Brownie Points: Pujols atop the heap of worthy NL MVP hopefuls - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Pujols atop the heap of worthy NL MVP hopefuls

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Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2008 7:48 pm | Updated: 8:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn can't hit their weight. Carlos Lee and Matt Holiday are on sinking ships. Ryan Braun, Chipper Jones and Alfonso Soriano can't stay healthy. The West Division contenders don't have a worthy offensive candidate. Not one.

Read Jerry Brown's blog, 'Brownie Bytes'

So who's the Most Valuable Player in the National League? The worthy candidates are:

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: He's still the best player in the league, and he's helping to keep a team with no pitching in the hunt with another fabulous performance (.353 batting average, 26 home runs and 82 RBIs through Friday).

Chase Utley, Phillies: He has good power numbers, but the .285 average and the fact the Phillies have been sinking in August don't help. He has the benefit of hitting in the same lineup with Howard and Pat Burrell.

David Wright, Mets: He plays in the big city, he's going to have 30 homers and 100-plus RBI and the Mets are starting to feel the finish line in the East. Getting the average over .300 would help, as would a strong September from his team.

Brandon Webb, D-Backs. A National League pitcher hasn't won an MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968, and it won't happen this year. But say Webb goes 6-1 down the stretch; that would make him not only a Cy Young lock at 25-5, but a talking point in the MVP chatter.

Icing

Phelps is tops

Worthy recipients: Usain Bolt; Nastia Liukin, Michael Phelps and the U.S. basketball teams. Winner: With all due respect to Bolt, the winner is Phelps, with eight gold medals, seven world records and the undying admiration of NBC for making these games relevant. We like Mike, but we don't need his master plan to take competitive swimming to "the next level." Caring about it every four years is just about right.

Nuts

Booo! Boxers

Worthy recipients: Katie Hoff; Alicia Sacramone, U.S. boxing team and U.S track and field. Winner: The track team really dropped the baton before coming on strong at the end, but the boxing team producing just one bronze medal - the worst performance ever by an American team and an embarrassment to a once-proud program - is just plain pathetic. There is no excuse or explanation, and those in power should be ashamed.

Crumbs

He kicks, he's barred

Worthy recipients: Chinese gymnastics team; Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska; Cuban tae kwon do competitor Angel Matos. Winner: Matos stole this category on the final weekend by earning a likely lifetime Olympic ban for striking referee Chakir Chelbat dead in the face with a roundhouse kick after being disqualified for taking too much injury time. Yeah, that will get you noticed.

Just when you think the D-Backs have it figured out, Friday's 5-4 loss to the Marlins sends fans back to their fingernail chewing. A strong starting pitching effort is wasted by sloppy play in the field (two errors and another that wasn't ruled that way), poor at-bats with runners in scoring position and a bullpen meltdown by Jon Rauch. Yikes, that all sounds pretty familiar. How good would a three-game lead over the Dodgers have looked with 30 to play?

What a performance by U.S. women's basketball, destroying Australia in the gold medal game and continuing their incredible dominance (33 straight wins, four gold medals) in Olympic play. Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi did the Mercury proud. Hopefully, they have something left for the final two weeks of the regular season, and that they had a talk with Penny Taylor while they were in Beijing.

And the new starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers is ... J.T. O'Sullivan? No, not J.P. Losman - J.T. O'Sullivan. Exactly how bad is Alex Smith?

If, as expected, he wins the honor this season, Brandon Webb (two) and Randy Johnson (four) will have combined for six National League Cy Young Awards in the 11-year history of the Arizona Diamondbacks. That will tie the Braves and Phillies for the most Cy Young Awards in the Senior Circuit since 1967, when the award was first given out to each league.

Consider that for a moment. Colorado and Florida have been around since 1993 - the Marlins have two titles and the Rockies have been to a World Series - but neither team has a single Cy Young in 30 combined years. And the Cincinnati Reds? None in four-plus decades.

Here's the breakdown at present:

Atlanta (6): Tom Glavine (1991); Greg Maddux (1993-95) and John Smoltz (1996).

Philadelphia (6): Steve Carlton (1972, 77, 80, 82); John Denny (1983) and Steve Bedrosian (1987).

Arizona (5): Randy Johnson (1999-2002); Brandon Webb (2006).

Chicago (4): Ferguson Jenkins (1971); Greg Maddux (1992); Rick Sutcliffe (1984) and Bruce Sutter (1979).

Los Angeles (4): Eric Gagne (2003); Orel Hershiser (1988); Mike Marshall (1974); Fernando Valenzuela (1981)

New York Mets (4): Dwight Gooden (1985) and Tom Seaver (1969, 73, 75).

San Diego (4): Mark Davis (1989); Randy Jones (1976); Jake Peavy (2007) and Gaylord Perry (1978).

St. Louis (3): Chris Carpenter (2005) and Bob Gibson (1968, 70).

Houston (2): Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986).

Montreal (1): Pedro Martinez (1997).

Pittsburgh (1): Doug Drabek (1990).

San Francisco (1): Mike McCormick (1967).

Teams without an NL Cy Young Winner: Cincinnati; Colorado; Florida and Milwaukee (since moving in 1998).

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