Barry Bonds already has enjoyed unprecedented success in National League MVP voting. What he stands to achieve Monday borders on the remarkable.
The San Francisco Giants superstar is the frontrunner for a
fourth straight and seventh overall MVP award when balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America is revealed Monday afternoon.
The 40-year-old Bonds, who already has been tabbed for the honor
three times more than any other player, has finished in the top
five of the voting in 11 of the last 14 years. With the year
he had in 2004, there is little reason to believe he won't extend his record MVP streak.
Bonds led the National League in hitting (.362), on-base percentage (.609),
slugging (.812), walks (232), intentional walks (120) and times
reached base (376). He was second in runs with 129 and, despite only 373 at-bats, was fourth in homers with 45.
The slugger, who eclipsed the 700-homer plateau in September,
also managed to keep the Giants in the thick of the NL West race into the final week of the season.
Two teams that made the postseason boast serious candidates as
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre and St. Louis Cardinals sluggers Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen are sure to
Beltre had a breakout season, hitting .334 with 48 homers, 104
runs and 121 RBI. With a perfect sense of timing, Beltre -- who
now is a free agent -- led the major leagues in homers and almost
singlehandedly turned one of the worst offenses in the league
in 2003 into one that was effective and efficient.
Pujols, the first baseman for NL champion St. Louis, had
another stellar season, leading the majors with 133 runs
scored and the NL in total bases (389).
Pujols hit .331 with 46 homers and 123 RBI and batted .361 after
the All-Star break, but he appears headed to yet another year
of heart break. Pujols has finished fourth, second and second
in the voting in his three years in the league but is sure to be
hurt by some voters who may feel that Rolen was more valuable.
Rolen, St. Louis' Gold Glove third baseman, was the MVP favorite
at the All-Star break. He finished hitting .314 with 34
homers, 109 runs and 124 RBI, but an injury kept him out of the lineup for a good chunk of September.