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9/06/2007 10:36:00 AM

NL East: The Wright Choice for MVP

By Ben Reiter

I won a hotly contested race for seventh grade student council vice president thanks not only to a bogus promise to install a soda machine in the cafeteria, but to a campaign slogan which at that point in my life was the cleverest thing I’d ever thought up (and remains so, some of my readers would argue). “The Reiter choice is the right choice!” my supporters chanted, Donna Martin Graduates-style, as they carried me through the halls. Or so I prefer to remember.

The point of all this is, if David Wright wants to borrow my winning slogan for his NL MVP candidacy, I’ll gladly let him have it, even though there’s something tautological about "The Wright choice is the right choice." At this point we know that the league’s MVP will come from the NL East. It's a mortal lock; no fewer than five of the top ten vote-getters—in Wright, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Fungoes fave Hanley Ramirez -- should come from the offensively-loaded division (and I would also throw Jose Reyes and Chipper Jones, who is quietly second in the NL with a 1.003 OPS, into the mix). But even J-Roll, who still has a good chance to finish the season hitting .300 with 30 home runs, 30 steals, 200 hits, 100 RBI, 40 doubles, 20 triples, and 140 runs scored and was the subject of this colorful profile by Michael Bamberger in this week’s SI (love the detail that he uses Ryan Howard’s bat when facing off-speed pitchers), has done less for his team when it matters most than Mr. Wright.

In a second half in which the Mets struggled with a multitude of slumps and injuries, Wright elevated his game and is the biggest reason why New York has been able to hold off the surging Phillies, whom they currently lead by five games even though they were swept in a four-game series in Philly last week. Since the All-Star break, Wright has an NL-best .359 average; the second best OPS in the NL (1.057), better than Albert Pujols; 12 stolen bases, more than noted speedsters Dave Roberts, Willie Taveras and Brandon Phillips; 40 RBI, more than Adam Dunn and Miguel Cabrera; and 45 runs scored, second behind only the (mostly) leadoff-hitting Rollins and three more than his teammate Reyes.

As much as Rollins has done, Wright projects to finish with an average that’s 20 points higher, an OBP that’s more than 60 points higher, six more homers, 10 more RBI, and -- most surprisingly -- two more steals. Plus he’s doing it surrounded by a lineup that this season has been weaker than Rollins’.

I don’t mean to take anything away from what J-Roll has accomplished in 2007. He’s had a historic season, and has been a consistent force on a team that, like the Mets, has seen more than its share of slumps (Howard early on) and injuries (Utley, Shane Victorino). At this point, however, the MVP race comes down to this (and say it with me now): the Wright choice is the right choice.

  • You have to love Cole Hamels, but Phillies fans might be thinking that it’s a good thing that his wife, Heidi, was on Survivor instead of him.

  • The Nats have come up with a novel way to celebrate every time Ryan Zimmerman wins a game for them: they beat the crap out of him.

  • Tim Marchman of the NY Sun is now comfortable enough about the Mets’ playoff chances that he’s already looking at their potential difficulties in picking postseason starters.

  • For a team that's 60-80 and three games behind what was supposed to be the worst club ever to play the game (the Nats, of course), the Marlins sure have had a lot of offensive bright spots this season. We’ve talked ad nauseum about Hanley and Dan Uggla; now Cabrera has become the third-youngest player to knock in 500 runs.

  • When did things start going wrong for the Braves? David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an answer, and it’s earlier than you might think: May 13, he says.


    posted by SI.com | View comments |  
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