Dustin Pedroia has vaulted to the forefront of the American League Most Valuable Player race with some astoundingly hot hitting recently - he's batting .480 over the last two weeks, with five homers in 59 at-bats, and there are various other small sample sizes that are just as impressive (he's batting .615 thus far in September, for instance).
But what's truly remarkable is that Pedroia's actually been a non-stop offensive force since the early days of summer.
On June 13, Pedroia was batting .260, with a .311 on-base percentage and a .676 OPS. The batting average was his low-water mark of the season, excluding the first few games. (Silly full-disclosure: He was hitting .182 three games into the schedule. Slacker.)
The next day, Pedroia had two hits in a 6-4 victory over Cincinnati, raising his average to .262. Save for the rare 0 for 4, his average has done nothing but rocket skyward since then.
Check out these crazy numbers: In 69 games - almost half the season so far - and 297 at-bats since June 13, Pedroia has 119 hits, including 13 of his 17 homers. His batting average since that date?
You probably know the rest: He's leading the AL in hitting (.333), hits (191), and runs (110) his slugging percentage is now over .500 (.505), and his OPS is all the way up to .883.
And that, sports fans, is how you become an MVP candidate: for 2 1/2 months, you punish the baseball like it was one of your detractors.