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NL: MVP Rankings: Race Remains Close In Late June

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Wednesday, June.19/2013

Troy Tulowitzki just broke his ribs  - and cant ever seem to keep healthy. He is hitting .347/.413/1.048 with 16 HRs and 51 RBI out of the Shortstop position.  The Rockies are startling to lose without him in the lineup - just like last season, when they dropped 93 games with Tulo only playing in 47 Games

Troy Tulowitzki just broke his ribs – and cant ever seem to keep healthy. He is hitting .347/.413/1.048 with 16 HRs and 51 RBI out of the Shortstop position. (MVP like numbers for sure). The Rockies are startling to lose without him in the lineup – just like last season, when they dropped 93 games with Tulo only playing in 47 Games.

Jake Dal Porto (MLB Reports Writer)

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

Carlos Gonzalez always puts up far better numbers in the lineup with his running mate Tulowitzki.  CARGO has always tore it up out of the gate - and is worthy of NL MVP consideration thus far.  The Rockies OF leads the NL in Runs Scored (58), in HRs (20) and Slugging Pctg (.638).  He also has 13 SB. Contrary to other years for Home and Away splits, he actually has an OPS of 1.064 on the Road in 2013 - oppose to a .989 clip at Coors Field.  It looks like at age 27, he is rounding out his game nicely with consistency!

Carlos Gonzalez always puts up far better numbers in the lineup with his running mate Tulowitzki. CARGO has always tore it up out of the gate – and is worthy of NL MVP consideration thus far. The Rockies OF leads the NL in Runs Scored (58), in HRs (20) and Slugging Pctg (.638). He also has 13 SB. Contrary to other years for Home and Away splits, he actually has an OPS of 1.064 on the Road in 2013 – oppose to a .989 clip at Coors Field. It looks like at age 27, he is rounding out his game nicely with consistency!

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 is a model of consistency for the Reds, with a 3 Slash Line of .323/.439/.952 and an NL Lead for Walks with 53.  The Canadian has played in all 72 Games for the Reds this year - and is a big reason why the club has a 43 - 29 Record (2.5) Games Behind the NL for the best record in the MLB.

Joey Votto is a model of consistency for the Reds, with a 3 Slash Line of .323/.439/.952 and an NL Lead for Walks with 53. The Canadian has played in all 72 Games for the Reds this year – and is a big reason why the club has a 43 – 29 Record (2.5) Games Behind the NL for the best record in the MLB.

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 has beem extremely clutch in 2013 - hitting for a .422 BA with RISP - and .400 with RISP and 2 out.  He hit the Game Winning HR in last nights win versus the Miami Marlins - to push the DBacls record to 38 - 33, 1,5 Games Ahead both COL and SF

Paul Goldschmidt has been extremely clutch in 2013 – hitting for a .422 BA with RISP – and .400 with RISP and 2 out. He hit the Game Winning HR in last nights win versus the Miami Marlins – to push the DBacks record to 38 – 33, 1,5 Games Ahead both COL and SF

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.

Since the power numbers are not becoming of an MVP candidate, Molina will likely have to win the NL Batting Title - amass over 200 Hits, plus knock in around 100 RBI in order to be in the leader for the category at years end

Since the power numbers are not becoming of an MVP candidate (4 HRs and 39 RBI), so he will likely have to win the NL Batting Title – amass over 200 Hits , plus knock in around 100 RBI in order to be in the leader for the category at years end.  The Cards Catcher is on pace for about 220 Hits and over 50 Doubles – 71 Games into the 2013 year.

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.

Buster Posey is one of the best players in the game of baseball pure and simple.  The 2012 NL MVP has been incrementally moving the charts in all offensive categories since an average April.  Posey hit.280 in April, .305 in May - and now has a .397 BA part way through May - with  an OPS of 1.012 thus far.  He was .876 and .871 for OPS in the 1st 2 months respectively.  The Giants Catcher has been carrying the lineup without the likes of Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval of late.

Buster Posey is one of the best players in the game of baseball pure and simple. The 2012 NL MVP has been incrementally moving the charts in all offensive categories since an average April. Posey hit.280 in April, .305 in May – and now has a .397 BA part way through May – with an OPS of 1.012 thus far. He was .876 and .871 for OPS in the 1st 2 months respectively. The Giants Catcher has been carrying the lineup without the likes of Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval of late.

***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. 

If you need to contact Jake, email him: jakedalporto@gmail.com  or follow him on twitter:

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score

Posted on June 19, 2013, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on NL: MVP Rankings: Race Remains Close In Late June.

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