Joey Votto is the reigning NL MVP and his performance this season is remarkably similar to last year’s award-winning production, yet I’ve rarely seen him touted as a leading candidate this time around.
Last year Votto hit .324 with 37 homers, 113 RBIs, 105 runs, and a league-leading 1.024 OPS. This year Votto is on pace to hit .328 with 30 homers, 105 RBIs, 108 runs, and a league-leading .992 OPS.
How can someone lead the league in OPS in back-to-back seasons, yet win the MVP one year and not even get significant consideration the next?
Obviously there’s still plenty of time for Votto to gain steam among voters, but clearly the Reds going from division winners to below .500 is a major factor. And that serves as a perfect example of why team success shouldn’t being a driving force for an individual award.
Votto is having a nearly identical all-around season, yet because his teammates have been much worse this year his odds for a repeat MVP are slim. I’ll never understand why that makes sense, but with Votto’s case gaining little traction and Jose Bautista mostly being overlooked in the AL despite leading in homers, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS it doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.