With the trade deadline gone, the amateurs signed (or not) and the sense that we still have a week or two before we can truly, truly get into the pennant races, what better time to start having MVP arguments?
First up, the NL, where Jonah Keri makes the shocking, yet surprisingly compelling claim that Albert Pujols is not necessarily the no-brainer choice we all think he is.
Then comes the AL, where the Mauer-Teixeira battle lines are being drawn. Surprisingly, a pro-Mauer voice comes from the YES Network (I’m sure the author has been killed by the Yankee secret police right now, but it’s still worth reading).
I tend to view MVP arguments like I view political or religious discussions: there’s no way to convince anyone of anything they don’t already believe, so what’s the friggin’ point. Still, it’s only August, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet, so argue away.
My insta-take: Pujols will win it because since the mid-90s or so, the writers have, for some reason, decided to disregard the voting rules by not taking pitchers’ MVP cases seriously. If Pedro didn’t win in 2000, there’s no way that Lincecum wins it in 2009 or any other pitcher wins it any time soon.
AL: I’m a Mauer guy, but with the Twins fading — and with the writers having an almost pathological aversion to giving Mauer his due — Teixeira or someone else is more likely.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.