With the Major League Baseball season entering its stretch run, there are plenty of pennant races to watch, with two of the teams in the thick of the race being the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.
St. Louis is currently six games behind the upstart Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central, which are led by NL Most Valuable Player candidate Joey Votto.
The Cardinals have a well-established MVP candidate of their own in Albert Pujols, who has won the past two years and three times overall. Pujols, while again putting up gaudy numbers with a .309 batting average, 35 home runs, and 97 RBIs, is going to have a hard time with a three-peat fending off Votto and Colorado’s Carlos Gonzales.
On the American League side, Texas has the largest lead of any division leader at the moment with a healthy seven-game advantage over Oakland in the American League West. Power-hitting prowess Josh Hamilton is the catalyst behind the Rangers’ potent offense with a .361 average, 31 homers and 97 RBIs, eerily similar to Pujols. His front-runner status in the MVP race may be threatened, however, after bruising ribs Saturday in Minnesota which may keep him sidelined for several games.
Another key factor linking Pujols and Hamilton is their Christian faith.
Pujols has frequently traveled home to his native Dominican Republic to serve his impoverished countrymen out of his sense of faith, including a Compassion International-sponsored trip earlier this summer to deliver sports equipment to a rural child development center.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has ridden a rocky road to fame, going from the heights of being a top draft pick to serious drug and alcohol abuse to a powerful resurgence to his career after recommitting to his Christian faith.