NL: MVP Rankings: Race Remains Close In Late June
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Jake Dal Porto (MLB Reports Writer) Follow @TheJakeMan24
The regular season has finally reached the point where the “it’s early,” or “it’s too small of a sample size” excuses are no longer accurate. Most of the regulars are closing in on 300 plate appearances.
The race in the NL is extremely close, and it will become close now that Troy Tulowitzki is on the shelf for at least four weeks. Tulowitzki’s injury could also effect Carlos Gonzalez’s case if the Rockies aren’t able to stay afloat in a tightly-contested National League West division.
Tulowitzki’s 2013 Highlights – Mature Lyrics – so Parental Guidance is Advised
Let’s dissect the race:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Troy Tulowitzki will likely fade out of the MVP race over the next few weeks. In case you missed the news, the All-Star shortstop is expected to be out for at least four weeks with a broken rib, although five-to-six weeks is more realistic
For now, however, Tulowitzki is the MVP of the NL.
As for the basics, he’s slashing .347/.413/.635 with a 1.048 OPS, which leads the NL. Now for the sabermetrics. He leads the NL in wOBA, wRC+ and everybody’s favorite, WAR.
Before breaking his rib, FanGraphs’ UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) ranked Tulo as the NL’s best defensive shortstop too. He was doing it all.
Tulowitzki’s injury is obviously unfortunate for the Rockies but also baseball because he’s proven to be one of the best shortstops in baseball when healthy. He’s finished top 10 in MVP voting three times, including two fifth-place finishes.
That’s just the thing, though. He played in just 47 games last year, and if his latest injury is an indicative, another injury-filled season could be in store.
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
It’s mid-June and the Rockies are still competitive. They can thank a marginal improve on the pitching front, but they’d be better off thanking Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez leads the NL in home runs (20), ISO (Isolated Power) and slugging percentage (.650). He’s slashing .310/.384/.638, and the advanced metrics also favor him. If it wasn’t for Troy Tulowitzki, he’d also lead the NL in wOBA, WAR and wRC+. In short, he’s been really, really good.
Team success does matter. If it didn’t, Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers would be contending for the top spot, but the Brewers are in last place.
Put a check mark in that department for Gonzalez, because the Rockies, at 37-33, are right in the mix of things in the NL.
However, a player’s MVP candidacy is amplified if said player’s team was a cellar team in the previous year. Gonzalez is guilty again. Not only did the Rockies win just 64 games in 2012, but they finished dead last in the NL West.
Gonzalez might not start the All-Star Game on July 16, but hey, the MVP is much more significant.
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto won the NL MVP in 2010, and he’s pushing for another one in 2013.
Votto’s been his same consistent self with a slash line of .323/.439/.513. Much like Gonzalez, the advanced metrics tend to favor him. He ranks in the top 5 in wOBA and wRC+ and his 3.1 WAR registers as the eighth-highest mark in the NL.
I’ll admit, Votto is lacking a bit in the power department. He has ninth-highest slugging percentage in the NL and 26th-highest ISO. It’s worth noting that his power production has been reduced since he underwent surgery on his left knee about a year ago. After returning on September 5, he went homer-less through 25 regular season games. That pattern didn’t change in the playoffs.
Characterize Votto’s slight power decline as a concern, but he’s still one of the more patient hitters in baseball, and he’s certainly a threat to challenge for the MVP.
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP case is unfolding in front of a smaller audience. CarGo, Votto, Buster Posey and a few others have demanded an influx of attention, but Goldschmidt is quietly building his case.
Goldschmidt leads the NL with 62 RBI, and he has a solid .304/.384/.564 slash. Since RBI is a flawed stat, we turn to ISO to provide us with better evidence of his raw power. As it turns out, ISO favors him, as he ranks fifth in the NL in that department, largely due to his 16 home runs and 17 doubles.
The advanced metrics are also kind to Goldschmidt, as he’s top 10 in wOBA and wRC+.
Votto and Goldschmidt are neck-and-neck. In fact, I wouldn’t argue if you flipped them in these rankings. It’s that close. Votto has the edge, at least in my opinion, because he’s a bit less strikeout-happy, and ultimately, a better hitter by the advanced metrics–wOBA, wRC+ and on-base percentage.
But let’s get something straight: Goldschmidt’s MVP bid is legitimate, at least at the moment. As I mentioned in Votto’s slide, the MVP generally comes from a winning team, and don’t be mistaken, the Diamondbacks are a winning team. But sustaining their first half success will insure that Goldschmidt’s MVP case isn’t marginalized. CarGo is also in the same boat, because the Rockies’ pitching staff could easily sink them.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Last year’s winner ultimately won the award thanks to a huge second half. This year, Buster Posey is having a huge first half.
Since the calendar flipped to June, Posey is hitting .389 with a 1.014 OPS. Among the qualifiers, his .389 average since June 1 ranks sixth in the NL. During that stretch, he’s only hit one home run, but his season slash line has seen an uptick to .316/.390/.515, and his wOBA sits at .386.
AT&T Park is hardly a fair place for hitters to take their cuts, and it’s become a worn out topic. Still, Posey is in the top 10 in slugging percentage, wRC+ and wOBA.
FanGraphs chalks Posey up as a poor defender with a -2.6 UZR. Since WAR factors in both defensive and offensive metrics, his 2.6 WAR is only good for 15th in the NL.
This is where some pundits consider Yadier Molina to be more valuable than Posey, but even Molina’s 1.1 UZR is hardly elite. Molina’s .367 batting average leads the NL, but his wOBA and wRC+ are both lower than Posey’s. Plus, Posey has a far superior ISO, indicating that he’s hitting for more power.
***The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners***
Jake Dal Porto is a student from the Bay Area. He has followed Bay Area sports for years, and enjoys writing about the various Bay Area teams. He is an assistant editor at Golden Gate Sports, and the editor of Blue Man Hoop.
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Posted on June 19, 2013, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @TheJakeMan24 on twitter, arizona diamondbacks, buster posey, carlos gonzalez, cincinnati reds, colorado rockies, Coors Field, fangraphs, fangraphs.com, jake dal porto, Joey Wong, NL Central, NL MVP 2012, NL MVP 2013, nl west, paul goldschmidt, san francisco giants, st louis cardinals, troy tulowitzki, yadier molina. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on NL: MVP Rankings: Race Remains Close In Late June.