CHICAGO -- The Cubs have a Rookie of the Year favorite, a Comeback Player of the Year choice, a Manager of the Year contender and even a Cy Young possibility. What they don't have, at least statistically speaking, is a Most Valuable Player candidate.
Some MVP voters like to look at the league's top team and choose its best player. The Cubs, at 76-48, have the best record in the National League by five games over the Brewers.
So, who do you take? Ryan Dempster cracks the top ten in each triple crown pitching category with a 14-5 record, a 2.92 ERA and 149 strikeouts. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano has been a spark plug when healthy and boasts a .293 average, 22 homers and 61 RBIs. You could make an argument that Kerry Wood's resurgence has made him as integral as anyone.
But this team doesn't have a Sammy Sosa. Maybe that's what makes this team so good.
"Every day it's somebody different: Henry Blanco, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, Derrek Lee or [Aramis Ramirez] ... We've been getting clutch hitting from everybody," catcher Geovany Soto said before Tuesday night's game against Cincinnati. "It seems like pitching -- starters and the bullpen, guys have been coming up from the Minor Leagues and doing well -- we've been blessed with a lot of hard-working guys and we're all looking in the same direction."
What about Soto for MVP? Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, at the urging of a Cubs player, made the catcher's case on Tuesday. Soto handles the NL's second-best pitching staff in ERA in addition to being the league's first rookie backstop to start an All-Star Game.
"Just to be mentioned like that is really flattering; I'm honored," Soto said. "There are a lot of guys with big numbers and big names out there. Just the thought that they even think of me ... it makes me think I've won it already. ... But I don't really pay a lot of attention to that right now. Win games and see where we're at at the end of September."
Soto is hitting .286 with 18 homers and 69 RBIs. That's solid, but not MVP-worthy in most years. But look for a sure-fire MVP winner this year, and you can't really find one. St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick, Houston's Lance Berkman and Philadelphia's Chase Utley are candidates, but none of their teams would make the playoffs if they started on Tuesday.
Several Cubs, including Soto, have had their share of memorable moments this year. Too bad the MVP trophy can't be split into 25 pieces -- or more.
"That's how you win, you win with good athletes and guys that can play," Edmonds said. "It really comes down to 25 guys and a few guys up and down from the Minor Leagues to help you out. You can't win without that."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.