Most teams have played 40 games or so, which means we're a quarter of the way through the season. I can't believe we're 25 percent of the way through the schedule already. Anyway, here's my quarter-pole American League MVP ballot:
1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: An easy choice. The game's most dominant hitter is having one of the great seasons of all time. He leads the AL in batting average, on-base, slugging, home runs, runs, walks and total bases. He's created 57 runs -- 22 more than the next-best hitter.
2. Curtis Granderson, Yankees: Where would the Yankees be without his power production? He's hitting .280 with 14 home runs, 29 runs and 31 RBIs. Surprisingly, half his bombs have come against left-handed pitching. He plays a solid center field as well.
3. Ben Zobrist, Rays: He was one of the best all-around players in the AL in 2009, before hitting just .238 last season and seeing his power decline from 27 to 10 home runs. But he's posted a .289/.372/.564 (BA/OBP/SLG) line for the first-place Rays while playing excellent defense at second base and right field.
4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: He appears to have put his spring training DUI arrest behind him, and he's hitting .307/.441/.536 with a league-leading 10 intentional walks. And you get the feeling he hasn't even hit a hot streak yet.
5. Howie Kendrick, Angels: Once projected as a guy who could challenge for batting titles, Kendrick hasn't always stayed healthy enough and never developed the strike-zone judgment to do that. But this year he's walking more (16, after just 28 in 158 games last year). He's hitting .310/.376/.500 while playing every game, even filling in at left field and first base.
And not that you asked, but my LVP (Least Valuable Player) ballot. We have a lot of choices here ...
1. Juan Pierre, White Sox: He has a .580 OPS, has scored just 13 runs, leads the league in caught stealing and has had several notable defensive gaffes in left field.
2. Carl Crawford, Red Sox: Even his defense can't rescue him from a miserable .208/.241/.283 batting line. After 62 extra-base hits in 2010, he's on pace for 36 this year. And we didn't even factor in his $14 million salary (and $6 million signing bonus).
3. Vernon Wells, Angels: Hitting .183/.224/.303. What is it with AL left fielders this year?
4. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers: He'd be higher but he's played only 26 games. Hitting .172 with one home run in 106 plate appearances. This from a guy with a .310 lifetime average.
5. Michael Saunders, Mariners: Baseball America rated him the No. 30 prospect in the majors before 2010, and after a bad rookie season, more was expected of him. But he just can't hit major league pitching -- .167 with a 33/8 SO/BB ratio.