Pujols wins NL MVP unanimously

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No drama this time, as Albert Pujols took home all 32 first-place votes to be named the National League’s MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday. Pujols is the first unanimous MVP selection in either league since Barry Bonds in 2002.

Hanley Ramirez finished runner-up while Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Andre Either and even Derrek Lee received second-place votes, but it wasn’t really all that close. This was Pujols’ year.

Click here to see a full breakdown of the results (Where’s Chase Utley, and who the heck gave Jeremy Affeldt a tenth-place vote?).

The repeat distinction is well-deserved for Pujols, who led the National
League in on-base percentage (.443), slugging
percentage (.658) and OPS (1.101), while also besting the National
League field in home runs (47) and runs scored (124). Pujols was a
monster in nearly every situation imaginable in 2009, but he
really cleaned up with the bases loaded, blasting five grand slams and
driving in 35 runs. The most incredible part? He did all that damage in
17 at-bats.

Sometimes we’re so distracted by his absurd production with the bat
that we forget the little things he does on the diamond. Pujols didn’t
win a Gold Glove this season, but he probably should have. He even led
his team with 16 stolen bases, tying a career-high.

We’re not giving away an MVP of the decade or anything, but if we did,
Pujols would wear the crown. Pujols, now a three-time MVP winner, didn’t even make his debut until 2001, but
he leads all major leaguers this decade with a .334 batting average,
366 home runs and 1,112 RBI. And to think he gave everyone else a year head-start.

As we close the book on yet another award season, a few voters went
rogue — some with compelling arguments, others, no
so much — but it can’t be denied that the BBWAA got the major awards
right for a second straight year. With this year’s Cy Young and MVP selections, we
have four of the most elite, exciting treasures of our game. It’s a
great time to be a baseball fan.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.