The psychoanalyst Helene Deutsch once said "the ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but truth." It's in that spirit that we conclude Curtis Granderson should be the American League's first-half Most Valuable Player.
A crowd of players deserves consideration. The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista is once again putting up the biggest numbers with a majors-leading 29 home runs (all numbers are entering the weekend), and Adrian Gonzalez has carried the Red Sox with league-leading totals in average (.351) and RBIs (76). Paul Konerko (.316-22-64) has been a beacon of light for the White Sox, and Miguel Cabrera has been as good as usual for the Tigers.
But at the moment, this is Granderson's world, and we're all just passing through.
While helping the Tigers to the 2006 World Series, he started his swing with his bat parallel to the ground. As time went on, opponents realized he didn't have enough bat speed from that position to get to inside pitches. They exploited the weakness to the point where the Tigers were willing to trade him.
Long made minor changes in the spring of 2010, but by midseason Granderson was ready for a major adjustment. He adopted a more conventional stance with the bat pointing toward the sky, and he has gotten better over the last year.
In his last 160 games, Granderson, 30, has hit .265 with 42 home runs. He has scored 121 runs while driving in 106. And he has done it while based in the crucible of baseball, Yankee Stadium.
Granderson entered the last weekend before the All-Star break batting .271-25-62 with a .944 OPS and 77 runs scored, eight more than any other player. He's just as bright and forward-looking as he was in 2009, when I only half-jokingly suggested he should be baseball's next commissioner.
Here are my other first-half awards:
The stakes are piled as high as they could be for a walk-year franchise icon who has done just about everything except help his team win a playoff series. Fielder has responded, hitting .302 with 22 homers and leading the league with 71 RBIs. He's in a great place to hit — after Ryan Braun at Miller Park — and he's also playing first base well and being a pro about his impending free agency. There's nothing not to like.
Credit Dan Haren with an assist. Almost nothing separates the Tigers' Justin Verlander and Weaver, but Haren's 1-0 victory Tuesday dropped Verlander to 11-4, matching Weaver's record. Weaver gets the call because of his better ERA (1.86 to 2.26), but you wouldn't go wrong with either one.
As with Verlander in the AL, you wouldn't go wrong giving the nod to the Phillies' Roy Halladay. He's pitching almost exactly as well as he did a year ago, when he won his second Cy Young Award. But Jurrjens leads the NL in wins (12) and ERA (1.87), and that's a hard combination to win an argument against. Jurrjens acknowledges "everybody knows what happened to Ubaldo (Jimenez) last year," suggesting he won't be able to maintain his first-half performance. But he's the real thing.
The powerful right-hander is matching Felix Hernandez start for start at Safeco Field, the AL's best pitcher's park.