With the Phils playing well of late, it seems like the right time to stop for a moment and consider who or what has been the team's MVC - Most Valuable Contributor. We've listed the contenders below, along with their odds to win the MVC (as awarded by your humble and helpful Page 2 servants) once the season is over.
Carlos Ruiz. Two years ago, when I finally returned home and started writing this column, I remember Charlie Manuel talking about how he thought Ruiz could be a solid and productive major-league hitter. Someone asked Manuel what he thought Ruiz was capable of batting and he said somewhere around .270. I almost laughed out loud; Chooch hit .219 that year.
Manuel, as usual, was right. Señor Octubre is batting almost .300 this season and he's had more than a few clutch hits. Not to mention that Chooch is an excellent defensive catcher. In the same way that the team got hot, Ruiz has suddenly become a huge fan favorite. Odds to win Page 2 Phils MVC: 2-1.
Roy Halladay: He's been as good as everyone expected. The perfect game was masterful, and the rest of his year has been brilliant despite his not getting much run support in several starts. Odds: 4-1.
Mick Billmeyer's binoculars: The binoculars have been benched since the unfortunate incident in Colorado. That's a shame. The team was doing so well with MBB in the lineup. Odds: 50-1.
Placido Polanco. He can play multiple positions and makes hitting a moving baseball look easy. And just like a certain columnist, he has a giant noggin that makes him look a little like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float. Sports Wit' has always been a fan of those. Odds: 5-1.
Ryan Howard. Before his ankle lost by TKO in a brutal brawl with second base, Howard was having a fine season. He was hitting for a higher average and had cut back on his strikeouts - two things his detractors said he would never do. But instead of the critics giving him credit, they shifted and derisively said he'd become a singles hitter. Some guys can't win - but they can date cheerleaders and go to Dorney Park for R&R. That's not a bad trade. Odds: 10-1.
Jayson Werth's casino trip. Things were ugly for the Beard for a while. He was in a nasty slump at the plate and some people turned on him after he cursed a fan in the stands when they collided while going for a foul ball. Then there were Internet reports that he and Chase Utley were seen at a St. Louis casino until the wee hours during a series against the Cardinals. But since the all-star break, and following his gambling parlor field trip, Werth is hitting well over .300. The guy should make regular visits to Harrah's Chester. Odds: 15-1.
Charlie Manuel. Considering how the Phils have managed to stay in the playoff race despite all the injuries - Utley, Howard, Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, J.A. Happ, Brad Lidge, Shane Victorino, et al. - this could be the best managing job Manuel has ever done. Odds: 3-1.
Ruben Amaro Jr. At this point, everyone, including Amaro, must know he shouldn't have traded Cliff Lee. But at least that didn't prevent Amaro from evaluating this team, understanding that the Phils needed another pitcher, and then acquiring Roy Oswalt. He's not afraid to make moves. That penchant for gambling has helped build one of the best rosters in MLB. Odds: 20-1.
Milt Thompson. Somewhere he's watching the Phils finally hit the ball and weeping into his Turkey Hill Graham Slam ice cream. Odds: N/A.
Ed Wade. If not for the former Phils general manager, the current Phils general manager wouldn't be nearly as successful. Just when you think Wade won't let the Fightins steal another player from him at cost, he gift-wraps Oswalt and sends him to Philly. Wade has done more for this team since leaving town than he did when he was collecting a Phillies paycheck. Odds: 8-1.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or email@example.com.
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