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A.J. Pierzynski should be a top-5 MVP pick if the White Sox make the playoffs, but don't overlook Alex Rios.
The right fielder has been mentioned in the Comeback Player of the Year picture -- alongside teammates Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn -- but he could crowd out Pierzynski, Paul Konerko and Dunn to be regarded as the most essential piece of this team. He goes into tonight's game against the Yankees hitting .300 with 19 home runs, 71 RBIs and 18 stolen bases while also playing consistently excellent defense. His .842 OPS is his best since 2007. I still like Pierzynski as the guy who has had the most to do with the first-place standing but Rios could pass him with a strong finish. The Sox would love it if both Rios and Pierzynski finished strong.