Jacoby Ellsbury: one play does not an MVP make. Or lose.

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In last night’s Orioles-Red Sox game Robert Andino hit an inside the park homer. Big play. Probably the biggest of the game.  It was a ball that looked like Jacoby Ellsbury was going to catch, but he didn’t.  Here’s the play. It was a great job getting to it, but yeah, you want to see him squeeze that with so much on the line.

But was it more than just an unfortunate play for the Red Sox? Was it the sort of play that changes the character of Ellsbury’s season?  That seems ridiculous, but in a world where people think that his one home run on Sunday night against the Yankees was enough to give him the MVP, it’s inevitable that someone will seize on this one play and make a sweeping pronouncement about it too.

An inevitability borne out on CSNNewEngland last night by Steve Buckley and Lou Merloni, who think that Ellsbury’s failure to catch that ball meant the world.  “Good outfielders make those plays in late September,” Buckley said.  “An All-Star-caliber, American League MVP makes that play,” added Merloni. Here’s the video.

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Note that each of them then agree that, yeah, if the Red Sox make the playoffs, Ellsbury is still their guy.

Call me crazy, but the only thing sillier than saying that the MVP award is contingent on how your team does is saying that it’s contingent on one play among thousands in a six-month-long major league season.  If you subscribe to that notion you’re not giving out an MVP award. You’re giving out a “highlight of the year” award.

It’s a long season. The full season — not just its best and worst moments — matters.  On the basis of the full season an MVP vote for Jacoby Ellsbury is completely defensible. Depending on how much you value his defense compared to Jose Bautista’s, it may actually be compelled. But it’s certainly not something that one play can or should bestow or take away from the guy.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.