Friday, October 22, 2010

Who is the real ALCS MVP?

Much has been made of a number of Rangers' players. While Cliff Lee is the Rangers' unquestioned ace, a single (albeit exceptional) win in game 3 in no way qualifies him for ALCS MVP. Perhaps one looks to traditional big guns: Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, or Nelson Cruz?

Not a chance. Cruz hit some big claws this series and Vladdy had some bit hits as well, including the bust-it-open shot in the bottom of the fifth. He had 3 RBIs today. Josh Hamilton (who was just named the actual series MVP) had 4 HRs this series, tying a record, but the Yankees basically put a stop to anything else he could do to them by intentionally walking him a record 5 times throughout the series.

Switching gears again, if you want to choose the best Pitcher this series: Colby Lewis. Just no doubt. Two huge wins. The first and the last. He allowed only 3 runs in those two games. Unfortunately, even Colby doesn't make the cut.

The Rangers won this series plain and simple behind Elvis Andrus. No doubt. No question. And here's why:

The Rangers high-powered offense this series runs and feeds off aggressive play. They manufacture situations and drive runs in just about every way imaginable, and Andrus is the impetus for it. It's not just his hits, or his walks. Include his sacrifices, his steals, just about every important offensive creation by the Rangers this series was created by him. Let's have a look...

Game 1: [Blog: Yanked Around] [Recap]

Andrus gets a leadoff walk to get the Rangers off to a quick start. With Sabathia worrying about Andrus' speed, Young gets on base and Josh Hamilton blasts a 3-run shot. When the Rangers extended that lead to 5-0, he was in the middle of that rally. And even when the Rangers gave up the lead with that horrid 8th inning, Andrus put them in a position to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th with a beautiful bunt with no outs to advance Mitch Moreland to 2nd.

Game 2: [Blog: Getting Even] [Recap]

After a horrible, gut-wretching loss in game one, Andrus gets the ball rolling again with an infield hit. He gets to second on a wild pitch. He steals third. And then he STEALS HOME! Yes, he had some help from Josh Hamilton on that play, but Andrus pretty much but the team on his back to get them rolling in a crucial game two. Then in the 2nd, he keeps a two-out rally alive with a single, which lets Michael Young tack on some extra insurance for Colby Lewis. With a 3-0, it was downhill from there.

Game 3: [Blog: Triumphant-Lee] [Recap]

I guess Cliff Lee was pitching here, so Andrus wasn't really needed this game. He did keep his now 11-game hitting streak alive as part of that big 9th inning put-a-way inning.

Game 4: [Blog: Within a Claws' reach] [Recap]

The Rangers are down by one after a Cano solo blast, and once more, Elvis Andrus gets the team rolling. His infield hit in the top of the 3rd allows him to eventually score the tying run. Then, he makes a phenomenal play in the 4th to make an out with the bases loaded, helping Derek Holland hold the Yankees to 1 run after Tommy Hunter got knocked out of the game. He helped keep the team close so that Benji Molina could break it open with his 3-run shot in the 6th.

Game 5: [Recap]

Even though the Rangers get smoked here, Andrus created multiple scoring opportunities for the team. He once again gets a hit to leadoff the game. He got himself into scoring position. He sacrificed others into scoring position. The rest of the lineup just never capitalized.

Game 6: [Recap]

Again.. A leadoff hit. Are you kidding me!? The Rangers scored in the first inning 4 out of 6 times this series. Why? Elvis Andrus. Period. Vladimir Guerrero scores Andrus later in the inning. He sacrificed Moreland to 3rd base in the 5th. This leads to a Josh Hamilton intentional walk, which in turn leads to a huge Guerrero hit. And that's all she wrote because that's all Colby Lewis would need.

It wasn't just this series either. He did it in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, as well. Elvis Andrus is the pilot light that gets the Rangers fiery offense started. It keeps them going. It's hard to believe the Ranger offense does anything close to what it did to the Yankees' pitching staff this series without Andrus making things happen all over the field. And because of him, and of course an incredible team effort, the Rangers are going to their first ever World Series.

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