Page 2 : A night in the pennant race

Eric Neel:

Did I mention Pedro and Smoltz are going on at the same time? Rusch has been booted from the office TV, perfect game brewing and all. Smoltz is struggling in the early innings — lots of pitches, lots of time for Pete Van Wieren to go off on Andruw Jones and the MVP race. Van Wieren couldn’t stop talking about a column Ken Rosenthal had written suggesting Jones’ batting average with runners in scoring position might be the one weakness in his MVP resume. “If you want to find something negative you can always find something wrong with someone,” Van Wieren kept saying. (I’m paraphrasing.) “In this day and age, when there are so many numbers available to us, you can say something bad about everyone.” (More paraphrasing.) I like that Van Wieren likes his guy. And I like that he’s up in arms about anyone running him down. Really, I do. But it’s not a stretch to challenge Jones’ MVP candidacy. Forget batting average with runners in scoring position; just put his OPS (.941) up against Mr. Pujols’ (1.047). Factor in that Pujols matches Jones’ lead in home runs and RBI with considerable leads in batting average, stolen bases, hits and doubles. And then consider that both men play Gold Glove defense, and both men have been stalwarts for clubs hit by injuries to key players (Chipper Jones in one case and Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders and Scott Rolen in the other), and at the very least you have a tight race.