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

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

Jake Arrieta flirts with no-hitter, pitches Cubs past Indians 5-1 in World Series Game 2

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images)
Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched into the sixth inning before allowing his first hit. Behind his strong performance, the Cubs were able to take down the Indians 5-1 in Game 2 of the World Series to even things up at one game apiece.

Unlike their Game 1 performance against Corey Kluber, the Cubs’ offense was ready early. Kris Bryant singled with one out in the first inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer and promptly scored when Anthony Rizzo drilled a double down the right field line. The Cubs would score again in the third with a two-out rally as Rizzo walked, then Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber hit consecutive singles to center field, plating one run to make it 2-0.

With Zach McAllister returning to the mound for the fifth after relieving Bauer in the fourth, he walked Rizzo, then gave up a triple to Zobrist. The Cubs continued to press their foot on the gas, with Schwarber hitting another RBI single. After Jason Kipnis committed a fielding error on a Willson Contreras grounder — what should’ve been the final out of the inning — McAllister walked Jorge Soler to load the bases, then walked Addison Russell to force in a run, pushing the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

Arrieta had a first-inning scare, issuing back-to-back two-out walks, but he escaped the jam and seemed to be on cruise control until the sixth inning. He got Carlos Santana to fly out to lead off the sixth, continuing his no-hit bid, but Kipnis broke it up with a double to right field. After getting Francisco Lindor to ground out, pushing Kipnis to third base, Arrieta uncorked a wild pitch, helping the Indians score their first run of the game. Arrieta then served up a single to Mike Napoli, which proved to be the end of the line. Manager Joe Maddon came out to replace him with lefty Mike Montgomery. Montgomery ended the bottom of the sixth by inducing a weak ground out from Jose Ramirez.

Montgomery struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then got into a bit of hot water by yielding a single to Brandon Guyer, then walking Game 1 hero Roberto Perez. Carlos Santana, however, struck out to end what would be the Indians’ last real chance to get back in the ballgame.

Montgomery remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Kipnis, got Lindor to ground out, then gave up a line drive single to Napoli before Maddon pulled the plug. Closer Aroldis Chapman entered to face Ramirez. As expected, Chapman got Ramirez to whiff on a fastball to send the game to the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Chapman fanned Rajai Davis and got Coco Crisp to ground out for two quick outs. He walked Guyer on five pitches but ended the game as rain drizzled onto Progressive Field by getting Perez to ground out to shortstop.

The World Series is now headed back to Wrigley Field. The two clubs will enjoy a day off on Thursday to travel. Game Three will be played at 8:00 PM EDT on Friday. The Indians will send Josh Tomlin to the hill while the Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks.

Report: Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of contract with Mets

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20:  Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets hits an rbi double scoring Jose Reyes #7 against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.

That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.

It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.