Beltran has finally looked like a $119 million player this year. But in a lineup with as many co-stars as the Mets', that's probably not going to be good enough for an MVP award. He has 40 homers, as many extra-base hits as Howard (77) and 119 runs scored (most in the league). But he has bizarre home-road splits (76 road RBI, only 38 home RBI). And in the wild-card era, the MVP deck has been stacked against players whose teams clinch early. Only four of the last 16 MVPs came from teams that won their division by 10 games or more. If we had to vote right now, we'd check Howard's name -- barely. But remember this: We don't have to vote right now. We don't have to vote for three more weeks, until we see where the numbers stop, until we see which teams are still standing Oct. 1, until we see who has that definitive MVP look when the highlights roll.
It will be hard to ignore 60 homers and 150 RBI. But it might turn out to be even harder to ignore the relentless greatness of Albert Pujols.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.