Justin Upton is making a strong run at the National League MVP award, and his numbers tell the tale.
Upton, whose two-out, two-run double drove in the Diamondbacks' only runs in a 4-2 loss to Atlanta on Friday, has the best power/speed combination in the league entering the final six weeks of the regular season.
Upton leads the major leagues with 65 extra-base hits and has 35 doubles, 25 home runs and 77 RBI. He is the only player in the majors with a "35-25" although four players have at least 30-20 -- Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, who was the D-backs' bench coach when Upton arrived in the major leagues in 2007, admires the progress Upton has made in the last four years but is not one to put the cart before the horse.
"You know how I feel about that. We're in a season. We want to get to the playoffs. All the other stuff will take care of itself," said Gibson, the reluctant 1988 NL MVP in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Upton is taking a similar tack as the NL MVP race is narrowing. Two players from Milwaukee -- first baseman Prince Fielder and left fielder Ryan Braun -- are among the top candidates along with Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp.
The award, as in most years, will be defined by play down the stretch. For example, when Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard edged St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols in 2006, Howard did it by hitting 23 home runs and driving in 62 runs over the final two months of the season.
"The goal is to win. If we win and you put up good numbers, then you have a chance any year. The goal is to continue to contribute and for us to win this division," Upton said.
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