Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina finished in third place in the National League MVP voting, ever so slightly behind Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in second place. Pirates center fielder and winner of the NL MVP Andrew McCutchen received 28 of 30 first-place votes; the remaining two were given to Molina by two St. Louis area writers: Rick Hummel and Derrick Goold, both of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In fairness to Goold, he was very open about his thought process in arriving at his conclusion to place Molina first, even putting together a “matrix” comparing the various stats compiled by all of the contenders and joining Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential to defend his ballot.
However, as Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin shows, St. Louis has been the most homerish in MVP voting since balloting was made public prior to the 2012 festivities. Molina benefited from it not only with the two first-place votes, but also Hummel’s decision to list McCutchen third behind Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter.
It is worth reiterating, however, that we have had only two years and the Cardinals’s recent success does bias the sample. It could be the case that another city’s writers are bigger homers, we just don’t see it because the team they cover doesn’t have players in the mix for the MVP award, like the Cubs.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.