Midseason NL Most Valuable Player

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Fortunately, this one is going to be a lot easier to figure out than the AL ballot.

Let’s start with the NL’s top position players according to VORP:

1. Albert Pujols – 62.6
2. Hanley Ramirez – 46.6
3. Chase Utley – 46.0
4. Prince Fielder – 43.4
5. Pablo Sandoval – 37.8
6. Raul Ibanez – 34.0
7. Ryan Braun – 33.6
8. Carlos Beltran – 32.8
9. David Wright – 32.8
10. Matt Kemp – 31.6
11. Miguel Tejada – 30.4
12. Brad Hawpe – 29.9
13. Adam Dunn – 28.2
14. Justin Upton – 27.8

Adrian Gonzalez has dropped from fifth to 23rd since the first-third MVP ballot on June 5.
Apart from the top 14, the only other player that looks like a
legitimate option for the top 10 is Shane Victorino, who ranks 17th at
25.8.

The OPS list isn’t a whole lot different from the one VORP came up with:

1. Albert Pujols – 1179 – 90 games
2. Prince Fielder – 1056 – 88 games
3. Raul Ibanez – 1015 – 64 games
4. Chase Utley – 1004 – 84 games
5. Hanley Ramirez – 979 – 82 games
6. Brad Hawpe – 973 – 80 games
7. Pablo Sandoval – 964 – 82 games
8. Carlos Beltran – 952 – 62 games
9. Adam Dunn – 943 – 87 games
10. Lance Berkman – 929 – 85 games
11. Ryan Braun – 921 – 86 games
12. Justin Upton – 918 – 84 games

There also aren’t any big surprises at the top of the WPA list:

1. Albert Pujols – 4.83
2. Prince Fielder – 4.31
3. Chase Utley – 3.85
4. Raul Ibanez – 3.53
5. Pablo Sandoval – 3.13
6. Ryan Howard – 3.05

Obviously, it’s a race for second. If Pujols stays healthy, it’s
going to be extremely difficult for anyone to overtake him. Maybe
Fielder could in the minds of the real voters if the Brewers reach the
postseason and the Cards don’t, but it’s a long shot.

VORP has the next three pretty tight. I favor Utley because of his
defense, but Hanley and Fielder both belong in the top four. After that
group, it’s more of a free for all. Beltran and Ibanez are right there
with the Utley group in terms of performance, but both have missed a
quarter of the season. Sandoval and Braun offer little defensively, and
Hawpe and Dunn are significant liabilities. Wright, always an overrated
fielder, is having his worst year with the glove. Kemp, on the other
hand, has played a nice center field. With so many imperfect options,
I’m definitely including both Dan Haren and Tim Lincecum in the top 10.

Midseason NL MVP

1. Pujols
2. Utley
3. H. Ramirez
4. Fielder
5. Haren
6. Sandoval
7. Lincecum
8. Braun
9. Ibanez
10. Kemp

Miguel Cabrera blasts two home runs against Braves

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 28: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers hits a three-run home run during the fifth inning of the game against the Cleveland Indians scoring teammates Cameron Maybin #4 and Ian Kinsler #3 (not in photo) on September 28, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.

That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:

It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.

Reds’ manager Bryan Price extended through 2017

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 28: Manager Bryan Price #38 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 28, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.

This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.

Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.

From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.

I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.