A player's true value is measured in wins


By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

Ryan Howard had the day off on Monday, so he can't steal the headlines from the rest of the NL's MVP candidates. Howard has been carrying the Phillies, yet the door remains slightly ajar for others. The reason? His team isn't winning at a high enough rate.

The MVP decision may come down to whether or not Philadelphia makes the postseason. If the Phillies fall short, there are plenty of legitimate contenders who could make a good argument that their value is greater. In the end, victories are the ultimate measurement of success.


• Marlins rookies hit five home runs Monday night. It was the first time in major league history that a team had as many as five home runs in a game from rookies. The previous record was four home runs in a game from rookies, done many times, most recently on July 24, 1999 when the Red Sox had three home runs by Trot Nixon and one by Brian Daubach.

Frank Thomas hit a home run for the sixth consecutive game, making him the fourth player to hit a home run in six straight games this season, joining Kevin Mench (seven straight in April), Morgan Ensberg (six in April) and Jason Bay (six in May). The only other season in major league history in which there was more than one streak of homers in six straight games was 2001 when there were three such streaks (Barry Bonds twice and Jose Cruz Jr.).

Bobby Jenks recorded his 40th save of the season in the White Sox's win over the Angels. Jenks, who was a rookie last year, is the third pitcher to notch at least 40 saves in either his first or second season in the major leagues. Kaz Sasaki had 45 saves in his sophomore year, 2001, and Chad Cordero had 47 saves last year, his second season.

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Francisco Liriano • The Twins on Monday activated rookie phenom Francisco Liriano from the 15-day disabled list. Liriano, who has drawn comparisons to 2004 Cy Young Award winner and teammate Johan Santana, has taken the American League by storm this season, going 12-3 with a 2.19 ERA. However, he has been on the DL since Aug. 8 with a strained ligament in his left elbow. The 22-year-old left-hander is expected to start Wednesday against the A's.

David Ortiz, the American League leader in home runs and RBI, says Boston's fall from the AL playoff race should not disqualify him from the race for the MVP award. But Ortiz told reporters after the Red Sox's 9-3 win over the Royals on Sunday that he thinks that's what's going to happen. "I'll tell you one thing," Ortiz said. "If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBI [which would give him 137], that's going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have. But they'll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse."

• Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen received a cortisone shot for his ailing hip on Monday, and St. Louis said he won't be used until the weekend. Isringhausen has not pitched since last Wednesday, when he blew his career-high 10th save in 43 chances. After giving up two runs in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss at Washington, he said the hip had been bothering him.

• The Yankees are not taking any chances on the health of players that could take them deep into October. According to MLB.com, Mariano Rivera will not pitch off a mound for at least a week as he works his way back from a muscle strain near his right elbow.