‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Curtis Granderson has undoubtedly been the most indispensable batter in the New York Yankees’ lineup all season.  He certainly has the look of an MVP with his exciting all-around play and game-winning contributions.  Is it enough to rank him at the top of my list of AL MVP candidates that include Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Jacoby Ellsbury?

Wednesday night’s stellar performance only enhances Granderson’s candidacy. He slugged two home runs and collected 4 RBIs during the Yankees’ 9-3 rout over the Angels.  Granderson’s 31 home runs are third in baseball only behind the Blue Jays’ Bautista and teammate Mark Teixeira.  His 91 RBIs only trail the Red Sox’s Adrian Gonzalez.

Granderson’s 104 runs scored are the highest in the majors and 22 stoles bases are 9th-best in the American League.  He also leads baseball with 2,259 pitches seen.  Unlike Gonzalez or Bautista, he contributes to his team’s success on the base paths but trails Ellsbury by 9 stolen bases.  Ellsbury’s batting average of .314 is 39 points higher than Granderson at .275 but Granderson’s power numbers crush that of his rival center-fielder.

One black mark against Granderson is that he ranks last in Defensive Runs Saved of all qualified major league center-fielders.  Those who observe Brett Gardner who ranks statistically as the best-fielding leftfielder in all of baseball would argue that the Yankees are best aligned defensively by swapping the two in the field.

Bautista is MLB-best in the sabermetric statistic of Runs Created at 102.1.  He is far ahead of third-place Gonzalez at 94.0.  Tenth-place Granderson at 89.1, is narrowly behind Ellsbury’s mark of 89.3.  The case for Bautista is purely statistical as he leads the majors in home runs (33), on-base percentage (.447) and slugging percentage (.637.)  The kind of year he’s having is something only Albert Pujols is capable of producing.

MVP voters will likely overlook those gaudy statistics as Bautista unfortunately isn’t a member of a contending ballclub.  Adrian Gonzalez not only has put up monster numbers but leads the majors in RBIs with runners in scoring position at 69 and hits .362 with runners in scoring position.  Granderson and Bautista’s numbers in clutch situations pale in comparison to Gonzalez and for that matter Ellsbury who hits .344 with RISP and .383 with runners in scoring position with two outs.  For the record, Granderson is only batting .207 with two outs and RISP.

The last few months of the season are always crucial and things may change.  As things stand now, Gonzalez is the most compelling American League MVP candidate and leads all of baseball with a .348 batting average.  His contributions to Red Sox success and ability to hit when it matters would garner my vote.

Who would get your AL MVP vote?  Is Gonzalez the most outstanding candidate or would you nominate Granderson, Bautista or Ellsbury? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.