Tuesday morning MVP chatter

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With the trade deadline gone, the amateurs signed (or not) and the sense that we still have a week or two before we can truly, truly get into the pennant races, what better time to start having MVP arguments?

First up, the NL, where Jonah Keri makes the shocking, yet surprisingly compelling claim that Albert Pujols is not necessarily the no-brainer choice we all think he is.

Then comes the AL, where the Mauer-Teixeira battle lines are being drawn.  Surprisingly, a pro-Mauer voice comes from the YES Network (I’m sure the author has been killed by the Yankee secret police right now, but it’s still worth reading).

I tend to view MVP arguments like I view political or religious discussions: there’s no way to convince anyone of anything they don’t already believe, so what’s the friggin’ point. Still, it’s only August, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet, so argue away.

My insta-take: Pujols will win it because since the mid-90s or so, the writers have, for some reason, decided to disregard the voting rules by not taking pitchers’ MVP cases seriously. If Pedro didn’t win in 2000, there’s no way that Lincecum wins it in 2009 or any other pitcher wins it any time soon.

AL: I’m a Mauer guy, but with the Twins fading — and with the writers having an almost pathological aversion to giving Mauer his due — Teixeira or someone else is more likely.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.