He's a gold glove first baseman who has catapulted his game to another level this year, and has done so at a time when his team needed him the most. While we all thought Youk was a good, solid player, no one expected these kinds of numbers out of him. At .322 his batting average is second in the AL only to his teammate Dustin Pedrioa, his 22 taters are a career high, he is 6th in the AL with 83 rbi, 3rd in slugging at .574, 3rd in OPS at .963 and 8th in OBP at .388....and oh yeah, he's the best defensive first basemen in the league. Youk is putting up MVP-like numbers for a Red Sox team that desperately needed some protection behind David Ortiz. Perhaps the most significant aspect of his numbers is that he's been essential in Boston's recent post season push without Manny Ramirez. Boston (71-51) was scoring 4.94 runs per game, seventh-best in baseball, before Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31st. However, since then, with the help of Youkilis, their offense has taken off, the Red Sox are averaging 7.23 runs through 13 games in August, with Youkilis hitting .417, 4 taters, and 14 rbi in that time.
I'm not saying Youk should win the AL MVP award (that will likely go to Carlos Quentin), but he deserves more attention than he is currently receiving (where is the East Coast bias when you need it?).
Dice-K:Like Youkilis, Dice-K has gone from good to great this season. At times he can be one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch (he still walks too many people), but I've never seen a pitcher who can get out of jams and buckle down under pressure to get out of innings like Dice-K. He seems to know when he has to throw strikes and gets it done start after start. Dice-K's value to this club jumps exponentially when you consider the injuries and struggles this pitching staff has had all year (Dice-K included). At 14-2, his winning percentage stands second best only to Cliff Lee of the Indians (17-2), his 2.74 era is 3rd in the AL and he is, his overall record is 4th in the AL and he has registered over 100 strike outs while missing 3 or 4 starts due to injury. Dice-K's most value might come from his road numbers: 6-0 and 2.06 era for a team that is still somehow 28-35 on the road.
Again, this award is likely not going to go to Dice-K (it's going to Cliff Lee...not K-Rod), but he should receive a lot of 2nd and 3rd place votes.