Could Albert Pujols be the National League MVP?

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The quiet NL MVP race looks like a two-man competition on the surface: Matt Kemp has been the league’s best player, while Ryan Braun has a good case for second best and has put up his numbers for a first-place team.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if a third candidate is lurking.

Albert Pujols may yet become the NL MVP if he leads St. Louis to what would be a pretty amazing comeback in the wild card race.  The Cardinals have won 10 of their last 12 games and now trail the Braves by just 2 1/2 games with nine left to play (the Braves have eight games remaining).

Pujols has certainly been a driving force while hitting .397 with four homers and 17 RBI in 17 games this month.  He’s batting .324/.386/.609 with 18 homers and 46 RBI in 60 games since the All-Star break.

Writers do love their stories, and Pujols provides a better one than either Kemp or Braun.  He had maybe the worst two-month run of his career at the beginning of the season, hitting just .265/.335/.412 with nine homers and 31 RBI through June 2.  Just after he regained his stroke, he suffered a fractured wrist that was supposed to cost him 4-6 weeks.  Instead, he returned after two weeks and never missed a beat.  He currently leads the NL with 36 homers and he’s seventh — and climbing — with 96 RBI.

Pujols will have to keep it going in these last nine games to have a chance, and he’ll need the Braves to continue to falter as well.  If it all comes together, he could be looking at a fourth MVP award, even as he finishes with what will probably be the lowest batting average and OPS of his career.

Twins will not pick up Glen Perkins’ 2018 option

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The Twins have informed reliever Glen Perkins they will not pick up his 2018 club option worth $6.5 million, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. Instead, he will be paid $700,000 per his buyout clause.

Perkins, 34, has pitched a total of 7 2/3 innings over the last two seasons due to shoulder and biceps injuries. Bollinger adds that the two could come to terms on a minor league deal, but if they can’t reach an agreement, the lefty is likely to retire.

From 2011-15, Perkins emerged as one of the better relievers in baseball, making three All-Star teams. He compiled an aggregate 2.84 ERA with 340 strikeouts and 73 walks across 313 1/3 innings.