And baseball's most valuable player is . . . Chipper Jones
by Dave Kinworthy
Is it Mark McGwire or is it Sammy Sosa who will win the National League Most Valuable Player this year?
The answer is neither.
Granted, both McGwire and Sosa have had productive seasons hitting the longball, but the two just have not helped their team, as Sosa did last season, contend for a playoff birth. The key ingredient to selecting the MVP is how much of an asset the player truly is to his team.
McGwire, you could argue, because of his 500 home runs over the length of his career and the towersome moon-shots that he hits, attracts more fans than a light attracts mosquitos.
Sosa is a good candidate as well, but his team has done equally as bad as the Cardinals this season. Granted, Sosa was the first man to hit back-to-back 60 home run seasons, but without a well-rounded team and depth in the pitching category for the Chicago Cubs, Sosa will not be considered.
A case could be made for players like Craig Biggio, who has led the Houston Astros to another successful season, but the pitching behind Jose Lima has also been a pleasant surprise for the Astros.
The case could also be argued for Tony Gwynn. This 3,000 hit man has done the impossible. His batting average alone each and every season is impressive. With the core of the San Diego Padres gone, Gwynn has still remained passionate towards baseball.
Maybe we should consider Ron Gant for the MVP award. The new MVP award will now be given to the player who strikes out the most in a single season while holding a grudge with his manager over personal matters.
But the answer to the question is quite easy: Chipper Jones.
His play over the past two weeks has been the saving grace for the Atlanta Braves.
Along with his quick glove at third base, Jones has been swinging a red-hot bat all year long as he has amassed over 40 homeruns and over 100 RBIs already.
The decision came quickly for me when I saw Jones play against the New York Mets this past week. Jones was the standout leader of the Braves, hitting countless crucial home runs that won the game for the Braves.
Let's face it, if the Braves did not have Jones, they would not be where they are right now—having already clinched another division title.
The Braves have been slumping all year long, and Jones has been there to rescue them in their time of need.
The Braves, with struggling starting pitching earlier in the year, counted on their offensive power to win the ballgames.
With a lineup featuring Ryan Klesko, Brian Jordan, and Bret Boone, the lineup was secure with Jones as the other addition.
But the Braves struggled, Jordan went down with a series of injuries, and Boone and Klesko struggled at the plate.
Jones has restored the Braves to the top of their division once again. Losing is not a thing that Atlanta fans have become accustomed to, and Jones will not allow it to start now.