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The Debate: Curtis Granderson, AL MVP

AL MVP? You're looking at him.

So Adrian Gonzalez is going to win MVP in the American League. I’ve conceded this fact I know it will happen and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Gonzalez has been everything that the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired him from San Diego. He has stabilized their lineup, hit for average and driven in a ton of runs. Basically without him in the lineup the Red Sox are not the same team they don’t have the same pop in the order and no one can really match what he does as far as production goes.

His MVP candidacy can only be trumped by two other Red Sox who are having great years in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe a dark horse candidate in Jose Bautista can steal some votes. Besides that Gonzalez should run away with this thing as the Red Sox guide their way into the playoffs and to a possible AL East title…

Ok that was my take on the AL MVP race up until today when I did my normal weekly numbers look up and checked out league leaders and to see who else was ballin out of control currently. There was Gonzalez in all of his glory with a monstrous .348 batting average and a .408 on base percentage to go with 102 RBI. Those numbers, along with his great defense at first base can more than lock up the MVP race for him.

Mark Teixiera can thank Grandy for his power numbers.

But here’s the revelation that I have come to after further review and after getting my head together… Adrian Gonzalez is not the AL MVP if the season ended today… Curtis Granderson is.

Yep, I hear the calls from all of you that this is a homer pick seeing as how I am a super crazy Yankees fan and that I’m just finding a way to diminish Gonzalez’s value to the Red Sox. Honestly I’m not; I think Gonzalez is without question the best Red Sox player right now. He is putting up great numbers and has been a great addition to the Red Sox lineup.

With that said Granderson has been much more valuable.

With Alex Rodriguez fighting through injuries, Derek Jeter’s early season struggles, Mark Teixeira’s horrendous batting average and a ton of uncertainty in the rotation with Phil Hughes arm problems and injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano it was Granderson that made all of that irrelevant.

Granderson took Teixeira’s number 3 spot in the lineup after A-Rod’s injury and took off. He’s producing power numbers at a career rate and is doing it with ease. Granderson has set career highs in home runs (36), RBI (103) and slugging (.591) and is doing it against left handed and right handed pitching.

For anyone that has followed Granderson throughout his career you know about his deficiencies against lefties. Last year he barely hit .200 against them and found himself on the bench in games against lefties and replaced in games by the likes of Austin Kearns. Yeah it wasn’t cool. This year he’s hitting .279 against them thanks to help from hitting Coach Teddy Long and looks as comfortable as ever.

Take a look at his stats for a minute and compare them to the three Red Sox Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ellsbury as well as Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista. Of all 5 contenders Granderson does have a ton more strikeouts with 135, trails Bautista, Gonzalez and Pedroia in on-base percentage and has the lowest batting average at .278. However, let’s be real about strikeouts these days, they don’t matter. This is a free swinging era and seeing high strikeout totals is nothing new. In 2006 when Ryan Howard won MVP he struck out 186 times, he also hit .300 with 50 home runs and 140 RBI. Also his OBP is almost .380 so who cares that he’s 11th in that category when you get on base that much.

Granderson has monster numbers in most offensive categories. He’s 1st in runs, triples and RBI, 2nd in Home runs and slugging, 3rd in OPS, 6th in walks and 8th in steals. Look at those runs for a minute; yes he is 11th in OBP but when he gets on base he scores almost every single time. Jacoby Ellsbury has scored 93 times, 2nd in the league, and is a league leader in steals… AND IS STILL ALMOST 30 RUNS BEHIND GRANDERSON! To get on base like that and score runs at that pace is silly. He has an outside shot at scoring 150 runs this season and breaking Jeff Bagwell’s modern day mark of 152 (the record is 198 in 1894 and that’s never getting broken).

He’s put Yankee batters in great position to knock in runs all year with his ability to get on base and his speed. As poor as Tex has been hitting this year his power numbers are still gaudy because he hits behind Granderson and has been able to get good pitches to hit, same for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.

(Side note: A dark horse candidate for MVP is Cano as well. Top 10 in four offensive categories, could have 200 hits, a gold glove at second base and is scorching hot in the second half. Yeah I know I’m giving my Yankees a little too much slurpage but they deserve it.

Granderson's not bad defensively either.

I honestly thought that the Yankees were going to be mediocre this year with the Red Sox getting Gonzalez and Carl Crawford as well as the Yankees pitching problems. However, you name the person and they’ve stepped up.

