Different Season, Same Story: Carlos Quentin is the Best Player in the American League

Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox - 2009 AL MVPSometimes great minds really do think alike.

As I was driving into work today, I was trying to think about what kind of post I should do. And all I found myself thinking about was Carlos Quentin his fast start in 2009. Then, I check my inbox, and there is an email from MSF’s good friend Josh Q. Public. The subject: “Welcome to the Carlos Quentin Era.”

Hell. Yes. Glad and excited to be here.

Go ahead and check out the Josh Q. Public post on why Carlos Quentin is awesome. Then come back and I’ll tell you why I wholeheartedly agree.

Carlos Quentin’s greatness begins with attitude and it ends with production, and includes all the many intangibles and components for a successful baseball player in between, not the least of which is his remarkable intensity on a daily basis. Of course, as we all know, that intensity can also be a weakness if left unchecked, as TCQ would have been a shoo-in to win the AL MVP award last year had he not cost himself the award by breaking his wrist punching his bat after fouling off a Cliff Lee pitch.

In 2009, Carlos seems to be on a mission to claim what should have been his in 2008.

So far this year, Carlos has put his name right atop the AL MVP watch list in the early going by proving that not only is his wrist fully recovered, and that not only was last year far from a fluke, but that he is capable of being the youthful heart and soul of a talented, veteran-laden, championship-level ball club.

In 2008, Carlos Quentin hit .288 and slugged .571. He also jacked 36 bombs, knocked in 100, scored 96, and did it all in only 130 games. And any White Sox fan who followed the team last year will tell you that those numbers do not even begin to describe how valuable Quentin was to the White Sox. With the entire team mired in a horrible offensive slump to start the year, Quentin literally carried the club and kept it afloat (along with solid pitching). His home runs always seemed to be in clutch moments when the team needed a lift.

In his first 12 games in 2009, TCQ is hitting .302, slugging .814, has 7 homers, 13 RBIs, and 11 runs. As Josh Q. Public stated in his post, Quentin tied Jim Thome’s club record for most home runs hit in the first 12 games of a season. The White Sox are 7-5 and tied atop the ultra-competitve AL Central with the Royals and Tigers. Luckily for Quentin, teammates like Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye are actually hitting to start this season. Whether or not these grizzled vets can keep it up (I think they will), Sox fans can take solace in one thing: Quentin will.

And seriously, think about this right now (as I did driving in this morning): if the entire American League dumped every player into a draft pool and redrafted, how many players would be picked ahead of Carlos Quentin?

Would you take ARod, with his age, his recent injury history, clutch failures, plus all the drama, over Quentin?

Certainly guys like Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Dustin Pedroia, Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, Mark Teixeira, and Ian Kinsler would be in the discussion near the top of such a hypothetical draft, based on their talent and production. But Carlos Quentin is without question among the top handful of players in the American League. Start assessing each player’s value to his respective team and I think TCQ inches closer and closer to the very top.

And you can say that I’m biased, but I know this: over his last 142 games, no player in the AL has been better than Carlos Quentin.

The only negative that can be said about Quentin is that he has durability issues. In three Major League seasons, he has played 57, 81, and 130 games. But if the former first round pick of the Diamondbacks can keep that trend going upward, he will undoubtedly enter the upper echelon of baseball stardom this season.

Ever since the glory days of Frank Thomas, the White Sox have been searching for the next true offensive superstar to carry baseball on the South Side. Vets past and present like Carlos Lee, Konerko, Thome, and Dye have all had their moments of stardom in the midst of very productive South Side tenures. And Mark Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox - 2009 AL MVPBuehrle is the underappreciated anchor of what is consistently the most underrated pitching staff in the Major Leagues. But Carlos Quentin is the first player this decade other than Magglio Ordonez to truly remind White Sox fans of what it was like when a slim and trim (relatively speaking) Big Hurt was one of the most feared hitters in the game.

Carlos Quentin is approaching that level, and doing it with the kind of work ethic and first class attitude on and off the field that makes all White Sox fans proud to call him our own. Josh Q. Public is right: we are in The Carlos Quentin Era.

There is no telling how far he could have carried the White Sox last year had he not injured himself in September. With a healthy TCQ for 162 games this year, you’d have a hard time convincing me that the White Sox are not one of the two or three most likely teams to end up in the 2009 World Series.

And this much I’ll predict right now, after completely overestimating the potential lingering effects of Quentin’s offseason wrist surgey: if The Carlos Quentin stays healthy this season, he will be The MVP of the American League in 2009 — taking home the first of what could be many MVP awards, and claiming what should have been his last year.

Update: Little did I know when I wrote this that it would lead to an MSF first: our first ever link and mention at an actual ESPN.com writer’s blog.  Rob Neyer, one of the most statistically astute baseball writers anywhere, picked up on our Carlos Quentin article earlier this evening and used it to lead into his own discussion of Quentin’s 2008 season and his prospects for 2009.  He also rightfully called me out for my blunder above, where I violated my own pet peeve and screwed up the usage of literally/figuratively.  Nice timing by me, huh?

Anyway, check out Rob Neyer’s colum on TCQ:

Carlos Quentin Aiming for MVP — (SweetSpot blog by Rob Neyer, ESPN.com)


Other Carlos Quentin articles from today:

Cerebral Quentin puts team first — (Scott Merkin, MLB.com)

Three’s a charm for Carlos Quentin — (Mark Gonzalez, Tribune)

About the Author

Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.