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Tag:Rockies
Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Beltran wants Giants to upgrade offense

Beltran

By Evan Brunell

Wanted: more offense -- Carlos Beltran has enjoyed his time in San Francisco, but it could only last a few months.

The free-agent outfielder told the San Jose Mercury News that playing for the Giants would be fantastic with its pitching staff, plus the returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez should boost the offense next season. But that's not enough.

"I believe there should be a little bit more than that," he said, referring to the offense.

But where should the team upgrade? Catcher, second base and third are spoken for. Aubrey Huff will be in his final season while Brandon Belt is ready to play full-time, so split first base and left field between the two players. If Beltran comes back, that's right field sewed up. That leaves shortstop, with no real internal candidate, and center field.

Of course, Jose Reyes has gotten a lo of attention as the marquee free agent, but the Giants will have to pay a pretty penny for Reyes' services. In center, the team might as well keep Andres Torres if its next-best option is Coco Crisp, although Grady Sizemore could be attractive if the Indians decline their club option.

But the Giants have to worry about money, too. They have $80 million committed to just six players next year, one of which won't be playing for the team in Aaron Rowand. To resign Beltran and bring in another top-flight hitter to please Beltran? That's pushing it.

"You want to be in a lineup where you are around players that will make the lineup better, you understand?" Beltran said. "Right now we have missed a leadoff batter here, and that's huge. That's something, to me, they should address that area, before me."

Weak Central
: Jim Leyland has a lot of expletive-filled thoughts as to the AL Central being so weak, the Tigers' accomplishments may be hurt. “You're looking for something to take something away from them,” Leyland complained to MLive.com . “I don't want to talk about that. That's [expletive]. That's total [expletive]. Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the [expletive] Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty [expletive] good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're [expletive]? That's not fair. That's unfair.”

Moving to right: Carlos Gonzalez will be the team's right fielder next season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy says, citing Gonzalez's arm as the reason why. He's already made the move and has 12 assists in just 34 games. (MLB.com)

Staying in Japan? Phenom Yu Darvish is re-thinking whether or not he will come to America for 2012,. His team, Nippon Ham, is eager to post Darvish and reap the profits but Japan's best pitcher is unsure the time is right to make the leap. (NPB Tracker)

Humidor time: The Rockies love everything about their Triple-A franchise...except the fact that it's a launching pad for hitters, robbing pitchers of development time. As a result, a humidor will be installed next season. (Denver Post)

The story of Trayvon: Seattle's newest outfielder, Trayvon Robinson, had a tough upbringing with a home in south-central Los Angeles, split between warring gang factions and attending the high school featured in Boys N The Hood. It's a feature well worth reading. (Seattle Times)

Setback: Dodgers ex-closer Jonathan Broxton has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured elbow. Broxton will become a free-agent and will have to look around for a one-year deal to rehabilitate his value. (MLB.com)

One year later: A year ago, a baseball bat pierced Tyler Colvin's chest. What could have been a serious incident has now passed and Colvin is back in the majors -- albeit struggling. (MLB.com)

Jays resurgence: Part of Toronto's resurgence has been the successful adding of young players both inside and outside of the organization. More help is on  the way as indicated by the Jays making the minor-league postseason with five of seven teams. But will Toronto make its move in the offseason or wait for more help to arrive? (Canoe.ca)

No diamond: The city of Detroit has nixed an offer from Chevrolet to preserve the diamond at Tiger Stadium, which is mostly demolished these days. Why did the city do that? Because it's trying to keep the space open for significant redevelopment, which the city would jump at to improve its flagging revenues. (Detroit Free Press)

Still playing: Aaron Cook won't retire, but the Rockie who receives his final start in Colorado on Wednesday also certainly won't be back. (Denver Post)

Morgan or Sandberg? Reds announcer Marty Brennaman believes that Morgan was the better second baseman than Sandberg, which the author terms a "controversial" topic. Really? (Chicago Tribune)

Still playing: Amir Garrett, who was picked in the 22nd round of the MLB draft, hopes to play basketball as a freshman this winter after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. Garrett signed a $1 million deal with the Reds and is expect to join the team after college basketball is over. (Eye on College Basketball)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Beltran wants Giants to upgrade offense

Beltran

By Evan Brunell

Wanted: more offense -- Carlos Beltran has enjoyed his time in San Francisco, but it could only last a few months.

The free-agent outfielder told the San Jose Mercury News that playing for the Giants would be fantastic with its pitching staff, plus the returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez should boost the offense next season. But that's not enough.

"I believe there should be a little bit more than that," he said, referring to the offense.

But where should the team upgrade? Catcher, second base and third are spoken for. Aubrey Huff will be in his final season while Brandon Belt is ready to play full-time, so split first base and left field between the two players. If Beltran comes back, that's right field sewed up. That leaves shortstop, with no real internal candidate, and center field.

