On July 4th, I looked at how Ned Colletti's acquisitions had performed up to the halfway point in the season and I had this to say about Rafael Furcal:
What a difference 54 games makes. Furcal has arguably been the best player in baseball in the second half (I'm sure Ryan Howard and Adam LaRoche have something to say about that.). Since the All Star Break, Furcal has hit .330/.391/.536, which has taken Furcal to the Dodger lead in VORP. Furcal has increased his rate2 from a Jose Offerman like 89 to a near Gold Glove level 107, and he's improved his stolen base level to a break even 73.3%. This has moved him from 19th in VORP amongst shortstops to 10th, and from 3rd to last in WARP to 5th, behind only Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Michael Young, and Jhonny Peralta. In the last 54 games, Furcal has been worth five wins. I don't have access to anything that gives splits for WARP, but I have to imagine that leads the MLB during the second half.
If Furcal somehow keeps up his current pace, he'll finish the season with 8.1 wins above replacement. Barring a sudden surge by any other Dodger, this would lead the team by a good margin. Could this mean we'll see Furcal showing up on MVP ballots? I'm not saying he'll win, but he could receive some ninth or tenth place votes. With the Dodgers looking like one of the few better than .500 teams in the NL, they're almost sure to see someone on the ballot, but who? Nomar has been slumping and he pales in comparison to five other first basemen in the NL, Ethier doesn't even qualify for the batting title, Penny and Lowe's ERAs aren't anything special, and while Drew could quite possibly end up leading the team in patience and power, his stats aren't very impressive for a corner outfielder. That leaves Furcal, and he could very well deserve it. In an NL bereft of talent, an eight-win player could be near the top of the heap. He shouldn't win the award, but a player who was possibly the worst signing of the off-season less than two months ago possibly deserving MVP considerations is phenomenal.
Furcal's performance in the second half is another indicator on how big a small sample size really is. A player can perform terribly for three months yet still finish with a decent year. It certainly puts how hard it is for a player to help a team in a limited period of time in perspective.