NL MVP Race: Can Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado Challenge Paul Goldschmidt?

Via Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports MLB Writer

While Aaron JudgeShohei Ohtani The MVP debate is raging in the American League, and the National League MVP race has hardly inspired similar debates.

That is because Paul Goldschmidt is having a year working for NL Central leading Amountelevates his already high standard of attack, which has helped him win numerous MVPs in the past, to an impressive new height that will likely earn him the award. First actual MVP bonus.

Goldschmidt’s 182 wRC+ is the best on baseball just because the guy had one of the best offensive seasons of all time (Aaron Judge) and arguably the tournament’s best player (Yordan Alvarez). More importantly for the NL MVP conversation, Goldschmidt’s offensive output comfortably outperforms the next best in his league: Freddie Freeman at 158.

Speaking of Freeman, Goldschmidt’s Cardinals will be in Los Angeles this weekend for a trio of games, going up against his first superstar and that unstoppable winning machine that is. Dodgers in what could be an NLCS preview. Furthermore, with so many of the tournament’s best players on the field at once – namely Goldschmidt, Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betting and Trea Turner – this series of articles can help clarify the order of surgery of the NL MVP school.

With less than two weeks to play, I’d be surprised if someone could turn the overwhelming narrative away from Goldy. But there’s a lot more to be decided beyond that top spot.

Let’s take a look at some of the top contenders, from least to most serious.

Joey Meneses: If you are shorter minimum sheet appearance to 180only Goldschmidt and Freeman have higher wRC+ in NL National citizen‘inexplicable, 30 year old rookie super slugger. It’s ridiculous. The MVP votes for Meneses will be a bit high, but what about some NL Rookie of the Year votes in third place? Let’s have a chat!

Christian Walker: Walker’s 35-plus-year-old hosts and first-base elite defense shouldn’t be overlooked. The D-back‘the future suddenly looks a lot brighter with the ascending core of Daulton Varsho, Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy complement the breakthroughs of veterans like Walker.

Willy Adames: Using 30 more home champions and defending near-elite in the short lane will definitely not being ignored, and Adames is doing it because Brewer the team is much closer to post-season than Arizona. He’s incredibly reliable, but brute force alone doesn’t bring the overall attack level closer to average for MVP consideration. However, he is the MVP of Milwaukee, that’s for sure.

Tommy Edman: Edman’s move to the shortstop this season has been spectacular, putting him at the top of the WAR, thanks in large part to his stellar defensive stats. However, his bat has dropped a bit from the first few months of the season, so it will be difficult to get him into the top 5 regardless of his stellar WAR totals.

Juan Soto: Though hardly looks like himself for the most part Padres Soto still has the third-highest OBP in the NL so far, behind Goldschmidt and Freeman, thanks to his hilarious walks – 127 league leads to be exact. He may finish in the second half of the top 10 with a strong week or two ahead, but he’s not a legitimate MVP candidate the way he was two seasons ago.

Sandy Alcantara: This is a courtesy mention to the winner of the NL Cy Young Award who likely doesn’t have an MVP-level pitching campaign, 2014’s Clayton Kershaw or 2011’s Justin Verlander, but durability and workload in this day and age. truly admirable. Alcantara not only leads the MLB in innings by nearly 20 frames over Miles Mikolas, but his complete five games are more than any other. team have this season. In fact, 15 of the 30 MLB teams are yet to score on the field this season. Starting to pitch may never be the same, but Alcantara is reminding us that the right person can still be a serious trainer for a team.

Pete Alonso: Forty years ago we would have talked about Alonso as Goldschmidt’s biggest competitor for the NL MVP. Why? He has 121 RBI for a team in first place! That was all it took to win the MVP back then! OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but Polar Pete has excelled and is trending dangerously close to underrated territory. However, the standard for first-base offensive overall production is sky-high, as Goldschmidt and Freeman have demonstrated, and Alonso – even with its impressive power and production numbers – falls a bit short. compared to his colleagues.

Trea Turner: Just as he is often overshadowed by things like Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon in Washington, Turner’s brilliance went somewhat unnoticed, thanks to two future Halls of Fame clamping him in the Dodgers’ batting order. He’s still one of the fastest players in baseball playing a short slip and a .479 slide. That’s a tremendous value player, and I think we’ll all be reminded of that when he signs a baji billion dollar deal this winter – in LA or elsewhere.

