Phillies back on top but M.I.A. MVPs loom as postseason X-factors

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Injuries are mounting for past and possibly present MVPs, giving playoff contenders concerns that go beyond which champagne to buy to celebrate their impending postseason-clinching celebrations.

The Rangers' Josh Hamilton, a leading AL MVP candidate this season, hasn't played since Sept. 4 in what only recently was diagnosed as two fractured ribs. He is targeting the final weekend of the regular season as a comeback. The Twins have already been without 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau since early July and now catcher and reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer continues to miss time with knee soreness, though an MRI showed no structural damage. The Reds' Joey Votto, the likely NL MVP winner this year, joined the M.I.A. list this week with what manager Dusty Baker called a "very serious sinus infection." And the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, is out with a strained hamstring, though he says he'll be back soon.

The injuries may not affect those teams at the moment ? each of those clubs has either clinched (Twins) their division already or could this weekend ? but they could have a major impact on the postseason.

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