Rethinking the MVO

It's tough to get a group of sportswriters and broadcasters to agree on anything, but I don't recall many divided opinions in the Most Valuable Oriole voting that takes place during the final month of every season.

The second- and third-place finishers can bring a heated debate, but the winner usually takes the honor by a fairly wide margin.

Luke Scott was the overwhelming choice last year, though at least two voters refused to pick him. Something about his .214 average with runners in scoring position. Absurd. He stood out on that team.

So what about this season?

The ballots must be submitted this week, and the winner will be announced on Sept. 27.

It's a wide-open race.

Adam Jones was the clear favorite until September, when he fouled a ball off his left ankle, sprained his right thumb and fell into a 6-for-55 slump. He returned to the lineup last night and had three hits, raising his average to .283 with 25 doubles, two triples, 23 homers and 80 RBIs.

Jones will finish in the top three. I'm just not sure that he'll be No. 1 on enough ballots.

I'm not going to reveal my pick, but let's just say that I gave much more serious consideration to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who's hit a career-high 28 home runs and is batting .262 with 26 doubles and 74 RBIs. He's also playing Gold Glove defense at a demanding position.

Hardy went 0-for-5 last night, which took some air out of his average.

Catcher Matt Wieters, reliever Jim Johnson and third baseman Mark Reynolds are the other Orioles who figure to collect votes. Five candidates for three spots.

My choice for third place came down to Johnson and Wieters. I won't reveal that selection, either, but let's just say that I gave much more serious consideration to Wieters once he reached 20 home runs.

Just from talking to other reporters on the beat, I know that one guy refuses to include Hardy on his ballot because the shortstop missed 32 games. Again, absurd. Maybe it's time for sportswriters to be tested for performance reducing drugs.

Another reporter told me a few weeks ago that he was voting Reynolds third. I'm sure Reynolds will be excluded from other ballots because of his low average and high strikeout and error totals.

Johnson will make some ballots and be left off others. Not enough love for the set-up man and part-time closer who recorded his eighth save last night and is sporting a 2.69 ERA in 65 appearances.

My guess is Hardy will edge out Jones, but I didn't take a scientific poll. I've only checked with a few voters.

I sought your input earlier and I'm doing it again as we're down to the final eight games. Give me your top three.

The Orioles don't honor a Most Improved Player, but Robert Andino would find his way onto my ballot. So would Wieters, though he still has a ways to go offensively to live up to the hype.

Most disappointing? You can go there, too, if you desire.

Brian Matusz would probably take the dubious honor, which sets him up for Most Improved Player in 2012. And make room for Vladimir Guerrero, unless your expectations were low for the future Hall of Famer.



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