I think I was the best baseball player I ever saw.
-- Willie Mays
Today it's the National League MVP, and these choices aren't exactly getting easier.
At this point, the NL MVP is a two-man battle between a pair of first basemen from the Central Division. Albert Pujols is basically doing what Albert Pujols has done ever since he arrived in the major leagues. Derrek Lee of the Cubs, while always a very good player indeed, is having the year of his life. Both are, as far as I can tell, very good defensive players as well, so that part of the game is a wash.
Pujols has an advantage in some of the counting stats - he's scored and driven in more runs - but these are both rather heavily team-dependent, and he plays on a much better team.
On the other hand, Derrek Lee gets to do half of his hitting at Wrighey Field.
Both players - both! - are still well positioned to win the Triple Crown. That hasn't been done in the National League for about 70 years. It hasn't always guaranteed winning the MVP Award, as Ted Williams could have told you, but I think in 2005 it would make things automatic.
There really isn't a dime's worth of difference between them at the moment. And I'm worried too, that because Pujols does this every year, it doesn't impress us quite as much as Derrek Lee playing this well for the first time. Cal Ripken beat out Eddie Murray for the 1983 MVP Award under similar circumstances - it was Ripken's first great year, whereas for Murray it was just another great year.
Not a dime's worth of difference, but my nickel goes to Lee - I think he's been a tiny, tiny bit better than Albert so far. This is probably going to be settled by how they play over the next six weeks.
1. Derrek Lee
2. Albert Pujols
3. Morgan Ensberg
4. Andruw Jones
5. Roger Clemens
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Chris Carpenter
8. Bobby Abreu
9. Jason Bay
10. Carlos Delgado
Texas (Wilson 0-5, 8.89) at Cleveland (Westbrook 10-13, 4.70) 12:05
Seattle (Franklin 6-12, 4.99) at Minnesota (Mays 5-8, 5.03) 8:10
Boston (Wakefield 12-9, 4.07) at Los Angeles (Colon 15-6, 3.44) 10:05
San Francisco (Tomko 7-12, 4.67) at Cincinnati (Ortiz 7-8, 5.65) 12:35
Washington (Armas 7-5, 4.33 and Drese 7-12, 5.67) at Philadelphia (Padilla 5-11, 4.65 and Lidle 9-10, 4.61) 1:05
San Diego (Peavy 10-5, 3.14) at Florida (Beckett 11-6, 3.31) 7:35
Pittsburgh (Duke 5-0, 2.13) at New York (Zambrano 6-9, 4.16) 7:10
Los Angeles (Weaver 10-8, 4.52) at Atlanta (Thomson 3-2, 3.70) 7:35
Milwaukee (Ohka 7-7, 3.82) at Houston (Clemens 11-4, 1.32) 8:05
Arizona (Vargas 6-6, 4.57) at St.Louis (Marquis 9-11, 4.22) 8:10