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Albert Pujols' Single-Handedness

I love Albert Pujols, and don't have a bad thing to say about him.

Nevertheless, the narrative of his 2008 NL MVP Award is quickly becoming a tale of his ability to single-handedly keep the Cardinals in the playoff hunt in 2008.

I view this as largely justification talk - I think the necessity of tying the MVP Award to playoff contention has made it important to couch winning the award in playoff terms.

I think this leads to:

a) over-stating the Cardinals chances of making the playoffs - they were in third place from August 2nd on, they never got closer than 7.0 games after August 22nd, and they ultimately finished fourth

b) under-rating the rest of the Cardinals, such as Ryan Ludwick, Yadier Molina, Kyle Lohse, Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, Adam Wainwright, and Todd Wellemeyer

c) glossing over the fact that there is no shame, and plenty of historical precedent, for the best offensive player in a league winning the MVP even though he team didn't contend. certainly worse players than Pujols have won the MVP without sniffing the playoffs (like a certain 1987 NL winner).

Pujols won because he was the best overall player in the National League, and frankly all of baseball. No need for caveats - Albert Pujols was the right player for the award.

Of course, Ryan Howard was probably about 15-20 hits from the award, but we'll talk about that another day.

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