Of course, Jose Reyes has gotten a lo of attention as the marquee free agent, but the Giants will have to pay a pretty penny for Reyes' services. In center, the team might as well keep Andres Torres if its next-best option is Coco Crisp, although Grady Sizemore could be attractive if the Indians decline their club option.

But the Giants have to worry about money, too. They have $80 million committed to just six players next year, one of which won't be playing for the team in Aaron Rowand. To resign Beltran and bring in another top-flight hitter to please Beltran? That's pushing it.

"You want to be in a lineup where you are around players that will make the lineup better, you understand?" Beltran said. "Right now we have missed a leadoff batter here, and that's huge. That's something, to me, they should address that area, before me."

Weak Central
: Jim Leyland has a lot of expletive-filled thoughts as to the AL Central being so weak, the Tigers' accomplishments may be hurt. “You're looking for something to take something away from them,” Leyland complained to MLive.com . “I don't want to talk about that. That's [expletive]. That's total [expletive]. Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the [expletive] Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty [expletive] good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're [expletive]? That's not fair. That's unfair.”

Moving to right: Carlos Gonzalez will be the team's right fielder next season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy says, citing Gonzalez's arm as the reason why. He's already made the move and has 12 assists in just 34 games. (MLB.com)

Staying in Japan? Phenom Yu Darvish is re-thinking whether or not he will come to America for 2012,. His team, Nippon Ham, is eager to post Darvish and reap the profits but Japan's best pitcher is unsure the time is right to make the leap. (NPB Tracker)

Humidor time: The Rockies love everything about their Triple-A franchise...except the fact that it's a launching pad for hitters, robbing pitchers of development time. As a result, a humidor will be installed next season. (Denver Post)

The story of Trayvon: Seattle's newest outfielder, Trayvon Robinson, had a tough upbringing with a home in south-central Los Angeles, split between warring gang factions and attending the high school featured in Boys N The Hood. It's a feature well worth reading. (Seattle Times)

Setback: Dodgers ex-closer Jonathan Broxton has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured elbow. Broxton will become a free-agent and will have to look around for a one-year deal to rehabilitate his value. (MLB.com)

One year later: A year ago, a baseball bat pierced Tyler Colvin's chest. What could have been a serious incident has now passed and Colvin is back in the majors -- albeit struggling. (MLB.com)

Jays resurgence: Part of Toronto's resurgence has been the successful adding of young players both inside and outside of the organization. More help is on  the way as indicated by the Jays making the minor-league postseason with five of seven teams. But will Toronto make its move in the offseason or wait for more help to arrive? (Canoe.ca)

No diamond: The city of Detroit has nixed an offer from Chevrolet to preserve the diamond at Tiger Stadium, which is mostly demolished these days. Why did the city do that? Because it's trying to keep the space open for significant redevelopment, which the city would jump at to improve its flagging revenues. (Detroit Free Press)

Still playing: Aaron Cook won't retire, but the Rockie who receives his final start in Colorado on Wednesday also certainly won't be back. (Denver Post)

Morgan or Sandberg? Reds announcer Marty Brennaman believes that Morgan was the better second baseman than Sandberg, which the author terms a "controversial" topic. Really? (Chicago Tribune)

Still playing: Amir Garrett, who was picked in the 22nd round of the MLB draft, hopes to play basketball as a freshman this winter after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. Garrett signed a $1 million deal with the Reds and is expect to join the team after college basketball is over. (Eye on College Basketball)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 11:14 pm
 

Giants' Sandoval hits for the cycle

Pablo SandovalBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Call it a Kung Fu Cycle -- Pablo Sandoval became the first Giant to hit for the cycle since Fred Lewis did it in 2007.

Sandoval hit a two-run homer in the first inning off of Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin before singling in the second. He doubled in the fifth and then completed the cycle with a triple in the sixth inning. 

Sandoval did have a little help for the triple, as his fly to right was just beyond the outstretched Carlos Gonzalez, who then ran into the wall. Sandoval was rounding first when the ball bounced away from Gonzalez and Sandoval motored into third and then had a head-first slide into third.

Sandoval now has 20 home runs, 25 doubles and two triples on the season, despite missing 40 games with a broken hamate bone in his hand.

Sandoval is the 26th Giants and 10th San Francisco Giant to hit for the cycle.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:36 pm
 

MLB 'Man of the Year' finalists released

By Matt Snyder

The six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in Major League Baseball were revealed Wednesday. The award is given to a player "whose on-field and off-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond."

Here are the six finalists (via DenverPost.com):
Paul Konerko, White Sox
David Robertson, Yankees
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
David Wright, Mets
Michael Young, Rangers

The award is named after Marvin Miller, who was the executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982. Under his watch, it grew into one of the strongest unions in the country. The award is a "player's choice" award, which means what it says: The players vote on it.

