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2005-08-16 10:15
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The winner of the American League MVP will be determined over the next six weeks. This is nothing new, of course. Nobody in the league is having a dominant season and since the voters usually select a player on a contending team, there is still much to be be decided. There are three guys from up in Boston with a shot (Ortiz--.303/.400/.584, Manny--.287/.385/.595, Damon--.334/.382/.474), and a couple of guys on the Yanks with a chance too (Rodriguez--.320/.421/.611, Rivera). Tejada (.316/.364/.556) and Guerrero (.327/.389/.596) can't be discouted, especially Vlad. It's remarkable that Guerrero has only played in 100 games this year but still has more homers than Tejada, who has played in 118 (26-22), as well as more RBI (88-77). However, if Alex Rodriguez finishes the season well, and/or the Yanks make the playoffs, he could be the front-runner. The only significant flaw in his game this year has been his defense, and even that has been much-improved of late. Joel Sherman noted in the Post today:

Early in the season, Rodriguez looked worse at third base than he did in his first year at the hot corner. But something clicked about two months into the season, and Rodriguez has played at a Gold Glove level since. He has not committed an error since June 22.

As Jay Jaffe put it to me in a recent e-mail, "As for A-Rod, we're getting the one in the catalog now." I know he's not going to stay hot forever, but I sure do enjoy watching him shine. There is nothing quite like watching great players, and Rodriguez certainly is a great player.

Comments
2005-08-16 11:47:36
1.   Hank
I agree. Years from now when I talk about what it was like to watch Alex Rodríguez, the first thing I'll mention is how effortless it all looked. Isn't that usually the way with the great ones? I know it's been mentioned here before, but it's interesting to compare him to Sheffield. Sheff will take the most violent swing you've ever seen, send a laser into the bleachers, and it's fairly impressive. Then Rodríguez will come up, take a nice smooth swing, and the ball will land 500 feet away. I always knew he was great just from looking at the numbers he put up in Seattle and Texas, but I didn't truly appreciate him until this year, watching play at an incredible level on a daily basis. Give him the MVP right now.
2005-08-16 12:13:00
2.   Shaun P
I too never really appreciated A-Rod's abilities until I saw him playing daily. That is one sweet swing.

Texas made a grave error in trading him. Why would you ever give up an inner-circle Hall of Famer in his prime unless you got one in return? For "payroll flexibility"? BS. The $252 million contract was never the problem - the $65 million to Chan Ho Park, $9 million to Jeff Zimmerman (who was hurt the whole time) - those contracts were Texas's problem. That, and having developed no pitchers of their own since Kevin Brown and Kenny Rogers.

But I'm not complaining - their loss is our gain, and we got the best player in the game.

2005-08-16 12:41:03
3.   DarrenF
It is rare indeed to see a player who combines such Big Ball talent with such Small Ball smarts. He helps the team every single day. Even if he is in the midst of a batting slump, he's going to do something in the field or on the basepaths. When he's on a hot streak, pay attention, because you're witnessing one of the best ever. The naysayers who focus on the slap play are missing out.
2005-08-16 12:57:13
4.   Alex Belth
Funny, talking about missing out with Rodriguez. As I wrote earlier this year I think that aside from his persona, the effortless that he exudes on the field is part of the reason why fans don't latch embrace him more.

I know this isn't really a good comparison, but Hank Aaron jumped to mind when I read the last comment. Until the final years of his career he played in the shadow of Willie Mays. In 1965, nobody would have thought that it would be him, not Mays, breaking Ruth's home run record.

Obvisouly, if he stays healthy over the next four seasons, Rodriguez will be considered a likely candidate to break the all-time homer mark. I don't think that Rodriguez has been underappreciated like Rickey Henderson and Bonds have been during stretches of their career, but he certainly hasn't been loved, or fully embraced either. Again, this might have something to do with his personality, and a lot to do with his contract.

But you are right: he's got a small ball smarts in a big bopper's body.

2005-08-16 14:46:07
5.   Yanks in NH
Not to discount A-Rod at all, because I believe he could be one of the greatest, but Texas did get Soriano and he sure isn't chump change!
2005-08-16 15:26:13
6.   joe in boston
Remember his homer against Schilling at Fenway (spoiling his "comeback) ????

What a smooth swing...especially compared with Sheffield's violent homerun cut.

The telecast showed about 6 different angles - the 'side view' revealed a laser - headed out of the park !!

I have become a big fan of his and hope he can carry this team.

2005-08-16 15:42:07
7.   KYK
What about Mo?

The fact that he put himself in the game last week makes me think he's MVP worthy :-).

2005-08-16 16:11:39
8.   singledd
Off-the-wall-topic-for-debate.
Assuming Bonds DOES come back and play, most probably in 2006, it looks probable that he won't break Aaron's record until 2007.

There is a good chance he would accept/promote a trade to the AL, where he could DH, without his knee's being an issue to playing time.

And big names, big money and AL make you think.... Yankees.
What say... would you give Bonds a 1 year contract (for 20 mil or so) to DH for us in 2007 and break Aaron's record (50/50 chance in Yankee Stadium)?

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