David Robertson has become one of the game’s best setup men, Granderson’s career year to ease the A-Rod ills, Ivan Nova emerging as the Yankees number 2 starter and Swisher finding his swing in the summer months have all lifted the Yankees to a possible playoff spot. This was an iffy year and guys have been stepping up and killing it.)

More than anything Granderson has become the most reliable man in the Yankee lineup. It’s almost as if you expect him to get on base and score runs every game. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hit or not he somehow finds a way to score a run. A few games ago Granderson went 0-3 and scored 2 runs… how does that happen? In yesterday’s 22-9 massacre of Oakland he had 2 hits and scored 4 runs… really?

He’s having a gaudy year and is as worthy of MVP as anyone in the league. If Bautista is truly MVP worthy why is his team playing so poorly even with him in the lineup? Also how can you distinguish one of the Red Sox players as MVP?

Who is truly more valuable Ellsbury, Pedroia or Gonzalez? If you take any of them out of the lineup will the Red Sox still be effective offensively? Who makes the other two guys better? Hell David Ortiz missed time in the lineup two weeks ago and the Sox went 4-4 and fell behind the Yankees in the AL East momentarily so maybe he should get MVP votes.

The point I’m making is it’s hard to choose an MVP from a team where there are three candidates because really who is more valuable. With Granderson you see his value and his effect on the Yankees lineup from top to bottom. He sets the tone, drives in runs, and has made other players in the lineup better.

Without Granderson the Yankees wouldn’t be in the position that they are in. His big numbers and big plays have the Yankees sitting pretty in the AL Wildcard and possibly winning the AL East.

He deserves props and respect for the season that he is having, but more than anything he deserves to be the AL MVP.

What To Think About Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista is balling, but a cloud of uncertainty still remains.

So, what do we make of Jose Bautista?

Is he the newest best power-hitter in baseball? Is he a late blooming home run machine akin to David Ortiz or Cecil Fielder? Is he on a lucky streak dating back to last year where every ball seems to be jumping off of his bat and out of the yard? Or is he juicing?

Because of the era in which we live in the latter would seen to sum up Bautista’s recent power surge.

Through his first seven up and down seasons in the major leagues, Bautista was a below average outfielder who couldn’t stay on a major league roster. Through seven years Bautista hit 59 home runs, total.  Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa all had more than total on several occasions during baseballs live ball era where juicing was natural and home runs left the yard at a dizzying pace.

Then all of a sudden after his 29th birthday Bautista just comes out and drills 50 home runs last year and leads the major leagues. While it was fun to watch and wonder just where he came from everyone voiced their concern as to just how in the world Bautista came out of nowhere to become the games best power hitter.

Bautista is not a physical specimen by any means. He looks like a normal guy without the bulging biceps and huge pecs. As a batter he ain’t too much prettier.

The guy bat only .265 last year during his home run frenzy. He’s primarily a pull hitter and a guy who is a fastball hitter. There’s nothing special about Bautista except the fact that he has turned into Sosa 2.0. Truth be told after he hit 50 last year and coming into this year no one expected him to do it again, and we all expected him to have the same career turn as one time 50 home run surprise Brady Anderson.

Yeah, about that…

Bautista has proven so far this season that last year was no fluke. After his 3 home run barrage on Sunday versus the Twins, Bautista now leads the league with 16 home runs. Hes also batting a career high .365 and leads the league in slugging.

Bautista is proving that he may not be aided by steroids or HGH, but that he is indeed a late bloomer like a David Ortiz who has found his stride in the right place at the right time.

People everywhere are admiring Bautista's swing.

His timing coincides right as the Blue Jays have begun to build their team and them into a future contender with him as the face if the franchise and Kyle Drabek and Brendan Morrow as the arms of the future. At 20-20, the Jays find themselves in the thick of the AL East race early in the season an with the Yankees pitching struggles and Boston’s inconsistencies they could find themselves battling it out throughout the course of the season.

That depends on whether or not Bautista can keep up his torrid pace.

As MVP favorites go Bautista is clearly the early favorite and a contender for the triple crown as he is among league leaders in batting average, RBI, as well as home runs.

Not bad for a guy that was another middle of the road guy who didn’t seem to have a future in baseball.

Can he keep this up? Who knows. Let’s just be glad and hopeful that for the first time since I was born we have a home run cracking outfielder that we can celebrate and marvel at Instead of criticize.

Will people still doubt him? Of course. With steroid era still deep in our brains we as fans will always have doubt as to whether certain players juiced up or not.

In the case if Bautista however, look at his improvements in more than power numbers and see a guy that took a while to get it, but when he did he became one of the best in the game at what he does.

Better late than never.