Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why Baseball Writers Don't Matter

By the end of this season, Albert Pujols will probably have won the NL batting title. He will have amassed more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs with a better than .300 average for the eighth consecutive year since his major league debut. Here is the complete list of players who have accomplished that in the history of professional baseball:

Albert Pujols

That's it. No one else comes close. Not Ty Cobb, not Rogers Hornsby, not Ted Williams, not Babe Ruth, not Lou Gehrig, not Joe DiMaggio, not Pete Rose, not even Stan Musial. Just Albert Pujols.

In a year in which the Cardinals were supposed to finish well below .500 and in the basement of the NL Central, they're still the only competition chasing the Milwaukee Brewers with a legitimate shot to catch them. The Cardinals only have two more games left, and they have to win them both to stand a chance. A split won't do, and losing both would essentially end the season.

So the Cardinals are accomplishing the impossible with no-name starting pitching—both their aces, Wainwright and Carpenter, have been injured for most of the season—and a bullpen that has blown more saves than any other team. Hitters like Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick have all emerged this season in part because they see hittable pitches; hurlers would rather try to make the other Cardinals hit into outs than to pitch to Albert.

Pujols has not only dominated at the plate, he's making a stunning case to win this year's Golden Glove award at first base. Although many sluggers have been nothing more than fence posts and backstops at first—the most convenient NL position for big hitters whose fielding skills are suspect at best—Albert brings a third base mentality to the opposite corner. Witness the throwing play he made last night to gun out the lead runner at third on what should have been a routine sacrifice. He can play deep in the hole or on the line.

So who are the baseball writers touting for NL MVP? David Wright (NY) and Chase Utley (PHI). Wow. Two east coast guys. Go figure. If either the Mets or the Phillies were in the NL Central, they'd be in fourth place behind the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals. Ask any GM in baseball, in either league, which player they'd rather have: Wright, Utley or Pujols. That's my definition of a no-brainer, which is also what this year's MVP race should be. And that, my friends, is why baseball writers don't matter—they too are "no brainers."

Don't forget—check out a new post from "The Sandlot" every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday!

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