We have a lot to talk about. This race is super tight and there’s no time for pleasantries and intros. It’s best we jump right in.
117 R, 36 HR, 120 RBI, 18 SB
Triple Slash: .297/.404/.563
OPS – .966, WAR – 5.8
Why is Paul Goldschmidt here? Seriously. Look, I love Paul Goldschmidt and I’m very thankful that the D-Backs front office brought in another slugger to help him with the heavy load that’s been placed on his shoulders in Phoenix. Is he an MVP? No. So how did Goldy get here? Couple of ways.
1) Versatility – How many first basemen do you know who can steal 18 bases in a season? Seriously. That’s something that is as rare as they come nowadays in the MLB. A first baseman with speed? No way. You’re right. Goldschmidt doesn’t have insane speed, but he’s an effective baserunner. Goldschmidt stole 18 bases in 2017, down from 32 in 2016, but that shouldn’t sway you from thinking this is a fluke. It’s not. The guy is just as dangerous on the basepaths as he is with a bit in his hands.
2) Power – A power hitting first baseman? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
3) Production – When the D-Backs lineup is humming like a finely tuned machine, what should happen is Goldschmidt comes up with runners in scoring position. A.J. Pollock is a very underrated centerfielder in my book, but an even more underrated baserunner. He can easily go from first to third at the drop of a hat, which would bring up Goldy with runners on. Goldy was hitting at a .365 clip with runners in scoring position. From there, J.D. Martinez would take over and knock Goldy in. Runs on Runs on Runs.
All of these things add up to a solid ballplayer but don’t quite add up to an MVP. While his value to the D-Backs is insurmountable, is he the most valuable player in the league? No, but he’s trying his hardest to get there.
106 R, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB
Triple Slash: .320/.454/.578
OPS – 1.052, WAR – 7.5
Every season I saw a few prayers for the season. The first is one protecting the Mets players from their training staff, the second is that the Red Sox don’t implode, and the third is that Joey Votto gets traded out of Cincinatti. He’ll never leave, but… Joey, come on, man.
Joey Votto has long been one of the best players in the game, but you’d never know it. Tucked away on a bad team, in a strong division, at a position where walks are not appreciated, Votto has spent his summers quietly becoming one of the best players in the game, and one of the toughest at-bats.
Joey Votto gets on base almost half of the time. That’s the biggest stat you need to know. At one point this season, Votto had a 36 game on base streak. It’s not that he’s a tough out, instead it’s his shrewd eye at the plate and his abilities to force pitchers to throw where he wants them to. Joey Votto forces a pitcher to make a decision; pitch to me or walk me. Most choose pitch, but they end up letting him on base anyway.
Besides getting to first Votto’s slugging numbers aren’t so terrible either. 36 HRs is first time Votto has cracked 30+ HRs in a season since his 2010 season, where he won the MVP. Similarly, his 1.032 OPS is the first time he’s gotten north of 1.000 since 2014.
It should also be mentioned that Joey V has two ery important guys on either side of him in the lineup. With Billy “Good Luck Once I’m On Base” Hamilton in front of him and Adam Duvall behind him, Votto can really do some damage. Those two have also benefitted from Votto’s premier play, Duval driving in Votto 21 times and Hamilton beng driven in 27.
Joey Votto is an underrated ballplayer hidden away at Great American Ball Park. Wouldn’t it be nice for him to get a bit of recognition. The guy plays the game at a high level, for a team operating at a low level. That kind of determination deserves praise.
123 R, 59 HR, 132 RBI, 2 SB
Triple Slash: .281/.376/.631
OPS – 1.007, WAR – 7.6
Name Changes: 1
Giancarlo Stanton finally woke up from whatever deep sleep he was in and decided to show us why the Marlins signed him to a $300 million dollar contract. How insane was his 2017? Let’s look at just the home runs for a second, shall we?
In 2015, Stanton missed over half of the games with injuries, something he’s battled against since inking his massive deal. However, he still managed to hit 27 dingers in the 74 games he played. In 2016, Stanton only played 116 games, once again due to injury, but still launched 27 bombs. In those two seasons, Stanton hit a combined 54 home runs, 5 short of his total in 2017.
The mind begins to wonder what Giancarlo would be able to do if he were able to stay healthy for a full season. If 2017 is any small shred of evidence, it means that he’d be an offensive juggernaut, but that’s simply not sustainable. Look, hitting 59 home runs any year prior to 1998 and this would be Stanton’s award hands down, but now that the game has chilled a bit about the long ball, let’s take a look at some things that stand out about Stanton’s season.
36 of Stanton’s home runs came with no one on base. So while those solo shots are still Home runs, they carry way less weight to a game’s outcome. We all know Don Mattingly’s proclivity for playing matchups and moving lineups around, so perhaps that would account for his solo shot surge? Or maybe it’s the fact that his Marlins teammates are inconsistent in their level of play? There’s a lot to be considered, but there’s still this tidbit: Goldschmidt and Votto both hit 36 Home runs TOTAL. We’re just talking about his solo shots.
With runners in scoring position, Stanton hit .218, with just 3 home runs in 2017. Also late in close games, Stanton was hitting even worse, finishing with a .187. When the Marlins were playing from behind in games, Stanton was also less than proactive, swinging a .248 average, with 17 home runs. 17 home runs from behind might sound like a solid number, but consider that he hit 18 when ahead and 23 when the game was tied.
So when you put these two things together, what you have in Giancarlo Stanton is a guy putting the team on his back and trying to pull them through the mud to a postseason appearance. While Giancarlo didn’t get the Marlins to October, he did carry them to their first top-2 AL East finish since 2009. If that’s not MVP worthy, then I don’t know what is. Have you seen the Marlins lately?
So Who Wins?
There’s legitimately no way to know.
Goldschmidt brings consistency and advanced baseball knowledge.
Votto brings a strong but silent kind fo aggression to the game.
Stanton brings POWER. RAW POWER.
Let’s put it like this:
It’s in the league’s best interest for Giancarlo to win. He’s the Steph Curry of the MLB.
It’s in the players best interest for Votto to win. He’s the DeMarcus Cousins of the MLB.
It’s in the fans best interest for Goldschmidt to win. He’s the James Harden of the MLB.
BOOM. Cross-referenced sports!
… but I want Votto to take home the hardware.