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And the AL MVP is...?

Barry Bonds makes the vote for the National League MVP an easy one every year, even when guys like Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen are having huge seasons. The AL, on the other hand, is a bit more up for grabs...

The contendahs:

Ichiro Suzuki: .374 BA/.416 OBP/.461 SLG
Manny Ramirez: .308/.399/.612
David Ortiz: .298/.374/.604
Vlad Guerrero: .329/.381/.569
Gary Sheffield: .294/.396/.548
Miguel Tejada: .308/.359/.523
Ivan Rodriguez: .337/.386/.514
Carlos Guillen: .318/.379/.542

Looking at the traditional numbers:

Ichiro: 8 HR, 56 RBI (leads the world in Hits)
Ramirez: 41 HR, 121 RBI (leads AL in HR)
Ortiz: 40 HR, 130 RBI
Guerrero: 33 HR, 115 RBI
Sheffield: 36 HR, 118 RBI
Tejada: 30 HR, 134 RBI (leads AL in RBI)
I. Rodriguez: 18 HR, 82 RBI
Guillen: 20 HR, 97 RBI

Ranked by OPS (OBP+SLG):

1) Ramirez: 1.011 (leads AL)
2) Ortiz: .978
3) Guerrero: .950
4) Sheffield: .944
5) Guillen: .921
6) I. Rodriguez: .900
7) Tejada: .881
8) Ichiro: .877

Ranked by Runs Created:

1) Ichiro: 127.4 (leads AL)
2) Ramirez: 121.5 (2nd AL)
3) Ortiz: 119.7 (3rd AL)
4) Guerrero: 119.4 (4th AL)
5) Sheffield: 115.7 (5th AL)
6) Tejada: 107.7
7) Guillen: 102.8
8) I. Rodriguez: 93.3

Ranked by Win Shares:

1) Sheffield: 29 (leads AL)
2) Ramirez/Tejada/Guillen: 24
5) Ichiro/Guerrero: 23
7) Ortiz: 20
8) I-Rod: 19

Ichiro takes a hit because his lack of power (and his place in the lineup) makes for unimpressive rate stats (HRs, Ribbies). His chase of George Sisler's hits record has earned him a lot of press, however, and there isn't any question he'll win the AL batting crown with that impressive batting average. I'm not sure he'll be able to garner enough votes to win.

Both of the BoSox mashers are having a hell of a year, and not only do they have it where it counts in the traditional BA/HR/RBI categories, they're also impressive in the OPS and Runs Created categories.

Detroit's turnaround can be attributed in no small part to the seasons of Ivan Rodriguez (catcher) and Carlos Guillen (SS), who have given the Tigers a nice competitive advantage up the middle. Guillen is having the best season of any AL shortstop, even surpassing Tejada.

Vlad Guerrero is playing as well as the Angels could have hoped. Good enough for the MVP? Probably not.

Gary Sheffield has been worth every penny for the Yankees. He's managed to stay in the lineup despite being in pain, and his Win Shares total to this point in the season is impressive. He also has the largest gap between BA and OBP of any of the MVP contenders, and that is a credit to his abilities at the plate.

My vote: 1) Gary Sheffield; 2) Manny Ramirez