The award started in 1997. Young won the award in 2008, so he could join John Smoltz and Jim Thome as the only two-time winners. Brandon Inge of the Tigers won last season -- the second consecutive Tigers' player to win it, as Curtis Granderson won in 2009, his last season in Detroit. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols are the other active players who have won the award before.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 12:49 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Fister continues to impress



By Matt Snyder


Doug Fister, Tigers. When you hear people talking about teams not wanting to face the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs because you don't wanna see Justin Verlander twice in a short series, do not forget the Tigers now have a very formidable No. 2. Fister was brilliant again Sunday in a 2-1 Tigers win over the Twins, allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings. Since coming over in a trade from the Mariners in July, Fister is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, the Tigers now have a better record than the Rangers and are five games behind the Yankees for the top seed in the AL.

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies. I wonder how long before the Indians want a mulligan on that Ubaldo Jimenez trade deadline deal? Pomeranz was one of the pieces the Rockies got back and the 21-year-old lefty dazzled in his major-league debut Sunday. He needed just 63 pitches to get through five shutout innings against the Reds, picking up the victory. He gave up just two hits and two walks.

Luis Valbuena, Indians. In the past two seasons, before Sunday, Valbuena was hitting .188 with two home runs in 345 plate appearances. So it was quite shocking to see the light-hitting middle infielder knock the ball around the yard Sunday. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored in a 7-3 win over the White Sox.



Jon Lester, Red Sox. The Red Sox's starting rotation is in shambles, but Lester should have been the one cog -- with Josh Beckett injured -- that could be counted upon. Instead, he could only get through four innings, due to a massive pitch count, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks. The Red Sox lost 9-1, and saw their lead in the Wild Card race shrink to 3 1/2.

Tim Hudson, Braves. Like the Red Sox, the Braves are reeling and needed a big start. With Hudson taking the hill, it seemed like a good time -- considering the Braves had won six of Hudson's past seven starts. Instead, Hudson was battered for six runs and eight hits in six innings and the Braves were swept by the Cardinals. Even worse, a once-commanding Wild Card lead has shrunk to 4 1/2 games.

Major League Baseball. I usually never complain about the rigidity of professional sports leagues when it comes to rules on uniforms because of the slippery slope principle, but not allowing the Mets to wear the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD hats for Sunday night's game was a farce. You can make one exception without being worried about the precedent set.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Cook to receive one final start with Rockies

CookBy Evan Brunell

Aaron Cook will receive one last start for the Rockies at some point in September, the Denver Post writes. Until his next start is determined, which could be during the final homestand of the year, Cook will pitch in long relief.

Inning limits aren't why Cook's season is ending -- rather, the team wants to get a look at its younger pitchers. Drew Pomeranz has assumed Cook's turn in the rotation after recovering from emergency surgery for appendectomy after being dealt earlier in the season from Cleveland as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez package. Pomeranz will be debuting Sunday.

"It's never easy," Cook said of the news. "I told them I will take the ball whenever they need me to pitch. I am going to show up, work hard and keep my mouth shut."

The 32-year-old is the franchise leader in victories with 72 and enjoyed a nice run of success from 2004-09, including bouncing back from blood clots in his lungs in 2004. But over the last two years, Cook's ERA has been north of 5.00. He started the year sidelined with shoulder issues, as well as breaking his finger in spring training. Since debuting on June 8, the righty has made 16 starts with a 5.74 ERA. He's allowed eight homers and 35 walks in 91 innings, whiffing 38. Cook's game was never about stuff, as his bread and butter has been inducing groundballs. However, more balls have fallen into play this year than they should have, leading to his 5.74 ERA while xFIP suggests Cook deserves a 4.53 mark. Better, but still not great.

The Rockies certainly won't exercise Cook's $11-million option, leaving him as a free agent for the first time in his career. Despite his setbacks, Cook intends to keep pitching, even if it's not in Colorado.

"It would be nice to get another one here," Cook said of earning another start. "But it won't be my final one at Coors Field. I will be back. I am not retiring," Cook said. "I am healthy. I know I can still pitch in this league and help someone."

Cook should latch on with a job somewhere -- but given his pedigree to date, he may have to wait until deep into the offseason. Pitchers who can fill the back of a rotation are not in high demand, although Cook does offer potential of throwing 200 innings and serving as a third starter, which should boost his market -- plus the prospect of improving outside of Colorado's mile-high thin air.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 1:06 am
 

Sizing up the NL MVP contenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Tonight: the NL MVP.

