Past the midway point of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, some clear candidates have emerged for the most valuable player (MVP) award in each league. While some perennial candidates have returned for consideration, new personalities and rejuvenated sluggers have made the race more exciting this year. Here are six players (three from the National League and three from the American League) who are worthy of MVP honors as the season begins to reach crunch time.
1. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles
When John Lackey of the Red Sox whined about the way Nelson Cruz throttled him in a recent game, it struck most of the baseball world as sour grapes. After all, Cruz is far from the only MLB player who has been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). In fact, the Red Sox recently had a PED user with two failed drug tests (Manny Ramirez) throw out the first pitch at a celebration of the 2004 World Series team at Fenway Park. Buck Showalter also reminded Lackey that he might want to check the record of players on the current Red Sox team before speaking further on the topic.
Cruz did what any elite player should do. He shrugged it off and went back to mashing the baseball after his historic 5-for-5 performance against Lackey and the Red Sox at Fenway. Cruz is leading Major League Baseball in home runs (28, tied with Jose Abreu), RBI (74), and total bases (202) through 90 games. For a team that has been hit by injuries and poor production from Chris Davis, Cruz has risen to the challenge and silenced critics by carrying the Orioles on his back into first place. That’s MVP work.