First-third awards – AL MVP

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Let’s turn back to VORP to generate the list of candidates. Hitters only, for now:

1. Joe Mauer – 36.0
2. Jason Bartlett – 31.3
3. Justin Morneau – 29.7
4. Evan Longoria – 29.4
5. Adam Jones – 27.4
6. Victor Martinez – 27.2
7. Kevin Youkilis – 26.7
8. Jason Bay – 26.2
9. Torii Hunter – 24.7
10. Russell Branyan – 24.0
11. Carl Crawford – 22.9
12. Ian Kinsler – 22.0

That’s a very good list of candidates. I think Marco Scutaro, who ranks
17th in WARP, is a better choice than Branyan or Crawford, but he’s not
cracking that top nine. The list includes the top eight in OPS and the
top three in RBI. Mark Teixeira, who ranks ninth in OPS and fourth in
RBI, could well end up being the AL MVP, but he didn’t do much at all
during April and he’s getting a big boost from the new Yankee Stadium
(1126 OPS at home, 846 on the road).

How about those same 12 listed with their OPS, RBI and games played totals:

1. Joe Mauer – 1357 OPS, 35 RBI in 30 G
2. Jason Bartlett – 1014 OPS, 30 RBI in 44 G
3. Justin Morneau – 1046 OPS, 47 RBI in 54 G
4. Evan Longoria – 1005 OPS, 55 RBI in 52 G
5. Adam Jones – 1002 OPS, 36 RBI in 48 G
6. Victor Martinez – 992 OPS, 40 RBI in 53 G
7. Kevin Youkilis – 1147 OPS, 33 RBI in 39 G
8. Jason Bay – 1033 OPS, 51 RBI in 52 G
9. Torii Hunter – 976 OPS, 42 RBI in 50 G
10. Russell Branyan – 1036 OPS, 25 RBI in 47 G
11. Carl Crawford – 830 OPS, 25 RBI in 54 G
12. Ian Kinsler – 912 OPS, 40 R in 51 G

Obviously, Mauer’s numbers really stand out. Still, he’s played in
55 percent of the Twins’ games so far. If he remains the AL’s best
player over the rest of the year and plays in 80 percent of the Twins’
games, he should be the AL MVP. However, he hasn’t been the MVP through
two months.

Bartlett won’t be there at the end, but he’s still a serious
candidate now, even with the recent DL stint. Still, I think the top
Ray has to be Longoria, if only because he has played in eight more
games and been just about as effective. Similiarly, Bay has the
advantage of Boston’s two candidates.

So who is the AL MVP through two months? Well, it’s Zack Greinke of
course. If Mauer had put up these kind of numbers over 45 games, rather
than 30, he’d probably get the nod. Greinke, though, has supplied his
team with more victories than any of these hitters. The Royals have
gone 8-3 while scoring a total of 49 runs in his 11 starts. Also, while
Greinke is only pitching once every five days, he’s still helping the
team the rest of the time by saving wear and tear on the bullpen.
Greinke has already pitched five complete games, and he’s averaging 7.5
innings per start.

First third AL MVP

1. Greinke
2. Longoria
3. Morneau
4. Mauer
5. Bay
6. Bartlett
7. Roy Halladay
8. Hunter
9. Martinez
10. Jones

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.