Ryan Braun AP

And now a positive note about the MVP award voting


The MVP award voting has brought about a lot of disgusting negativity, abject absurdity and borderline criminal levels of ignorance. And some people besides Mitch Albom decided to write about it too! But there was one positive thing to take away from the vote totals yesterday, and that’s Ryan Braun’s showing.

I would have voted Buster Posey over him, but it’s pretty clear that he was a top MVP candidate in the National League. Good arguments could be made for him as the second best player, but it would certainly be within the realm of reason to have him anywhere in the top four, along with Posey, Yadier Molina and Andrew McCutchen. And that’s where he finished. Second overall and present on all 32 MVP ballots. Indeed, no voter placed him lower than fourth.

I view this as a very good thing because I was convinced that someone — perhaps many someones — was going to either leave him off their ballot entirely or put him way down the list as some sort of extra-judicial punishment for the whole PED test thing last year, much the way PED guys are punished by the Hall of Fame voters. Which, as I’ve written ad nauseam over the years, is stupid.

The Hall of Fame electorate and the awards electorate are very different beasts so I don’t expect, say, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds to get a fair shake next month when the Hall ballots are submitted, but I do view this as a positive step forward for BBWAA voters.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.