National League MVP Observations

There was very little surprise when Major League Baseball announced the 2009 Most Valuable Player award. It had long ago been a foregone conclusion St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols would win the award.

It is hard to argue that Pujols did not deserve the award. His offensive numbers were staggering compared to every other candidate in the National League. At the present time there are very few if any players who could be classified as serious competition for the best player in the National League.

So when the votes were tallied it seemed only natural for Pujols to receive all 32 first place votes. His 448 point total far outpaced his closest competitor for the award by 215 points.

Rather than focus on the accomplishment of Pujols, I began to peruse the other players who garnered recognition by the voters. Among the list of 30 players receiving MVP votes there were two Arizona Diamondbacks players.

Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds received three votes for the league MVP. He received an eighth place, ninth place and tenth place vote giving him a total of six points. That means he was only 442 points behind the eventual winner.

Reynolds put up impressive numbers for only his second full season at the major league level. In 2009 Reynolds saw his home run production go way up hitting 44 home runs. He battled Pujols for the league lead for much of the second half of the season.

The home run total was only part of the story. Reynolds also had 102 RBIs and lead the Diamondbacks with 24 stolen bases. Defensively he again led the team with 19 errors at third base but that number is 44 percent less than a year ago showing he is getting much better.

The second Arizona Diamondbacks player to receive MVP votes was right fielder Justin Upton who received one ninth place vote putting him only 447 points behind Pujols. Upton had a breakout year for the Diamondbacks.

After starting the season slowly Upton came to life going on a tear in mid-season securing himself a place on the National League All-Star team. While Upton’s home run total paled in comparison to Reynolds (26 to 44) his RBI number was 86 meaning he was driving in a lot of runs for the otherwise anemic Arizona offense.

The Reynolds / Upton combination has shown a lot of promise and bodes well for Arizona in 2010 and beyond. If these two continue to progress it may not be too far in the future when these players are talked about as serious contenders for the MVP award rather than just a footnote in the voting results.

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