list.  That usually doesn't happen.  Reyes is the most valuable defensive player of the group and brings a dimension that none of the other players do with his 38 stolen bases.  I still don't think he has much of a shot unless he hits the ball out of the yard a lot the rest of the way.

Pretty sure Bonds isn't going to win.  It's hard to make an argument for Cabrera over Holliday or Fielder without suggesting he is hurt significantly by his yard.  But he is.  Using OPS as the measure, as you would expect, Cabrera is hitting better on the road (1.005) than at home (.980).  He's also hitting far better away from home than either Holliday or Fielder.  I don't think that's going to sway many MVP voters, though. 

He's not the best hitter and certainly not the best player on the list, but with the Brewers up in the NL Central by 7 1/2 games, I think Fielder wins if the vote was held today.  He leads the NL in home runs and is tied for the league lead in RBI.  Utley's not far behind, though, and you may have noticed that when the season ends the Brewers are often not in the playoffs.  Prince Fielder sometimes doesn't even lead the league in home runs and RBI.

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