|Point/CounterPoint: Who Will Be the World Series MVP?||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on October 21, 2008
The Phillies MVP
As I was watching the Phillies celebration after they had won the NLCS, clinching a spot in the Fall Classic, a thought in my mind suddenly ensued: Who will be the NLCS MVP? Cole Hamels? Could it be Ryan Howard? All key contributors, but I felt that it should be, undoubtedly, Shane Victorino. No doubt. This guy has been a huge contributor. First off, he probably beat the Milwaukee Brewers. What if he does not hit that huge grand slam, off the hottest pitcher in the league, CC Sabathia? What happens then? Well it’s a tie ballgame, and the series is still up for grabs. However, what Shane did was break the game wide open, build confidence and ultimately, down the Brew Crew. If there was an MVP award for the Division series, I would have voted for Victorino. Yes, that is how huge that grand slam was.
To give an example of how Shane is now respected, he got intentionally walked 2 times in Game 5 of the NLCS. Heck, he got intentionally walked 3 times in 487 regular season games over five seasons. Could it have had something to do with the fact that Vic belted a two-run homerun to jump-start the Phillies sensational comeback Monday night? You bet. He has had an eventful series, and has become the man in the spotlight. After being involved in a beanball incident- Hiroki Kuroda threw at his head, and Shane was visibly mad, saying something to the tune of, “If you are going to throw at me, throw at my ribs, not my head.” Shane’s reaction caused a dugout clearing “brawl”, with of course, Manny in the spotlight. Apparently, this prompted Dodgers fans to boo Victorino in his upcoming at-bats.
For me, Shane Victorino has been the most exciting player to watch so far this postseason. He brings much enthusiasm to the game. "He is playing well," second baseman Chase Utley said of the feisty Victorino. He's doing a lot to help us win. He's playing some defense, hitting some homers, stealing a base. He's an exciting player."(Philadelphia Inquirer) In the division series, Shane hit .357, driving in 5 runs.
Aside from his offensive contributions, Shane makes an even bigger impact in the field. Late in Game 2 of the NLCS, with two men on, Victorino made a leaping catch of Casey Blake’s drive at the center-field fence to end the seventh. This catch potentially saved the game, as if Shane had not gotten to it, the Dodgers would have been within one. In Game 5, Victorino took hits away from Matt Kemp and Casey Blake, who both hit balls deep to right center. The Flying Hawaiian caught both balls with his back against the fence, and on Blake’s ball, smashing into the wall.
It Has To Be A Ray
Take their pitching where Matt Garza, MVP of the ALCS has been pitching exceptionally well, while James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine and a deep bullpen all provide the Rays an advantage over their National League opponents. Even pieces like the young David Price have been stepping to the fore just in time for the playoffs. There is a lot of talent there.
And then there are the hitters, headlined by slugger Carlos Pena who parked 31 in the seats during the regular season and is hitting .333 with 3 home runs, 3 steals and 8 RBIs so far in the playoffs. Or consider Evan Longoria who is on the verge of developing into one of the true elite players in the game, ranking up there with Pujols and A-Rod. So far all he has done in the playoffs is hit 6 home runs while gathering 11 RBIs and hitting .262. Not bad, but those numbers pale in comparison to teammate B.J. Upton who’s hitting .304 with 7 home runs and 15 RBIs in that same span.
But the World Series is rarely about the guys expected to be heroes - so maybe it’s time to focus on the guys the Rays rely on to get things started - like Carl Crawford who’s stolen six bases to go with his .277 average in the playoffs so far. It seems to me that he’s the guy due since he’s even with his average, steals and four extra base hits he’s only managed to cross the plate 5 times.