Joey Votto named NL MVP with 31 of 32 first-place votes

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Leading the league in OPS and leading the Reds to the playoffs for the first time since 1995 has earned Joey Votto the National League MVP award, as the 26-year-old first baseman easily topped Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez by receiving 31 of the 32 first-place votes cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members.

I wrote this morning that Votto and Pujols should share the award, as their individual performances were nearly identical, but Votto actually winning the MVP was expected. His being atop all but one ballot comes as a surprise, but BBWAA voters have always placed a great deal of emphasis on team success and Votto and the Reds beat Pujols and the Cardinals by five games to win the NL Central.

Beyond that, BBWAA voters also tend to lean toward good stories whenever possible, and for better or worse Votto emerging as a superstar in his third full season was certainly a bigger story than Pujols’ 10th straight MVP-caliber campaign, particularly after he won the award in each of the past two years. In addition to his three MVPs, this is the fourth time Pujols has finished runner-up.

Carlos Gonzalez finished third, followed by Adrian Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Roy Halladay was the top pitcher at No. 6 and the Cy Young winner received one second-place vote. For the complete voting totals, see the BBWAA’s official website.

Votto led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while also ranking among the NL’s top three in batting average, homers, and RBIs. He also took his game to another level in high-leverage spots, batting .369 with a 1.129 OPS with runners in scoring position and .370 with a 1.138 OPS in “close and late” situations. He joins Larry Walker and Justin Morneau as the third Canadian-born MVP and is the first Reds player to win the award since Barry Larkin in 1995.

Report: Red Sox expected to hire Alex Cora after World Series

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox have offered a contract to Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora, though the deal won’t be officially announced until the conclusion of the World Series later this month. Cora has long been a favorite for the Sox’ managerial vacancy, and despite reports that he was being pursued by the Tigers, Mets, Phillies and Nationals, he’s expected to land in Boston after all. The team has yet to verify the report.

The deal is for three years, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Cora is coming off of a one-year gig with the Astros and has no prior managerial experience. More importantly, however, he stands out for his familiarity with the Red Sox’ organization, strong connection with players and analytics-driven approach.

The Red Sox are the second team to replace their manager this offseason after the Tigers snatched up Ron Gardenhire on Friday. The Mets, Phillies and Nationals are still hunting for replacements.