Lacking perhaps the sizzle or controversy of the American League MVP race, the National League MVP race could be just as interesting. While there's plenty of buzz in the AL about whether a pitcher should win the MVP, the NL question of the MVP status quo may be about a member of a losing team taking the game's top honor. While the contending teams have some worthy candidates, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, the Reds' Joey Votto and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen all have compelling arguments to be included even if their teams are well out of the race.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on many of ballots:

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Braun leads the league in batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.595), OPS (.999) and runs scored (96), he's also in the top five in RBI (95) and top ten in homers (27) -- and he's doing it for a team that will be headed to the playoffs. Last season Joey Votto beat Albert Pujols convincingly on the MVP ballots (31 first-place votes out of 32), if not so convincingly on the stat sheet. The two were close to even in their offensive stats, with Votto's team winning the division title perhaps giving him the edge in the very vague category of "value." The Brewers' record could be Braun's trump card on many ballots.

Roy Halladay, Phillies: Widely considered the best pitcher in the National League, if not baseball, Halladay is having another stellar season with a 16-5 record and a 2.49 ERA. However, the pitcher for MVP argument is being made with Justin Verlander, not Halladay. While Halladay may be the best pitcher in the National League and could appear near the bottom of several ballots (he does lead the NL in pitcher WAR, 6.2 according to Baseball-Reference.com), but it will take a clear-cut best pitcher in the league to win the MVP. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is making a late push for Cy Young with a 17-5 record and 2.45 ERA) and Cliff Lee may be having the best season of any Phillies' starter.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Going into Tuesday night's game, Kemp was third in batting average (.320), tied for second in home runs (32) and third in RBI (106), giving him a shot at becoming the National League's first triple crown winner since Joe Medwick did it in 1937. The knock on Kemp will certainly be his team's 68-72 record and a season in Los Angeles much better remembered for the drama off the field than anything done on it.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: At the All-Star break, this would have been a popular pick, but since then, the Pirates have faded and the star around Pittsburgh's center fielder has dimmed. But McCutchen is still having a fabulous year, cementing himself as one of the game's emerging stars. His stats have taken a dip, hitting .269/.372/.464 with 20 homers and 81 RBI to go along with 20 stolen bases. According to FanGraphs.com, he's seventh among position players in WAR, but much of his value comes from his defense. McCutchen won't win the MVP and won't finish in the top five, but he may get some votes based on his all-around game and the Pirates' impressive start.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: You can't talk National League MVP and not bring up Albert Pujols, can you? Not even this year -- when so many counted him out at the beginning of the year and others thought he'd miss a good chunk of time with a broken bone -- can you leave out the three-time winner. He's bounced back from an awful start to hit .295/.367/.553 and lead the league in homers (34). Pujols won't win, not just because he failed to live up to the expectations he's set for himself, but also because the Cardinals have faded in the seasons last months once again.

Jose Reyes, Mets: Reyes' reward will likely come after the November announcement of the MVP and be in the form of a huge contract. A front-runner for the award for much of the season, hamstring injuries have hampered the Mets' shortstop, limiting him to 105 games. He's fallen behind Braun in the batting title race, but is still putting up a very good .332/.371/.493 line with five homers, 37 RBI and 35 stolen bases. 

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: The Rockies have seriously underachieved, but not Tulowitzki, who is hitting .304/.376/.550 with 29 homers and 100 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. It seems like a matter of time before Tulowitzki wins an MVP (or two), but it won't be this year. Colorado's collapse was too great and while his offensive numbers are great, they aren't so much better than any other category that he's going to vault to the top of many ballots. He may be the best all-around player in the game (especially considering his position), but won't be the MVP.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: It looks like the Diamondbacks are going to run away with the NL West and their best (and perhaps only recognizable player) is Upton, the 24-year-old center fielder. Upton is hitting .296/.378/.540 with 27 homers, 82 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He's having a fantastic season and has a very bright future. That said, in what was the most important month of the season and one that saw Arizona take control of the NL West, Upton maybe his worst month of the season, hitting .260/.342/.481.

Shane Victorino, Phillies: Overshadowed by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and even Jayson Werth in previous years, Victorino has been outstanding in 2011. He's hitting .303/.380/.529 with 15 homers and 56 RBI, while scoring 84 runs. He's won three straight Gold Gloves in center field and has been a constant for the Phillies over the years. However, on a team built around its stud pitchers, a position player may get overlooked for MVP. He finished 18th in 2009, but look for a top 10 finish this season as respect grows for one of the game's most unsung stars.

Joey Votto, Reds: Last year's winner won't repeat, but he's again having another great season, hitting .316/.428/.536, leading the National League in on-base percentage and third in OPS. He's also doing it without Scott Rolen's protection behind him. Rolen has been injured much of the season, missing 76 of the team's 141 games and his play suffering in the 65 games he has played. That's allowed pitchers to pitch around Votto, who leads the National League in walks (100) and the majors in Win Probability Added (6.9). His numbers may not quite be where they were a year ago, but he's done nothing to suggest he's not the best first baseman in the league -- and that's some pretty heady competition.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but you can have your say in the comments. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com