Most years, the selection of the American League's Most Valuable Player is not so complicated. Rarely does a player on a losing team turn in such a stellar performance that it overshadows the stars who took their teams to championships, or at least to high standings. But Cal Ripken has never been a run-of-the-mill player. Since his Rookie of the Year debut in 1982, he has excelled. Now, in a game enamored of numbers, his statistics stand out.
No player other than the fabled Lou Gehrig has played more consecutive games, and although it will take several more years to match the Gehrig streak, Ripken seems determined to try. The streak stems as much or more from his love of the game and the work ethic he brings to it as from any desire to set new records.
Ripken set a new standard for shortstops this season. His team didn't make the play-offs -- or even the top half of the rankings. But no one can doubt that Cal Ripken Jr. was the bright spot of the 1991 Orioles season -- and what a bright spot he was!