Sanders Named NLDS MVP by

With ten runs batted in during the Cardinals' three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres, leftfielder Reggie Sanders was named the National League Division Series Most Valuable Player by


While Major League Baseball does not name MVPs for the Division Series, we feel Sanders is most deserving of this honor.


In plating those ten runs, Sanders took possession of the NLDS series record for RBI despite playing just three games. The previous NLDS series RBI record was nine, set by then-Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran last season. However, it took Beltran five games to achieve the record.


The Division high-water mark for both leagues was set by Boston's John Valentin, with 12 RBI in the 1999 ALDS. Sanders will not get a chance at that record until next year, but no one on the Cardinals will mind, as they're most undoubtedly pleased with their sweep of the Padres.


Sanders had an up-and-down 2005 regular season. At age 37, he was on the way to what might have been a career year before suffering a broken leg on July 15. It occurred during the first inning of the Cardinals' very first game of the second half of the season.


The Cardinals continued to win without Sanders due to the fine play of replacements John Rodriguez and So Taguchi. As a result, the team could be cautious with Sanders' return, allowing him extra time to get ready for October.


Sanders rejoined the Redbirds' lineup on September 12. But, without a rehabilitation assignment, he initially struggled in the field and at the plate. Sanders was 2-for-26 before breaking out in the Houston series on September 27 and 28. He slammed a pair of home runs and drove in three RBI against the Astros on the 28th.


Sanders ended the regular season with 21 home runs and 54 RBI and a .271 average in 295 at-bats, helping to fill the gap created by third baseman Scott Rolen's shoulder injuries. Sanders was also 14-for-15 in stolen base attempts.


If he could have maintained that first-half pace, projecting it to 500 at-bats, Sanders would have ended the season with 36 home runs and 92 RBI, along with 24 steals. The home runs would have been Sanders' career high, while he exceeded 92 RBI only once, way back in 1995. Sanders last stole more than 24 bases in 1999, his only season in San Diego.


After playing his first eight years in Cincinnati with the Reds, Sanders became a baseball vagabond. Sanders played single seasons with San Diego, Atlanta, Arizona (where he picked up a World Championship ring), San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. He joined the Cardinals on a two-year, $6 million free-agent contract before the 2004 season and will again be eligible for free-agency after the postseason.


If Sanders continues to contribute like this, he will make Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty think hard about re-signing him to a new deal, despite Sanders being 38 years old next season. But, there is some unfinished business in the meantime. Sanders and his teammates want eight more wins first.


Sanders' NLDS RBI:


Game 3, second inning: With starter Woody Williams on the ropes, Sanders slammed a bases-loaded, two-run double down the right field line to send Woody to the showers and extend the Cardinals lead to 5-0. Those turned out to be the winning runs.


Game 2, seventh inning: After Edmonds drew a leadoff walk and a perfect hit-and-run single by Pujols to right put runners on the corners, Sanders slapped a first-pitch double into the left field corner to score both runners. That made the score 6-1, and again iced the Cardinals' victory.


Game 1, third inning: Sanders shot a two-run single that struck the leg of the diving first baseman, doubling the Cards' lead against Jake Peavy and enabled them to not look back.


Game 1, fifth inning: After Edmonds and Pujols singled, Walker took his second free pass to jam the sacks. Down 3-0 in the count, Sanders got the green light and put the pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam. That ended Peavy's series and gave the Cardinals an insurmountable 8-0 cushion.


Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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