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AUGUST 20, 2004
2004 A.L. MVP Race
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

The 2004 baseball season is three-quarters in the books; and, in the American League, there is still a wide open field as to who will win the league's Most Valuable Player Award.  Over 30 players have a valid claim towards being considered.  At this junction in the year, here is the "Field" (for the 2004 A.L. MVP) as per the scrawling on this scorecard:

Hank Blalock - Texas Rangers
Eric Byrnes - Oakland A's
Eric Chavez - Oakland A's
Francisco Cordero - Texas Rangers
Erubiel Durazo - Oakland A's
Travis Hafner - Cleveland Indians
Lew Ford - Minnesota Twins
Keith Foulke - Boston Red Sox
Tom Gordon - New York Yankees
Vlad Guerrero - Anaheim Angels
Carlos Guillen - Detroit Tigers
Jose Guillen - Anaheim Angels
Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox
Mark Kotsay - Oakland A's
Victor Martinez - Cleveland Indians
Hideki Matsui - New York Yankees
Melvin Mora - Baltimore Orioles
Mark Mulder - Oakland A's
Joe Nathan - Minnesota Twins
Brad Radke - Minnesota Twins
Manny Ramirez - Boston Red Sox
Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
Ivan Rodriguez - Detroit Tigers
David Oritz - Boston Red Sox
John Santana - Minnesota Twins
Curt Schilling - Boston Red Sox
Gary Sheffield - New York Yankees
Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle Mariners
Mark Teixera - Texas Rangers
Miguel Tejada - Baltimore Orioles
Michael Young - Texas Rangers

Narrowing down the "Field" to the "Probables" yields the following group:

Travis Hafner - Cleveland Indians
Vlad Guerrero - Anaheim Angels
Hideki Matsui - New York Yankees
Manny Ramirez - Boston Red Sox
Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
Ivan Rodriguez - Detroit Tigers
David Oritz - Boston Red Sox
Gary Sheffield - New York Yankees
Miguel Tejada - Baltimore Orioles
Michael Young - Texas Rangers

From the "Probables" there are some evident "Favorites" (to win the A.L. MVP):

Vlad Guerrero - Anaheim Angels
Hideki Matsui - New York Yankees
Manny Ramirez - Boston Red Sox
Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
Ivan Rodriguez - Detroit Tigers
David Oritz - Boston Red Sox
Gary Sheffield - New York Yankees
Michael Young - Texas Rangers

Who among the "Favorites" will be the "Winner"?

Vlad, Manny, Sheffield and Oritz have carried their teams with the bat.  You have to count each of them in - until the end.  A-Rod has not been a force in clutch situations (RISP) - especially in the first half of the season.  That could cost him some points - and it should.  At the end of the day, playing for a losing team will knock Pudge out of the race.  The Rangers will have to win a playoff spot (no lock there) for Young to grab the prize.  Matsui has been great for New York during his second season in America.  But, he's not a flashy player - and the A.L. MVP is not driven by internet fan voting.  Unless Godzilla goes crazy with the bat over the remaining games this season, winning the A.L. MVP will be an uphill battle for him.

The sprint towards the finish line for the 2004 A.L. MVP looks to be a four man race between Guerrero, Ramirez, Oritz and Sheffield.  Playing for the same team could hurt Manny and Ortiz.  When the debate towards who is the most valuable to the team is too tough to settle, how could the media possibly select one as the league MVP?  Voters thinking it should be a Boston player may split their votes between the two - costing each Bosox player here in the MVP vote long run.  

This all said, according to the scrawling on this scorecard, as of now, it is between (ironically, former National League stars) Vlad Guerrero and Gary Sheffield for the 2004 A.L. MVP.  

Guerrero has cooled off at the dish slightly since July 1st (after a torrid first 3 months of the season).  Sheffield has been on fire in the box since June 1st (after a slow start in 2004).  The momentum is in Sheffield's favor.

The next three dozen games will be key to picking the winner between Vlad and Sheff.  It will be a fun race to watch.


Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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