In my article discussing the AL MVP race (found here), I talked about the only two real candidates for the MVP award, Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. The 2010 NL MVP race on the other hand is a completely different story. At the beginning of the season, Ubaldo Jimenez had what was one of the most dominant stretches of pitching in MLB history, and had that pace been kept he would unquestionably be winning the MVP award. Now he’s a bit of a reach for the NL Cy Young, but that just show how long of a season baseball really is.
There are three remaining candidates in the National League who still have a legitimate shot at the NL MVP award though, and it looks like the 2010 NL MVP race will be down to the wire. But, when you have three guys that are all as close to winning a potential Triple Crown as these three are, you’re to expect a close MVP race.
Carlos Gonzalez – OF Colorado Rockies
Uhm, who? Yeah, here a month or so ago when Carlos Gonzalez caught fire that’s exactly what I thought. I figured it was some run-of-the-mill player that was just having a really hot streak, but apparently not – he’s a genuine contender. Don’t believe me? Just look at these stats in this light. His batting average is .341 (good enough to lead the NL), he’s drove in 106 RBI (also an NL best), and hit 32 HR. The best part for the Rockies is he’s only 24. If you’re a true statistical fanatic you should also take into account his 326 total bases, a .990 OBPS, 23 SB, and all this on a $406,000 salary. I’m no physic and I can’t read the future, but I know for a fact that last figure will certainly be increasing very soon.
Just a side note, I love players who have quietly dominant seasons. You’re going to hear about the perennial powerhouses all the time, and you’re going to hear about the big names, but when you have a player producing like this on such a low key it speaks volumes. Besides, his low salary has to be a relief for the Rockies compared to Matt Holiday’s, who they acquired from the Oakland A’s.
Argument for C. Gonzalez – The stats are a strong enough argument, but his last month has really been the jaw dropper.
Argument against C. Gonzalez – Is there one?
Albert Pujols – 1B St. Louis Cardinals
Of course, Albert Pujols would be on a list for the 2010 NL MVP award, and just about every once in the past five years. Pujols is well on his way to making Cooperstown, and he could be the best hitter of his generation. After all, the guy is a machine. Albert Pujols has been arguably the best player of the 00s decade (he debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001), and three MVP awards should speak for themselves. How does a fourth one sound for Pujols?
Let’s start by looking at why he could win the award. His main batting line currently reads .306 BA, 39 HR, 105 RBI, and tagging along are 12 SB, an OBPS of .993, a league best 101 runs, and 165 hits. And you know the most unbelievable thing about that is his .306 BA is actually a down year by his standards (career BA of .331). Holy cow is this guy a monster or what?
Argument for A. Pujols – 9 All-star appearances and still as strong as ever. His stats are stellar yet again.
Argument against A. Pujols – His Cardinals team probably isn’t going to make the playoffs. Besides Pujols, share the wealth!
Joey Votto – 1B Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto, much like Carlos Gonzalez has been a breakout player for 2010. But is this breakout season good enough to reel in the 2010 NL MVP award? We can look at that in a minute, but I just want it to be known that I actually traded for Votto in my fantasy league (the one I stopped checking in June), and that was about the only good move I made all season in that league, other than dropping it. Another young player on the list, Votto is only making $550K this year, and you know that has to make Cincinnati “Reddy” for more. (Okay, ignore that.)
Believe it or not, Joey Votto is the only player on this MVP candidate list that’s in the top three in the Triple Crown categories. He’s been the staple for a surprisingly good Cincinnati team (most people never thought they’d make the playoffs), and his .320 BA, 104 RBI, 34 HR, along with 14 SB, 1.008 OBPS (NL’s best), and 300 total bases make enough of case for themselves without me having to pound them in. If not for Carlos Gonzalez’s ridiculous batting average of .340 then we could be talking about Votto making a real push for a Triple Crown. That’s not to say he won’t, but with not much time left something is going to have to give.
Argument for J. Votto – Votto has unquestionably been the best player on the league’s most surprising team. That’s hard to beat.
Argument against J. Votto – C’mon, just win the Triple Crown for us! Everyone outside of the St. Louis Cardinals’ fan base is cheering for you!
Of all the predictions I’ve had to make while writing an article, this is easily the most difficult. Wait, that’s an oxymoron. Either way, I think the award should be given to Joey Votto. Pujols has his share of MVP awards, and his stats aren’t quite a good. Gonzalez is quiet and probably better statistically (not that Votto isn’t quite too), but Votto really has been the driving force behind a team that is likely playoff bound.
Like this article? Be sure to check out these other recaps too.
2010 AL MVP Race Down to Two Real Candidates
2010 NL Rookie of the Year Race Nearing an End
2010 AL Rookie of the Year Race Heats Up
All stats are as of September 17, 2010.
Special thanks to http://www.baseball-reference.com for all stats.