Jose Batista and Jose Reyes are the midseason MVPs ... of the Blue Jays and Mets.
Were I voting for league MVPs today, neither would be in my top 5.
It's simple, really: A league MVP need not come from a championship-caliber team, but he must at least be on a legitimate contender.
It's not best player, it's most valuable. It's not most valuable to his team, it's most valuable to his team within the context of an entire league. And if his team has zero chance to be in the postseason mix, how valuable can that player really be?
When Alex Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Ernie Banks were somehow winning MVP awards for horrible teams, how was that fair to the many great players who were having excellent seasons under pennant-race pressure? As Aramis Ramirez proves practically every year in Cubbieland, it's easier to do well when nothing's on the line.
So with that being said, here are my midseason MVP choices for each league:
5. Paul Konerko, White Sox. He almost didn't make the cut because of where his team sits in the standings: 5 games out of first place in a mediocre division. I'll generously say they are on the borderline of contention and reward him for his awesome first half.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians. A fine hitter, a wonderful fielder and the unquestioned leader of Cleveland's re-emergence as a contender.
3. Curtis Granderson, Yankees. A tremendous blend of power and speed, he is second in the league in HRs and first in triples.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. One of baseball's best pure hitters and by far the best player on Detroit's contending team.
1. ADRIAN GONZALEZ, Red Sox. About as easy a choice as you can get. He is the runaway leader in RBI, hits and total bases for the league's best team.
5. Ryan Howard, Phillies. I don't care that he's batting only .257. He leads the league in RBI and has 25 more than his nearest teammate. His power fuels baseball's best team.
4. Brian McCann, Braves. By far the best-hitting catcher, he's also handling one of the top pitching staffs in the majors.
3. Joel Hanrahan, Pirates. The personification of Pittsburgh's rise from the depths of despair, the big reliever is 26 for 26 in save opportunities. The Pirates play lots of close games; what a luxury it must be to know Hanrahan will save them all.
2. Prince Fielder, Brewers. Quite a salary drive. He has led Milwaukee into first place and has positioned himself for a mondo payday.
1. LANCE BERKMAN, Cardinals. Albert Pujols slumped and then got hurt. Matt Holliday got hurt. 3B David Freese got hurt. The pitching staff has been patched together. Yet there the Cards are, right in the thick of things, thanks in great part to the league leader in HR and slugging.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, here are each league's LVPs, the guys doing the least when they were supposed to be valuable:
5. Hideki Matsui, A's. Time for Godzilla to finally retire back into the sea.
4. John Lackey, Red Sox. Hey, at least his ERA is under 8.
3. Chone Figgins, Mariners. Just about time for him to be "chone" the door.
2. Adam Dunn, White Sox. I've never been a fire-the-batting-coach guy, but Greg Walker somehow has turned a feared hitter into a lost soul.
1. ALEX RIOS, White Sox. At least Dunn occasionally hits an accidental homer.
5. Tyler Colvin, Cubs. Another Cubbie Savior bites the dust.
4. Dan Uggla, Braves. The complete package: No-hit and no-field.
3. Edinson Volquez, Reds. Sent packing to Triple-A.
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. Big talent, little heart. What a waste.
1. JAYSON WERTH, Nationals. See what happens when you decide to spend $126 million for a role player and ask him to carry a team?