Dansby Swanson: He’s not the overall hitter that Turner is good at Francisco Lindor but Swanson has always been a defender for short periods of time and has continued to provide great strength for Brave all year while basically never missing a game. I wouldn’t bet he gets as much money as Turner in freelancing, but he should have a lot of suitors.

Austin Riley: It’s no surprise that the Braves have more than one player that deserves an MVP rating. Riley got through some in the second half, which puts him lower on this list than I expected when I started sorting out the contenders, but at just 25 years old, he’s one of the best. must be scarier in the NL and will continue to be scary once the post-season begins.

JT Realmuto: With Bryce Harper missed crucial time on the injured list, Realmuto’s great second half kept Phillies in the thick of the NL wild card race. There was a moment where it looked like Realmuto might have lost the title of Best Catcher in Baseball – my good friend Jake Mintz even wrote about it – but Realmuto’s scorching heat over the past few months has re-established him as the gold standard in the spot right when his team needed it most.

Manny Machado: In terms of the ability to push when a team needs it, perhaps no player but Judge is a more reliable guiding light for excellence amid internal turmoil and frustration than Machado in San Diego. He did not fully maintain his unbelievable start that seems to have earned him the highest rating in the NL MVP discussion, but he was too good to keep his team on track in the context Fernando Tatis Jr. dramatic and slow start to Soto’s Padres’ tenure.

Francisco Lindor: Remember half a season ago when everyone thought Lindor was washed? That’s so cute. I admit, I’m a bit concerned that his bat might come closer to the league average than the legitimacy he had earlier in his Cleveland career, but it’s true. shame me for doubting that Lindor’s immense talent will eventually shine in Queens. He may not hit 30 home players again, but a forward plus defender at short range with 25 home players is still a great player. Along with Alonso, Lindor is the face of Mets‘the team plays position on their way to post-season for the first time in six years, and he’s a genuine MVP contender. That’s exactly why the team traded for him.

Freddie Freeman: While Freeman has clearly taken several months out of the season to accept that he’s no longer in the Braves, his performance doesn’t reflect that. He was close to winning his first batting title and had already established a career high with 45 doubles that helped make up for his relatively low hit total. It’s still strange to see Freeman in Dodger blue, but he was once the player he was in Atlanta and seems to have begun to mingle more with his teammates off the pitch.

Mookie Betting: After his great first season with the Dodgers in 2020, which ended with a World Series championship and second place MVP, Betts ‘ 2021 – a stellar season by major league standards but a stellar season. overwhelmed him – felt like something of a letdown. But keep in mind he’s had to play with a hip injury for most of the season. Now completely healthy, Betts is almost back to the 2020 edition that helped carry the Dodgers to a title. His off-field defense has returned to elite level, and he has achieved a career high with 35 home players. He’s one of the best players of his generation, and we’re lucky as fans that he’s back at full capacity to wow us every day.

Nolan Arenado: Last year, we saw Blue jay teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien finish second and third in the following AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. The all-round breakthrough of Vlad Jr. dominated the headlines all year – and totally deserved it – but I remember looking at Semien’s numbers last September and thinking: Wait, haven’t we talked about this guy enough?

I feel the same way this season about Arenado in relation to Goldschmidt. Yes, Goldschmidt’s bat – like Vlad Jr.’s. – has gone beyond what his teammates on the field have done. But don’t fall asleep during the five Arenados on the plate: He may not have the fancy total HR he makes in car-friendly Colorado, but his 152 wRC+ (tuned for the park) It would be a career high, like Goldschmidt. Add Arenado’s continued elite defense in the hot corner, and that’s how the total WAR ends up almost as it is now, with Goldschmidt at 7.0 fWAR and 7.7 bWAR and Arenado at 6.9 fWAR and 7, 5 bWARs.

Teammates finishing in the top three of MVP voting, as Vlad Jr and Semien did last year, is uncommon, but it does happen for a few years.

However, teammates occupy the top two places? That is rarer.

If Goldschmidt and Arenado end up finishing 1-2 in the NL MVP vote, they will be the first duo to do so since Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds in 2000. Before that, it was. hasn’t happened since 1990, when the Bonds finished first. by fellow Pirate Bobby Bonilla.

With things going the way they are, I’m betting on Arenado to join Goldschmidt at the top of the ballot – just maybe not ahead of him.

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

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